As many as one fifth of corporate executives could be psychopaths, new research suggests.

Nathan Brooks, a forensic psychologist and PhD candidate based in Australia, conducted a study surveying 261 senior professionals in the U.S. supply chain management sector. Brooks, along with his colleagues at Bond University in Queensland, and the University of San Diego, found that 21 percent of senior level professionals showed "clinically significant" levels of psychopathic traits.

So what exactly needs to change? In an interview withTheTelegraph, Brooks suggested that recruiters often focus on factors other than personality when hiring employees, which can lead to the appointment of some "successful psychopaths" to top roles. This can ultimately create a mix of chaos and a competitive atmosphere.

"For psychopaths, it [corporate success] is a game, and they don't mind if they violate morals," said Brooks. "It is about getting where they want in the company and having dominance over others."

The research is expected to be published in the European Journal of Psychology.