Are Narcissistic CEOs Good or Bad for Family Firm Innovation?

Rovelli, Paola and De Massis, Alfredo and Gomez-Mejia, Luis (2022) Are Narcissistic CEOs Good or Bad for Family Firm Innovation? Human Relations. ISSN 0018-7267

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Despite anecdotal evidence showing that some CEOs possess narcissistic personality traits, research on this individual characteristic is still lagging behind. While the literature has established that narcissistic CEO traits may affect firm performance, it is not clear whether they act as constructive or destructing forces in family firms. This is particularly important given family firms’ attention towards the preservation of socioemotional wealth. A question thus arises: Can family firms benefit from narcissistic CEOs or should they avoid appointing individuals with this personality trait? Our analysis of unique data from Italian CEOs – collected through a survey and a psychometric test – reveals that CEO narcissism is lower in family firms, and among family CEOs. Nevertheless, in family firms, more narcissistic CEOs tend to exploit greater innovation opportunities by fostering higher TMT strategic decision comprehensiveness. Our findings advance our understanding of narcissism in leadership positions, highlighting its importance for family firms’ innovation and providing meaningful contributions for research on CEO personality, family business and innovation, as well as for practitioners.

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Journal Article
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Human Relations
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The final, definitive version of this article has been published in the Journal, Human Relations, ? (?), 2022, © SAGE Publications Ltd, 2022 by SAGE Publications Ltd at the Human Relations page: on SAGE Journals Online:
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02 Feb 2022 14:50
Last Modified:
22 Nov 2022 10:59