skip to main content skip to footer

The Business In-Basket Test: A Method of Assessing Certain Administrative Skills

Ward, Lewis B.
Publication Year:
Report Number:
ETS Research Bulletin
Document Type:
Page Count:
Subject/Key Words:
American Telephone and Telegraph Company., Administrators, Business Administration, Executive Study, In-Basket Tests, Occupational Tests, Situational Tests, Test Reliability


Form I of the Business In-Basket Test was developed by Educational Testing Service, in cooperation with American Telephone and Telegraph Company for use by affiliated operating companies in a middle-management training program as a basis for group discussions. The Test was administered to 50 middle-management executives and 50 management trainees in three of the operating companies of the Bell System. Comparisons of the scores of the executives and trainees revealed significant differences in a number of types of response to In-Basket Test items. Trainees, for example, are more wordy than the experienced managers. They are less likely to take action on the basis of the importance of problems posed by the items and they see fewer implications for the organization as a whole in the various items in the test. Somewhat surprisingly, trainees more often make final decisions and take final action on items, while experienced executives seek additional information or see preliminary steps to be taken before final action can be accomplished. Both groups delegated tasks to subordinates to about the same extent, but the delegations of trainees tended to be complete while those of experienced executives contained some element of control in the form of procedures for making sure that the problem would be properly handled. Finally, the experienced executives more often went out of their way to be considerate both in special acts of consideration and in routine expressions of courtesy. These results suggest that the Business In-Basket Test should have value as a direct measure of administrative skill for use either in management selection or for the evaluation of management training in business.

Read More