Finding psychopaths in white-collar jobs: a review of the evidence and why it matters

Journal article


Boddy, Clive Roland, Taplin, Ross, Sheehy, Benedict and Murphy, Brendon. (2021). Finding psychopaths in white-collar jobs: a review of the evidence and why it matters. Society and Business Review. https://doi.org/10.1108/SBR-05-2021-0060
AuthorsBoddy, Clive Roland, Taplin, Ross, Sheehy, Benedict and Murphy, Brendon
Abstract

Purpose
Influential research has posited that empirical investigation provides no evidence for the existence of white-collar/successful psychopaths. The purpose of this current paper is to review evidence for their existence and report on new, primary research that examines ethical outcomes associated with their presence.

Design/methodology/approach
Leading psychopathy researchers called for research using samples of white-collar workers to explore workplace psychopathy. Therefore, the authors undertook a two-stage research process to examine this. Firstly, a structured literature review sought evidence for “corporate psychopaths”, “white-collar psychopaths” and “successful psychopaths” in existing literature. Secondly, original research was undertaken among 261 Australian workers to examine this further.

Findings
Findings indicate that white-collar psychopaths exist. Where they have been found not to exist, investigation reveals that the samples used were inadequate for the purpose of attempting to find them.

Practical implications
Although there is an inconsistent nomenclature, white-collar, industrial, successful, organisational, workplace or corporate psychopaths do exist and are found in white-collar workplaces.

Social implications
Their existence is important because findings indicate that they have a significant, ethically malign and long-lasting impact on employee well-being and organisational ethical outcomes.

Originality/value
To the best of the authors’ knowledge, this is perhaps the first paper to specifically examine the literature for evidence of whether white-collar psychopaths exist. To the best of the authors’ knowledge, this is also the first paper to determine that corporate psychopaths are linked with aggressive humour, gender discrimination, fake corporate social responsibility and reduced communications integration.

Keywordscorporate psychopaths; successful psychopaths; white-collar psychopaths; toxic leaders; industrial psychopaths
Year2021
JournalSociety and Business Review
PublisherEmerald Publishing Limited
ISSN1746-5680
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1108/SBR-05-2021-0060
Scopus EID2-s2.0-85113882661
Research or scholarlyResearch
Page range1-19
Publisher's version
License
All rights reserved
File Access Level
Controlled
Output statusIn press
Publication dates
Online30 Aug 2021
Publication process dates
Accepted08 Aug 2021
Deposited18 Oct 2021
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