The added value of implicit motives for management research Development and first validation of a Brief Implicit Association Test (BIAT) for the measurement of implicit motives

PLoS One. 2018 Jun 20;13(6):e0198094. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0198094. eCollection 2018.


Many Management (sub-)disciplines, from Organizational Behavior and Marketing to Accounting and Strategy, are interested in antecedents and consequences of individual attitudes and traits. A key aspect of personality profiles are explicit and implicit motives. Yet, Management scholars mainly focus on explicit motives, with limited attention to implicit motives. We argue that this state of affairs probably came into being because current Management researchers mainly rely on implicit motive measures that are either difficult to apply or to develop, hampering researchers from applying implicit motive measures. To overcome the downsides of available instruments, we develop a Brief Implicit Association Test (BIAT) as an efficient, reliable and valid measure of implicit motives, particularly the needs for achievement, affiliation and power. To explore our BIAT's predictive validity, we apply this measure to a specific research domain within Management: Entrepreneurship. We examine implicit motives' association with entrepreneurial self-efficacy, business founding, and financial profitability. Our results show that the introduction of implicit motives can unlock stranded discussions in this research domain. Overall, we argue that implicit motives can help to push the boundaries of the study of deep-level attributes in a wide range of organizational and managerial settings.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Achievement
  • Adult
  • Belgium
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motivation*
  • Personality / physiology
  • Personality Assessment* / standards
  • Personnel Management
  • Power, Psychological
  • Research / organization & administration*
  • Self Concept
  • Self Efficacy
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Word Association Tests* / standards

Grant support

The project received finacial support of the Belgian Federal Ministry for Science and Policy (Belspo), Grant number: TA TA/00/40 ( The funder had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.