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Vulnerable narcissists in leadership? a bifactor model of narcissism and abusive supervision intent.

Braun, S. and Schyns, B. and Zheng, Y. and Lord, R. G. (2019) 'Vulnerable narcissists in leadership? a bifactor model of narcissism and abusive supervision intent.', Academy of management proceedings., 2019 (1). p. 11224.


Addressing the controversial debate about narcissism and its impact on organizations, this article pursues three main purposes: First, we aimed to assess the factorial structure of the Pathological Narcissism Inventory (PNI) in an applied organizational context. In the overall sample of 926 German-speaking managers (Studies 1-3), we found a bifactor model differentiating a general narcissism factor from narcissistic grandiosity and vulnerability to be advantageous over a traditional second-order factor model. Second, we sought to establish the relationships between narcissism and leaders’ drive to aggress against followers (i.e., abusive supervision intent). Above and beyond the general narcissism factor, narcissistic vulnerability consistently predicted leaders’ abusive supervision intent, while narcissistic grandiosity did not. This result also held with an additional measure of grandiose narcissism, the Narcissistic Personality Inventory (NPI) in Study 2. Third, we intended to provide initial insights into the underlying mechanisms linking leaders’ narcissistic vulnerability to their abusive supervision intent. An experimental design in Study 3 identified one reason why narcissistic vulnerability drives leaders to aggress against their followers: they were prone to respond to failure with internal attributions and shame. In sum, this research is the first to point out leaders’ narcissistic vulnerability as a risk-factor for organizations. It advances the current understanding of its conceptual nature and practical implications.

Item Type:Article
Full text:Publisher-imposed embargo
(AM) Accepted Manuscript
File format - PDF
Full text:(VoR) Version of Record
Available under License - Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives 4.0.
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Publisher statement:The accepted manuscript is available under a CC-BY-NC-ND licence.
Date accepted:18 April 2019
Date deposited:03 May 2019
Date of first online publication:01 August 2019
Date first made open access:22 October 2019

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