Does Narcissism Help or Hinder Entrepreneurial Success?

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In a recent series, we explored the strengths and weaknesses of narcissistic leaders — those who might, for example, prove to be highly effective risk-takers, yet also threaten employee well-being or even get their organizations into serious trouble, as detailed in contributor Mark Stein’s recent post. Noting that successful entrepreneurial firms have especially high levels of innovativeness, proactiveness, and risk-taking, a new study published in the Journal of Management asks under what circumstances narcissism might help or harm these firms:

JOM_v38_72ppiRGB_150pixWExtant research has shown that firms with high levels of entrepreneurial orientation (EO) outperform competitors. The present study sheds light on this performance relationship in large, publicly listed high-tech firms by examining whether the strength of this relationship depends upon the CEO’s narcissism, an executive personality trait recently debated controversially in both academic and practitioner publications. A theoretically derived research model is empirically validated by means of multisource secondary data for 41 S&P 500 firms from 2005 to 2007. Findings indicate that narcissistic CEOs usually weaken the EO-performance relationship, although the opposite is true under some conditions, such as in highly concentrated and dynamic markets.

Read the article, “Should Entrepreneurially Oriented Firms Have Narcissistic CEOs?” by Andreas Engelen, Christoph Neumann, and Susanne Schmidt of TU Dortmund, forthcoming in the Journal of Management and now available in the journal’s OnlineFirst section.

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