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Basic Dimensions of Executive Positions

Hemphill, John K
Publication Year:
Report Number:
ETS Research Memorandum
Document Type:
Page Count:
Subject/Key Words:
Administrators, Job Analysis, Managerial Occupations, Occupational Information


An adequate description of executive positions must provide for their complexity and flexibility; it is first necessary to identify the basic dimensions underlying patterns of job elements and then to devise procedures for locating a particular job within that framework. Using the Executive Position Description Questionnaire, 93 executives rated 575 possible elements as they were applicable to their jobs. The items were developed primarily from a literature review and interviews. Four areas were included: position activities; position responsibilities; position demands and restrictions; and position characteristics, miscellaneous. Respondents were executives from five large corporations, and were classified according to five levels. Factor analysis established a set of basic dimensions. Nine basic dimensions were revealed, which accounted for 99 percent of the basic similarities among the positions: providing a staff service in nonoperational areas; supervision of work, internal business control; technical--products and markets--non-personnel; human, community and social affairs; professional long-range planning; exercise of broad power and authority; business reputation; personal demands; and preservation of assets. Factor loadings supported the hypothesis of company-wide influences on position characteristics. It was concluded that executive positions have common denominators which can be measured as dimensions of the positions. A position description could be used for a definition of activities and responsibilities, performance appraisal, salary decisions, or guidance and development.

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