Power, Status and Expectations: How Narcissism Manifests Among Women CEOs
Posted: 25 Jul 2018
Date Written: November 1, 2017
Firms face mounting pressure to appoint ethical leaders who will avoid unnecessary risk, scandal, and crisis. Alongside mounting evidence that narcissistic leaders place organizations at risk, there is a growing consensus that women are more ethical, transparent, and risk-averse than men. We seek to interrogate these claims by analyzing whether narcissism is as prevalent among women CEOs as it is among men CEOs. We further analyze whether narcissistic women CEOs take the same types of risk as narcissistic men CEOs. Drawing on social role and token theories, we test hypotheses related to gender differences in the prevalence and impact of CEO narcissism on firm-level practices. Using a unique dataset that includes a large sample of CEOs of S&P 1500 companies from 1992 through 2014, we create a narcissism composite score for each CEO based on their photo size in the annual report, and their cash earnings and non-cash earnings relative to the next highest paid executive. We find that women CEOs are less likely to exhibit narcissistic personality traits compared to men CEOs. Furthermore, we find that gender moderates the relationship between narcissistic CEOs and our outcome variables of risk-taking and questionable behaviors.
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