The development of emotional intelligence, selfefficacy, and locus of control in Master of Business Administration students

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Successful managers must develop strong interpersonal skills alongside their ability to achieve personal and organizational goals. For educational institutions to stay relevant, courses must equip students with necessary psychological competencies in addition to technical knowledge, skills and abilities for the constantly evolving business climate. We explored whether Master of Business Administration (MBA) programs aid in the development of psychological competencies, given that MBAs are a popular management development tool. Specifically, we investigated changes in MBA candidates' emotional intelligence (EI) ability, self‐efficacy (SE), and locus of control (LoC) in a pre‐post survey design over the course of a 1‐year MBA educational program and explored the relationship of candidate's baseline psychological status to their academic success in the MBA educational program. Participants were recruited from newly enrolled students at an international university in Asia. The study participants (53 MBA students, plus 26 psychology students, and 34 nonstudents as comparison groups) completed self‐report measures of EI, SE, and LoC at the beginning and end of a 1‐year MBA period. The MBA candidates showed significant improvement in EI, SE, and LoC‐internality, as well as an increase in LoC‐powerful others during the program. LoC‐powerful others at the beginning of the program also predicted MBA students' academic performance. The findings provide evidence that psychological competencies that may positively affect work performance are key benefits of MBA education.


Human Resource Development Review

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Managing for Sustainability


© Eddy Ng, CC BY-NC 4.0

Author's Accepted manuscript

First published in Human Resource Development Review in 2019.

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