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Ambition: a deterrent to workplace deviance among narcissistic leaders

H. Kristl Davison (Department of Management, Appalachian State University, Boone, North Carolina, USA)
Phillip W. Braddy (Center for Creative Leadership, Greensboro, North Carolina, USA)
John P. Meriac (University of Missouri at Saint Louis, Saint Louis, Missouri, USA)
Robert Gigliotti (Saint Anselm College, Manchester, New Hampshire, USA)
Daniel J. Detwiler (The University of Memphis, Memphis, Tennessee, USA)
Mark N. Bing (University of Mississippi, Oxford, Mississippi, USA)

Leadership & Organization Development Journal

ISSN: 0143-7739

Article publication date: 28 February 2022

Issue publication date: 6 April 2022




Workplace deviance remains a concern for many organizations, and narcissism has been identified as a primary contributor. The purpose of this paper is to investigate whether political skill and ambition interact with narcissism to attenuate or exacerbate workplace deviance.


The authors surveyed a sample of 335 participants in leadership positions and empirically tested interactions among political skill, narcissism and ambition in predicting workplace deviance.


The authors performed moderated hierarchical regression analyses on the data to test the hypothesis and research question. Contrary to expectations, political skill attenuated the relationship between narcissism and workplace deviance. However, ambition was found to attenuate deviance, with the highest levels of deviance evident when narcissism was high, political skill was low, and ambition was also low.


Although research has examined the relationship between narcissism and workplace deviance, to the authors’ knowledge, the study is the first to examine the roles of political skill and ambition in attenuating the manifestation of narcissism into workplace deviance.



Davison, H.K., Braddy, P.W., Meriac, J.P., Gigliotti, R., Detwiler, D.J. and Bing, M.N. (2022), "Ambition: a deterrent to workplace deviance among narcissistic leaders", Leadership & Organization Development Journal, Vol. 43 No. 3, pp. 422-434.



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