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Managerial agency: Personality, psychopathy, structure and leadership.

Managerial agency: Personality, psychopathy, structure and leadership. Thumbnail


This study begins with the clinical observation that psychopathic patients distort and disrupt the organisation containing and caring for them on one hand, and that organisational leaders manage to galvanise followers into realising his vision on the other; the two seeming to be phenomenologically similar; the former is organisationally effective antisocially, and the latter, pro-socially; one destructive and one creative.

The study explores the implications of this observation through the sociological, psychological and leadership literatures, having focussed on the question of how managers are effective within organisations and to what extent is the personality or psychopathy of a manager a critical variable. Examining Hitler as a crucial case study, who as a leader combined effectiveness, charisma and a personality cult with a violent and psychopathic regime, the study uses a hermeneutic phenomenology methodology. Having looked at the case through the triangulated lenses of personality, historical context (structure) and managerial case history (agent), the study concludes that charisma rather than psychopathy may the critical success factor, and it proposes and describes a concept of "managerial agency" as a capability that combines charismatic with transactional and more coercive leadership.

It argues that the sociological dualism of structure and agency ontologically are the same, such that social structures are collectively held (structurated) ideas. In an organisational (managerial) context they are divided by a relationship between the owner of the structure and the agent. The managerial agent, charismatically uses inspiration of and care for the individual subordinate, to modify (structurate) their psychology and attitudes, establishing energetic adherence to the manager’s task, which influence can be strengthened with more hierarchical transactional factors.


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