An Introduction to Mindset Agency Theory

78 Pages Posted: 30 May 2013 Last revised: 17 Nov 2013

See all articles by Maurice Yolles

Maurice Yolles

John Moores University - Centre for the Creation of Coherent Change and Knowledge (C4K)

Gerhard Fink

Dept of International Business and Trade

Date Written: August 8, 2013


This paper develops a socio-cognitive theory of the (normative or organisational) personality of a plural agency. To do this we first explore the principles of Maruyama’s meta-theory of mindscapes, and establish a directly related Mindset Theory that gives mindscape theory a broader modelling capacity with greater transparency, and both are superior to the more empirically derived approaches like Myers-Briggs Type Inventory (MBTI). A “mindscape” can be understood as a construct from which coherent sets of behavioural mind sets can emerge. A specific set of behaviours and demands would be typical for a social-cognitive system that is ruled by a single mindscape. However, pure mindscapes are extremes, and will likely be rarely observed to rule a single agency (any culturally anchored social). In any self-referential, self-regulating, self-organising and pro-active social system different modes of thought related to different mindscapes are prevalent. As highlighted by Bandura, such interaction between prevalent forces can be modelled with cybernetic approaches, and we create a typology to show the capacity of different cybernetic theories to model personality. The interaction referred to is also the driver for the internal dynamics of a system. Boje (2004) has shown that Maruyama-mindscapes are a constrained set of personality mind set types that can be assigned to a personality (or in the context of a social, a “normative personality”). Boje intuited that Maruyama's mindscapes could be explained through three Foucaultian trait dimensions: knowledge, ethics and power which could operate as a trait basis for mindscape modes. This approach has led him to the creation of a means by which mindscapes can be broadly related with Myers-Briggs Type Inventory cognitive types. The lack of empirical basis for Boje’s traits has led us to create an alternative trait basis that arises from the extensive empirical work on cultural values undertaken by Schwartz (1994). The result is the creation of what we call Sagiv-Schwartz (2007) Mindset Types. We then elaborate on this through the development of agency theory within which we discuss the role of cultural and social environments with respect to the internal and external dynamics of social systems. A culturally based socio-cognitive agency meta-model is then introduced that sits on “living systems” theory. The agency is adaptive, has a normative personality, and an epistemic state determined by its formative traits, the function of which is control. These traits can take bi-polar epistemic values called enantiomers that combine together to give 8 different possible cognitive types that define the personality type mind-set. The personality type is influenced by the culture that the agency is bound to. The traits can be used to explain the what, why and how of dynamic agency behaviour in complex situations. This research creates a generic model that has the potential to distinguish between normal and abnormal personalities in the same framework, something that appears to be missing from the literature, and for which there is a call.

Keywords: Agency theory, socio-cognitive, organisational personality, mindscapes, mindsets, self-organising, adaptation, MBTI

Suggested Citation

Yolles, Maurice and Fink, Gerhard, An Introduction to Mindset Agency Theory (August 8, 2013). Available at SSRN: or

Maurice Yolles (Contact Author)

John Moores University - Centre for the Creation of Coherent Change and Knowledge (C4K) ( email )

Liverpool John Moores University
United Kingdom

Gerhard Fink

Dept of International Business and Trade ( email )

Welthandelsplatz 1, Building D1
Wien, 1020
+43/1/313364331 (Phone)

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