Psychopath

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Ó Springer 2011

Journal of Business Ethics (2011) 102:255–259
DOI 10.1007/s10551-011-0810-4

The Corporate Psychopaths Theory
of the Global Financial Crisis

ABSTRACT. This short theoretical paper elucidates a
plausible theory about the Global Financial Crisis and the
role of senior financial corporate directors in that crisis. The paper presents a theory of the Global Financial Crisis
which argues that psychopaths working in corporations
and in financial corporations, in particular, have had a
major part in causing the crisis. This paper is thus a very
short theoretical paper but is one that may be very
important to the future of capitalism because it discusses
significant ways in which Corporate Psychopaths may
have acted recently, to the detriment of many. Further
research into this theory is called for.
KEY WORDS: Corporate Psychopaths, The Global Financial Crisis, leadership, corporate management

Introduction
The Global Financial Crisis has raised many ethical
issues concerning who pays for the damage inflicted
and who is responsible for causing the crisis. Commentators on business ethics have noted that corporate financial scandals have assumed epidemic proportions and that once great companies of
longstanding history and with previously unblemished and even dignified reputations have been brought down by the misdeeds of a few of their
leaders. These commentators raise the fascinating
question of how these resourceful and historic
organizations end up with impostors as leaders in the
first place (Singh, 2008). One writer on leadership
even goes as far as to say that modern society is
suffering from a epidemic of poor leadership in both
the private and the public sectors of the economy
(Allio, 2007).
An understanding of Corporate Psychopaths as
expressed in a recent series of papers in this journal
and in others, and based on empirical research, has

Clive R. Boddy

helped to answer the question of how organizations
end up with impostors as leaders and how those
organizations are then destroyed from within
(Boddy, 2005, 2010a, Boddy et al., 2010a, b).
The event of the Global Financial Crisis has
hastened an already changing climate in business
research. Commentators are no longer willing to
assume that all managers are working selflessly and
entirely for the benefit of the organization that
employees them, and the study of dark, dysfunctional, or bad leadership has emerged as a theme in management research (Allio, 2007; Batra, 2007;
Boddy, 2006; Clements and Washbrush, 1999). The
onset of the Global Financial Crisis has thus led
management researchers to be increasingly interested
in researching various aspects of dark leadership in an
attempt to explain the current financial and organizational turmoil around the world. Numerous papers on dark leadership have, for example, been recently
reviewed by this author for this journal and it is
evident that there are commentators with a deep
knowledge of individual types of dark and dysfunctional leadership and with views on how these people have contributed to the current crisis. Corporate Psychopaths are one such type of dark manager, and this paper investigates their possible influence on the companies involved in the Global

Financial Crisis. This is important because when
large financial corporations are destroyed by the
actions of their senior directors, employees loose
their jobs and sometimes their livelihoods, shareholders lose their investments and sometimes their life savings and societies lose key parts of their economic infrastructure. Capitalism also loses some of its credibility.

These corporate collapses have gathered pace in
recent years, especially in the western world, and
have culminated in the Global Financial Crisis that

256

Clive R. Boddy

we are now in. In watching these events unfold it
often appears that the senior directors involved walk
away with a clean conscience and huge amounts...
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