There's no I in team but there is a me: The influence of narcissism on team processes and organisational outcomes.

Authors: Bush, R.

Editors: Hart, C. and Sedikides, C.

Conference: University of Southampton - CRSI


As more and more organisations turn toward tasks focused around team-based structures to survive, a likely threat to team and organisational success lies with narcissistic team members. Narcissism is characterised by a grandiose sense of self-worth, and a dominant and manipulative interpersonal orientation. Although narcissism has been linked with organisational-relevant maladaptive behaviours, research has yet to reveal what, if any, influence narcissism has on teamwork behaviours (i.e., communication, management, intrapersonal, interpersonal skills) and processes (i.e., team cohesion, team conflict) that are associated with team and organisational outcomes (i.e., team performance). Moreover, an investigation of the breakdown of narcissism into its relatively bright (or adaptive) and dark (or maladaptive) sides and their subsequent association with these processes and outcomes is also lacking. Across three studies, I presented evidence that individuals high on traits associated with the dark side of narcissism (i.e., maladaptive narcissism, narcissistic rivalry, vulnerable narcissism) engaged in more harmful team-related behaviours, and were associated with poorer team processes (i.e., high levels of team conflict, low levels of team cohesion) and outcomes than individuals high on traits associated with the bright side of narcissism (i.e., adaptive narcissism, narcissistic admiration).

In Study 1, participants were sampled from a variety of organisational backgrounds, which offered insight into narcissistic behaviours in corporate settings. However, these insights were limited by self-reported data and were nevertheless restricted to the individual-level of analysis. To replicate and expand upon these findings, Study 2 addressed narcissism in a novel team setting (i.e., a commercial escape room) and explored effects at the individual, relational, and team-levels of analysis. Round-robin analyses were used to explore effects at the relational-level of analysis, and aggregated scores of narcissism and team-related processes were used to explore effects at the team-level of analysis. Similar to the individual-level findings, team-level dark narcissism was associated with poorer team processes (i.e., high levels of team-level conflict, low levels of teamlevel cohesion) and poorer team performance than team-level bright narcissism. These findings were coupled with round-robin analyses, which captured the unique interindividual differences in team member ratings of narcissistic individuals. Albeit original, the findings were limited by a small sample size and a small number of teams. To replicate and expand upon these findings, Study 3 examined narcissism in a larger sample with more teams, and explored the longitudinal influence of narcissism within the team setting. Most results from the previous studies were replicated, and some novel findings emerged. For example, contrary to the literature, narcissists were rated more favourably by their team members over time. Likewise, both bright and dark sides of narcissism were positively associated with team performance. Self-enhancement theory and research on narcissistic performance in team settings were called upon for explanation. Taken together, the results of this PhD thesis are instructive and heed a warning for organisations: Narcissism is an important personality trait to understand and monitor in the workplace. Implications and avenues for future research are provided.

Source: Manual