Narcissistic CEOs Take Bold Action When There's an Appreciative Audience

Harvard Business Review

Highly narcissistic CEOs were nearly 3 times more likely than very un-narcissistic leaders to take bold steps to embrace potentially disruptive technologies when media interest in the disruption was high. But when interest was low, the narcissistic CEOs showed no such heightened propensity to act, says a team led by Wolf-Christian Gerstner of the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg in Germany. The research, which analyzed the U.S. pharmaceutical industry when biotech was disrupting it, measured such actions as acquisition of biotech firms as a function of CEO narcissism (calculated by factors including the leaders' prominence in annual reports). Narcissistic CEOs, who crave admiration, tend to take bold action when there's an audience that is likely to see their actions as daring, the researchers suggest.

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