KAI used with Teenagers

– Jennifer Taylor

As part of a master’s degree at the University of Hertfordshire , UK , I wanted to find out whether the KAI could be used with groups of teenagers. I received completed KAIs from two groups: the first aged 13-14; and the second, aged 17-18 years. Neither group had any difficulty in responding to the inventory (designed originally for adults at work) to their personal situation as pupils and students in a fairly large secondary school. They managed by, for instance, substituting “fellow students” for “colleagues” and “teachers” for “boss” and “authorities”. Apart from having to explain the meaning of certain words in the KAI to the younger aged group, e.g. “proliferates”, no difficulties in administration or completion were encountered with either group. With the older group, a lecture and feedback session was organised, resulting in amused recognition of themselves and their opposites. Adaption-Innovation theory was explained and again resulted in instant recognition of people at the extremes.

After the presentation of the theory and summaries of the mean scores, teaching staff members were eager to know the KAI scores of various teams of older pupils who had undertaken group projects. One team of five pupils had recently won a county award for an engineering project; and a second team, with four of the same people plus one other, had won a similar competition organised by a large aerospace company. The first team had remarkably similar KAI scores, ranging from 95 to 105, with a mean of 101.8. There was no one in this group who was so far either side of the Adaption-Innovation mean that they would not get along with the others. (The result replicates the findings from a study of KAI in various occupation groups [Kirton & Pender, 1982] in which Davies found a mean of 102.2 in a sample of 192 professionals working in Research and Development). The second team contained a student with adaptive preference [KAI 79], bringing the team mean to 96.6. The staff said that this student “organised the others”. It seems, therefore, that teenagers differ little from adults (mean scores reflected those of the adult population). Students with adaptive preference organise teams in just the same way as adults who are adaptors. Successful R & D teams can result from either a homogeneous group of like-minded innovative people, or an innovatively inclined group with a mild adaptor to make them “toe the line”.

Editor’s Note: See KAI Publication List for other articles relating to this MA thesis.

Jennifer Taylor, UK

Originally published in KAI News, 1993