Follower Susceptibility to Destructive Leaders: Development and Validation of Conformer and Colluder Scales

Open Access
Thoroughgood, Christian Noble
Graduate Program:
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Date of Defense:
February 08, 2013
Committee Members:
  • Samuel Todd Hunter, Dissertation Advisor
  • Rick R Jacobs, Committee Member
  • James Lewis Farr, Committee Member
  • Donna Coffman, Committee Member
  • Susceptible Followers
  • Destructive Leadership
  • Toxic Leadership
  • "Dark" Leadership
Although leadership scholars increasingly acknowledge the influence of followers in the leadership process, less attention has been paid to followers’ role in the destructive leadership process. Specifically, research has largely adopted a leader-centric approach to destructive leadership in organizations. Unfortunately, this overemphasis on the leader has restricted our understanding of this complex and multi-faceted social-organizational process. Padilla, Hogan, and Kaiser (2007), however, suggested destructive leadership is not simply a function of destructive leaders, but rather results from the confluence of destructive leaders interacting with susceptible followers and conducive environments. With respect to susceptible followers, Padilla et al. (2007) proposed two broad categories of such followers: conformers and colluders. The focus of the present research was to develop and validate scales to assess the susceptibilities of conformers and colluders to destructive leaders. Four separate studies were conducted to evaluate the content validity, factor structures, convergent and divergent validity, and criterion validity of the two scales. Future research directions and theoretical and practical implications are discussed.