Ethics and Organizational Practice
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Ethics and Organizational Practice

Questioning the Moral Foundations of Management

Edited by Sara Louise Muhr, Bent Meier Sørensen and Steen Vallentin

This timely book provides a collection of critical explorations and discussions of managerial ethics and their moral foundations. It is concerned with theoretical, conceptual and practical matters, and thus provides an open and broad approach to a very dense field of enquiry.
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Chapter 10: ‘Is Your Manager a Psychopath? … Are you?’ – The Human–Animal Divide at Work

Rasmus Johnsen


10. ‘Is your manager a psychopath? . . . Are you?’ The human–animal divide at work Rasmus Johnsen 1. INTRODUCTION He is good at making friends and alliances, but these relations never seem to last. He is extremely confident, maybe even self-important. He is very ambitious, but seldom finishes what he started. He is innovative, charming and good at convincing other people that his ideas are ingenious, but following them most likely will have catastrophic consequences for everyone involved. He has a personality disorder from which he seems to be the only one who doesn’t suffer, while people around him, his colleagues, his employees and even the organizations he works for, come apart. He is a psychopath. But instead of being in prison like Hannibal ‘The Cannibal’ Lector he works around the corner and is probably a middle manager on his way up the corporate ladder. Over the last decade the debate concerning clinical psychopathy among employees and managers in contemporary business organizations has found its way to international news stories (for example, Desai 2004; Deutschman 2005). When the white-collar crime and Machiavellian behavior behind the bankruptcies of some of the world’s largest companies is exposed or the investments of rogue traders lead to severe economic loss, this psychiatric diagnosis comes up and the media starts questioning the sanity of those responsible. But if these examples refer to the sense-making process after huge corporate scandals and to the exposure of unbelievable immorality and ruthlessness following them, then the use of the...

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