News Release

From psychopaths to behaving responsibly: Waking up the inner sleeping beauty of companies

Research news from Corporate Social Responsibility and Environmental Management

Peer-Reviewed Publication


Studies in corporate responsibility (CR) have found that many large companies seem to fulfil the psychiatric criteria for psychopaths1. New research suggests companies displaying psychopathic behaviour would benefit from a 'Prince of Virtues' approach to wake them from their '100-year sleep'. The research was conducted at the Turku School of Economics in Finland and will be published in the next edition of Corporate Social Responsibility and Environmental Management.

Research author Dr. Tarja Ketola argues that working in large companies which employ psychopathic practices which breach people's basic values quickly becomes a huge mental burden for managers and employees. But she sees a solution in the form of using ethical principles employed by individuals in their personal lives.

"According to the natural law (lex naturae) all people all over the world share the same sense of morality, irrespective of their religion and background," says Dr. Ketola.

"Why then, should people keep their personal values separate from their work values? If key individuals or the majority of personnel within psychopathic companies realise that the same ethical principles they use in their personal life also apply in business life, the 'spell' will be broken and they will overcome organisational resistance to genuine corporate responsibility."

These results suggest that 'psychopathic' companies can move towards ideal responsibility by developing their economic, social and ecological responsibilities in harmony on the basis of virtue ethical values.

Dr. Ketola notes, "if these companies can stop schizophrenically separating their staff's personal values from their professional values, allowing people in organisations to integrate them into a natural harmonic unity, the corporate responsibility '100-year sleep' could be over."


Notes to Editors

1. Ketola, T: From CR-Psychopaths to Responsible Corporations: Waking Up the Inner Sleeping Beauty of Companies, Corporate Social Responsibility and Environmental Management. 2006. DOI: 10.1002/csr.113. Volume 13, issue 2, 2006

2. 1Table 1: Are corporations psychopaths? Personality characteristics of psychopaths Examples of organisational behaviour

    1. Unconcern for others' feelings - harsh treatment of employees, customers and partners- sudden terminations of employment contracts and business contracts
    2. Inability to maintain human relations - transferring business operations from country to country in order to minimize production expenses- constant change of employees and partners
    3. Disregard for others' safety - products and production methods endangering human health and the environment- dangerous working conditions
    4. Dishonesty and lying to one's own advantage - keeping silent about the risks of hazardous products and production methods, covering them up and denying their existence- deceiving employees, customers and partners
    5. Inability to feel guilt - when exposed of wrong-doing, asserting innocence (denial), blaming others (projection) and justifying one's action (rationalisation)
    6. Inability to observe the laws and norms of society - breaking human rights, labour, contract and environmental laws and agreements when it is economically more beneficial than observing them

3. Corporate Social Responsibility and Environmental Management is the leading international journal in a rapidly evolving field. It is a peer-reviewed journal and contributions of a high quality aimed at an interdisciplinary audience are invited. The journal provides a resource for the ever-increasing number of organisations concerned with social and environmental responsibilities in the context of sustainable development. It seeks therefore to publish the results of high quality research relating to the development of tools and techniques for improving performance and accountability in these areas. Corporate Social Responsibility and Environmental Management can be accessed at:

4. John Wiley & Sons Ltd., with its headquarters in Chichester, England, is the largest subsidiary of John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Founded in 1807, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., provides must-have content and services to customers worldwide. Its core businesses include scientific, technical, and medical journals, encyclopaedias, books, and online products and services; professional and consumer books and subscription services; and educational materials for undergraduate and graduate students and lifelong learners. Wiley has publishing, marketing, and distribution centres in the United States, Canada, Europe, Asia, and Australia. The company is listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbols JWa and JWb. Wiley's Internet site can be accessed at

Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.