Race Effects on the Employee Assessing Political Leadership: A Review of Christie and Geis' (1970) Mach IV Measure of Machiavellianism

Article excerpt

Machiavellianism has commonly been defined as the need to develop and defend one's power and success (Machiavelli, 1513/1902). Scholars have adopted the perspective of Machiavelli to examine political dynamics in organizations (Andersson, 2000; Harrell-Cook, 1999: Harrison, 1998; Hochwarter, 2000: Shankar, 1994). The Mach IV (Christie & Gels, 1970) has been the primary measure of Machiavellianism as a distinct personality construct. The purpose of this paper is to review the use of the Math IV in organizational behavior research. Given the inadequacies of the current version of the Mach IV, this paper suggests a revised measure of Machiavellian personality be developed and used in conjunction with other measures of political behavior and skills.


Dating back 500 years to the days of Niccolo Machiavelli, leadership behaviors have been widely discussed. Machiavelli's perspectives are well known, most notably such generalizations as "the ends justify the means" and the belief that unethical behavior is acceptable, even necessary, if it helps attain goals or protect political position. Historically, philosophers have disagreed on Machiavelli's intentions (Berlin, 1955), but the most popular meaning applied to Machiavelli's writing derives from Elizabethan thought.

Modern scholars have adopted this perspective of Machiavelli to examine and understand political dynamics in organizations (Andersson & Bateman, 2000; Cheng, 1983: Harrell-Cook et al., 1999: Harrison et al., 1998; Hochwater et al., 2000; Kumar & Beyerlein, 1991; Shankar et al., 1994: Vecchio & Sussmann, 1991). This paper addresses the validity and reliability of the most commonly used measure of Machiavellianism, the Mach IV (Christie & Geis, 1970).

One key factor often neglected in discussion of Machiavellian beliefs is Machiavelli's conviction that leadership is a pursuit that serves the needs of the "common good" (Ledeen, 1999). Contemporary political scholar Michael Ledeen clarifies the intentions of Machiavelli in his book Machiavelli on Modern Leadership (1999), and enhances our understanding of Machiavelli when he states:

   Even after half a millennium,
   Machiavelli's advice to leaders is as
   contemporary as tomorrow. He goes
   to the essence every time. He doesn't
   allow us the comfort of easy
   generalizations or soothing moralisms.
   He wants leaders to play for the
   highest stakes of all--the advancement
   of the human enterprise and the
   defense of the common good--and it
   infuriates him to see leaders of
   corporations, religions, armies and
   nations ignoring the basic rules of
   power (p. 185).

Origins of the Machiavellian Construct

The contemporary understanding of Machiavellianism begins to make sense when one examines the origins of the Mach IV, based on Niccolo Machiavelli's book, The Prince (1513/1902). This book was written after Machiavelli had been stripped of his political power and essentially shunned by the political leaders of his time. Machiavelli had been an effective statesman for the Republic of Florence, participating in high-level decisions, negotiating agreements, and commanding battles. The Prince represents just one work written by Machiavelli--a work that does not reflect the entirety of his political philosophy, intellect, or intentions. It was The Prince that gave ultimate form to the widely used Mach IV.

Instrument Development

Richard Christie developed the 20-item Mach IV in 1970. It has not been revised since that time and is intended to assess adults ages 18-65 years. The Mach IV was developed to measure political personality orientation of leaders in organizations. Political personality, as defined by Christie and Geis (1970), is a disposition in which formal and informal power is used to control and/or manipulate others.

Richard Christie developed the Mach IV while a fellow at the Center for Advanced Studies in the Behavioral Sciences. …