Doctor of Philosophy
School of Business
Background: The business arena is undergoing tremendous challenges due to technological revolutions coupled with the changing business environment caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. The hypercompetitive nature of today’s business environment can lead to an upsurge in narcissistic leadership in organisations because such leaders can undertake the transformative initiatives businesses need to succeed in times of uncertainty. Research shows three types of leader narcissism: agentic, antagonistic, and communal. Agentic leader narcissists pursue self-promotion motives, uniqueness, and grandiosity and as a result, tend to display more assertive and dominant behaviours. Antagonistic leader narcissism involves the leader’s pursuit of self-protection motives; thus, such leaders tend to defend their grandiose selves from any “possible threat”, devalue others, and remain aggressive. Lastly, communal leader narcissists pursue their core self-motives through contrived efforts that amplify their communal characteristics (e.g., kindness, trustworthiness, and caring). While communal narcissistic leaders pursue their self-motives through communal means with a focus on maintaining their relationships with others, agentic and antagonistic narcissistic leaders achieve their self-motive by prioritising goal-achievement and task functioning. Narcissistic leadership significantly affects both employee and organisational outcomes. Hence, it can also affect employee workplace flourishing, which is very important in the post-Covid-19 era and the Fifth Industrial Revolution, where the wellbeing of all stakeholders is needed to ensure organisational success. However, there is a limited understanding of the relationship between the three types of leader narcissism and workplace flourishing in organisations.
Aim: The study aims to examine the relationship between narcissistic leadership and employee workplace flourishing in the Ghanaian context. The study addresses four research objectives. First, it seeks to determine the dominant type of leader narcissism in Ghana. Second, it examines the predictive effect of leader narcissism (agentic, antagonistic, and communal) on employee workplace flourishing. Third, it seeks to examine the mediating role of emotional exhaustion on the relationships between the three types of leader narcissism and employee workplace flourishing. Fourth, the study seeks to investigate the moderating role of psychological capital on the relationships between the three types of narcissistic leadership and workplace flourishing.
Method: The study employed a quantitative approach and survey design to address the study’s aim. Data were gathered in two phases. In the first phase, data were gathered from 148 organisational leaders in Ghana using an online survey hosted on Qualtrics to address the first objective of the study. In phase two, data was collected from 687 employees in Ghana using an online survey hosted on Qualtrics. The data from phase two were used to address study objectives two, three, and four. The study used the convenience sampling technique and standardised self-report questionnaires to collect data in both phases. The study used the Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) version 27 and its extension—PROCESS macro version 4.1 for the data analysis. The data were analysed using both descriptive and inferential statistics such as multiple regression. The study used the PROCESS macro version 4.1 to conduct both mediation and moderation analyses.
Results: With regard to the first objective, the findings indicate that communal leader narcissism is the dominant type of leader narcissism among organisational leaders in Ghana. With regard to the second objective, the study found that agentic leader narcissism did not significantly predict workplace flourishing, but that antagonistic leader narcissism significantly and negatively predicted workplace flourishing. Communal leader narcissism positively predicted workplace flourishing. For the third objective, the mediation analyses show that emotional exhaustion fully mediated the relationship between agentic leader narcissism and employee workplace flourishing. Similarly, emotional exhaustion partially mediated the relationship between antagonistic leader narcissism and employee workplace flourishing. Emotional exhaustion did not mediate the relationship between communal leader narcissism and employee workplace flourishing. The results of the moderation analyses (i.e., the fourth objective) indicate that psychological capital did not moderate the relationship between two types of leader narcissism (i.e., agentic leader narcissism and antagonistic leader narcissism) and employee workplace flourishing. However, psychological capital moderated (strengthened) the relationship between communal leader narcissism and employee workplace flourishing.
Contributions and Implications: The study contributes to the literature by exploring the three types of leader narcissism and their impact on employee workplace flourishing. The three types of leader narcissism can each affect employee workplace flourishing in different ways. Another contribution is that in a non-Western and collectivistic context like Ghana, communal leader narcissism is more predominant among leaders because it may be perceived as a resource that positively affects employee workplace flourishing. The study also provides empirical evidence of the spiralling nature of resource loss as suggested by the COR theory. As employees are exposed to the behaviours of their agentic and antagonistic narcissistic leader, they tend to experience increased stress levels, which adversely affects their workplace flourishing. Likewise, the study contributes to the theory by showing that the resource investment principle of the COR theory applies to the relationship between narcissistic leadership and workplace flourishing, as psychological capital strengthens the positive relationship between communal leader narcissism and workplace flourishing. HR managers and policymakers need to consider the type of leader narcissism in their organisations when enacting policies and practices to effectively manage narcissistic leaders and promote the workplace flourishing of all stakeholders.
Tagoe, Theophilus, The effect of narcissistic leadership on employee workplace flourishing, Doctor of Philosophy thesis, School of Business, University of Wollongong, 2023. https://ro.uow.edu.au/theses1/1678
FoR codes (2008)
1503 BUSINESS AND MANAGEMENT
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Unless otherwise indicated, the views expressed in this thesis are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the University of Wollongong.