Psykopatiske ledere i dansk erhvervsliv

Daniel Erik Højer & Henrik Engman

Student thesis: Master thesis


Throughout the last decades, corporate scandals in which employees on a management level have defrauded their workplaces for immense amounts of money have become ever more frequent. Media interest in the issue has risen concurrently, often implying a connection between the fraudulent managers’ characteristics and those of psychopaths. The purpose of this thesis is to examine and uncover to which extent, Danish employees have faced corporate psychopath managers in their workplaces. The conclusion of this thesis exposes whether or not the term corporate psychopath is an expression invented by the media or if it is a real issue in the business world of today. The interest in the managers and the fraudulent acts they have committed has been huge. The focus by the media has especially been on whether or not this fraudulent behaviour could be connected to the characteristics of these managers, which on several occasions has been compared to psychopaths. Furthermore, the thesis will focus on corporate psychopaths impact on the working environment and examines whether corporate psychopaths can be related to the issue of fraudulent behaviour. In addition to that the thesis examines how auditors can detect corporate psychopaths in businesses. The study on corporate psychopaths will be conducted based on a checklist used for identifying this specific group. The checklist investigates the presence of twelve psychopathic characteristics and is called PCL-­‐SV: Psychopathy Checklist-­Screening Version. To identify corporate psychopaths among managers in businesses, empirical research was carried out. The empirical research included a questionnaire survey that was sent to employees in numerous sections of the Danish labour force through online networks, predominantly Facebook. Our research concludes that when corporate psychopaths are present, the risk of fraud increases. The conclusion of this could be that auditors should be more aware of the presence of corporate psychopaths in businesses. Some simple audit procedures can be helpful to detect corporate psychopaths. These audit procedures should be based on interviews with the businesses’ employees, not only those charged with governance of the entity and management. One of the most important things during the interviews is to start a good dialogue with the interviewee so that the interviewee does not feel like being accused of committing fraud. Auditors should take notes of the answers and also have to watch for the body language of the interviewee. The thesis concludes that corporate psychopaths are present in Danish businesses and that they increase the risk of fraud. Corporate psychopaths also have a negatively influence on the working environment. Having focus on psychopaths’ characteristics/traits while conduction the audit may help preventing fraud.

EducationsMSc in Auditing, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2012
Number of pages130