Sternberg, Robert J. - Theory of Mental Self-Government

The Structure of Concern Project compares many theoretical models from many disciplines to the Adizes PAEI model, arguing that they must all be reflecting the same underlying phenomenon. One concern structure model is described below.

Robert J. Sternberg has articulated a model of mental self-government that reproduces the structure of concern under one of its facets (Sternberg, 1997). Sternberg sees thinking style not as something that defines a person. We all command a variety of styles. These nevertheless do leave us with a certain style profile, and life is better if we can find social roles to match our profile.

In Sternberg’s schema, there are five facets of thinking styles. Thinking styles have functions, form, levels, scope and leanings. All can be discussed in terms of the structure of concern, but the lowest-hanging fruit here is his typology of the forms of thinking styles, which plainly exhibit the four-part

P – Monarchic Self-Government: Single-minded, driven, determined, focused, pushes past obstacles. Expects things to be done, no ifs, ands or buts.

A – Hierarchic Self-Government: Carefully ranks and prioritizes goals, considers many angles before deciding, comfortable in large organizations, except when the organization’s priorities/principles and theirs diverge.

E – Anarchic Self-Government: A potpourri of wants, needs and goals that nobody can figure out. Random approach to problems, rejecting systems and constraints. Because they gather information from all over, they are more likely to find solutions others will overlook. If they can focus their efforts, they may succeed where all others fail.

I – Oligarchic Self-Government: Willing to focus and prioritize but torn by several competing goals all of equal perceived importance. Feel pressured and uncertain over what to do next and how much time to allot to each task. Given even a minimum of guidance about the priorities of the organization or team however, they can become as or more productive than any of the other styles.

1. Sternberg, R. J. (1997). Thinking Styles. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University
Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License