HR Strange But True!
September 07, 2006

Ego, alone, does not make for a bad boss (although it couldn't hurt). But when ego borders on narcissism, you may have a problem.

A study unveiled last month claims to offer an empirical analysis of the effect narcissistic bosses have on the firms they run, according to

Titled "It's All About Me," the study was presented Aug. 11 at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Management. The study's authors, Penn State professors Arijit Chatterjee and Donald Hambrick, explored narcissism among 111 tech industry CEOs.

Because most CEOs would not be likely to grant personal interviews for such an undertaking, the researchers came up with a set of six objective measurements to use in weighing the relative narcissism of their subjects.

So, if you've been wondering about the narcissistic tendencies of your company's CEO, here's what to look for:

  • The prominence of the CEO's photo in the annual report
  • The CEO's prominence in company press releases
  • The length of the CEO's "Who's Who" entry
  • The frequency of the CEO's use of the first person singular in interviews
  • The ratio of the CEO's cash compensation to that of the firm's second-highest paid executive
  • The ratio of the CEO's non-cash compensation to that of the firm's second-highest paid executive
Chatterjee and Hambrick found that highly narcissistic bosses tend to make bigger changes in the use of important resources, such as research and development; carry out more and bigger mergers and acquisitions; and experience more big wins -- or big losses -- and more volatile than their humbler counterparts.


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