Bad to the bone: Empirically defining and measuring negative leadership

Open Access
Tate, Brian William
Graduate Program:
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Date of Defense:
June 16, 2009
Committee Members:
  • Rick R Jacobs, Dissertation Advisor
  • Rick R Jacobs, Committee Chair
  • James Lewis Farr, Committee Member
  • Samuel Todd Hunter, Committee Member
  • Susan Mohammed, Committee Member
  • Linda K Trevino, Committee Member
  • leadership
  • counterproductive work behavior
  • antisocial work behavior
  • taxonomy
  • scale development
Research on negative leadership has grown in popularity in recent years. This proliferation is not surprising given the frequency with which instances of negative leadership occur and the severity of its consequences. Despite the increased attention given to the topic however, the area still suffers from a lack of attempts to define and measure negative leader behavior as a broad-level construct. The present research project addressed both issues through four studies. In Study 1, a comprehensive inventory of negative leader behavior was generated. Using multidimensional scaling, in Study 2, three dimensions were found to underlie the inventory of behaviors, including “organization-directed/subordinate-directed,” “insidiously-damaging/immediately-damaging,” and “norm-violating/rule-violating” dimensions. Study 3’s confirmatory factor analysis identified three negative leader behavior factors, including “subordinate-directed,” “organization-directed,” and “sexual harassment” factors. Finally, in Study 4, evidence of the construct and criterion validity of the new measure of negative leader behavior was obtained. Based on findings across the four studies, the similarities and differences between negative leader behavior, as a broad-level construct, and other forms of leader and non-leader-specific negative workplace behavior are discussed, along with implications of the project for future research and potential practical applications.