When a Goldman Sachs executive director, Greg Smith, resigned on Wednesday, he left in his wake a scathing op-ed in the New York Times excoriating the firm for its greedy values. The op-ed shook Goldman “like a bomb,” according to another story on the front page the following day. Smith claimed that Goldman’s current leadership had let the firm’s values disintegrate. Where once the Goldman culture encouraged employees to serve their clients for mutual benefit, now, Smith said, the driving force was rapacious avarice. The firm promotes “ripping their clients off,” he wrote.
To the average 99-percenter, this hardly seems like a revelation. Unethical behavior and Wall Street go hand in hand — especially at the top, right? Goldman supporters might say this perspective reflects sheer jealousy and resentment; however, a growing body of research suggests that there’s more to it than that.
One 2010 studylooked directly at the prevalence of psychopathic traits in a sample of 203 executives at seven companies who had been chosen for their leadership potential to participate in additional management training. (The researchers did not reveal the nature of the businesses that employed the managers, so the results here don’t apply only to financial firms.)