Research Companion to the Dysfunctional Workplace
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Research Companion to the Dysfunctional Workplace

Management Challenges and Symptoms

Edited by Janice Langan-Fox, Cary L. Cooper and Richard J. Klimoski

A work exposing and exploring the phenomena of the dysfunctional workplace is long overdue. This fascinating book does just that, uncovering the subversiveness, counter-productive behaviour and unspoken ‘issues’ that managers struggle with on a daily basis.
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Chapter 2: Personality Disorders and Derailment at Work: The Paradoxical Positive Influence of Pathology in the Workplace

Adrian Furnham


2 Personality disorders and derailment at work: the paradoxical positive influence of pathology in the workplace Adrian Furnham 1. Introduction There are many reasons why workplaces are dysfunctional (Farson, 1997; Finkelstein, 2003). One lies in the pathology of senior managers who create and maintain a toxic culture epitomized by mistrust, dishonesty and lack of equity (Furnham, 2004; Kets de Vries, 1999). The label ‘pathology’ refers to something more than incompetence, being a bully, inefficient or corrupt. It is to assert that some bosses may have personality disorders, and that it is these disorders that account for behaviour which results in a dysfunctional workplace for others. In this chapter I shall concentrate on an intra- and interpersonal psychological perspective while acknowledging that inevitably situational and organizational factors nearly always play a role in precipitating derailment. Thus whilst a manager may be perfectly effective and competent under certain conditions his or her ‘pathology’ may cause specific problems when work pressures rise or unusual conditions occur. Although laypeople (and psychiatrists) think in categorical terms (i.e. ‘he is or is not a psychopath’), psychologists think in dimensional terms. Thus there are degrees to which one can be accurately described as an extravert, a neurotic and indeed a psychopath. In this chapter I shall talk about those with personality disorders in type-terminology. This is partly because most people talk and think in typological rather than dimensional terms (she is tall, he is extraverted, they are neurotic). Further, the way psychiatrists think...

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