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University of Exeter Business School

Managing Employee Individual Differences, Personality and Performance

Module titleManaging Employee Individual Differences, Personality and Performance
Module codeBEMM269
Academic year2023/4
Module staff

Dr Hannah Collis (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Module description

Employees are the backbone of any organisation. Understanding how they work best is vital for getting the best performance from them, as well as ensuring they are happy and thriving as a member of the organisation. This module will be of interest to anyone who wishes to become a manager at any stage of their career, as well as anyone who is looking to have a career within HR, employee development – in general, anyone who wants to work in some capacity with other people!

This module will provide you with insights into unique employee characteristics, how these may differ from others, change over time, and relate to performance outcomes. Throughout the module we will explore a range of different characteristics, such as employee personality, tenure, neurodiversity, and health, which will give you a greater understanding of how employees may react to situations at work differently. You will learn how these can be identified, understood, and utilised within the workplace, from both perspectives of the manager and employee. You will also leave the module with insight regarding your own personal characteristics as an employee and manager to understand how you will perform and react within the workplace.

Module aims - intentions of the module

  • To develop your understanding of individual differences within the workplace, taking their previous knowledge and learning further to explore how employees may change and interact with their work and peers over time.
  • To improve your understanding of their own unique characteristics and how these will impact their experiences of work.
  • To provide you with methods and tools to manage employee differences within the workplace, with a focus on how these can be utilised effectively to promote performance and a healthy workforce.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 1. Discuss how individual differences can impact performance and organisational outcomes
  • 2. Identify and explain how employees act and perform differently at work

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 3. Critically discuss key theories and literature related to individual differences at work
  • 4. Identify and articulate links between different modules and theories with your learning
  • 5. Develop and justify employee management plans based on theory and academic literature

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 6. The ability to work independently
  • 7. Develop effective arguments supported by academic research

Syllabus plan

Throughout this module we will use a variety of learning and teaching methods to support your understanding of individual differences within the workplace, and how these relate to performance and workplace adjustments. Throughout this module we will begin with an overview of the topics, before delving into each topic in depth throughout the semester. We will also bring in some wider current issues to discuss as we go through the content. The taught sessions will cover a range of individual differences, including but not limited to:

  • Personality and personality change
  • The role of the physical work environment
  • Employee health and wellbeing
  • Disabilities and neurodiversity
  • Job control
  • Employee tenure
  • Gender and age

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning & Teaching Activities10Lectures to cover theory for each topic each week
Scheduled Learning & Teaching Activities20Seminars to discuss practical applications for each topic
Guided Independent Study30Preparatory reading prior to taught sessions
Guided Independent Study30Reflection and further reading following taught sessions
Guided Independent Study60Assignment and exam preparation

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
In-class quizzes 10 x 10min Quiz1-7Verbal tutor feedback in class

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Essay 502500 words1-6Written tutor feedback
Written exam502 hours1-6Written tutor feedback

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Essay2500 words (50%)1-7Summer Re-assessment Period
Written exam2 hours (50%)1-7Summer Re-assessment Period

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Within this module there will be a mixture of readings and resources, including both textbooks (available via the library and/or online) and academic journal articles.

  • Appel-Meulenbroek, R., & Danivska, V. (2021). A handbook of theories on designing alignment between people and the office environment (p. 312). Taylor & Francis.
  • Bauer, T. N., & Erdogan, B. (2012). Organizational socialization outcomes: Now and into the future. In C. R. Wanberg (Ed.), The Oxford handbook of organizational socialization (pp. 97–112). Oxford University Press.
  • Brown, K. G. (Ed.). (2017). The Cambridge handbook of workplace training and employee development. Cambridge University Press.
  • Cunningham, C. J., & Black, K. J. (2021). Essentials of Occupational Health Psychology. Routledge.
  • Duncan, G., & Ying, Z. (2013). Job Control, Work Intensity, and Work Stress. Oxford University Press.
  • Furnham, A. (2008). Personality and intelligence at work: Exploring and explaining individual differences at work. Routledge.

Journal Articles:

  • Barrick, M. R., & Mount, M. K. (1991). The big five personality dimensions and job performance: a meta?analysis. Personnel Psychology, 44(1), 1-26.
  • Kamarulzaman, N., Saleh, A. A., Hashim, S. Z., Hashim, H., & Abdul-Ghani, A. A. (2011). An overview of the influence of physical office environments towards employee. Procedia Engineering, 20, 262-268.
  • León-Pérez, J. M., Shoss, M. K., Ferreira, A. I., & Giorgi, G. (2021). Emerging Issues in Occupational Health Psychology. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 18(21), 11621.
  • Tasselli, S., Kilduff, M., & Landis, B. (2018). Personality change: Implications for organizational behavior. Academy of Management Annals, 12(2), 467-493.
  • Weber, C., Krieger, B., Häne, E., Yarker, J., & McDowall, A. (2022). Physical workplace adjustments to support neurodivergent workers: A systematic review. Applied Psychology, 1-53.


Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

You will have access to an online searchable and resources database, with links to several ebooks available through the Exeter Learning Environment (ELE). Within this environment, you will also be supported through online discussion forums and activities.

Key words search

Management, individual differences, employee behaviour, personality, human resources

Credit value15
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites


Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date