Are greedy managers or altruistic managers more successful? The answer may not be so black and white. According to Katalin Takacs Haynes, Matthew Josefy, and Michael A. Hitt, authors of “Tipping Point: Managers’ Self-Interest, Greed, and Altruism” from Journal of Leadership and Organizational Studies, harmony between the two characteristics is actually the most beneficial to firm performance.
We explore the potential effects of managers’ greed and altruism on their behaviors and firm outcomes. Greed represents extreme self-interest whereas altruism reflects concern for others. We argue that managerial greed leads to a focus on short-term decisions and short-term firm performance. Alternatively, managerial altruism normally produces a focus on longer term decisions and long-term firm performance. Managerial greed is also more likely to produce wrongdoing, whereas managerial altruism produces greater corporate citizenship behaviors. Managerial greed is likely to lead to turnover for non-performance–related reasons whereas managerial altruism is more likely to produce managerial turnover for performance reasons. Overall, we conclude that measured self-interest keeps managers focused on the firm’s goals and measured altruism helps the firm to build and maintain strong human and social capital. The extremes of either greed or altruism likely will harm firm performance. Thus, balance between managerial self-interest and managerial altruism leads to the greatest success.
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