Bastian Kückelhaus, Iris Kranefeld, Gerhard Blickle
Planful Machiavellians at Work: Perceived Career Potential and Actual Counterproductive Work Behavior
Abstract: In this paper, we analyze the vocational behavior of individuals with different scores on the personality trait of Machiavellianism. A meta-analysis showed (O’Boyle, Forsyth, Banks & McDaniel, 2012) that trait Machiavellianism is associated with low performance at work. This is surprising because Niccolò Machiavelli had success in mind when he repudiated traditional morality as naïve. This paper tackles the question how highly Machiavellian individuals can become successful in vocational life. On the basis of socioanalytic personality theory (Hogan & Blickle, 2018) and mimicry-deception theory (Jones, 2014), we suggest that Machiavellians with good social skill and high impulse control will successfully mask their tendencies for amorality, callousness, and manipulation and appear benign to coworkers. Additionally, the length of time an employee works in a job is crucial: planful (as opposed to impulsive) Machiavellians with good social skill aspire a positive image among coworkers. Therefore, they curtail their counterproductive work behavior in early stages of tenure, nest themselves into an organization, and extract resources for personal gain in later stages of tenure.
Keywords: Machiavelianism, Counterproductive Work Behavior, Mimicry-Deception-Theory, Career Potential, Vocational Success