How does Machiavellianism affect human behaviour? Essay

I.Introduction

Studying human personality is very important in predicting the consequent behaviour of employees in an organization (Robbins & Coulter, 20011). Personality, as described by Robbins et.al (20011) is “the unique combination of emotional, thought and behavioural patterns that affect how a person reacts to a situation” (p. 307). Through predicting the different human behaviours, the organization find ways in dealing with them, may it be positive or negative, that need a certain course of action, each unique from the other. On another view, it is equally essential that as managers, we learn the relationship between employees’ behaviour and their performance which greatly affects the organization, in general. More so, managers should also possess the vital and necessary characteristics in order to effectively view, communicate with and lead their subordinates.

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We learn from the book of Robbins & Coulter (20011) that there are other personality traits that employees possess other than the five established, according to research, Big five model which includes Extraversion, Agreeableness, Conscientiousness, Emotional stability and Openness to experience. These additional personality traits include Locus of control, Machiavellianism, Self-esteem and Self-monitoring. In this paper, the writer will focus on Machiavellianism—on how it affects human behaviour. This paper will focus on two major points of Machiavelli’s stand which are the means and the ends. Moreover, this paper will focus on the effects of Machiavelli’s insights on managers acting as leaders. Although managers and employees, the writer concedes, that both play important roles for the improvement and development of the organization, the writer deem it necessary to focus first on managers’ rather than on its constituents and members because when we talk about Machiavellianism, managers are more prone to this kind of “special personality” which is why Machiavelli’s book “The Prince” talked about the different means of acquiring power and leverage over members.

The main point of this paper is to assert that the Machiavellian view that states “the ends justify the means” is a bane, rather than a boon for
organizations. The writer sees that there have been a lot of debates regarding whether or not the Machiavellian principle promotes better management. Although the writer concedes that the Machiavellian principle, as a whole, is essential for managers especially when dealing with pragmatism and emotions, at the end of this paper, the writer will prove that the point on the ends justifying the means does not always bring about positive effects for the organization, as what the Machiavellian view suggests.

II.Review of Related Literature

•Definition

Machiavellianism is, according to Robbins and Coulter (20011) the “measure of degree to which people are pragmatic, maintain emotional distance, and believes that ends justifies the means” (p. 309). On a leadership scale, it is part of one’s personality. It is related with the concept of acquiring and using power to manipulate others (Uday, 2008). In support with this, according to Christie and Geis (1970), Machiavellianism is defined as “a process by which the manipulator gets more of some kind of reward than he would have gotten without manipulating, while someone else gets less, at least within the immediate context” (Christie and Geis, 1970, p. 106). Moreover, The Machiavelli (Mach) scale is an individual’s way of measuring how strong can he put his self-interests or will over the others, collectively and in order to achieve such leverage, one must learn the art of manipulating others.(Jaffe et al, 1989).

•Negative views on Mach

According to Harris (2010), a lot of theories formulated by past political leaders and philosophers, most especially the religious ones, were against Machiavellianism since they assumed that the individuals are more important than the state, as a whole. As stated in the article “Machiavelli: The Elements of Power”: “The philosophies known as Machiavellianism have been viewed as evil throughout the centuries. People who are highly inclined to
Machiavellian thought tend to have cynical views on human nature (Mudrack, 1993). Moreover, they are assumed to be willing to go beyond the bounds of formal authority just to get what they want (Rayburn and Rayburn, 1996). Grams and Rogers (1990) found out in their study that in order to implant and incorporate their ideas through the use of emotions and influence their colleagues or subordinates, Machiavellian leaders use “indirect and non-rational tactics.” Example of these tactics would be deceit. They also induce guilt in order to indirectly manipulate others (Daly, 1991).

•Studies conducted
In a study conducted by Miesing and Preble (1985), it shows that women as compared to men were less Machiavellian in their approach. It also revealed, testing 487 MBA students that those that are attached with their religious beliefs are less prone to having Machiavellian personality in dealing with people.

Studies have shown that there is a positive correlation between Machiavellianism and narcissism (Paulhus & Williams, 2002). To define narcissim, it is the quality of being overconfident, which would lead us to a reasonable conclusion that Machs are more likely to become overconfident (Campbell et. al., 2002). This goes to say that although they have little bases on their beliefs or impositions, because they are overconfident, they still portray this image of conviction.

Moreover, on professional taxpayers who include managers, its effects suggest greater possibility of avoidance and noncompliance (Ghosh and Crain, 1995). More importantly, studies also show that Machiavellianism is strongly related to ethical decision-making processes, that is people with High Machs are more prone to do more unethical behaviour (Geis and Moon, 1981). This supports the claim that Machs are more lenient of unethical behaviours (Mudrack, 1992). In terms of betrayal, they are also highly susceptible to this since the drive to achieve their goal would make them do kickbacks even if it means betraying or deceiving other people (Hegarty, 1995).

According to the research done, the “bad apples”, that are those involving
high propensity to unethical behaviour, considered in a business include Machiavellianism, the love for money and risk tolerance. It has been concluded that bad apples might cause scandals and corruption because of the lack of virtue and ethical behaviour (Li-Ping Tang et. al., 2008).

•Comparison between High and Low Machs

According to Uday (2008), there are two divisions of people according to their Machiavellian levels with which she provided general descriptions. These are persons with High Machs and Low Machs. People with High Machs are those “who tend to take control, especially in loosely structured situations.” They are more often than not more rational and pragmatic than Low Machs. Uday also argued that they achieve more in business in terms of skills and influence (2008). Research have also shown high level managers, who are considered well-equipped for management have relatively higher Emotional Quotient levels as compared to middle level managers which why they should work more on controlling their emotions (Uday, 2008).

•Importance of Ethics in Management

According to Siddiqui (2009), every organization is founded by appropriate and legal principles that help managers in governing their subordinates. It strengthens and legitimizes actions provided by the management which improves mutual trust, interpersonal relationships within the organization, provides a strong and founded image to the public and bring about sustainability to the organization (Siddiqui, 2009). No business is exempted of running ethics in the culture since it is an essential part of an organization (Oak, 2011). It is also assumed that conflicts always happen in workplace areas, thus ethics is used in order to guide managers in performing moral and reasonable courses of actions in dealing with these conflicts (Green,1994).

III.Discussion

As stated in the RRL, studies have shown that High Mach leaders are more
prone to unethical behaviour and such. We all know that ethics is very important in Management. Although, the writer concedes to the fact that Machiavellianism traits such as pragmatism and keeping emotional distance is a must for leaders in order to effectively overview and gain leverage over his members, the writer do not agree with the point that “the ends justify the means.”

With the phrase “the ends justify the means”, this goes to say that leaders can do whatever means they want and can even if it means doing things without consideration of ethics. Cheating, betrayal and such may occur. How does this negatively affect managers, as a whole? We see that if managers push through with this kind of belief, the world will continue to become a place of graft, corruption, betrayal, deception and such. We see that the true essence of management does not necessarily mean doing things alone. It has to be done in the right way. Otherwise, possible consequences may occur. Even if you try to achieve a certain goal, with the induction of your guilt and conscience, it still wouldn’t work because there will always be loopholes to things that aren’t done in the right way as it is supposed to be. It’ll cause managers to think that it is alright to do unethical behaviour just to be “successful” in achieving their goal because they are given the choice to do it or not which should not be the case.

As leaders, managers should learn how to be good role models because this affects their relationship with their subordinates or employees. They can choose to practice ethics or not. The thing is, they have to be ethical, no matter what. Otherwise, this would lead them to improper management. Once people discover, most especially the stakeholders that are greatly affected in a certain unethical behaviour done, this would eventually lead to a strike as what happened to Ford’s employees as they discovered that their leader were controlling their loves in a paternalistic and negative way (Majumdar, 2006). Although goals are met, the negative consequences will still arise. This will cause greater events of corruption, tax evasion and such because the assumption of the means being equal to the ends would send a false message not only to the managers but also to the employees and the rest of the organization that it is actually acceptable and unavoidable to
be unethical. This might eventually become part of an organization’s culture where everyone is practicing it. This only proves that the business can only prosper or continue in the longest if it is founded and guided by ethics and not driven by the greed of money and power.

Moreover, the writer believes that before we can eradicate the negative consequences brought about by unethical behaviour in management, the society has to destroy the psyche of people, especially of leaders that it can be considered right once the outcome is positive, although not in its truest sense. The writer also concedes that there is a significant gap between the reality and myth being upheld by the Machiavellian principle and that there is a growing need to revise its principles on application to management research, leadership and ethical values (Maguire and Hutchings, 2006).

IV.Conclusion

With all that have been said, the writer concludes that in Management, the ends does not always justify the means for the reasons that (1) Negative consequences such as corruption and employee strike may occur and (2) It might send a negative message to the different members of the organization that ethics can be disregarded just to gain leverage and control and (3) It does not provide sustainable and successful management.

V.References

Christie, R. and Geis, F. L.:1970. “Studies in Machiavellianism, (Academic Press, New York).

Ghosh, D. and Grain, To (1996), Experimental investigation of ethical standards and perceived probability of audit on intentional noncompliance, Behavioral Research in Accounting, 8: 1-18.

Grams, W. and Rogers, R. (1990), Power and personality: effects of Machiavellianism, need for approval, and motivation on use of influence tactics, Journal of General Psychology, 117: 71-82.

Harris, P. Machiavelli and the Global Compass: Ends and Means in Ethics and Leadership. Journal of Business Ethics 2010.

Jain, K. And Bearden, J. N. 2011. Machiavellianism and Overconfidence

Jay, A.: 1994,. Management and Machiavelli (revised paperback edition), (Pfeiffer Press. San Diego).

Jones, T. (1991), “Ethical decision making by individuals in organizations: an issue contingent model”, Academy of Management Review, Vol. 16

Machiavelli, N; 1961, The Prince (tr. Bull, George). (Penguin, Harmondsworth).

Majumdar, Shyamal. 2006. Machiavelli and the Art of Management. Retrieved from: http://www.rediff.com/money/2006/feb/09man.htm

Miesing, E and Preble, J. (1985), A comparison of five business philosophies, Journal of Business Ethics, 4: 465-476.

Mostafa, Mohamed M. 2007. Machiavellianism (Psychology) (Social aspects) Student Journal. Project Innovation (Alabama) Vol. 41 Issue 1

Mudrack, E (1992), Additional evidence on age-related differences in Machiavellianism in an adult sample, Psychological Reports, 70: 1210.

Rayburn, M. and Rayburn, L. (1996), Relationship between Machiavellianism and type A personality and ethical orientation, Journal of Business Ethics, 15: 1209-1219.

Shafer, W. AND Simmons, R. 2007. Social responsibility, Machiavellianism and tax avoidance: A study of Hong Kong tax professionals

Rayburn, M. and Rayburn, L. (1996), Relationship between Machiavellianism and type A personality and ethical orientation, Journal of Business Ethics, 15:
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Paulhus, D.L. and Williams, K.M. 2002. The Dark Triad of Personality: Narcissism, Machiavellianism and Psychopathy: Journal of Research and Personality. Vol. 36. P. 556-563/

Ronald M. Green. 1994. The Ethical Manager, A New Method for Business Ethics New York Macmillan.

Robbins, S. & Coulter, M. (2011). Management. Singapore: Pearson Education South Asia Pte Ltd.

Uday , M. 2008. Machiavellianism: A Bane or a Boon? Last Retrieved: October 1, 2012. http://www.indianmba.com/Faculty_Column/FC853/fc853.html

Complete Guide to Ethics Management: An Ethics Toolkit for Managers. Copyright Carter McNamara, MBA, PhD, Authenticity Consulting, LLC. Retrieved: October 2, 2012. http://managementhelp.org/businessethics/ethics-guide.htm.

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