Publication of Jagdish Parikh's international survey of 1300 managers represented a watershed in understanding intuition in organizations. His results demonstrated beyond a shadow of a doubt that intuition was as the subtitle of the book suggested: The New Frontier of Management. It remains to be seen how many decades it will take business academics to catch up with that realization. The percentages have been rounded to whole numbers and adjusted for not reported. Added emphasis appears in red, and my reactions are enclosed in a box: (Note 151)

What is missing - a significant void in the relevant literature - is an account of how intuition is perceived by top and senior managers in various countries around the world. To fill this vacuum, we embarked on the International Survey on Intuition to determine how those on the front lines of coping with the world of business 'raplexity' understand and use intuition in their professional and personal lives. In one of the most ambitious projects of its kind, 1312 managers from relatively large non-governmental industrial and service organizations responded. . . .

With business people speaking more openly about intuition, we could learn more from practicing managers about intuition than from cognitive psychologists simulating management behavior with a chess master metaphor. Most managers do not have the mathematical game mentality that attracts people to chess.

The leap from chess master to top manager was incomprehensible and remains so! They appear to have little in common contrary to claims of the artificial intelligence community. Chess had the virtue of being a sophisticated game that was relatively easy to simulate compared to management decision makers.

Objective Rating

Paired alternatives

Responses to the query regarding choice between ten given pairs of alternatives (where one of the terms is taken to indicate orientation towards Intuition and the other towards Logic/Reasoning) yield the pattern shown in table 5.2:

Table 5.2 Choice Between Paired Alternatives

Logic/Reasoning Oriented Intuition Oriented
Description % Description %
Build 55* Invent 45
Common sense 38 Vision 62*
Concrete 67* Abstract 33
Conventional 19 Innovative 81*
Analytical 31 Creative 69*
Facts 27 Ideas 73*
Realistic 45 Imaginative 55*
Practical 50 Ingenious 50
Sensible 49 Fascinating 51
Systematic 46 Spontaneous 54*
Average 43 Average 57

* The observed preference is statistically significant at the 5% level.

Rather than ask the respondents whether they preferred the rational or the intuitive, they picked one or the other in each pair that most appealed to them. I computed average values for each.

It will be seen that of the eight cases where the observed differences are statistically significant, in as many as six instances the term associated with Intuition was preferred to its counterpart associated with Logic/Reasoning, while it is the other way about in the remaining two cases. This indicates prima facie that the Intuition orientation of the Survey population as a whole is of a reasonably high order. . . .

As practical managers, I was not surprised Concrete was favored among the rational terms. Nor, given their need to keep up with rapidly changing environments, was Innovative surprising for the intuitive terms. From the average, it was obvious Senior and Top executives leaned in favor of the intuitive, although they did not give up the rational.

Overall Intuition Score

By assigning 1 to the choice indicating orientation towards Intuition and 0 to the one towards Logic/Reasoning, an overall score has been computed for each responding manager. Where there was no indication of preference for one term over the other in a given pair (evidenced by the respondent ticking both the alternatives or leaving the section blank), a score of 1/2 has been awarded. . . . It is clear that the overall score ranges from 0 to 10 in steps of 1/2.


Based on the overall intuition score, a three-way classification of managers has been devised as follows:

Score Category
0.0 - 3.5 L: Low orientation
4.0 - 6.0 M: Medium orientation
6.5 - 10.0 H: High orientation

It will be noted that this classification has been used as one of the standard backgrounds in tabulation of the Survey responses. This is referred to as 'objective rating' as distinct from the 'self rating' carried out by the respondents. . . .

This rating was used in the next two tables. Interesting patterns were present across several survey categories for which this rating was used. Some are highlighted in later comments.


The above classification has led to the distribution shown in table 5.3. The proportion of female managers rated high, at 50 per cent, is significantly larger than the corresponding proportion of 38 per cent for male managers, indicating that the former may be considered more Intuitive:

Table 5.3 Distribution Based on Objective Rating

Category Low % Med % High %
  Male 22 40 38
  Female 16 34 50
  Below 35 22 41 37
  35 - 44 23 38 39
  45 - 59 19 39 42
  Over 59 27 38 35
Organization Type  
  Industry 20 43 37
  Services 23 36 41
Management Level  
  Senior 21 38 41
  Top 25 38 37
  Austria 23 40 37
  France 42 30 28
  Netherlands 30 40 30
  Sweden 31 50 19
  UK 14 44 42
  USA 21 36 43
  Japan 10 44 46
  Brazil 20 46 34
  India 34 37 29
Total 21 39 40

By the same yardstick, Intuition orientation appears to peak in the age group 45 - 59, but the observed differences in the proportion are not statistically significant. The same is true of the differences observed between the industry and services sectors and the senior and top manager groups.

Among the countries, managers in Japan, the USA and the UK appear to be the most Intuitive, while those in Sweden turn out to be the least Intuitive. Considering that Sweden is as developed as these other countries, it is hard to see why it should deviate from the pattern to such a marked extent. . . .

The results for women differ depending on the survey. In two other studies, female managers appeared to be less intuitive in one and more intuitive in the other. I observed that females had to be more rationally dominant than their counterparts to succeed in a male dominated structure. The higher the level of management and the presence of female ownership, the greater the likelihood they would be more intuitive.

The Age peak for percent High may be explained by the oldest managers having come up in the ranks when the perception of being intuitive was less acceptable. This would also explain why Top mangers did not have a larger High percentage than Seniors. The slightly larger High percentage in favor of Services was in the direction I would predict based on Organization characteristics.

The smallest High percent for Sweden and the largest High for Japan were not surprising. Behind the Swedish result, I sensed a rather logical approach to life that was consistent with my experience. The spiritual traditions in Japan would predispose them to non personal sources of intuitive insights. Why not a similar argument for India? Their low figure was not surprising since the educated class had to out British the British at the rational way of being in the world.

Agreement with Specific Descriptions

The extent of agreement with three given descriptions of Intuition (obtained as three independent assessments and not as choice among three alternatives) can be seen from the distribution shown in table 5.6:

Table 5.6 Extent of Agreement with Descriptions of Intuition

  1. Spontaneous insight based on prior experience/expertise.
  2. Flash from 'subconscious levels'.
  3. Tuning into 'higher levels of consciousness'.
Category Extent of Agreement With
a % b % c %
  Male 80 75 49
  Female 64 92 74
Organization Type  
  Industry 81 73 51
  Services 77 79 53
Management Level  
  Senior 81 81 50
  Top 76 72 56
Intuition Rating  
  Low 77 67 46
  Medium 74 76 45
  High 84 85 61
  Austria 64 87 39
  France 63 75 49
  Netherlands 70 67 35
  Sweden 85 45 25
  UK 85 75 46
  USA 86 76 50
  Japan 65 87 63
  Brazil 79 72 56
  India 79 81 52
Total 78 78 52

Even though there were only 100 women in the survey, females expressed agreement with the intuition in the large (c) response significantly more than any other category. Women, allowed more open association with their intuitive nature, had first hand experience with insights that came from a knowing beyond themselves. The results for Organization Type, Management Level and Intuition Rating were what I expected. The results for Sweden and Japan were consistent with the results in the previous table.

On an overall basis, the order of agreement with the three descriptions is as follows (> Denotes 'preferred over' the inference being supported by statistical significance of the observed difference in the relevant proportions.):

(a) & (b) > (c)

This draws reasonable support from the pattern of responses to the open ended question on the respondent's concept of Intuition, discussed earlier. It will be noted that description (c) gets most agreement from the high group. Further, while descriptions (a) and (b) meet with more or less the same degree of acceptance in the medium and high groups, managers in the low group seem to have a clear preference for description (a).

Description (a) was clearly and (b) leaned in the direction of intuition in the small while (c) recognized a source of knowing beyond individual consciousness. Given my interest in intuition in the large, this was the most significant result in the study. Those who were objectively classified as high intuitives would have the most conscious experience with intuition.

Those with the most experience recognized a source of knowing that could not be accounted for by experience or a flash from the subconscious. Here was a clear marker for at least a subconscious recognition of soul at the highest level of business affairs. An intuition in the small concept of "analyses frozen into habit" would exclude these executives and their experiences. I had no use for an idea that dismissed so much of the real world as nonexistent.