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High toxicity leadership: Borderline personality disorder and the dysfunctional organization

Alan Goldman (Arizona State University, Glendale, Arizona, USA)

Journal of Managerial Psychology

ISSN: 0268-3946

Article publication date: 1 December 2006




This paper aims to assess highly toxic personality disorders in leaders, implications for organizations, and methods for assessment and intervention.


Action research was used, including a thick description case study narrative and application of the DSM IV‐TR.


Personality disorders are a source of a highly toxic and dysfunctional organizational behavior; borderline personality disorder in a leader may serve as a systemic contaminant for an organization.

Research limitations/implications

A qualitative, case study approach may not lend itself to replication or quantification; usage of the DSM IV‐TR requires clinical training in counseling psychology; the growing incidence of personality disorders in leadership warrants cognizance, ability to assess, the creation of early detection systems and methods of intervention.

Practical implications

Through the narrative of a case study researchers and practitioners can obtain a glimpse into the day‐to‐day operations and nuances of a highly toxic leader and how it impacts an organization; interventions and solutions are provided.


This paper calls attention to highly toxic leadership and organizational dysfunction by investigating borderline personality disorder as a prototype.



Goldman, A. (2006), "High toxicity leadership: Borderline personality disorder and the dysfunctional organization", Journal of Managerial Psychology, Vol. 21 No. 8, pp. 733-746.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2006, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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