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Research Seminar: Are We All in This Together? CEO Narcissism and Voluntary Paycuts

Research Seminar: Are We All in This Together? CEO Narcissism and Voluntary Paycuts

Nazarbayev University Graduate School of Business invites you to the Research Seminar titled "Are We All in This Together? CEO Narcissism and Voluntary Paycuts" by Ms. Udari Ekanayake


Countering half a century of disproportionately rising Chief Executive Officer (CEO) pay, CEOs displayed a surprising new type of discretionary action during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic – voluntarily taking paycuts. The more benevolent view on this new phenomenon would suggest elements of sacrificial leadership, where CEOs signal solidarity with the hardships faced by the rest of the workforce. However, we take a more skeptical view for these motives, building on the executive personality literature and upper echelons theory, which would suggest that CEOs scoring higher on several measures of narcissistic tendencies, would be more likely to undertake bold and unique strategies to preserve their self-image and improve their social standing, especially during times of crisis. As such, actions signaling compassion and solidarity during a crisis, may reflect an inherent motivation to try to secure praise and admiration from stakeholders. Accordingly, we examine the influence of CEO narcissism on CEO voluntary paycuts during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, drawing on a sample of 200 global business leaders at the helm of the largest companies in the US and the UK (as listed on the S&P100 and FTSE100 respectively). The narcissism measure is based on six unobtrusive indicators previously validated in macro studies on CEO personality, and the narcissism score is computed using factor analysis. We apply Tobit and OLS estimation to test our conjectures. Our findings suggest indeed that more narcissistic CEOs were more likely to take voluntary paycuts during the early stages of the pandemic with a higher level. We discuss implications for theory and practice.

Area: Strategic Leadership

Time: 12:30 pm 


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Wednesday, September 22, 2021






Udari Ekanayake

Doctoral candidate

Ms. Udari Ekanayake is a doctoral candidate at department of Management, Monash University, Melbourne Australia. Udari holds a Bachelor of Commerce (Accounting) and Master of Business Administration (Management) from the University of Newcastle Australia. Her research interests focus on Chief Executive Officers’ (CEO) personality, executive bio-physiological features, and CEO-Top Management Team (TMT) interaction. Her PhD research project is supervised by Associate Professor Mariano (Pitosh) Heyden and Professor Matthew Hayward. Udari’s research appears in leading international outlet ranked by the Australian Business Deans Council as A* (top tier) journal The Leadership Quarterly and her research-informed thought on topical leadership issues appear in Monash Impact.
Udari has an extensive teaching experience and she has received commendation for outstanding teaching performance by the Dean Faculty of Business and Economics and Head Monash Business School Monash University.