Accounting as a Facilitator of Extreme Narcissism
We add texture to the conclusion of Duchon and Drake (Journal of Business Ethics, 85, 2009, 301) that extreme narcissism is associated with unethical conduct. We argue that the special features possessed by financial accounting facilitate extreme narcissism in susceptible CEOs. In particular, we propose that extremely narcissistic CEOs are key players in a recurring discourse cycle facilitated by financial accounting language and measures. Such CEOs project themselves as the corporation they lead, construct a narrative about the corporation and themselves using financial accounting measures, and then reflect on how their accounting-constructed performance is perceived by stakeholders. We do not present empirical evidence about whether the use of accounting language and measures leads to unethical behaviour by extreme narcissistic CEOs – although the conclusions of Duchon and Drake (2009) suggest empirical support is probable. Rather, we focus on developing alertness to the potential for accounting, when engaged by an extremely narcissistic CEO, to be a precursor or implement of unethical behaviour.