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Adaptor versus Innovator – Kirton (KAI)

Finding out your dominant cognitive style by the KAI questionnaire
The model can also be used for measuring organizational fit; It is more important to adaptors than innovators. Adaptors are most likely to stay in organization where they fit and most likely to leave when they don’t fit. Innovators are less strongly motivated by considerations of organizational fit to stay or leave since they are less likely to pay attention to whether or not they are in fit.

Many of the standard models and frameworks used in business management owe their origin to research conducted with a US American or Anglo-Saxon signature. We do not wish to overly criticize well established models like Myers-Briggs MBTI personality profiling, Belbin’s Team Analysis or Kirton’s KAI Adaptation Inventory. Our interest is to see if we can extend these models so that they might be more appropriate when seeking to transfer them to other cultures or multi-cultural situations.

Deviation from the norm is typically tolerated as long as it fits into the prevailing paradigm. The more rules you break the more difficult it becomes for you: for instance, a male breaking the rules might be tolerated more than a female doing the same.

The main weakness of Kirton’s assumptions perhaps lies in their succinctness and precision. One of the main assumptions is that cognitive style, which underlies the KAI instrument, is conceptually independent of cognitive capacity, success, cognitive techniques and coping behaviour. We agree with this – but this all comes from an assumption that Kirton makes more implicitly: that the adaptor style and the innovator style are mutually exclusive.

It was found that creative people move more effectively between intuition and thinking, that innovators extrovertly publish their introverted calculation and constantly learn by oscillating between judging and perceiving, and finally check their feelings through thinking. An additional finding is that culture often determines the side that respondents start from. So we are not saying that one culture is more creative than another; only that their starting point for looking at a problem is different.