How People Contribute to Growth-Curves

30 Pages Posted: 9 Jul 2013 Last revised: 25 Aug 2013

See all articles by Peter P. Robertson

Peter P. Robertson

Nyenrode Business University

Wouter Schoonman

Psy Tech Industrial Psychology

Date Written: July 8, 2013


Research started originally at McKinsey and Company (Thomson, 2006) into success factors of about 1700 Initial Public Offerings (IPO’s). In many of the 70 companies in this research project that made it to a USD billion turnover, personality patterns in the founding teams could be positioned on opposite positions of the Growth-curve.

This research made use of an organizational-ecological tool, the AEM-cube® (Robertson, 2005). This tool relates three key characteristics of the contribution of personalities to Growth-curves: first to what phase of a Growth-curve a personality contributes, second whether the personality is attached more to either technological Growth-curves or commercial Growth-curves and third whether a person is focused on a specific part of a Growth-curve or is focused on integration of larger parts or even the whole of a Growth-curve.

This approach makes it possible to construct Growth-curves by aligned personalities in a relay kind of sequence, matching their specific contributions to the successive phases of a Growth-curve.

AEM-cube® perceptions generated by Silicon Valley based observers about how Steve Jobs and Tim Cook aligned themselves to create a fruitful Growth-curve or the original context of the founding team of Yahoo (Thomson, 2006) are used, amongst others, as examples.

Given the results from the research mentioned above and many other similar case by case examples of the relationship between the contribution of individuals and their appropriate relay-like alignment to Growth-curves, an obvious question is how stable these personality characteristics are over time. If there is a long time stability of these characteristics, this approach will open a route to a long term strategic human resources management, being able to create optimal conditions for every phase of a Growth-curve encountered in the products, services or client relationships in organizations. It could also create an approach for individual career choices of individuals, matching their personalities with the types of functions, roles and assignments in organizations.

This article describes the basic statistical background of the AEM-cube® and the longitudinal research of all assessment and re-assessment data, within a time range between 1 and 12 years, that could be extracted from the 30.000 assessments available today.

The result will show that there is a high level of stability and that assessment and re-assessment data do not differ more than about 10 percentiles over the years for the two factors that describe the direct contribution to the Growth-curve. The third factor, describing the contribution to the integration of Growth-curves differs about 15-20 percentiles, which was to be expected, because this factor reflects in a certain way a personal development as a consequence of career development and was never hypothesized to be stable in the first place.

The conclusion is that the AEM-cube® can contribute to a long term strategic human resources management both from the organization to optimize individual contributions to the strategic phases of growth, as well as from individuals to organizations to optimize their individual career paths.

Keywords: Organizational Ecology, Ethology, Cybernetics, Complexity-Theory, AEM-cube, Growth-curve, S-curve

Suggested Citation

Robertson, Peter Paul and Schoonman, Wouter, How People Contribute to Growth-Curves (July 8, 2013). Available at SSRN: or

Peter Paul Robertson (Contact Author)

Nyenrode Business University ( email )

Straatweg 25
P.O. Box 130
Breukelen, 3620 AC

Wouter Schoonman

Psy Tech Industrial Psychology ( email )

Beeklaan 395
Den Haag, 2562BA

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