The dark triad of personality at work: A person-situation perspective

Research output: Types of ThesisDoctoral ThesisInternal

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Drawing from a person-situation perspective, this dissertation examines the positive and negative implications of the dark triad traits—narcissism, Machiavellianism, and psychopathy—within organizational settings. The research investigates their impact within the Chinese cultural context, an area previously underrepresented in this research domain.

We explored several situational factors that might influence the behaviors, perceptions, and performance of employees with pronounced dark triad traits. Specifically, our findings highlight the significant influence of situational cues at the national level (US [individualism] vs. China [collectivism]), team level (e.g., high agency-low communion leadership styles and interpersonal conflicts), and task level (e.g., role ambiguity and reduced job autonomy). These cues particularly shape the work outcomes of employees high in Machiavellianism. Outcomes span a range of performance metrics, behaviors and attitudes at work, such as work engagement, counterproductive work behavior, in-role and extra-role performance, amoral manipulation, and influence tactics. In many cases, these situational cues led to adverse outcomes. For example, role ambiguity seemed to prompt manipulative behaviors in employees high on Machiavellianism, leading to a decrease in work performance.

This research enhances the dark triad literature by integrating an agency-communion framework to understand interpersonal dynamics among employees high on the dark triad traits. It distinguishes between the traits and states of the dark triad personality and examines how these states manifest in organizational settings. Additionally, our study uses a longitudinal design to track behavioral patterns over time. In summary, our findings suggest that the organizational implications of dark triad traits are closely connected to various national, organizational, team, and task-level factors.

Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Erasmus University Rotterdam
Award date17 Nov 2023
Place of PublicationRotterdam
Print ISBNs978-94-6361-918-9
Publication statusPublished - 17 Nov 2023

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