Universities should check not to hire psychopaths

News | by Frans van Heest

November 10, 2021 † When universities hire academic staff in a leadership position, they must take a test to see if they are psychopaths, says UvA researcher Iris Breetvelt. The behavior of psychopaths also hinders new recognition and appreciation.

Behind the academic misconduct and intimidation, a corporate psychopath hide. These psychopaths use the ability to hide their true self in plain sight and display desirable behaviors. To do this, the prolonged wears different masks. In this way they maintain the facade of the ideal employee and manager.

Acquisition of a paradoxical personality profile corporate psychopaths leadership positions. As competitive and hierarchical labor organizations, universities offer a good working environment for corporate psychopaths† In contrast to their apparent success, practice corporate psychopaths toxic leadership through transgressive behaviors such as bullying, sexual harassment and scientific misconduct.

Many types of misconduct in higher education

In the context of higher education, psychopathic traits can manifest themselves in many misbehaviors, such as exaggerating one’s achievements, belittling the achievements of others, spreading rumors, damaging reputation, demanding high research performance without facilitating consequently.

Claiming favors in exchange for positive evaluation or promotion, usurpation of student copyright, and manipulation of the authorship of publications also occur. Or set time limits and unrealistic tasks by a managerial role, but also discriminate and exclude employees without having the necessary skills and ultimately convince others of their added value for the organization.

There are two types of misconduct that can occur and devastate universities: knowledge sabotage and scientific fraud. These are also associated with psychopathy. In mutual academic competition, the fair exchange of knowledge is no longer a matter of course and knowledge sabotage is a danger. Knowledge sabotage, in the sense of deliberately providing colleagues with incorrect information or withholding knowledge that is important to the work process.

Appropriate way to undermine colleagues

Knowledge sabotage is an effective way to weaken colleagues and subordinates in a competitive academic environment and can cause a lot of damage in the university setting.

Breetvelt uses the term scientific sabotage as it appears in the 2019 National Network of Women Professors report. In addition to hiding information, it is also about obscuring someone’s academic achievements, ideas and skills by refusing someone’s promotion despite a vacant position. which he or she is qualified. This also includes unfounded labeling someone as incompetent and torpedoing someone’s research project.

A lack of morals

Universities that are run like companies and where power, prestige and research funding depend on past scientific achievements run a clear risk of scientific fraud. Scientific fraud requires a personality disorder and social skills; lack of morality and a manipulative and socially exploitative nature.

Scientific fraud requires opportunity, motivation and rationalization, as well as a personality disorder and social skills. The lack of morals and a manipulative and socially exploitative nature qualify the corporate psychopath as a potential scammer.

Previous research among biomedical scientists from four Dutch medical centers has found a correlation between academic misconduct, personality traits and psychopathy. Both narcissism and scientific misconduct were more prevalent in higher scientific positions. An antagonistic personality is more likely to be scientific misconduct.

Bullying in the university setting

The competitive context and the highly hierarchical and at the same time chaotic structure of the universities attract a corporate psychopath† A disproportionate share of the corporate psychopath intimidation and bullying in a university setting is predictable.

But there are solutions, says Breetvelt. Because psychopathy and personality disorders are strongly correlated with interpersonal and counterproductive work behaviors such as aggression and bullying, fraud and otherwise derailed behavior, there is a personal and organizational interest in timely recognition and prediction. .

Sabotage and theft

Corporate psychopathy can be determined with various tools. The best tool to use is the Counterproductive Work Behavior Checklist. It measures the five dimensions of counterproductive work behavior such as abuse, deviation from manufacturing standards, sabotage, theft and withdrawal.

It is therefore important that universities administer a personality test to new staff. Psychopathy is a brain neuropsychiatric disorder. So testing for this is not possible under the General Equal Treatment Act, but personality testing is possible. According to the behavioral expert of the UVA, this is within the scope of the legal possibilities. Furthermore, it is important that good remuneration arrangements are made with new academic staff. Also that the cooperation agreements and the prerequisites are agreed on the corporate culture. These must be recorded in appointments to limit the damage of psychopathic behavior.

Identify misbehavior in time

In summary, Breetvelt says good academic leadership is critical for recruiting and selecting for the highest scientific degrees. This also means that the characteristics of corporate psychopathy be identified in time to avoid damage.

Since people with psychopathic personality disorder are drawn to positions of power, while their dysfunctional leadership is destructive to staff and organization, it is necessary to prevent them from actually ending up in those positions of power.

Check out self-promotion on social media

In personnel selection and promotion decisions, screening for corporate psychopathy it should be used for prevention and early detection. In the job interview, narcissists and psychopaths know how to make a good impression, so much so that the selection filter is not enough. So, in concrete terms, Breetvelt proposes, for example, to inspect a candidate’s social media. Whether a grandiose self-image or self-promotion is shown and disrespectful comments about others or a distortion of facts are shared.

During the selection interview, you need to be more attentive to temptations and an offensive charm. And finally, tests can be used to find out if anyone is in pain corporate psychopathy.

Employee participation must also play an important role in recruiting and selection. An open recruitment and selection program is important and must be approved by the participating bodies.

Neoliberal ideology at the university drives misconduct

Finally, according to the Amsterdam researcher, an important driver of corporate psychopathy in the academy the neoliberal ideology. Where universities are run like companies. Within the university, the focus should not only be on performance and results, but also on how these are achieved. Underfunding, uncertainty in money flows, and uncertainty in work relationships promote toxic leadership.

Job security through permanent employment contracts makes staff less vulnerable to harassment and a culture of fear. The image of science as an international competition with winners and losers plays corporate psychopathy in the map and encourages scientific sabotage. The image of science as an international competition can be better replaced by the image of science as an international search for truth in mutual cooperation.

A buffer against misconduct

In particular, Human Resources personnel must be trained for recognition corporate psychopathy† Workplace leaders should be trained and strengthened in pursuing reciprocity in social exchange with a corporate psychopath. So that they do not act as a connecting link in the cascade of counterproductive work behavior, but rather form a buffer against it.

The single scientist who encounters this toxic behavior would do well to document it and discuss it with union lawyers. Escalation must be avoided with the toxic supervisor, is Breetvelt’s urgent advice.

It is an obstacle to recognition and appreciation

Toxic leadership also hinders the new way of recognition and appreciation, says Breetvelt. “They sabotage the career paths of subordinates. The tactics of divide and rule have upset the balance between the individual and the collective. Bullying, scientific sabotage and exclusion mean that quality, content and creativity are not judged with integrity. ”

Psychopathic leadership is not good academic leadership, but leadership that guarantees systematic social insecurity. In order to achieve real recognition and appreciation of scientists, identification and approach corporate psychopaths necessary.

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