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Why 'Corporate Psychopaths' May Really be to Blame for the Recession

 
 
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Looks like the soulless SOBs who wrecked our economy may really be "corporate psychopaths," and yep, they are still in control of our financial institutions. 

According to Bloomberg News:

Clive R. Boddy, most recently a professor at the Nottingham Business School at Nottingham Trent University, says psychopaths are the 1 percent of "people who, perhaps due to physical factors to do with abnormal brain connectivity and chemistry" lack a "conscience, have few emotions and display an inability to have any feelings, sympathy or empathy for other people."

As a result, Boddy argues in a recent issue of the Journal of Business Ethics, such people are "extraordinarily cold, much more calculating and ruthless towards others than most people are and therefore a menace to the companies they work for and to society."

How do people with such obvious personality flaws make it to the top of seemingly successful corporations? Boddy says psychopaths take advantage of the "relative chaotic nature of the modern corporation," including "rapid change, constant renewal" and high turnover of "key personnel." Such circumstances allow them to ascend through a combination of "charm" and "charisma," which makes "their behaviour invisible" and "makes them appear normal and even to be ideal leaders."

According to Bloomberg News, Boddy says their personalities also helped them destroy the economy: Until the end of the 20th Century, everything was going smoothly -- companies were "stable and slow to change" -- until these guys elbowed their way in. 

For Wall Street -- a rapidly changing and highly dynamic corporate environment if there ever was one, especially when the firms transformed themselves from private partnerships into public companies with quarterly reporting requirements -- the trouble started when these charmers made their way to corner offices of important financial institutions.

 

Then, according to Boddy’s “Corporate Psychopaths Theory of the Global Financial Crisis,” these men were “able to influence the moral climate of the whole organization” to wield “considerable power.”

They “largely caused the crisis” because their “single- minded pursuit of their own self-enrichment and self- aggrandizement to the exclusion of all other considerations has led to an abandonment of the old-fashioned concept of noblesse oblige, equality, fairness, or of any real notion of corporate social responsibility.”

According to Bloomberg News, Boddy said his article has been "warmly received" and downloaded 9,440 times in the past 90 days. “Apparently this is a lot for an academic article and it is more than the next four most-downloaded papers combined,” he wrote to Bloomberg. But his research is not all bad news: 

He also has a prescription for how to prevent psychopaths from getting into positions of power on Wall Street and elsewhere.

“Anyone who makes decisions that affect significant numbers of other people, concerning issues of corporate social responsibility or toxic waste, for example, or concerning mass financial markets or mass employment, should be screened to make sure that they are, at the very least, not psychopaths and at most are actually people who care about others,” he wrote.

Wouldn't that be nice -- screening our leaders to cut out the wacko narcissists and sociopathic evil-doers, making sure they are empathic or, at least, have the capacity to experience compassion? What a world that would be.  

AlterNet / By Kristen Gwynne

Posted at January 3, 2012, 11:33am