The exploration of job performance and the dark triad : practical implications for industrial psychologists

Smit, Yvonne-Louise (2020-03)

Thesis (MCom)--Stellenbosch University, 2020.


ENGLISH SUMMARY : The field of Industrial Psychology has pursued the understanding of various variables that impact job performance. Most research efforts thus far have focused on the individual level. These findings suggest that personality and cognitive abilities are the main antecedents of job performance. Within the realm of personality, much of the focus has remained on positive personality frameworks, such as the Big Five taxonomy and the HEXACO model. The relationship between maladaptive personality and job performance has been investigated to a lesser degree. Nevertheless, research that has been conducted suggests that there is a relationship between maladaptive personality and job performance. The Dark Triad, a narrow framework of maladaptive personality has recently received much attention in the field of Industrial Psychology. The research interest in the Dark Triad varies. Some researchers argue that the three variables in the Dark Triad (i.e. Psychoticism, Machiavellianism, and Narcissism) are too similar, while others have provided support for an overlap between the three variables. Moreover, there is evidence that there is enough difference between the three variables to be considered three distinct concepts. Recently, Industrial Psychologists have been urged to start taking the research on maladaptive personality more seriously by investigating the role that it has in the workplace. The Dark Triad has been found to be present in multiple working environments. Moreover, given the proposed relationship between the Dark Triad and job performance it is in the interest of the field to gather a more in-depth understanding of how to effectively intervene and manage workplace environments where individuals may display traits associated with the Dark Triad. This research study aimed to provide Industrial Psychologists with a practical guide within the scope of Industrial Psychology on the management of the Dark Triad in the workplace with the aim of improving job performance. The practical guide was developed using an interpretive research methodology and a two-phase data gathering process. Firstly, semi-structured interviews were conducted with experts in the field. Secondly, a focus group with Industrial Psychologists was undertaken to establish whether the five themes identified in the first phase are practical and within the scope of practice of Industrial Psychologists. The data gathered was analysed using a thematic analysis. The thematic analysis delivered five themes identifying keys areas in which guidance on how to manage people who display traits of the Dark Triad could be focused. The themes include organisational culture, organisational policies and processes, performance management, training, and coaching. The merits of each theme were evaluated against existing literature to develop relevant guidelines. Each of the themes and associated codes was adapted to reflect practical actions (i.e. guidelines) for the management of the Dark Triad in an organisational context. The study thus culminated in a proposed set of guidelines that can be used by Industrial Psychologists to manage people who display traits of the Dark Triad. The guidelines adhere to the scope of practice of Industrial Psychologists but can also be used by other Human Resource practitioners. To conclude, the limitations of the study are acknowledged, and suggestions for future research are proposed.

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