Timothy Butler

Senior Fellow
Director of Career Development Programs, MBA Program

Timothy Butler is a Senior Fellow and Director of Career Development Programs. His research interests focus on career decision making generally and the relationship between personality structure and work satisfaction in particular. He has published technical papers on career assessment psychometrics and small group dynamics in academic journals and numerous practitioner oriented articles in periodicals such as Fortune, Fast Company and the Harvard Business Review. His books include Discovering Your Career in Business (Addison-Wesley, 1997), The Twelve Bad Habits That Hold Good People Back (Doubleday, 2002), and Getting Unstuck: How Dead Ends Become New Paths (Harvard Business School Press, 2007).

Tim Butler's research on the relationship between personality structure and business career satisfaction led to the development of three psychometric instruments, The Business Career Interest Inventory, The Management and Professional Rewards Profile and the Management and Professional Abilities Profile. These three inventories have been presented with interactive interpretive tools as an integrated Internet-based business career self-assessment program known as CareerLeader, which is used for business career assessment and development by over 300 business schools and corporations around the world.

Dr. Butler has taught for executive education programs and lectured at business schools throughout North America, Europe, and Asia and has consulted to senior managers from organizations ranging from small technology start-ups to Fortune 500 corporations. His consulting work has been most extensive in the Investment Management industry.

  1. by Timothy Butler

    My research is concerned with the way in which people find their way to meaningful and satisfying work. I am also interested in the way in which the culture and productivity of business organizations are enhanced when individuals are able to move toward work activities that are inherently satisfying. I approach this research from the perspective of cognitive psychology, and in particular from that aspect of cognitive of psychology that concerns itself with the reciprocal relationship between the individual and culture as the individual makes and finds meaning in the worlds of work organization and social organization and builds the cultures of work and society in the process of doing so. In this regard the most fundamental aspect of my work is concerned with meaning making.
  2. by Timothy Butler

    One aspect of my research is highly quantitative, based on the construction and analysis of psychometric instruments, and another relies on the qualitative data obtained from the interview process. I look upon both psychometric and interview-derived data in terms of a broader meaning-making perspective. Both the interpretation of sophisticated psychological testing and the self-assessment interview process are concerned with the elicitation of images that become the basis for the building of career and life narratives and the enactment of those narratives.
  3. Meaningful Work as the Recognition and Expression of Deeply Embedded Life Interests

    by Timothy Butler

    A large part of my research efforts over the past twenty years has been focused on the understanding of meaning as the recognition and expression of "deeply embedded life interests", an aspect of the psychology of human personality that has a long tradition of empirical research. This work has led to the development of three psychometric instruments: The Business Career Interest Inventory, The Management and Professional Reward Profile, and the Management and Professional Abilities Profile. I now work from a database of this psychological testing on over 75,000 business professionals and MBA students that has been gathered as a consequence of my investigations. My concern in much of this research as been with the way in which specific work roles and business cultures allow for the realization of underlying interest patterns. This work is on-going as I continue to explore the nuances of the ways in which individual personality differences affect the pursuit of satisfying work. I am currently working on several projects in this area, including an investigation of cross-cultural differences in business related life interests.
  4. Meaningful Work as a Process of Imagination, Narrative, Self-Efficacy and Enactment

    by Timothy Butler

    I am particularly concerned with the elicitation of images as they represent, in their association and amplification, the fullness of cognition in its affective, rational and behavioral dimensions. Careers may be conceptualized as a reciprocal interaction of imagination, narrative building and enactment. I am interested in an individual’s capacity to generate images of meaningful work, understand how these images can become realized in the full context of his or her life, and move toward work roles and work environments where these images may be enacted. In regard to this “moving toward” aspect, I have an interest in social cognitive psychology and, in particular, career self-efficacy. I am currently beginning a new study in this area which will look at self-efficacy for career satisfaction.