Psychopathic leadership a case study of a corporate psychopath CEO


Boddy, C. 2017. Psychopathic leadership a case study of a corporate psychopath CEO. Journal of Business Ethics. 145 (1), pp. 141-156.
TitlePsychopathic leadership a case study of a corporate psychopath CEO
AuthorsBoddy, C.

This longitudinal case study reports on a charity in the UK which gained a new CEO who was reported by two middle managers who worked in the charity, to embody (respectively) all or most of the ten characteristics within a measure of corporate psychopathy. The leadership of this CEO with a high corporate psychopathy score was reported to be so poor that the organisation was described as being one without leadership and as a lost organisation with no direction. This paper outlines the resultant characteristics of the ensuing aimlessness and lack of drive of the organisation involved. Comparisons are made to a previous CEO in the same organisation, who was reportedly an authentic, effective and transformational leader. Outcomes under the CEO with a high corporate psychopathy score were related to bullying, staff withdrawal and turnover as effective employees stayed away from and/or left the organisation. Outcomes also included a marked organisational decline in terms of revenue, employee commitment, creativity and organisational innovativeness. The paper makes a contribution to both leadership and to corporate psychopathy research as it appears to be the first reported study of a CEO with a high corporate psychopathy score.

JournalJournal of Business Ethics
Publication dates
Online19 Oct 2015
Print01 Sep 2017
Publication process dates
Deposited28 Oct 2015
Accepted12 Oct 2015
Output statusPublished
Publisher's version
Copyright Statement

Copyright: The Author(s) 2015. This article is published with open access at
Open Access This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.

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