Team Management Systems

Team Management in the Asian Banking Industry

By Rod Davies & Nikki Mead
Copyright © Institute of Team Management Studies. All rights reserved.

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Team Management Systems in Asia

Perhaps more than any other management technique available worldwide, Team Management Systems is truly international. Right from the start, the initial research has involved practicing managers from all parts of the world. The initial development sample in 1984 included 10% from Singapore and Malaysia as well as respondents from UK/Europe, The Americas, and Australasia.

This has resulted in a technique which is equally relevant across all cultures and avoids the xenophobia of many other techniques. Countless examples have been documented of trying to implant 'American' management philosophy into Asian management cultures, resulting in confusion and not the uncommon financial disaster!

Apart from the representation of Asian managers on initial development groups, the Institute of Team Management Studies (ITMS) database includes(at the time of writing) over 1,691 Asian managers who have completed the Team Management Profile Questionnaire (TMPQ) Major organizations using the system in the region include Swires, the Hong Kong Bank, the Hong Kong Jockey Club and Police Force, the Kuala Lumpur Stock Exchange, Malaysia Airlines, Ipmuda, Petronas, KPMG, Coopers and Lybrand, Ernst & Young Singapore, Samsung Korea, and IPWI Indonesia, along with major hotels and government groups. A Japanese translation of the Team Management Profile Questionnaire is available and Bahasa and Mandarin versions are nearing completion of validity tests and final testing.

Every management culture in the world has its own tradition and emphasis. To a large extent, Asian management owes a debt to traditional Chinese management structures and, to Confucianism. This is not to ignore the other distinct management cultures existing throughout the region, including the unique Malay business culture, the always fascinating mixture of American and Filipino styles evident in Philippine organizations, and the Thai approach to business. But Chinese culture has a strong influence in much Asian business.

The strength of the Chinese organization lies in its structured and pragmatic approach to business. The proliferation of successful Chinese family-owned businesses is tantamount to this, and this approach, has spread far from China itself, not only to the success story that is Hong Kong, but also to South East Asia countries like Singapore, Malaysia, and even Thailand and Indonesia where the Chinese population is in the minority.

While initially the concept of Team Management would seem foreign to this culture, Asian business, like all other regions in the world is changing to organizational structures and processes which afford the flexibility to cope with the international competitiveness which is central to business now and to the Asia Pacific Century which lies ahead.

No longer are economies insular, with companies competing primarily within their own boundaries but governments worldwide are dismantling protectionist policies and companies are being thrown open to international competition and cooperation. One only has to look for examples at the increasing power of the European Economic Community (EEC), the deregulation of banks in Australia in the 1980's and Singapore and Malaysia in the 1990's, the ASEAN trading group and last but not least APEC. Of course during the Asian crisis and beyond, the increasing power of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), United Nations (UN), and the World Bank, have become more transparently obvious!

It is no accident that the blue chip and most respected companies in the region are talking more about empowering employees, more flexible organization structures and team management. Asian Business surveys, while analyzing the success of their top 100 Asian companies have pointed to just this. Before restructuring became in vogue, Singapore Airlines conducted a major restructuring exercise, reducing the number of formal management levels and introducing more employee involvement. Also in the 1980's, a retiring chairman of the Bangkok Bank emphasized that to succeed, the bank had to move to a 'team culture'. Subsequently restructuring moribund structures to become more flexible has become widespread, major examples being Malaysia Airlines, and under much duress, the Korean chaebols of Daewoo and Samsung.

Reliability and Utility of the Team Management Profile Questionnaire in Asia

When psychometric instruments are designed, they are put through a rigorous testing procedure to determine their reliability and validity. Reliability refers to their ability to return the same score if completed on more than one occasion by a respondent. Validity is testing to see whether a test actually measures in practice what it is touted to measure. The Team Management Profile Questionnaire is no exception to this procedure and has returned results in excess of the commonly accepted standards.

However, a test should be evaluated for each particular group it is used with, and accordingly the reliability of the Team Management Profile Questionnaire has been calculated for differing genders, age groups, occupational groups and countries of administration. The Team Management Systems Research Manual Second Edition covers this material in great detail, but suffice to say here that the Team Management Profile Questionnaire and Types of Work Profile Questionnaire are just as valid and reliable for use with Asian groups as Western groups. Part of this is due to the involvement of the region in early testing and concept formulation. For the psychometrically literate, Table 1 provides the intercorrelations of the 4 major scales, E-I, P-C, A-B and S-F with this group of 1,691 Asian managers when compared to the worldwide sample.

The table indicates that the major scales related in the same way when used in Asia or the rest of the world.

Table 1. Scale intercorrelations for Asian respondent sample (n=1,691)

Table 1.	Scale intercorrelations for Asian sample (n=1,691)

N.B. (Figures in brackets represent the total worldwide sample excluding Asian respondents; n=85,931)

Cronbach alpha values also attest to the reliability of the questionnaire when used with Asia groups.

As far as utility is concerned, the first author can attest to the great value of using Team Management Systems in groups ranging from government training organizations to petroleum and trading organizations. The most fruitful discussions focus on how team management concepts and the existing culture of an organization can be merged to improve functioning without destabilizing a successful system. As team management is often a substantial change to some organizations, working together patiently over a 1 or 2 day session results in sound progress towards positive organizational and individual change.

Asian Team Management

A sample of 1,691 respondents who have completed the Team Management Profile Questionnaire in Asia were used in this analysis. Ages ranged from a minimum of 21 to a maximum age of 65, (mean of 39) and 72% of the sample were male. Functional areas of respondents were: Sales/Marketing/PR (14%), Personnel/HR/Training/Recruitment (12%), Production/Construction/Control (10%), Finance/Accounting (9%), Corporate Planning and Development (8%), Administration (8%), Consultancy (4%), Design/R&D (4%) and CEO/Managing Director (2%).

The sample of 1691 respondents are from both N.E. Asia and S.E. Asia with the largest percentages being from Malaysia (32%), Indonesia (18%), Hong Kong (14%), Singapore (11%) and Japan (10%). Other countries represented were Thailand, Philippines, Korea, China, Taiwan, Vietnam, India, Sri Lanka, Burma, Bangladesh, Nepal.

Over 40 industries are also represented in this sample with the three largest sectors being Oil/Petroleum (18%), Banking/Finance (12%) and Police (10%). Other industry sectors well represented were the Public Service, Airlines/Aviation, Trading, Manufacturing, and Automotive.

Figures 1 and 2 compare the distribution of role preferences between Asian respondents and the rest of the world. Rounding errors result in some totals not adding up to 100.

Figure 1. Major role preference distribution for Asian respondent sample (n=1,691)

Figure 1.  Major role preference distribution for Asian respondent sample

Figure 2. Major role preference distribution for total worldwide sample (excluding Asian respondents; n=85,931)

Figure 2.  Major role preference distribution for total worldwide sample (excluding Asian respondents)

Several interesting differences emerge. Most importantly, note the smaller percentages in the Asian sample for the Explorer-Promoter (6% vs. 11%) and Creator-Innovator roles (6% vs 10%). On the other hand Asian respondents were more likely to be Concluder-Producers (32% vs 24%) and Thruster-Organizers (30% vs 25%). This would seem to make intuitive sense. People with high structured and analytical scores tend to be Concluder-Producers and Thruster-Organizers. This would seem congruent with the Chinese management style.

The Banking/Finance Industry

Figures 3 and 4 compare Asian respondents in the banking and finance industry with the rest of the world. Here the differences are even more obvious. Note that 43% of the Asia sample are Concluder-Producers, which is not surprising for the banking/finance industry, but it is still much higher than the worldwide sample for bankers and financiers (25%). Most importantly, there are far less Creator-Innovators (3%) and Explorer-Promoters (3%) in the Asian banking/finance sample than the worldwide sample (8% and 10% respectively).

Figure 3. Major role preference distribution for industry sample: Banking/finance (Asian respondents only; n=200)

Figure 3. Major role preference distribution for industry sample:  Banking/finance (Asian respondents only)

Figure 4. Major role preference distribution for worldwide industry sample: Banking/finance (excluding Asian respondents; n=6,912)

Figure 4. Major role preference distribution for worldwide industry sample:  Banking/finance (excluding Asian respondents)

Points for Discussion

Banks and financial institutions often promote managers internally, and it is quite sensible to suggest that people are attracted to the profession because of a liking and competence for logical and practical work, as well as numerate ability. It is quite logical therefore, that the bias towards the Concluder-Producer, and Thruster-Organizer sections of the Wheel should be evident in this profession. However the low numbers of Creator-Innovator and Explorer-Promoters in the banking/finance industry seems to be further emphasized by the low numbers in Asia generally.

Deregulation of the financial industry leaves such institutions open to more competition than they have been used to; such competition requires Creator-Innovators and Explorer-Promoters with their creative skills and extrovert temperament and thought could be given to encouraging more balanced teams in these industries.


The Team Management Profile Questionnaire is well placed to make a major contribution to organization development in the banking and finance industry in Asia. The flexible rather than prescriptive nature of the technique, the culture free development, as well as demonstrated reliability and utility in Asia provide a sound basis for applied work in the field.


The Team Management Systems Research Manual: 4.0 is now available with an increased worldwide sample of over 303,000. Asian data included in the volume has increased accordingly.

Copyright © Institute of Team Management Studies. All rights reserved.

Rod Davies was the first director of the Institute of Team Management Studies and was involved in the earliest applications of TMS. More background to the above ideas can be found in the archives of the daily Chao Phraya River Rat's Asia Pacific Management News and the results of the Asian Prospects survey, both available at

Nikki Mead has been working for TMS for over 20 years and is the Research Manager at the Institute of Team Management Studies. She is also Editor of the TMS Learning Exchange and has been involved with website design and development at TMS since 1996.

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