Internal R&D or external asset growth? A closer look at CEO narcissism and entrepreneurial orientation

Lin Yang, Zhibin Lin, Rose Quan, James Cunningham, Wei Huang

Research output: Journal PublicationArticlepeer-review


Purpose: In today's competitive business environment, understanding how leadership traits shape outcomes is critical. Chief executive officer (CEO) narcissism, an intriguing and debated trait, raises questions about its impact on organisational behaviour, particularly regarding entrepreneurial orientation (EO). This study aims to examine how CEO narcissism affects EO, both as aggregate and specific measures, encompassing internal and external growth. It also considers the organisational context by examining how factors such as capital intensity, firm ownership and CEO duality moderate this relationship. Design/methodology/approach: To test the hypotheses, the authors used a sample of firms drawn from China's ChiNext database (2008–2017). After an initial screening, the final sample consists of 251 CEOs from 239 companies. Data on CEO narcissism are collected from the firm's official website and major online sources, whilst additional data are extracted from the WIND daabase. The authors use multiple regression and ordinary least squares (OLS) for data analysis. Findings: The results show that CEO narcissism leads to external asset growth investments but not internal research and development (R&D). There is a positive relationship between CEO narcissism and EO as an aggregate measure and also different managerial discretions play varying roles in the relationship. Specifically, capital intensity weakens this relationship, but state ownership strengthens it. Originality/value: This study helps to clarify the relationship between CEO narcissism and EO and advances the literature by showing that firms' EO actions may take various forms of innovation and venturing as new entry initiations of EO. The study findings have important implications for firms to capitalise on narcissistic CEOs' entrepreneurial tendencies, balance internal R&D and external asset growth and leverage various managerial discretions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)110-127
Number of pages18
JournalInternational Journal of Entrepreneurial Behaviour and Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 3 Jan 2024


  • CEO narcissism
  • Capital intensity
  • China
  • Entrepreneurial orientation
  • External asset growth
  • Innovation
  • Internal R&D
  • Managerial discretion
  • New initiative
  • State ownership

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Business, Management and Accounting (miscellaneous)


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