Journal of Business and Psychology

, Volume 25, Issue 1, pp 15–23 | Cite as

Developing and Validating a Quantitative Measure of Organizational Courage

  • Ralph H. Kilmann
  • Linda A. O’Hara
  • Judy P. StraussEmail author



To present the Organizational Courage Assessment (OCA) and explore its construct validity.


The OCA assesses the frequency that members (1) observe potential acts of courage in their organization and (2) fear performing those acts of courage—which defines four types of organizations: bureaucratic organizations (little fear with few acts of courage), fearful organizations (much fear with few acts of courage), courageous organizations (many acts despite much fear), and quantum organizations (many acts with little fear).


Our study validated OCA’s two-factor solution (internal validity) and statistically supported our research model that linked courage assessments to perceptions of an organization’s environment, structures, roles, cultures, climates, performance, and satisfaction (external validity).


While acting courageously works in the short term (and seems, at first, to be ideal), it nevertheless requires members to live with fear on an ongoing basis. Members acting without fear, however, might be the most effective approach in the long term. The OCA can thus be used as a diagnostic tool for assessing organizations (and its subunits) as bureaucratic, fearful, or courageous and then conducting change programs to reduce fear while empowering the membership—thereby creating quantum organizations for long-term success.


This is the first known study to develop a quantitative assessment of organizational courage. Rather than relying on time-consuming interviews or questionable anecdotal information, it is now possible to proceed with a great variety of research studies (and change programs) with a valid—and useful—instrument.


Courage Fear Organizational development Quantum organizations Emotions Contagion 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ralph H. Kilmann
    • 1
  • Linda A. O’Hara
    • 2
  • Judy P. Strauss
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.Katz Graduate School of BusinessUniversity of PittsburghPittsburghUSA
  2. 2.Department of Management & HRMCalifornia State University Long BeachLong BeachUSA

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