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Re-Examining Machiavelli: A Three-Dimensional Model of

Machiavellianism in the Workplace
S1:crx R. Krssir×
1
Montclair State University
An:x C. B:Nnriii
RHR International Company
P:ii E. Sirc1o×,
W:i1r× C. Bo×x:N, :Nn
C:×No1 E. NrisoN
University of South Florida
Lis: M. PrNNrx
University of Houston
Machiavellianism has been studied extensively over the past 40 years as a
personality characteristic that shares features with the manipulative leadership
tactics Machiavelli advocated in The Prince. We introduce a new model of
Machiavellianism based in organizational settings that is multidimensional, incor-
porating aspects not previously included in Machiavellianism scales. Our model
consists of 3 factors: maintaining power, harsh management tactics, and manipu-
lative behaviors. The results of 3 studies are summarized, discussing the develop-
ment of these 3 factors and how they relate to individual-difference and
organizational variables.jasp_643 1868..1896
Behavioral researchers have been interested in the concept of Machia-
vellianism for the past 40 years. Beginning in the early 1970s, researchers
developed and examined this construct, linking it conceptually to Niccolo
Machiavelli’s (1513/1998) original work, The Prince, which is characterized
as a guide to the use of deceitful, manipulative leadership practices.
Although many researchers (Christie, 1970b; Gable & Dangello, 1994;
Grams, & Rogers, 1990; McHoskey, 1995) have investigated Machiavel-
lianism, most define a Machiavellian (i.e., high Machs) as a manipulative
individual. While individuals who score high on existing Mach scales
engage in manipulative behaviors, this is only one aspect of Machiavelli’s
approach.
We propose that the purpose of Machiavelli’s (1513/1998) The Prince was
to advise leaders (i.e., princes) on the best way to rule subjects. While
Machiavelli advocated using manipulative, harsh, and deceitful behaviors, he
advocated such behavior only as necessary. In other words, when possible, a
1
Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Stacey Kessler, Manage-
ment and Information Systems, School of Business, Montclair State University, Partridge Hall
322B, 1 Normal Avenue, Upper Montclair, NJ 07043. E-mail: kesslers@mail.montclair.edu
1868
Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 2010, 40, 8, pp. 1868–1896.
© 2010 Copyright the Authors
Journal of Applied Social Psychology © 2010 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
ruler should manage his or her followers through kinder means. Therefore,
by definition, Machiavellianism is multifaceted and incorporates additional
attitudes and behaviors beyond deceit or manipulativeness.
It should also be noted that behavioral researchers have examined
Machiavellianism devoid of a specific context. We examine Machiavellian-
ism within today’s organizational context because it is possible for indi-
viduals to behave and think differently in a work context than in their
personal lives. Organizational researchers have supported this claim by
adapting general individual-difference constructs to the work context. For
example, Spector (1988) answered Phares’ (1976) call to develop work-
specific measures with his Work Locus of Control Scale. Additionally,
within today’s organizations, the ability to influence others is an important
skill set at all levels. We believe that Machiavelli’s advice does not apply
solely to top management, but rather to most employees working within
organizations. Therefore, the purpose of the current paper is to introduce a
new model of Machiavellianism that incorporates additional facets, other
than manipulativeness, as well as to place Machiavellianism within an orga-
nizational context.
What Is Machiavellianism?
In 1513, Machiavelli completed a compelling narrative entitled The Prince
that offered advice on how to acquire and maintain power over others
effectively during times of uncertainty and change. In his book, Machiavelli
discussed a pragmatic and rational approach to keeping power that is “based
entirely on expediency and is devoid of the traditional virtues of trust, honor,
and decency” (Wilson, Near, & Miller, 1996, p. 285). A primary theme
throughout his treatise is the degree to which people can be manipulated;
specifically, to identify tactics differentiating those who wield influence from
those who are influenced.
Christie and Geis’ Model of Machiavellianism
Within the field of social psychology, the concept of Machiavellianism
was first studied by Christie and Geis (1970). These researchers began to
examine whether the principles associated with two of Machiavelli’s greatest
works (The Prince and The Discourses) were practiced by individuals in
today’s society. They defined the Machiavellian personality type as someone
who seeks to manipulate others to achieve his or her own ends (Christie,
1970a).
RE-EXAMINING MACHIAVELLI 1869
Christie and Geis’s (1970) model contains four components describing the
characteristics associated with effective manipulation and control of others.
These include (a) a relative lack of affect in interpersonal relationships
(others are viewed entirely as objects or as means to personal ends); (b) a lack
of concern with conventional morality (people who manipulate others have a
utilitarian, rather than a moral view of their interactions with others); (c) a
lack of gross psychopathology (individuals who manipulate must hold a
rational view of others that is not based on distortions of reality; this point
has been challenged by some researchers and is one to which we will return
later); and (d) a low ideological commitment (manipulators are focused on
accomplishing tasks in the present and give little regard to the long-range
ramifications of their actions).
Assessing Machiavellianism
A basic premise of Machiavellianism is that high Machs are guided by
expediency, as opposed to principle, and will engage in a variety of behav-
iors, often manipulative and deceitful, in order to achieve certain end goals.
Using this definition, Christie and Geis (1970) designed scales to measure
Machiavellianism. The most notable, the Mach IV, was based on state-
ments from Machiavelli’s (1513/1998) The Prince and The Discourses (1531/
1984). The Mach IV is a 20-item inventory that is scored on a 7-point
Likert-type scale. The instrument is purported to measure the degree to
which participants agree or disagree with the principles put forth in
Machiavelli’s writings.
The Mach IV consists of statements such as “The best way to handle
people is to tell them what they want to hear,” and “Anyone who completely
trusts anyone else is asking for trouble.” Christie (1970a) reported a split-half
reliability coefficient of .79 for the scale. Internal reliability estimates across
a number of studies have demonstrated levels of reliability ranging from
alphas of .60 to .70 (Mudrack & Mason, 1995).
Although the Mach IV scale provided the first attempt to measure
Machiavellianism, there were several problems with it (Ray, 1983). First, it
demonstrated inconsistent reliability estimates across studies. Second, the
Mach IV scale applies to general, everyday life and does not pertain to
particular contexts (e.g., the workplace). It is possible that individuals might
behave differently across situations (Mischel, 1968; Pervin & John, 1997),
especially contexts as different as their work and personal lives. Third,
Christie and Geis (1970) focused only on the negative attributes of Machia-
vellian behavior and, as Deluga (2001) stated, Machiavellianism might not
necessarily be an entirely negative construct.
1870 KESSLER ET AL.
Organizational Machiavellianism
Several researchers (Hunter, Gerbing, & Boston, 1982; Vleeming, 1979)
have called for changes to the traditional Machiavellianism model. Critics of
the traditional model claim that the construct is too general because it
encompasses a broad spectrum that it is too general not context-specific.
Nelson and Gilbertson (1991) specifically proposed reconsidering the tradi-
tional theory and including concepts relevant to organizational contexts.
Based on these calls for change, we reviewed Machiavelli’s The Prince
and concluded that Machiavelli’s philosophy centered on effectively ruling
subjects. Specifically, he discussed strategies for maintaining power and
effectively managing others. Furthermore, while advocating the use of
manipulative and deceitful strategies, he suggested using these strategies only
as necessary. Therefore, while manipulativeness is part of Machiavelli’s
advice, we believe that Machiavellianism includes additional attitudes and
ideas. Therefore, the purpose of the current paper is to offer a more complete
description of Machiavellianism.
In addition to expanding on Christie and Geis’s (1970) definition of
Machiavellianism, we also believe that it is necessary to examine the concept
within a specific context. We chose today’s organizational context because it is
a setting where individuals need to influence others.
Based on the expanded view of Machiavellianism and the context-
specific domain, we define organizational Machiavellianism as the belief in
the use of manipulation, as necessary, to achieve one’s desired ends in the
context of the work environment. Organizational Machiavellians are indi-
viduals who are comfortable with exploiting others, and do so when it is
beneficial to them. A key theme of the organizational Machiavellian is that
he or she will only use manipulative and deceitful strategies when it is
advantageous to do so. These types of employees are not necessarily heart-
less, nasty, or vindictive, but they can be genuinely accommodating and
respectful, when it is in their best interest to be so. For example, in The
Prince, Machiavelli (1513/1998) suggested that princes “ought, at suitable
seasons of the year, entertain the people with festivals and shows” (p. 61).
Clearly, such behavior seems respectful and accommodating. The key,
though, is that organizational Machiavellians will be guided by expediency,
rather than by principle. For example, Machiavelli also advised for princes
who
acquire such a state [by birth], if he means to keep it, must see
two things: first, that the blood of the ancient line of princes be
destroyed; and second, that no change be made in respect to
laws or taxes. (p. 3)
RE-EXAMINING MACHIAVELLI 1871
Study 1: Scale Development
Hypothesis Testing
The purpose of Study 1 is to develop a scale of Machiavellianism appro-
priate for an organizational context. As subject matter experts, we reviewed
all of the chapters from Machiavelli’s (1513/1998) The Prince in order to
better understand his philosophy. Based up on our review of The Prince, we
believe that Machiavellianism is multifaceted.
In order to design items for a new scale, we collected 91 passages from
Machiavelli’s manuscript. We chose passages that either introduce or follow
stories relayed by Machiavelli and hold advice for “princes.” While many of
these passages advocate using deceit, others suggest that a good leader needs
to gain the good will of his or her subjects.
To reflect an organizational context, we rewrote the passages to make
them relevant within today’s organizations, to abridge the length of the
passages, and to make them more appropriate to distribute to participants.
For example, Machiavelli (1513/1998) writes
as to the mental training of which we have spoken, a
prince should read histories, and in these should note the
actions of great men, observe how they conducted themselves
in their wars, and examine the causes of their victories and
defeats, so as to avoid the latter and imitate them in the
former. (p. 8)
We rewrote this passage to read “One should always read about great pre-
vious leaders in order to emulate them.” It should be noted that we only
reviewed Machiavelli’s The Prince, as opposed to The Discourses, because
some scholars have suggested that The Prince focuses on the role of a ruler,
while The Discourses focuses more on arguments for having a republican
form of government (Machiavelli, 1531/1984).
Method
Participants
Study participants included 402 individuals (130 males, 272 females) who
worked at least 20 hours per week. All participants were taking classes at a
large, urban university where almost all students are employed, many in
full-time, permanent positions. Participants’ ages ranged from 18 to over 49
years, with 21% of the sample older than age 25. There were 69% of respon-
1872 KESSLER ET AL.
dents who identified themselves as Caucasian, 9% as African American, 10%
as Hispanic/Latino, 4% as Asian American, and 8% as “other.” In addition,
21% of participants’ jobs were managerial, and 49% classified their jobs as
white collar.
Measures
Organizational Machiavellianism items. We developed 91 items using 91
passages and excerpts from Machiavelli’s The Prince (1513/1998). Based on
Christie and Geis’s (1970) method, we rewrote each passage to create a
scale item reflecting a modern organizational context. This approach was
used original work. The items were rated on a 6-point scale ranging from 1
(strongly disagree) to 6 (strongly agree). Sample items include “When enter-
ing a new company, it is important to gain the good will of those already
there,” and “An effective individual behaves in a devious fashion when
necessary.”
Demographic variables. The demographic variables section consisted of
seven items: gender, ethnicity, age, educational level, job status (i.e., mana-
gerial or nonmanagerial), job type (i.e., white collar or blue collar), and
number of hours worked per week.
Procedure
The survey was administered to volunteers over a 4-month period in both
online and traditional paper-and-pencil formats. Using this data, we con-
ducted three principle component factor analyses with varimax rotations.
Results
In the first factor analyses we included all 91 items. An examination of
the scree plot indicates support for a three-factor solution (the three factors
accounted for 36.9% of the variance). After the third factor, the scree plot
indicated that the remaining factors accounted for very little variance (< 5%
each). We kept items that loaded at least .35 on a single factor and did not
load on other factors. Based on these criteria, we kept 33 items.
In the second factor analysis, we included these 33 items and forced a
three-factor solution. Using the same criteria, we eliminated items that
loaded less than .35 on a factor and that loaded on an additional factor. This
resulted in a 26-item solution.
RE-EXAMINING MACHIAVELLI 1873
In the third factor analysis, we again forced a three-factor solution and
kept items using the same criteria we applied in the two previous factor
analyses (see Table 1 for the items and factor loadings). This resulted in 6
items loading on each factor. After reviewing the content of items loading on
each factor, the factors were subsequently named Maintaining Power, Man-
agement Practices, and Manipulativeness. Consistent with the goal of
re-examining the philosophy, we decided to name the scale the Organiza-
tional Machiavellianism Scale (OMS).
Discussion
The results of Study 1 suggest that the Machiavellianism philosophy is,
indeed, multifaceted and is composed of more than just manipulativeness. An
examination of the scree plot suggested three factors. After examining the
items, the three factors were named Maintaining Power, Management
Practices, and Manipulativeness.
Study 2: Scale Refinement and Construct Validity Evidence
The purpose of Study 2 is threefold. The first goal is to confirm the
obtained factor structure from Study 1. The second and third goals are to
review the relationship between Christie and Geis’s (1970) Mach IV and the
OMS, as well as the pattern of relationships between these scales and other
organizational variables, respectively. While Christie and Geis focused on the
manipulative aspects of Machiavellianism, the OMS takes a broader view of
the concept. Therefore, we expect only one factor of the OMS (i.e., manipu-
lativeness) to correlate with Christie and Geis’s Mach IV. This is because, the
relationships found between the Mach IV and organizational variables—
specifically, the Big Five personality traits (Lee & Ashton, 2005), social skills
(Gable & Dangello, 1994; Hogan, Curphy, & Hogan, 1994; House & Howell,
1992; Mudrack & Mason, 1995; Wilson, Near, & Miller, 1998), and emotions
(Wastell & Booth, 2003)—suggest that Machiavellianism is a negative orga-
nizational construct.
Although we expect the Manipulativeness factor of the OMS to yield
similar patterns as the Mach IV, we believe that the relationships between the
aforementioned organizational variables and the remaining two factors of
the OMS will question previously held views of Machiavellianism, at least
in organizational settings. Also, although we are unaware of any research
that has examined the relationship between Machiavellianism and political
skill within organizations, we believe that those who score high on the OMS
factors are motivated to possess strong political skills, and expect this pattern
1874 KESSLER ET AL.
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RE-EXAMINING MACHIAVELLI 1875
of relationships to provide additional evidence regarding previously held
views of Machiavellianism in organizations.
Machiavellianism and the Big Five personality traits. The Big Five model
suggests that personality can be described in five dimensions: openness to
experience, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism
(Costa & McCrae, 1992). Most researchers who have examined the relation-
ships between Machiavellianism and the Big Five personality variables have
focused on neuroticism because, according to Christie and Geis’s (1970)
model, a lack of psychopathology is necessary for Machiavellian personality
types to successfully manipulate others. They contended that individuals who
suffer from psychological disorders possess deficiencies, rendering them
unable to evaluate others in social situations. Researchers have examined this
proposition and have found mixed results (Christie, 1970b; Grams & Rogers,
1990; McCutcheon, 2002; Paulhus, Williams, & Harms, 2001; Ray, 1976,
1979).
More recently, Lee and Ashton (2005) expanded research on Machiavel-
lianism and the Big Five personality traits. Using Christie and Geis’s (1970)
measure of Machiavellianism, they found that Machiavellianism was nega-
tively related to agreeableness and conscientiousness. Although negative
in direction, they did not find significant relationships among Machiavel-
lianism and extraversion, openness to experience, or emotional stability (i.e.,
neuroticism).
Machiavellianism and social skills. The relationship between social skills
and Machiavellianism is perhaps one of the most intriguing concepts associ-
ated with the study of Machiavellianism. Several studies (Gable & Dangello,
1994; Hogan et al., 1994; House & Howell, 1992; Mudrack & Mason, 1995;
Wilson et al., 1998) have suggested a link between the behaviors people
exhibit in social interactions and their tendency to use Machiavellian tactics.
Nelson and Gilbertson (1991) proposed a four-cell model depicting high and
low Machs against dangerous and benign typologies. In their model, danger-
ous high Machs are more likely to seek out social interactions that involve
manipulative tactics. Wilson et al. (1996) related the psychological research
on Machiavellianism to theories in evolutionary literature. They suggested
that Machiavellianism can be used as a set of rules for social interactions
wherein the concepts of trust, honor, and decency are vulnerable to
short-term exploitation. Although their research presented intriguing ideas,
Wilson et al. (1996) only provided hypotheses between the evolutionary–
psychological Machiavellian literatures. They concluded that future research
should be conducted and that their hypotheses should be used as a basis for
designing new Machiavellian perspectives.
Machiavellianism and emotional intelligence (EI). There have been incon-
sistent results concerning the link between Machiavellianism and emotion-
1876 KESSLER ET AL.
related skills, such as emotional intelligence (EI). At one extreme, Wastell
and Booth (2003) suggested that a “Machiavellian is a person who is uncon-
nected to his or her emotions (i.e., is an alexithymic)” (p. 730). Wastell and
Booth (2003) proposed that Machiavellians have an inability to connect to
others emotionally and, as a result of this deficiency, treat people as objects
or means to ends. They also found that Machiavellianism was positively
associated with an inability to identify feelings.
Austin, Farrelly, Black, and Moore (2007) used Christie and Geis’s (1970)
Machiavellianism scale to examine its relationship to EI assessed with both
Bar-On’s (1997) Emotional Quotient Inventory (EQI) and the Mayer,
Salovey, Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test (MSCEIT; Mayer, Salovey, &
Caruso, 2002). They also examined how these two EI measures related to
emotional manipulation. They found that Machiavellianism was related to
emotional manipulation, but that EI was not. These results question previous
lines of research regarding the relationship between Machiavellianism and
emotional skills (Wastell & Booth, 2003). More specifically, it seems that high
Machs choose to use their emotional skills only in the context of manipulat-
ing others.
Machiavellianism and political skill. We are unaware of previous research
examining the relationship between political skill and Machiavellianism.
However, based on Ferris, Perrewé, Anthony, and Gilmore’s (2000) defini-
tion of political skill, we believe that meaningful relationships are likely.
Ferris et al. (2000) defined political skill as the extent to which an
individual “combines social astuteness with the ability to relate well, and
otherwise demonstrate situationally appropriate behavior in a disarmingly
charming and engaging manner that inspires confidence, trust, sincerity, and
genuineness” (p. 30). They explained that political skill is composed of four
dimensions: social astuteness (SA), interpersonal influence (II), networking
ability (NA), and apparent sincerity (AS; Ferris et al., 2005). We believe that
political skills represent tools that employees use to accomplish certain goals.
Therefore, we propose that the three OMS factors and political skill are
positively related because of the nature of influence tactics and political
behavior that they share.
Current Study and Hypothesis Testing
To accomplish the first goal of Study 2, we used confirmatory factory
analysis to confirm the factor structure that we obtained in Study 1. The
second purpose was addressed by determining the relationship between the
OMS and Christie and Geis’s (1970) scale. Because Christie and Geis focused
solely on the manipulativeness aspects of the philosophy, we expect that
RE-EXAMINING MACHIAVELLI 1877
only the Manipulativeness factor of the OMS will relate to their scale. Third,
we examined the relationship of the three OMS factors with personality,
variables, emotions, and political skill. Although some relationships between
Christie and Geis’s Mach IV and other variables have been inconsistent, we
believe that the relationships between the Manipulativeness factor of the
OMS and these variables should mirror the general pattern of relationships
found with Christie and Geis’s Mach IV.
Hypothesis 1. The OMS will fit a three-factor structure con-
sisting of maintaining power, management practices, and
manipulativeness.
Christie and Geis’s (1970) Mach IV focused on the more negative and
manipulative side of the Machiavellian construct. We propose that while high
Machs can behave in a manipulative and harsh fashion, they only do so when
it is necessary to achieve desired ends. However, we believe that this is only
one part of the Machiavellian construct. Therefore, we propose that Christie
and Geis’s Mach IV will be positively related to the Manipulativeness factor
of the OMS, but will have no relationship with the other two factors.
Hypothesis 2. There will be a positive relationship between the
Manipulativeness factor of the OMS and the Mach IV, but
there will be no relationship between the Mach IV and the other
factors of the OMS.
Furthermore, we believe that only certain OMS factors will positively
relate to conscientiousness. Conscientious employees pay attention to detail
and are achievement-oriented and hard-working. Because it is important
to be able to maintain power in the workplace and manage others, con-
scientious employees might believe that engaging in these behaviors
is important. However, within the organizational environment, the open
manipulation of others is not encouraged. Therefore, conscientious employ-
ees are less likely to believe that engaging in manipulative behavior is
appropriate.
Hypothesis 3. There will be a positive relationship between two
factors of the OMS (i.e., Maintaining Power, Management
Practices) and conscientiousness, but there will be a negative
relationship between the factor of Manipulativeness and
conscientiousness.
Additionally, all three factors of the OMS (i.e., Maintaining Power, Man-
agement Practices, Manipulativeness) require employees to interact with one
1878 KESSLER ET AL.
another. Extraverted individuals tend to be more outgoing and sociable.
Therefore, individuals who score high on each of the OMS factors are more
likely to be extraverted.
Hypothesis 4. All three factors of the OMS will be positively
related to extraversion.
The relationship between Machiavellianism and neuroticism has been
documented since the early 1970s. The results of most studies have indicated
a negative relationship between the two constructs. Christie and Geis (1970)
suggested that Machiavellians lack neurotic characteristics because of their
ability to manipulate. Since we believe that the OMS Manipulativeness factor
will be correlated with Christie and Geis’s scale, we expect a negative rela-
tionship with this factor of the OMS and neuroticism. Additionally, Paulhus
et al. (2001) suggested that neurotic individuals have difficulties relating to
others. We propose that those who score high on the remaining two OMS
factors (i.e., Maintaining Power, Managing Others) will believe that they are
able to relate to others.
Hypothesis 5. There will be a negative relationship between all
three factors of the OMS and neuroticism.
In order to maintain power and manage others in today’s workforce, it is
necessary to display a degree of flexibility. Agreeable individuals are better
able to maintain a degree of flexibility and, therefore, are hypothesized to
score higher on the first two OMS factors (i.e., Maintaining Power, Manage-
ment Practices). However, if individuals are overly agreeable, they will not be
able to maintain power or manage those around them. Therefore, we propose
that the relationship between agreeableness and the first two factors of the
OMS will be positive and significant, but not extremely strong. On the other
hand, employees who believe that it is beneficial to manipulate those around
them will tend to be disagreeable with others because their goal is to take
advantage of other employees.
Hypothesis 6. There will positive relationships between the first
two factors of the OMS (Maintaining Power, Management
Practices) and agreeableness, but a negative relationship
between the Manipulativeness factor of the OMS and
agreeableness.
There is an increasing trend toward influencing other employees using
social skills, as opposed to commanding employees through the traditional
organizational hierarchy. EI is about being aware of one’s own emotions, as
well as the emotions of others, and using this information to influence others.
RE-EXAMINING MACHIAVELLI 1879
Traditionally, researchers have suggested that high Machs are devoid of
emotional skills altogether (Wastell & Booth, 2003). However, a recent study
(Austin et al., 2007) suggested that high Machs might be able to perceive
the emotions of others and use this information for manipulative purposes.
Therefore, we propose that those who score high on the Manipulativeness
factor of the OMS will possess high levels of EI. We also believe that those
high on the OMS factors of Maintaining Power and Management Practices
will possess higher amounts of EI because they will need this skill set to
accomplish their goals within today’s organizations.
Hypothesis 7. There will be a positive relationship between emo-
tional intelligence and all three factors of the OMS.
We are unaware of research that has examined the relationship between
political skill and Machiavellianism. However, we propose that the two
concepts are positively related as a result of the nature of influence tactics and
political behavior that they share.
Hypothesis 8. There will be a positive relationship between the
three OMS factors (Maintaining Power, Management Prac-
tices, Manipulativeness) and the four political skill facets (social
astuteness, interpersonal influence, networking ability, and
apparent sincerity).
Method
Participants
An independent sample of 465 individuals (110 males, 355 females) from
the same subject population as Study 1 were participants in Study 2. Partici-
pants’ mean age was 28.3 years, and 67% of the respondents identified
themselves as Caucasian. Again, 21% of participants’ jobs were managerial.
Measures
Organizational Machiavellianism Scale (OMS). The 18-item, three-factor
scale developed in Study 1 was used in the current study. Each of the items
were scored on a 6-point scale ranging from 1 (strongly disagree) to 6
(strongly agree), with higher scores indicating that an individual scored
higher on the OMS dimension. The alphas for the Maintaining Power, Man-
agement Practices, and Manipulativeness subscales of the OMS were .67, .72,
and .76, respectively.
1880 KESSLER ET AL.
Mach IV Scale (Christie & Geis, 1970). The Mach IV scale is comprised
of 20 statements (10 of which are negatively phrased) that pertain to
whether an individual adheres to the principles of Machiavellianism. Each
of the statements was scored on a 7-point scale ranging from 1 (strongly
disagree) to 7 (strongly agree), with higher scores representing high Machs
and low scores representing low Machs. According to Christie & Geis, high
Machs are skilled at deception and manipulation. Split-half reliabilities
based on several different studies yielded a moderately high coefficient
alpha of .79 (Mudrack, 2000).
Big Five Inventory (BFI; John, Donahue, & Kentle, 1991). The BFI
consists of 44 items that measure the dimensions of the Big Five. The
instrument was developed out of factor-analytic work involving the
five-factor personality model. The inventory includes 8 items that
assess extraversion, 9 items that assess agreeableness, 9 items that assess
conscientiousness, 8 items that assess neuroticism, and 10 items that
assess openness to experience. The items were scored on a 5-point
scale ranging from 1 (disagree strongly) to 5 (agree strongly), with higher
scores reflecting a higher standing on each of the variables. Sample
items include “I see myself as someone who generates a lot of enthusiasm”
(extraversion), and “I see myself as someone who can be moody” (neuroti-
cism). John et al. reported alpha coefficients in the low .80s for each of the
dimensions.
Emotional intelligence. To assess EI, we used the Wong and Law Emo-
tional Intelligence Scale (WLEIS; Wong & Law, 2002). This instrument
consists of 16 items that are rated on a 7-point scale ranging from 1 (strongly
disagree) to 7 (strongly agree), with higher scores indicating higher levels of
EI. Sample items include “I have good understanding of my own emotions,”
and “I am a good observer of others’ emotions.” Wong and Law reported
reliability estimates ranging from .76 to .89.
Political Skill Inventory (PSI; Ferris et al., 2005). The PSI is an 18-item
measure that is rated on a 7-point scale ranging from 1 (strongly disagree) to
7 (strongly agree), with higher scores indicating higher levels of political skill.
Sample items include “It is easy for me to develop good rapport with most
people,” and “I spend a lot of time and effort at work networking with
others.” The four factors include Social Astuteness (5 items), Interpersonal
Influence (4 items), Networking Ability (6 items), and Apparent Sincerity (3
items). Ferris et al. reported an overall internal consistency reliability esti-
mate of .89.
Demographic variables. The demographic variables section consisted of
seven items: gender, ethnicity, age, educational level, job status (i.e., mana-
gerial or nonmanagerial), job type (i.e., white collar or blue collar), and
number of hours worked per week.
RE-EXAMINING MACHIAVELLI 1881
Procedure
All instruments were combined into one assessment battery that was given
to study participants. The survey was administered online, and the assess-
ment battery took approximately 25 to 30 min to complete.
Results
Confirmatory Factor Analysis
Aconfirmatory factor analysis (CFA) using LISREL(Jöreskog &Sörbom,
2006) was run to confirm the obtained factor structure of the scale. Factors
were allowed to correlate with one another. Although the root mean square
error of approximation(RMSEA) is the most popular index, we alsoexamined
other indexes, such as the comparative fit index (CFI), normed fit index (NFI),
non-normed fit index (NNFI), goodness-of-fit index (GFI), and adjusted
goodness-of-fit index (AGFI). For the CFI, NFI, GFI, andNNFI, values of at
least .90 indicate a good fit; for the AGFI, a value of at least .80 indicates a
good fit; and for the RMSEA, a value less than .08 indicates good fit.
The three-factor model for the 18 items showed good fit (see Table 2).
These findings support our central premise that Machiavellianism is, indeed,
Table 2
Confirmatory Factor Analysis Fit Statistics: Study 2
Fit index Three-factor model (18 items)
CFI .93
NFI .89
NNFI .92
GFI .93
AGFI .91
RMSEA .05
c
2
test of exact fit 316.82
df 132
Note. CFI = comparative fit index; NFI = normed fit
index; NNFI = non-normed fit index; GFI = goodness-
of-fit index; AGFI = adjusted goodness-of-fit index;
RMSEA = root mean square error of approximation.
1882 KESSLER ET AL.
a multifaceted construct. More specifically, they provide support for
Hypothesis 1.
Relationships With Other Variables
Descriptive statistics for all study variables are presented in Table 3, and
the intercorrelations among study variables are presented in Table 4. Con-
sistent with Hypothesis 2, only the Manipulativeness factor of the OMS was
significantly correlated with Christie and Geis’s (1970) Mach IV scale.
The following hypotheses examine the relationship between the OMS
and the Big Five. Hypothesis 3 stated that both Maintaining Power and
Management Practices factors of the OMS would positively relate to con-
scientiousness, while the third factor of the OMS (i.e., Manipulativeness)
would negatively relate to conscientiousness. This hypothesis was supported.
Hypothesis 4 was partially supported; only one factor of the OMS (i.e.,
Maintaining Power) was significantly related to extraversion. Hypothesis 5
was also only partially supported. Maintaining Power was negatively related
Table 3
Descriptive Statistics for Study 2 Variables
Variable M SD
OMS: Maintaining Power 28.82 3.37
OMS: Management Practices 25.76 5.36
OMS: Manipulativeness 19.44 4.77
Mach IV 72.89 12.05
Social astuteness 27.93 4.11
Interpersonal influence 22.74 4.11
Networking ability 30.88 6.42
Apparent sincerity 17.39 2.41
Emotional intelligence 88.27 12.81
Extraversion 31.07 5.47
Agreeableness 37.24 4.56
Conscientiousness 37.44 4.28
Neuroticism 25.80 6.22
Openness 38.70 5.86
Note. OMS = Organizational Machiavellianism Scale.
RE-EXAMINING MACHIAVELLI 1883
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1884 KESSLER ET AL.
to neuroticism, but the other relationships were not significant. Hypothesis 6
stated that there would be a positive relationship between the first two factors
of the OMS (i.e., Maintaining Power, Management Practices) and agreeable-
ness, but a negative relationship between Manipulativeness and agreeable-
ness. This hypothesis was fully supported.
Hypothesis 7 predicted that there would be a positive relationship
between EI and the three OMS factors. This hypothesis was partially sup-
ported. EI was positively related to Maintaining Power, but not to Manage-
ment Practices or to Manipulativeness.
Hypothesis 8 stated that the three OMS factors would be positively
related to all four factors of the PSI. This hypothesis was also partially
supported. The PSI factors were positively related to Maintaining Power.
Additionally, three out of the four PSI factors (excluding networking) were
related to Management Practices. However, the relationships between the
PSI factors and Manipulativeness were insignificant.
Discussion
The OMS factors differentially related to variables we used to provide
validationevidence. Specifically, the MachIVscale was relatedtothe Manipu-
lativeness factor of the OMS (r = .46, p < .01), but not to the Maintaining
Power and Management Practices factors. It should be noted that while this
relationship is strong, these two scales are not perfectly correlated. This makes
sense because the Manipulativeness factor is based within an organizational
context, while Christie and Geis’s (1970) scale is not context-specific. Addi-
tionally, the Maintaining Power and Management Practices factors were
positively related to both agreeableness and conscientiousness, but the
Manipulativeness factor was negatively related to both personality variables.
The pattern of relationships for the general genre of social skills is also
interesting. EI was related to two factors of the OMS (i.e., Maintaining
Power, Management Practices). Interestingly, the magnitude of the relation-
ship between EI and Management Practices seemed a bit lower than it was
for EI and Maintaining Power. One potential reason for this finding is that
emotionally intelligent individuals might not necessarily advocate using man-
agement practices. Rather, they would probably find a way of managing
those around them without advocating such a formal manner.
Furthermore, we did not find a relationship between EI and the Manipu-
lativeness factor of the OMS. This finding could be in line with Austin et al.’s
(2007) study. Austin et al. suggested that high Machs, as measured by
Christie and Geis (1970), are not devoid of emotional skills, as previously
suggested (e.g., Wastell & Booth, 2003). Rather, they (Christie & Geis, 1970)
RE-EXAMINING MACHIAVELLI 1885
engage in emotionally manipulative behaviors. The current study did not
examine emotional manipulation and the OMS. Future researchers should
examine these variables because a positive relationship between emotional
manipulation and the OMS Manipulativeness factor probably exists. Such a
finding could encourage a dialogue regarding the differences and similarities
between emotional intelligence and emotional manipulation.
Along these lines, the pattern of relationships between facets of the PSI
(Ferris et al., 2005) and the OMS factors mirrors those of EI and the OMS
factors. Specifically, the relationships between the Maintaining Power factor
and each of the four factors of the PSI seem a bit stronger than the relation-
ships between the Management Practices factor and the PSI factors. Again,
it is possible that employees with strong political skills might find a better way
of managing their employees than using management practices.
Taken together, the results of this study suggest that the Manipulativeness
factor of the OMS, which is closely related to Christie and Geis’s (1970)
Mach IV scale, is associated with traditionally negative variables. For
example, those who scored high on the Manipulativeness factor reported
lower scores on the conscientiousness and agreeableness scales. On the other
hand, those who scored high on the other two factors of the OMS (i.e.,
Maintaining Power, Management Practices) appeared to possess political
skill, emotional intelligence, and conscientiousness.
Study 3: Relationships With Behavior
In Study 3, we focus on a single class of behaviors: counterproductive
work behaviors. Counterproductive work behaviors (CWBs) refer to a set of
behaviors (e.g., abuse toward others, sabotage, theft, withdrawal) that harm
an organization its members. CWB is an important outcome variable because
it has far-reaching consequences on organizations.
First, it is estimated that CWBs cost organizations billions of dollars each
year in lost revenue, theft, and fraud (U.S. Chamber of Commerce, 2002).
Second, not only are CWBs financially costly to organizations, but they
adversely affect employees as well. Specifically, a recent study found that
those who are the recipients of verbal aggression report adverse effects such
as anger, anxiety, depression, job dissatisfaction, and certain physical symp-
toms (Kessler, Spector, Chang, & Parr, 2008). For these reasons, CWB is an
important outcome variable.
Some researchers (Bennett & Robinson, 2000; Giacalone & Knouse,
1990) have provided evidence that high Machs, because of their amoral and
deceitful reputations, are more likely to commit acts of CWB than are low
Machs. Bennett and Robinson also discussed the relationship between
1886 KESSLER ET AL.
Machiavellianism and workplace deviance, similar to CWB. They found a
correlation in the .30 range between workplace deviance and Machiavellian-
ism, indicating that high Machs commit more acts of deviance (or CWBs)
than do low Machs. Giacalone and Krouse (1990) explain that one potential
reason for the link between Machiavellianism and CWB is that high Machs
are better able to justify the CWBs they commit.
Current Study and Hypothesis
A limitation of previous research examining Machiavellianism and CWB
is that researchers only focused on the manipulativeness aspects of Machia-
vellianism and neglected other relevant aspects, such as management prac-
tices and maintaining power. Therefore, it is expected that there will be a
positive relationship between the Manipulativeness factor of the OMS and
CWB. We expect the other two dimensions of the OMS to relate negatively
to CWB because we believe that those who are interested in maintaining
power and managing others will find that committing CWBs could prevent
them from achieving these goals.
In order to measure CWB, we used a scale that allows us to examine an
overall index, as well as to differentiate between five different types of CWBs
(Spector et al., 2006). These include abuse against others (physically or
psychologically harmful behaviors directed toward coworkers), production
deviance (purposefully failing to performjob tasks effectively), theft (willfully
taking someone else’s property), withdrawal (behavior that restricts the time
an employee is supposed to spend working for the organization), and sabotage
(defacing or destroying someone else’s property). Therefore, we propose the
following final set of hypotheses.
Hypothesis 9a. The Maintaining Power and the Management
Practices factors of the OMS will be negatively related to all
types of CWBs.
Hypothesis 9b. The Manipulativeness factor of the OMS will be
positively related to all types of CWBs.
Method
Participants
An independent sample of 507 employed individuals (403 females, 104
males), taken from the same population as in Studies 1 and 2, participated
in the current study. All participants worked at least 20 hours per week in
RE-EXAMINING MACHIAVELLI 1887
a variety of jobs. Participants were recruited between January and May of
2007. The participants ranged in age from 18 to 42 years (M = 21.7 years).
Measures
Organizational Machiavellianism Scale (OMS). The three-factor OMS
that was developed and refined in Studies 1 and 2 was used in Study 3.
It should be noted that one item from the Management Practices factor
was not included. Therefore, the six-item Maintaining Power factor,
the five-item Management Practices factor, and the six-item Manipulative-
ness factor had alphas of .74, .71, and .77, respectively. Each of the items
was scored on a 6-point scale ranging from 1 (strongly disagree) to 6
(strongly agree), with higher scores indicating that an individual more
strongly identifies with Machiavellian principles.
Counterproductive work behavior. CWB was measured using a modified
version of Spector et al.’s (2006) CWB-Checklist (CWB-C). The 25-item
checklist asks participants how often they engage in specific counterproduc-
tive work behaviors. The scale distinguishes among five types of CWB: abuse
(11 items), theft (4 items), sabotage (3 items), production deviance (3 items),
and withdrawal (4 items). Responses are indicated along a 5-point scale
ranging from 1 (never) to 5 (every day). The alpha for the total scale was .94.
Procedure
All instruments were combined into one assessment battery that was given
to study participants. The survey was administered online and took approxi-
mately 25 to 30 min to complete. Participants could cease participation at
any point without penalty. Employees were recruited from psychology
classes, and either earned course credit or extra credit for their participation.
Results and Discussion
Descriptive statistics and intercorrelations between study variables are
presented in Tables 5 and 6. Hypotheses 9a and 9b suggested that the Main-
taining Power and Management Practices factors of the OMS would be
negatively related to CWB, while the Manipulativeness factor of the OMS
would be positively related to CWB. Both of these hypotheses were sup-
ported; employees high on the Maintaining Power and Management Prac-
tices facets of the OMS reported being less likely to engage in various types
of CWB, while employees high on the Manipulativeness factor reported
being more likely to engage in CWB.
1888 KESSLER ET AL.
General Discussion
Taken together, the results of these studies support our multifaceted
and context-specific conceptualization of Machiavellianism. Previous
researchers, most notably Christie and Geis (1970), have considered
Machiavellianism from an inherently negative perspective, focusing only on
the manipulative aspects of Machiavelli’s writing. However, the results of
our three studies suggest that a more broadly defined construct may be
useful, with two of the three factors of the OMS being more positive in
nature. In particular, it seems that employees who score high on the Man-
agement Practices and the Maintaining Power factors of the OMS are more
likely to report being conscientious and committing fewer instances of
CWB. On the other hand, those high on the Manipulativeness factor are
more likely to report committing CWB and are less likely to be conscien-
tious. It should also be noted that the correlations between the OMS
subscales are fairly small in magnitude, suggesting that each factor is mea-
suring a different underlying concept.
Study Limitations
There were a number of limitations present within the current set of
studies. First, the OMS does not assess participants’ behavior. Rather, it
Table 5
Descriptive Statistics for Study 3 Variables
Variable M SD
OMS: Maintaining Power 27.99 3.74
OMS: Management Practices 20.37 4.45
OMS: Manipulativeness 19.34 5.10
Counterproductive work behavior 36.13 11.67
Theft 4.89 1.99
Withdrawal 7.29 2.63
Sabotage 3.84 1.57
Abuse 16.00 5.69
Production deviance 4.13 1.75
Note. OMS = Organizational Machiavellianism Scale.
RE-EXAMINING MACHIAVELLI 1889
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1890 KESSLER ET AL.
examines beliefs about what are or are not reasonable practices in organiza-
tions. When designing the OMS, we debated on whether to examine beliefs
or behaviors. We chose the former because we believe that everyone can
have beliefs about appropriate practices, but not everyone is in a position to
enact each practice. Specifically, some of the items tend to pertain more to
employees in the upper echelons of organizations, and we wanted the scale
to apply to employees at all levels of organizations.
A second limitation is that the method of analysis did not allow us to
examine the direction of causality. For example, it is unclear as to whether
Machiavellian beliefs cause an employee to commit CWB or whether com-
mitting CWB causes employees to align with more Machiavellian ideas. One
of the purposes of the present set of studies was to create and examine a
nomological network for the organizational Machiavellianism construct, but
it is unclear as to the causal direction of these relationships.
Future Research
Future research should focus on the ways that those who score high on the
OMS dimensions influence others and maintain bases of power. Specifically,
French and Raven (1960) proposed five bases of power: coercive, reward,
legitimate, reference, and expert. Perhaps individuals high on the Manipula-
tiveness factor of the OMS rely on more coercive methods of maintaining
power, while those high on the Maintaining Power and Management
Practices factors rely on a mix of all five types of power bases.
Another avenue of research should investigate the influence tactics that
employees at various levels of the organization use (Kipnis, Schmidt, &
Wilkinson, 1980; Kipnis, & Schmidt, 1982). It is possible that subordinates
are more likely to use softer tactics (e.g., ingratiation, rational persuasion),
while those holding legitimate positions of power might use pressure tactics
and legitimizing tactics. Potential interactions between the bases of power
(French & Raven, 1960), influence tactics (Kipnis et al., 1980; Kipnis &
Schmidt, 1982), and the three-factor OMS should be explored.
The current studies provide a starting point for examining Machiavellian-
ism within an organizational context. The OMS is an improvement over
existing Machiavellianism scales because it examines Machiavellianism
within a specific context: that of the workplace. Additionally, the OMS offers
a more complete definition of Machiavellianism because it does not focus
solely on manipulative tactics.
In conclusion, while Niccolo Machiavelli advocated using manipulation
and deceit to reach one’s ends, his main focus was to advise rulers on how
best to maintain order. To maintain the needed order, Machiavelli encour-
RE-EXAMINING MACHIAVELLI 1891
aged rulers to do a number of things, only some of which were deceitful.
Therefore, Machiavellianism construct is inherently multifaceted. Within
the modern organizational context, Machiavelli’s guidebook translates into
using deceit, but only as necessary to maintain one’s power and to manage
others effectively. Therefore, it should be clear that manipulativeness is
only one aspect of Machiavelli’s advice and that he also advocated using
more acceptable approaches.
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Appendix
Final Organizational Machiavellianism Scale
Factor 1: Maintaining Power
1. An effective individual builds a powerbase of strong people.
2. A person [who] understands conflict will be respected by other
people.
3. It is good to be on the lookout for new opportunities to advance
one’s position in the organization.
4. One should know how to appear kind and use it for personal gain.
5. A person should consistently reward those [who] work for him/her.
6. A person should take care to always appear to be merciful, upright,
and humane.
Factor 2: Management Practices
1. It is not important for an individual to learn about the mistakes of
unsuccessful people. (R)
2. It is not helpful to learn from and imitate great individuals [who]
have come before you. (R)
3. It is not important to be aggressive and clever when dealing with
other organization members. (R)
4. It is not important for a person to encourage his/her subordinates’
talents. (R)
5. It is not important for an individual to keep his/her employees
content. (R)
6. It is easy to introduce and enforce new rules. (R)
RE-EXAMINING MACHIAVELLI 1895
Factor 3: Manipulativeness
1. Employees should be watched with an “eye of suspicion: because it
is natural for people to desire to acquire power.”
2. Since most employees are ambitious, they will only do good deeds
if it benefits them.
3. When seeking revenge, an individual should completely defeat a
competitor to ensure no retaliation.
4. Since most people are weak, a rational individual should take
advantage of the situation to maximize his/her own gains.
5. It is important to be a good actor, but also capable of concealing
this talent.
6. The most effective means of getting people to behave in an ethical
fashion is by making them fearful of behaving otherwise.
Note. (R) = reverse-scored item.
1896 KESSLER ET AL.