Fostering and supporting research was an important part of the Daedalus Trust’s mission. It is hoped this emphasis will be continued by the Maudsley Philosophy Group with which the Daedalus Trust has merged. This section details research projects the Daedalus Trust supported in the past and research questions that might merit exploration in future.
Current researchBack to the top
In 2014 the Trust invited applications with an open competitive call for grants to be awarded for innovative and interdisciplinary research into hubristic behaviour across areas of human activity including business, neurosciences, psychology, politics etc.
Many applications were received. Following peer review of a shortlist, five applications were awarded grants. These include four research projects (outlined below), plus a grant of funds to provide additional support for fieldwork and dissemination for two PhD studentships. Work relating to all five grants is steadily reading completion. Information about the projects will be published on this website, including links to the published work.
The projects approved were as follows:
1. Hubristic Leadership and Reconciliation in the Workplace
Constantine Sedikides, Tim Wildschut, and Joost Leunissen, School of Psychology, University of Southampton
“We argue that hubristic leaders who commit workplace transgressions will be unwilling to reconcile with their subordinates. This is because hubristic leaders are relatively unempathetic and guilt-free.” Read the full abstract here: Hubristic Leadership and Reconciliation.
(The first manuscript of this research is reported here: Narcissism and apologizing: The role of empathy and guilt)
2. Confidence, over-confidence and hubris in the banking sector: The identification of key behaviours, critical incidents and tipping points
Professor Dennis Tourish, Royal Holloway (University of London)
“..we need to know more about what kinds of behaviours suggest a leader is falling victim to hubris .. This project will explore those behaviours that are most associated with hubris among leaders in the banking sector.” Read the full abstract here: Confidence.
3. Developing a Process Model of Corporate Hubris
Dr Jane Hendy (Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Business, Economics and Law, University of Surrey)
Dr Danielle Tucker (Lecturer, Essex Business School, University of Essex)
“Hubris in organisational life is often explained as an individual leader who is left unchecked…. At the heart of this idea is the organisation itself, the part it plays in perhaps ignoring, supporting or legitimising toxic beliefs and actions. This research project sets out to understand this complex relationship…”. Read the full abstract here: Developing a Process Model of Corporate Hubris
4. Power and Hubris Behaviour: Neural Basis and Attenuating Factors
Ana Guinote, Antonia Hamilton, Laura Weis, University College London
“The project will use interdisciplinary knowledge …. to better understand the ways power affects the individual …. Power will be experimentally manipulated in the laboratory or assessed in natural work contexts. An fMRI study, as well as behavioural and field studies will be conducted.” Read the full abstract here: Power And Hubris Behaviour
5. Two PhD research studentships at Surrey Business University
Daedalus Trust is supporting two PhD research projects at Surrey Business University, under the supervision of Professor Eugene Sadler-Smith.
Vita Akstinaite is exploring the ‘Use of Linguistic Markers in the Identification and Analysis of Chief Executives’ Hubris’. She will explore the hypothesis that “language produced by hubristic CEOs shows consistent differences from the language produced by CEOs who have not been identified as possessing hubristic tendencies.” Read her full abstract here: Use of Linguistic Markers in the Identification and Analysis of Chief Executives’ Hubris Vita Akstinaite Abstract 09 02 16
Tim Wray’s project is ‘Hubristic leadership: A processual perspective’. His research aims to provide fresh insights into hubris in business and management by exploring how the process of hubristic leadership unfolds through time. His abstract makes the point that “there is little hubris research in business and management which has considered the critical importance … of time”. Read his full abstract here: Tim Wray Abstract 09 02 16
Research aimsBack to the top
The research aims of the Trust included:
- The concept of individual and collective hubris and of the possible effects on personality of exposure to power and the isolation and admiration of others that often accompany such power.
- The positive as well as the negative consequences that may arise from charismatic and hubristic styles of leadership and, for example, an assessment of the balance of opportunities and risks associated with what have been described as the ‘animal spirits’ found within financial and commercial markets.
- The institutional conditions and enforceable rules of governance, behaviour and dialogue that might facilitate the development and maintenance of positive behavioural risk management practices to mitigate the onset of ‘Hubris Syndrome’, and the policies and rules within organisations that might encourage its development.
- Whether obligatory participation in organisational decision-making processes, together with enforceable rules of decision-making might reduce the risk of potentially disastrous decisions while improving the quality and the overall speed of implementation of effective organisational decisions.
Potential research questionsBack to the top
Research questions that might be explored in future include:
- How can hubristic be distinguished from visionary leadership? What characteristics are shared by successful and hubristic leaders?
- What are the important factors (biological, psychological, social, organisational, and cultural) that might exacerbate poor decision-making and increase excessive risk-taking by leaders?
- What processes (biological, psychological, social, organisational and cultural) might institutions be able to deploy to improve decision-making and decrease excessive risk-taking by leaders?
- Where is hubris most prevalent and dangerous?
- How does hubris come about? Does it have experiential, biological or personality antecedents? Is it a natural consequence of the isolation and chronic stress that many successful leaders experience, or of lasting biological or personality patterns?
- Is hubris associated with particular forms of social organisation? Might some ways of organising increase or mitigate the risk of hubris?
- What are the factors that might inhibit its occurrence? Where, and why, has it not occurred?
- How have social organisations been able to protect themselves from hubristic leaders?
- “What are the wider societal and institutional implications of hubristic behaviour in the current social, political and economic climate?”
- What possible positive features of hubristic leadership might there be?