Organizational Sociopaths

"Organisational sociopaths: rarely challenged, often promoted. Why?" by Richard J. Pech and Bret W. Slade

"Organisations sometimes select and promote the wrong individuals for managerial positions. These individuals may be incompetent, they may be manipulators and bullies. They are not the best people for the job and yet not only are they selected for positions of authority and responsibility, they are sometimes promoted repeatedly until their kind populate the highest levels of the organisational hierarchy. The purpose of this paper is to address this phenomenon by attempting to explain why it occurs and why organisational members tolerate such destructive practices. It concludes by proposing a cultural strategy to protect the organisation and its stakeholders from the ambitious machinations of the organisational sociopath.

Design/methodology/approach – The authors develop an explanatory framework by attempting to combine elements of the theory of memetics with structuration theory. Memetic theory helps to analyse culture and communication of beliefs, ideas, and thoughts. Structuration theory can be used to identify motives and drives. A combination of these theoretical approaches can be used to identify the motives of organisational sociopaths. Such a tool is also useful for exploring the high level of organisation tolerance for sociopathic managers.

Findings – Organisational tolerance and acceptance for sociopathic managerial behaviour appears to be a consequence of cultural and structural complexity. While this has been known for some time, few authors have posited an adequate range of explanations and solutions to protect stakeholders and prevent the sociopath from exploiting organisational weaknesses. Reduction of cultural and structural complexity may provide a partial solution. Transparency, communication of strong ethical values, promotion based on performance, directed cooperation, and rewards that reinforce high performing and acceptable behaviour are all necessary to protect against individuals with sociopathic tendencies."

Comments

One has to hope Colin that what you observed "first hand" is referring to your experience at eBay. And, if it is why, why you continue to work there. Here is a company that has devolved to become "anti-customer" (the seller, who pays the fees), secretive, obnoxious, and is most definitely ruin by a sociopath: John Donohoe. Despite endless negative criticism, which can not be helping the companies image, eBay relentless marches lockstep in a direction that is destroying itself. It employs draconian policies that are automatic and have no appeal mechanism. Rather than listen to it's customers, it simply drives them away into the hands of competitors. Then it spins excuses as to why it's market is down, while Amazon is up.

My only hope is you get out while you can, before your image and reputation is tainted by this sociopathic company.

One can also only hope that the board of directors and the stockholders will finally wake up too and throw this management team out on it's ass. However, it may be too late for eBay, it has already burnt too many bridges.

I find some corporations/organizations often to have more in common with cults or have many cultlike qualities.
(not that sociopathy does not mesh with such behavior)

Here is a little article which readers may wish to search for and read that may help some to recognize the parallel traits:

"Characteristics Associated with Cultic Groups - Revised"

Janja Lalich, Ph.D. & Michael D. Langone, Ph.D.

Actually, when I made the comment that served as the original coda to this article, I wasn't thinking about eBay or PayPal at all -- it was a prior organization I worked for in Washington DC. But it was misinterpreted (probably because it was so short) so I pulled it off.

rah

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