Haynes - Tipping Point-Managers Self Interest Greed and Altruism.pdf

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Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies 2015, Vol. 22(3) 265–279 © The Authors 2015 Reprints and permissions: sagepub.com/journalsPermissions.nav DOI: 10.1177/1548051815585171 jlo.sagepub.com Article We are selfish when we are exclusively or predominantly concerned with the good for ourselves. We are altruistic when we are exclusively or predominantly concerned with the good of others. —Mortimer Adler CEOs are rational or boundedly rational decision makers (Eisenhardt, 1989) expected to maximize shareholder wealth through the careful and competent management of financial, human, and social capital. According to the tenets of agency theory, managers are also theorized to be univer- sally self-interested (Eisenhardt, 1989; Wang & Murnighan, 2011). Empirical findings on greed, an extreme form of self-interest, indicate that the amount of self-interest varies across individuals (Haynes, Campbell, & Hitt, 2014). Inferring from the fundamental assumptions of agency the- ory and empirical findings on greed, self-interest exists along a continuum with two end points. Greed is defined by the Oxford Dictionary (2010) as “intense and selfish desire for something, predominantly money or power” and by Haynes et al. (2014) as “the pursuit of excessive or extraor- dinary material wealth.” It can be conceived as the end of the self-interest spectrum. Greed represents such a high amount of self-interest, or interest for the self, that there is little or no concern for others’ well-being. The opposite of greed is altruism, or extreme selflessness, where concern for the self is replaced by concern for others (De Dreu & Nauta, 2009). Altruism, commonly defined as “a concern or regard for the needs of others, entirely without ulterior motive” (e.g., Quinion, 2002), signifies not only the lack of interest for the self but also the concern for the welfare of others. The opposing conceptualizations of greed and altru- ism, including their positioning as antonyms in the English language ( Collins Thesaurus , 2002) imply that the two con- cepts are the extremes of the self-interest continuum, with greed representing too much interest in the self with no regard for the welfare of others, and altruism representing the opposite. Herein, therefore, we explore how greed and altruism are conceptually related to self-interest, and the existence of a “tipping point” at which self-interest becomes greed or the lack thereof becomes altruism. Within the management literature, a growing body of work on greed (e.g., Haynes et al., 2014, Haynes, Hitt, & Campbell, 2015; Wang & Murnighan, 2011) includes research on the negative effect of CEO greed on shareholder wealth and on human and social capital in corporate and entrepreneurial settings; the studies on altruism are largely confined to the family firm context. 1 In an effort to extend the research on the dark and bright sides of leadership, we 585171 JLO XX X 10.1177/1548051815585171Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies Haynes et al.

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