Healthy Narcissism, Global Competitiveness and Game Theory: Using the Fischer versus Kasparov Dichotomy for Entrepreneurship Education

Article excerpt


The contrasting citizenship, leadership and entrepreneurship behaviors of former world chess champions Bobby Fischer and Garry Kasparov are compared and linked to culture, game theory, global competitiveness, and unhealthy versus healthy narcissism. Fischer's unhealthy narcissism is partially explained in terms of his battling a chess "machine" and other stress factors. In this paper, the psychoanalytic theory of Reuben Fine, and recent research on narcissism are used to contrast Fischer and Kasparov on the Hero versus Non-hero continuum. Secondly, the finite versus infinite games theory of James Carse is used to show how Kasparov has successfully argued chess to be more than a finite game and a useful educational device for business strategy and entrepreneurship. The leadership qualities of Kasparov versus Fischer are contrasted using the gamesmanship dimensions offered by Michael Maccoby. The need for a greater appreciation and support of art and chess, as correlates of entrepreneurship, in the United States is discussed. Recommendations for training of US players in stress management and positive psychology are made. The Fischer versus Kasparov dichotomy is useful to management to illustrate unhealthy versus healthy narcissism and its effect on entrepreneurship and global competitiveness.

Keywords: Global competitiveness, Narcissism, Game theory and entrepreneurship education


Narcissism levels in U.S. college students have increased steadily over the past 25 years (Twenge et al., 2008). Americans score higher on narcissism than persons from other world regions (Foster, Campbell, & Twenge, 2003). Narcissistic overconfidence may have contributed to the current economic crisis and decline in U.S. global competitiveness. People were overconfident that they could afford houses well beyond their means, and lenders were overconfident that the loans could actually be paid off (U.S. News & World Report, 2009). In sales settings, narcissists tended to be more unethical and ultimately unsuccessful (Soyer, Rovenpor, & Lopelman, 1999). They did not readily consider or appreciate the needs of other people and therefore did not adapt their behavior appropriately. They were therefore more likely to engage in unethical or deceitful behavior to guarantee a sale.

Business students, more than other disciplines, appear to be leading the way (Robak, Chiffriller, & Zappone, 2007). Bergman, Westerman, and Daly (2010) have explored the personality trait of narcissism and its potential manifestations in the classroom. They have made suggestions for management educators in dealing with more narcissistic students. In this paper we illustrate how healthy and unhealthy narcissism, and its effect on entrepreneurship and global competitiveness is illustrated by two former world champions of chess. Chess, appropriately taught, with its strongly validated and reliable rating system, helps prevent overstatement of ability, and is argued to be an antidote to unhealthy bluffing or narcissism.

Game theory explains much of what takes place all around us. It is about strategies that we use everyday in our interactions with other people, and it is not just about games. Game theory tells us what is going on behind the broken promises, confrontations, and just plain cheating that we so often see in domestic quarrels, industrial disputes and neighborhood arguments. It gives guidance to the best strategies to use in situations of competition and conflict, which explains why big business and the military have taken to it very seriously over the past sixty years. Game theory provides businessmen with strategies to help them outperform their competitors. All five game theorists have won the Nobel Prizes in economics have been employed as advisors to the Pentagon at some state in their careers. It has been argued to provide a rich range of strategies to help nations overcome social dilemnas (Fisher, 2008). …