Dark and Destructive Leadership

Edited by:
Peter Harms, University of Alabama

A volume in the series: Leadership Horizons. Editor(s): Michelle C. Bligh, Claremont Graduate University. Melissa Carsten, Winthrop University.

We are calling for chapters for the latest volume of Leadership Horizons, a series by Information Age Publishing, tentatively titled Dark and Destructive Leadership.

Hardly a year goes by without a major corporation being brought to its knees by scandal. Whether financial misstatements or other illegal activity, shoddy or unsafe products resulting from a drive to increase profits, the abusive behavior of egomaniacal CEOs, or inappropriate sexual propositions and behavior by leaders towards their subordinates, we are no longer shocked by unethical and destructive behavior by corporate leaders. Instead, both researchers and lay people alike have come to expect such bad behavior almost by default. And belligerent or boorish behaviors by political leaders is often excused or tolerated by partisans. Contrary to many earlier accounts showing that individuals tend to romanticize leadership, we have increasingly fallen out of love with leaders.

This special issue of Leadership Horizons will attempt to integrate the rapidly emerging literature surrounding dark and destructive leadership in order to explore why and how dark and destructive leaders impact their colleagues, their followers, their organizations, and their societies. Following in the path of many popular press books (e.g. Babiak & Hare, 2006; Dotlich & Cairo, 2004; Kellerman, 2004) as well as academic reviews (e.g. Harms & Spain, 2015; Krasikova, Green, & LeBreton, 2013; Mackey, Frieder, Brees, & Marktinko, 2017; Schyns, & Schilling, 2013) we aim to examine the antecedents, the consequences, and the circumstances of dark and destructive leadership. What is the best method of assessing destructive leadership? What dimensions should be measured (Shaw, Erickson & Harvey, 2011)? What is the relationship between personality derailers and destructive leader behavior (Hogan & Hogan, 2001; Judge, Piccolo & Kosalka, 2009; Spain, Harms & LeBreton, 2014)? What can be done to alter the behavior of destructive leaders? Can dark leaders be trained (Harms, Spain, & Hannah, 2011)? What are the implications for followers (Padilla, Hogan & Kaiser, 2007)? How do they cope? Are there traits that make them more likely to tolerate or elicit such bad behavior from their leaders (Harms et al. 2018; Henle & Gross, 2014; Wang, Harms & Mackey, 2015? Are there circumstances where dark leadership can have positive effects (Grijalva, et al., 2015; Landay, Harms & Credé, 2019)? And when and where is destructive leadership most likely to occur?

We are looking for contributors who can both summarize the existing literature, but who will also propose new directions and suggest new paradigms or challenge conventions surrounding our understanding of dark and destructive leaders.

All proposal formatting should comply to APA guidelines. Please submit all chapters to Peter Harms via email:

Topics of interest include (but are not limited to):

  • A history of research on dark leadership
  • Evolutionary approaches to understanding dark leadership
  • Developmental models of dark leadership – where does it come from?
  • Theoretical models of dark leadership. How many ways are there to be bad?
  • Assessing dark leadership. Current and emerging measurement techniques.
  • Implications for dark leadership on follower well-being and performance. How do followers cope? Which followers react most strongly to dark or destructive leadership? When do followers embrace or excuse such behavior?
  • Situational moderators of dark leadership and its impact
  • Understanding dark leadership through the lens of emotions
  • Culture and dark leadership. What aspects are universal vs culture-specific?
  • Gender and dark leadership
  • Behavioral-trait models and dark leadership
  • Motivational models as framework for understanding dark leadership
  • Functionalist accounts of dark leadership
  • Paradoxical effects of dark leadership. Can it ever be good to do bad?
  • Coaching dark leaders and other interventions for reducing bad behavior
Proposal Submissions (3 page maximum): March 31, 2019
Full Chapter Submission: August 15, 2019
Reviews Sent Back to Authors: October 10, 2019
Final Draft: January 3, 2020