Are Narcissists Lemons or Lemonade: The Mediating Role of Employee Goal Orientation, Attitude and the Moderating Role of Social Context


Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis

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  • Anastasia BELIKOVA

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Awarding Institution
Award date14 Aug 2015


Narcissism has received a lot of negative attention in both the media and academic research, resulting in calls to screen out potential employees with this abrasive personality profile. However, our understanding of what causes narcissistic employees to underperform is piecemeal at best. Study 1 attempts to fill this gap in the literature by hypothesizing that goal orientation will mediate the relationship between narcissism and engagement, where employee engagement is expected to be positively associated with in-role behaviour and organizational citizenship behaviour. To test the hypotheses, data were collected from a multifirm sample in Hong Kong. The results of Study 1 support the mediating role of learning goal orientation but not of performance-prove and performance-avoid goal orientations. Engagement was found to mediate the relationships between narcissism and performance outcomes, namely, in-role-behaviour and organizational citizenship behaviour.
Study 2 addresses inconsistencies in the literature that report that narcissistic individuals are also capable of significant achievements. Drawing on the work design and person- environment fit research streams, the social conditions necessary for narcissistic employees to produce organizationally beneficial performance are addressed. More specifically, the effects of supervisor feedback, competitive climate, and paternalistic leadership on organizational identification and performance outcomes are analyzed. Organizational identification, moderated by supervisor feedback and competitive climate, is hypothesized to mediate the relationship between narcissism and performance outcomes. To test the hypothesized model, data were collected from employees of an organization in Russia and their supervisors. Consistent with the hypotheses, narcissistic employees were found to display higher in-role and organizational citizenship behaviour and lower deviant behaviour when they identified with the organization, where identification was contingent on a competitive climate and negative, but not positive, supervisor feedback. Finally, paternalistic leadership was found to moderate the relationship between narcissism and organizational outcomes, such that high levels of paternalistic leadership increased organizational citizenship behaviour and reduced workplace deviance. The implications of the study’s findings for research and managerial practice are discussed.