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This is one of a series of excerpts from older articles put online by John Ray as a public service. The articles concerned are in general otherwise available only by special request to a University or other major library.

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J. Applied Social Psychology, 1986, 16, 498-507.

The Role of Integrative Complexity in Military Leadership: Robert E. Lee and His Opponents



PETER SUEDFELD, RAYMOND S. CORTEEN, AND CARROLL MCCORMICK

University of British Columbia

Paragraphs selected from material written by Gen. Robert E. Lee between 1839 and 1867, and by Union generals who opposed him in six major battles, were scored for integrative complexity. This characteristic is defined by the degree of differentiation and integration that the individual demonstrates in processing information, ranging from low or simple (rigid, all-or-none, egocentric) to high or complex (flexible, information-oriented, integrated) on a 1-7 scale. Gen. Lee showed a high level of complexity as a stable characteristic, with changes downward in periods of particular stress. Lee was able to defeat superior enemy forces in battles where his level of complexity was substantially higher than that of the opposing commander; this was not the case when the levels were closer together or when (as with Grant) he faced an opponent whose complexity was actually higher than his own. These findings support previous research on the effects of stress, and emphasize the nature of information processing complexity as both a "trait" and a "state" variable.





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