Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 145, Issue 1, pp 157–182 | Cite as

Toward a Unified Framework of Perceived Negative Leader Behaviors Insights from French and British Educational Sectors

  • Taran PatelEmail author
  • Robert G. Hamlin


In this paper, we challenge the commonly held assumption that actors in the education sector are largely ethical, and that there is therefore little need to scrutinize leader behaviors in this sector. We also overcome past scholars’ tendencies to either focus selectively on positive leader behaviors, or to stay content with categorizing leader behaviors into effective and ineffective (if at all they do focus on negative leader behaviors). Using data (Critical Incidents) from three case studies previously conducted in eight British and French academic establishments, we show that not only do negative leader behaviors abound in the education sector, but they can also be differentiated into three types: (1) behaviors emanating from leaders’ lack of functional skills i.e., ineffective behaviors, (2) behaviors emanating from leaders’ insouciance toward harming the organization and its members i.e., dysfunctional behaviors, and (3) behaviors emanating from leaders’ lack of honesty, integrity, ethicality, and transparency i.e., unauthentic behaviors. We enrich current understanding on ineffective, dysfunctional, and unauthentic leader behaviors, and offer a unified (yet differentiated) framework of negative leader behaviors in the academic sector. Since each type of negative behavior emanates from different motivational drivers, different measures are required to curb them. These are also discussed. A comparison of our findings with those from leadership studies in other sectors reveals that negative leader behaviors in the education sector are quite similar to those in other sectors.


Negative leader behaviors Dysfunctional leadership Ineffective leadership Unauthentic leadership Education sector 


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Grenoble Ecole de ManagementGrenoble Cedex-01France
  2. 2.University of Wolverhampton Business SchoolWolverhamptonUK

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