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Academia as Company Hierarchy

I agree the base rate is probably lower in the physical sciences.

Academia as Company Hierarchy

I would say that sociopaths are everywhere. They make up around 1% of the general population but 4-12% in the C-suite. https://www.forbes.com/sites/jackmccullough/2019/12/09/the-psychopathic-ceo/?sh=788d5ba4791e

Academia as Company Hierarchy

Rao's formulation is very similar to McClelland's need theory (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Need_theory). A Sociopath has a high need for power (nPow), the Clueless have a high need for achievement (nAch), and the Losers (perhaps) have a high need for affiliation (nAff). These are not pure types and people can have combinations of needs.

The higher in a hierarchy the more sociopaths/nPow types you will encounter. In a piece in Harvard Business Review in 1977, McClelland noted that high achievers typically focused on individual achievement whereas high power types focused on results through influencing others (and affiliators were more concerned with being liked). 

The piece distinguishes between self-aggrandizers and "institutional managers". The former influence others for their own gain (i.e. sociopaths), whereas the latter are more altruistic. Institutional managers tend to be more mature and less egotistical. Sociopaths are likely high on the dark triad traits of narcissism, psychopathy, and Machiavellianism.

Power types of any stripe tend to perform better than achievers and affiliators because they can influence others to produce valued results. Personal power players just peel off more of the surplus for themselves (and there is probably a continuum).

So how does this translate to academia? Many in academia are introverts and are not great at influencing others. The markers of success are very clear (degrees, GPA, pubs, citations) so many focus on attaining these markers. Simply put, universities are a magnet for achievers. 

Imagine if influencing others to do your bidding was your super power. How would you use that power? Would you be tempted to get others to do work for you, put your name first on a joint paper or grant, take the credit for someone else's work, turn others in the department against your rivals for promotion, make promises you can't keep to get people to work harder? Even as an altruist, how much would you be tempted to tip the scales a bit more in your favor even in win-win scenarios? Perhaps bringing in a healthy endowment for the school but influencing others to name a building in your honor or appoint you to an endowed chair using some of the funds.