Save your self: The role of narcissism and political skill in the relationship between ego threat and performance-related outcomes
Wallace, Angela S.
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Building on the premise that narcissism is on the rise and that many of today's organizational leaders are narcissists, this dissertation attempts to provide insight regarding the manner in which narcissistic employees succeed to positions of greater power within organizations. Specifically, the research question of concern is "How do narcissistic employees, despite the negative connotations associated with narcissists, succeed in organizations"? The context in which this question is examined is ego-threat as organizations are riddled with ego-threatening situations that employees must contend with on a regular basis. Two theories are presented which, together, suggest that employees will respond to ego-threatening situations via self-enhancing or self-protecting behavior. It is proposed that narcissists, who are hypervigilant to ego-threat, are more likely to engage in these self-preserving behaviors than non-narcissists. Furthermore, employees who are able to use these behaviors effectively are more likely to achieve favorable performance evaluations from their supervisors. On the other hand, when the engagement in self-preserving behaviors in response to ego-threat is ineffective, it is proposed that employees will experience unfavorable performance evaluations and even participate in behavior that is counterproductive. These assertions were tested using bootstrapping and the results indicated that narcissists respond to situations they deem ego-threatening with rationalization. The engagement in rationalization predicted an increase in anxiety. Furthermore, those impolitic employees who utilize rationalization experience the greatest increase in anxiety. Finally, anxiety was found to lead to greater perceptions of counterproductive work behavior from employees by their supervisors.