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Surprising Science

The Bright Side of Narcissism

CEOs who “crave acclaim and applause” are more likely to get ahead when it comes to innovation, says a new research study from a top business school in Switzerland.

What’s the Latest Development?

A new study on the habits of highly effective CEOs suggests that narcissistic personalities do better at bringing their companies into line with the latest innovations. The study measured how quickly different pharmaceutical companies adapted to the emerging biotechnology field that has risen over the last thirty years. They compared those measurements with the companies’ CEOs, defining narcissism by the number of times they appeared in the press and the difference in compensation between the CEO and second in command.

What’s the Big Idea?

It stands to reason that narcissistic personalities may indulge their own vision of the world more which may result in bold and forward thinking. Confidence matters a lot, after all. And while the research has been awarded a “year’s best” prize, critics wonder how effectively the team was able to objectify narcissism (no doubt, a difficult task): “Given the difficulty of measuring something as subjective as the size of a chief executive’s ego, it’s important to keep in mind that the downsides of narcissism still strongly outweigh any potential upside.”


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