Research Handbook on Boards of Directors
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Research Handbook on Boards of Directors

Edited by Jonas Gabrielsson, Wafa Khlif and Sibel Yamak

Boards of directors are complex systems, and it is imperative to understand what the contextual forces are that shape the direction and make-up of boards. This Research Handbook provides inspiration for researchers and practitioners interested in the manifold dimensions and facets of context surrounding boards of directors.
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Chapter 5: Narcissism: a covert threat to functional board dynamics

Joanna Pousset


This chapter integrates the literature on group and decision processes and studies on board behavior by using the behavioral lens to examine the impact of narcissism on board dynamics. Four main proposals of the study are: (1) when both the CEO and the board are characterized by constructive narcissism, productive (cognitive) dynamics is likely to occur; (2) when the CEO is a destructive narcissist while the board is characterized by constructive narcissism, excessive board cohesiveness may take place, impeding critical thinking and striving for unanimity among members, eventually leading to groupthink and in-group sycophancy; (3) when the CEO is a constructive narcissist while the board embodies destructive narcissism, the board dynamic may turn out to be either healthy or dysfunctional, depending on the effective leadership skills of the CEO and the degree of destructive narcissism of board members; (4) when both the CEO and the board embody destructive narcissism, the entire board will be composed of hubristic directors who are prone to nonconformity, likely to oppose the majority point of view, and are willing to take up a minority position, and therefore the boardroom interaction is likely to result in a destructive (affective) conflict blocking effective board dynamics.

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