Blowing the lid on corporate psychopaths
Bullying. It’s a word that resonates with most people, provoking easy memories of past instances of feeling small, belittled or hurt. While bullying remains an ever-present issue amongst young people world-wide, unfortunately a growing rate of employees are experiencing bullying in the workplace. For more than a decade, Professor of Management Clive Boddy has been researching this problem in the business world and is using his findings to help corporations and bring relevance to his classroom.
Having worked in various executive level positions in the marketing and market research sector around the world, Boddy was responsible for turning two failing research offices around, eventually starting his own successful market research company. While experiencing a prosperous and favourable career, it did not come without having his own confrontations with ruthless, callous and unemotional bullies, which led him to the academic world to study what he now describes as corporate psychopaths.
Uncovering a corrupt culture
Boddy’s research began by uncovering environments where bullying was reported to be present at companies in both the UK and Australia. Taking a deep dive into a company’s culture using survey research techniques and in-depth interviews, Boddy began investigating managers reported to have the characteristics of a bully. Developing a series of questions and criteria to determine if a manager fit the description of a corporate psychopath, Boddy’s findings pointed to at least a quarter of all workplace bullying being due to corporate psychopathy.
“With 1% of the world’s population estimated to be psychopathic, we’re bound to see some of these people within the corporate setting. People from a higher socio-economic status can pick up on the negative implications of becoming a common criminal, and instead enter the business arena finding their way to the top to use their position of power to their own advantage,” explains Boddy.
Corporate Psychopathy within Australia
His focus on Australian businesses also led him to discover that while most employees witnessed or experienced bullying on nine occasions throughout the course of a year, those under the management of a corporate psychopath experienced bullying on an average of sixty-four instances in a year. His findings uncovered that the toxic culture and environment created by corporate psychopaths could be felt throughout the entirety of a company, not only by its employees but also by its advisors, suppliers and investors.
“The harassment creates an environment of fear and confusion allowing the bully to rise to further power. This creates an enormous problem for a business as it leads to otherwise highly resourceful and skilled employees becoming doubtful of their ideas and will likely create high turn-over within the affected business. People are held back from advancing their careers and ultimately advancing a business,” says Boddy.
Bringing the issue to life
Using the findings of this research, Boddy has been able to assist employees within organisations affected by corporate psychopaths. Currently applying his learnings to large-scale issues including the Global Financial Crisis, Boddy is now examining findings from The Royal Commission into misconduct in the banking, superannuation and financial services industry in Australia. With hopes to continue his research, Boddy would like to look more closely at Australian banks.
“The impact of having a corporate psychopath in a powerful leadership position at a bank is detrimental to the broader public. They are gambling with people’s money on a huge scale and when negative consequences of their actions arise, an entire society feels the implications. It’s crucial that we look further into this and eventually develop a type of screening before people are promoted to a position of power,” says Boddy.
Within the Tasmanian School of Business and Economics, Boddy is bringing his past entrepreneurial business experience and research directly into the classroom, currently lecturing on innovation and entrepreneurship.
“Giving students real life, concrete examples to drive a lecture helps communicate teaching and learning in a relevant way. Drawing on a personal business experience that may have happened in Australia, Taiwan, South Korea, Hong Kong or the UK, allows for rich discussion and unique global perspectives.”
Research that makes a difference
Clive is Professor of Management in the Tasmanian School of Business and Economics. Prior to academia Clive had a career in market research in Australia, Taiwan, Hong Kong, South Korea and the UK. He turned around two market research offices and then co-founded a successful multi-national market research company with six other equal partners in Asia-Pacific. After returning to the UK, Clive became an Associate Professor in Marketing at Middlesex University in 2000.
Subsequent to reading a small piece on executive psychopaths, Clive recognised some of their characteristics in former colleagues and undertook research in Australia for a DBA (Doctor of Business Administration) on the subject of corporate psychopaths. Later, Clive also gained a PhD in the UK on the same subject. Clive has now been studying, reading about and researching corporate psychopaths since 2005 and has published two books, one book chapter and over thirty-five academic papers on their behaviour. Clive’s on-line TedX talk “Corporate psychopaths and Bullying” and documentaries in which he discusses corporate psychopaths and the global financial crisis; “Power Psychopaths” and “The Psychopath Next Door” have been collectively viewed over two million times.
Clive’s first book on corporate psychopaths was published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2011 and is called “Corporate Psychopaths Organisational Destroyers”. His latest book is called “A Climate of Fear: Stone-Cold Psychopaths at Work” and is available from Amazon.
Clive has worked in commercial and academic research through all of his adult life and he holds professional as well as academic qualifications in research, including an MA by research, a DBA and a PhD.
Before joining the Tasmanian School of Business and Economics in 2018 Clive was Professor of Leadership from 2012 and Chair of the University Professors Group from 2016 at Middlesex University. He was also the Co-Chief examiner for the Diploma of the (UK) Market Research Society. Prior to that, Clive was an Associate Professor in Marketing at Middlesex and a Senior Lecturer in Marketing at Nottingham Trent University.
Clive has also held Visiting Professorships in Market Research at the University of Lincoln and Marketing at Middlesex University, and he is currently a Visiting Professor in Leadership at Curtin University. Clive was also a management consultant at the University of Adelaide in 2009, working in service excellence. Before he became an academic in 2000 Clive ran market research companies in Taiwan, South Korea and Asia-Pacific as General Manager, Managing Director, President and then founder and main board director.
These organisations were more or less among the world’s fastest growing market research companies at the time (1987-1997). During this period, Clive supervised about 43 research projects that he estimates were at doctoral level as well as hundreds of others at lesser levels of complexity.
|Degree||Thesis title||University||Country||Date of award|
The Influence of Corporate Psychopaths on Employees, Workplaces and Society
Corporate Psychopaths in Australian Workplaces: Their Influence on Organisational Outcomes
From brand image research to teaching assessment: using a projective technique borrowed from marketing research to aid an understanding of teaching effectiveness
Researching the Researchers: An Examination of the Critical Success Factors in the UK Market Research Industry
Diploma in Market Research
Liverpool John Moores/Market Research Society
Diploma in Marketing
Liverpool John Moores/Chartered Institute of Marketing
Diploma in Marketing management
Liverpool John Moores
- Fellow of the Market Research Society
- Fellow of the Higher Education Authority
- Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Marketing
- Fellow of the Australian Institute of Management
- Fellow of the Association of Tertiary Education Management.
Clive has been the Managing Director, President and Main Board Director of market research companies in Taiwan, South Korea, Asia-Pacific and the UK and so has a wealth of man-management experience and of supervising many hundreds of research projects from inception to completion.
Toxic Leadership, Corporate Psychopaths, Psychopathic Leadership, Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Market Research, Qualitative Research Techniques Contemporary Issues in Marketing, Marketing Management
Clive has served on the council of the UK Market Research Society and the WA Market Research Society. He was Co-Chief examiner for the Diploma of the (UK) Market Research Society until he came to Tasmania in early 2018.
Clive has been invited to and has presented his research findings at the Universities of Bournemouth, Cambridge (Homerton College and Wolfson College), Greenwich, Lincoln and Curtin.
Clive’s research is connected with UTAS themes of society and sustainability because research into corporate or primary psychopaths shows that they are associated with lowered corporate social responsibility and for example, a willingness to illegally dump toxic waste material. As ego-centric, avaricious and conniving individuals with a ruthless and remorseless willingness to gamble with other people’s money, psychopaths have also been linked with the unethical events leading up to the 2007/2008 global financial crisis. In particular, those financial insiders who have expressed an opinion, report in the ratio of about 6:1 that they believe that psychopaths within corporate banks were involved in the global financial crisis.
Additionally, Clive’s research shows that corporate psychopaths are among the main determinants of bullying within organisations and that psychopathy is a main driver of job satisfaction and in particular, its absence. Employees working under corporate psychopaths suffer from a lack of training, poor internal communications and from not being informed how to do their jobs. This produces an unfriendly, uncooperative and ill-led workplace and an organisation that is perceived to have little interest in working for the good of society or the environment.
The resultantly hostile, uncommunicative, unsupportive and abusive work environment leads to employee disengagement with the aims and objectives of the organisation, and then a withdrawal of effort, time and dedication, eventually leading to the complete rejection of the organisation expressed via staff exits. In lay terms, people can’t leave the psychopathic leader or the systemically psychopathic organisation fast enough. Employees leave even if they have no other job to go to, and can be traumatised for many years afterwards, suffering from stress, lack of sleep, nightmares, other mental health issues as well as from career derailment. Organisations suffer from the employee pursuit of perverse incentives and they experience declining productivity while society experiences a misallocation of resources and sub-optimal economic outcomes.
Fields of Research
- Organisational Behaviour (150311)
- Marketing (150599)
- Organisational Planning and Management (150312)
- Innovation and Technology Management (150307)
- Expanding Knowledge in Commerce, Management, Tourism and Services (970115)
- Technological and Organisational Innovation (910406)
Journal Article(14 outputs)
|2020||Boddy CR, 'Causality in qualitative market and social research', Qualitative Market Research ISSN 1352-2752 (In Press) [Refereed Article]|
|2019||Boddy CR, 'Qualitative research for breakthrough innovation', Qualitative Market Research: An International Journal, 22, (5) pp. 796-804. ISSN 1352-2752 (2019) [Refereed Article]|
|2017||Boddy CR, 'Psychopathic Leadership A Case Study of a Corporate Psychopath CEO', Journal of Business Ethics, 145, (1) pp. 141-156. ISSN 0167-4544 (2017) [Refereed Article]|
Citations: Scopus - 19Web of Science - 17
|2017||Boddy CR, Taplin R, 'A Note on Workplace Psychopathic Bullying - Measuring Its Frequency and Severity', Aggression and Violent Behavior, 34 pp. 117-119. ISSN 1359-1789 (2017) [Letter or Note in Journal]|
|2016||Boddy CR, 'Sample size for qualitative research', Qualitative Market Research, 19, (4) pp. 426-432. ISSN 1352-2752 (2016) [Refereed Article]|
Citations: Scopus - 105Web of Science - 85
|2016||Boddy CR, 'Unethical 20th century business leaders: Were some of them corporate psychopaths? The case of Robert Maxwell', International Journal of Public Leadership, 12, (2) pp. 76-93. ISSN 2056-4929 (2016) [Refereed Article]|
Citations: Web of Science - 4
|2016||Boddy CR, 'Psychopathy screening for public leadership', International Journal of Public Leadership, 12, (4) pp. 254-274. ISSN 2056-4929 (2016) [Refereed Article]|
Citations: Web of Science - 4
|2016||Boddy CR, Croft R, 'Marketing in a time of toxic leadership', Qualitative Market Research, 19, (1) pp. 44-64. ISSN 1352-2752 (2016) [Refereed Article]|
Citations: Scopus - 7Web of Science - 7
|2016||Boddy CR, Taplin R, 'The influence of corporate psychopaths on job satisfaction and its determinants', International Journal of Manpower, 37, (6) pp. 965-988. ISSN 0143-7720 (2016) [Refereed Article]|
Citations: Scopus - 7Web of Science - 6
|2015||Boddy C, Miles D, Sanyal C, Hartog M, 'Extreme managers, extreme workplaces: capitalism, organizations and corporate psychopaths', Organization, 22, (4) pp. 530-551. ISSN 1350-5084 (2015) [Refereed Article]|
Citations: Scopus - 32Web of Science - 31
|2014||Boddy CR, 'Corporate Psychopaths, conflict, employee affective well-being and counterproductive work behaviour', Journal of Business Ethics, 121, (1) pp. 107-121. ISSN 0167-4544 (2014) [Refereed Article]|
Citations: Scopus - 60Web of Science - 51
|2013||Boddy CR, 'Corporate Psychopaths: uncaring citizens, irresponsible leaders', The Journal of Corporate Citizenship, 49 pp. 8-16. ISSN 1470-5001 (2013) [Refereed Article]|
|2012||Boddy CR, 'The impact of corporate psychopaths on corporate reputation and marketing', The Marketing Review, 12, (1) pp. 79-89. ISSN 1469-347X (2012) [Refereed Article]|
|2012||Boddy CR, 'The Nominal Group Technique: an aid to Brainstorming ideas in research', Qualitative Market Research, 15, (1) pp. 6-18. ISSN 1352-2752 (2012) [Refereed Article]|
Citations: Scopus - 39
Chapter in Book(2 outputs)
|2016||Boddy CR, 'Corporate Psychopaths: uncaring citizens, irresponsible leaders', Globalization and Corporate Citizenship: The Alternative Gaze, Greenleaf Publishing Limited, M McIntosh (ed), New York, pp. 166-177. ISBN 9781783534951 (2016) [Research Book Chapter]|
|2014||Boddy CR, 'Counter-marketing case studies', Demarketing, Routledge, N Bradley and J Blythe (ed), New York, pp. 65-81. ISBN 9780415816472 (2014) [Research Book Chapter]|
|2015||Boddy CR, 'Organisational psychopaths: a ten year update', Management Decision, 53, (10) pp. 2407-2432. ISSN 0025-1747 (2015) [Substantial Review]|
Citations: Scopus - 17Web of Science - 22
Conference Publication(3 outputs)
|2018||Boddy CR, 'Historical champions of shareholder capitalism: were they corporate psychopaths? The case of Albert Dunlap', BAM2018 Conference Proceedings, 4-6 September 2018, University of the West of England, pp. 1-23. ISBN 978-0-9956413-1-0 (2018) [Refereed Conference Paper]|
|2018||Boddy CR, 'Meet these targets or else: government inspired psychopathy in the National Health Service', BAM2018 Conference Proceedings, 4-6 September 2018, University of the West of England, pp. 1-13. ISBN 978-0-9956413-1-0 (2018) [Refereed Conference Paper]|
|2018||Boddy CR, 'Why board chairpersons need to be able to recognise the corporate psychopath CEO', BAM2018 Conference Proceedings, 4-6 September 2018, University of the West of England, pp. 1-13. ISBN 978-0-9956413-1-0 (2018) [Refereed Conference Paper]|
Clive is currently looking for research students who want to investigate in the area of toxic and psychopathic leadership.
External Examiner Appointments
- MPhil examiner for Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (Malaysia) 2017. Master of Philosophy dissertation: “Counter-productive work behaviour, psychopathic personality, organizational justice and job satisfaction among Malaysian employees”.
- Doctoral (PhD) examiner, Griffith University, Australia, 2015. “The Dark Side of Leadership and Its Impact on Followers”, Vicki Joy Webster, School of Applied Psychology, Griffith University Queensland.
- Joint Chief Examiner: Diploma in Market & Social Research Practice, the Market Research Society: July 2013 to January 2018. I examined about fifty Diplomas (a postgraduate level qualification) over five years.
- MA, Masters by Research External Examiner: University of Bedfordshire, December 2013. Thesis title: “The campaign as a tale – The usefulness of storytelling techniques in marketing communications”.
Doctoral and Masters’ Degree Research Supervision
PhD: I was Director of Studies for Bridgete Irene: London School of Commerce (Cardiff Metropolitan University), PhD: “Women Entrepreneurs in SMEs in South Africa”. Passed with minor amendments, 9th June 2016.
PhD: I was an internal assessor for Sue Hill's PhD, “Consumer Choice and Climate Change” Nottingham Business School, June 2011.
DBA: (Partial supervision) I was co-supervisor for Fiona Coffey’s DBA, “Corporate Ethical Development and the Role of Ethics and Compliance Managers”. Nottingham Business School, 2011.
MA: I supervised the research element for Steven Wells’ Masters’ degree, report entitled ‘Reflection, lessons learned and further recommendations for Worldpay on the transformation of the SME Sales Operation’ in an MA in Management in International Payments Ecosystems at Middlesex University (2017).
Doctorates Inspired by my research
A number of research groups around the world are conducting research based on my measures of corporate psychopathy.
One of these researchers has completed his doctorate. Malovany, E. 2014, “An Enquiry into Corporate Psychopathy: The Unheard Voice of Follower Experience”. (PhD Thesis), Capell University, USA.