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Personal Construct Psychology (PCP):
A Short Introduction

Problems in Organisational Decision-Making Processes

When facing internal decisions, managers need a diverse basis of profound information. In this regard, managers will soon come to the conclusion that hard facts, that is, management ratios like return, rate of return, or number of company employees, are insufficient to carefully prepare the decision-making process. Soft facts, such as leadership style, organisational culture or interpersonal networks, are the key factors especially during organisational change processes since they structure the enterprise and guarantee a smooth flow of business.

PCP: An Innovative Solution

The largest and most important part of implicit knowledge, however, is not directly rationally accessible through management ratio, but only intutively. In his Theory of Personal Construct Psychology, short PCP, American psychologist George Alexander Kelly (1955) argues that people act like researchers in everyday situations by using their previous experiences to predict future events. They make distinctions, consciously or unconsciously, that lead their behaviour. In that realm people evaluate situations, other individuals or objects according to characteristics, as for example “Company XY is innovative”.

Kelly defines these distinctions as constructs that consists of binary and dichotomous entities. If the company in the above-mentioned example is categorised as innovative, there exists always a differentiating construct pole, e.g., traditional. The entire construct is therefore “innovative vs. traditional”. The number of constructs varies from person to person and is limited with regard to its use (range of convenience). The total amount of constructs constitutes the individual’s repertoire of available differentiations used to describe the environment (system of constructs).


Consequently, G. A. Kelly (1955) developed the Repertory Grid Technique, a psychological diagnosis method to record an individual’s entire set of distinctions. Here, characteristics of objects or subjects are determined and evaluated through binary distinctions which form the construct. Finally, suggestions for organisational change can be derived from the position of certain subjects or objects in the grid.

Practical Application in Business Contexts

One of the greatest benefits of PCP is certainly the representation of decision-making processes based on implicit knowledge. Kelly’s method visualises organisational structures and processes of actors in a business. Therefore, the grid enables optimised decisions.

Typical Application fields are:

  • Market Research
  • Cultural Analyses
  • Strategic Management
  • Real 360° Feedback
  • Team Development
  • Knowledge Management
  • Competence evaluation

PCP Conference Benefits

  • get to know all about the latest must-have in business
  • hear latest research findings
  • get in touch with groundbreaking methods
  • meet outstanding scholars
  • build contacts to the international PCP community
  • meet business experts
  • learn best-practice tips
  • share your knowledge in special workshops

Further Information

Did we raise your interest? If you want to find out more about PCP, please visit the homepage of the international PCP network.


  Copyright © 2006 by Janko Buve · all rights reserved