Machiavellianism in the workplace
Machiavellianism in the workplace is the employment of cunning and duplicity in a business setting. The term Machiavellianism is from the book The Prince by Machiavelli which lays out advice to rulers how to govern his or her subjects. Machiavellianism has been studied extensively over the past 40 years as a personality characteristic that shares features with manipulative leadership tactics. It has in recent times been adapted and applied to the context of the workplace and organizations by many writers and academics. The Machiavellian typically only manipulates on occasions where it is necessary to achieve the required objectives.
A new model of Machiavellianism based in organizational settings consists of three factors:
- maintaining power
- harsh management tactics
- manipulative behaviors.
Workplace bullying overlap
According to Namie, Machiavellians manipulate and exploit others to advance their perceived personal agendas but he emphasizes that they are not mentally ill. They do not have a personality disorder, schizophrenia and neither are they psychopaths. Machiavellianism represents the core of workplace bullying.
The following are the guiding principles of Machiavellianism:
- Never show humility
- Arrogance is far more effective when dealing with others.
- Morality and ethics are for the weak: Powerful people feel free to lie, cheat and deceive others when it suits them.
- It is much better to be feared than loved.
High Machiavellians may be expected to do the following:
- Neglect to share important information.
- Find subtle ways of making another person look bad to management.
- Fail to meet their obligations.
- Spread false rumors about another person.
In studies there was a positive correlation between Machiavellianism and workplace bullying. Machiavellianism predicted involvement in bullying others. The groups of bullies and bully-victims had a higher Machiavellianism level compared to the groups of victims and persons non-involved in bullying. The results showed that being bullied was negatively related to the perceptions of clan and adhocracy cultures and positively related to the perceptions of hierarchy culture. The results of a moderated regression analysis demonstrated that Machiavellianism was a significant moderator of the relationships between the perceptions of adhocracy and hierarchy cultures and being bullied.
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