Faculty of Business Administration

MMI Brown Bag Seminar

Leaders’ paradox of dominating and empowering their followers


Prof. Huang Xu

Professor of Management

Associate Dean for School of Business

Head of Department of Management

Hong Kong Baptist University



In a series of studies, we attempted to extend the idea of “absolute power corrupts absolutely” by demonstrating that leaders with relatively absolute power are more likely to exhibit inconsistent and contradictory behaviors. In this seminar, I will present two papers published recently by my colleagues and I to show that individuals in power are more likely to be caught up in a paradox of dominating and empowering their followers. In the first paper, based on three samples, we showed that managers tend to react paradoxically to employees’ voicing behavior. They tend to give lower performance evaluations to employees who engage in very low and very high frequency of prohibitive voice than to those whose voice frequency is moderate, especially for employees with a lower level of LMX. In the second paper, we unveiled a similar paradox of domination and empowerment in the context of power succession. Based a historical dataset (power succession in early Chinese kingdoms, 403 BC – 959 AD) and two samples of contemporary firms, we showed, at least in some situations, that parent-incumbents tend to exert coercive control over their child-successors, when they regard their child-successors as being very unwilling/incapability or very willing/capable to take over the throne. In the last part of my presentation, I will share with the audience about the great lessons we learned from the review processes.

Date:              21 November, 2019 (Thursday)
Time:              16:30~18:00
Venue:           E22-2010


Professor Huang Xu is a Professor of management, the Associate Dean for School of Business and Head of Department of Management in Hong Kong Baptist University. He received his PhD in Organizational Psychology from University of Groningen (The Netherlands). His areas of research expertise include leadership, power, proactive and abnormal work behavior, employee well-being, cross-cultural psychology, and management issues in China. His research has been widely published in top management journals such as Academy of Management Journal, Journal of Management, Journal of Applied Psychology and Journal of Organizational Behavior. He currently serves as the senior editor of Asia Pacific Journal of Management and is also the member of editorial board of Academy of Management Journal, Management and Organization Review, Human Relations and Australian Management Journal. Besides his significant academic impact and contribution, he is also actively involved in teaching in Hong Kong-RPg courses and is the chief supervisor of PhD students and Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) students in Hong Kong Baptist University.