Petty tyranny (or petty authority or petty dictator or petty power) is authority exercised by a leader, usually one unchosen by the led, in a relatively limited or an intimate environment, such as that exercised by a fellow peer of a social group. It is a pejorative term, that carries with it a sense of authority that was gained, or is used, in an unfair or capricious manner.
Ashforth discussed potentially destructive sides of leadership and identified petty tyrants, i.e. leaders who exercise a tyrannical style of management, resulting in a climate of fear in the workplace. He proposed the following six characteristics to define petty tyranny:
- Petty tyranny in organizations , Ashforth, Blake, Human Relations, Vol. 47, No. 7, 755-778 (1994)
- S Alexander Haslam (2004). Psychology in Organizations. SAGE. p. 142. ISBN 978-0-7619-4231-3.
- Ronald E. Rice; Stephen D. Cooper (2010). Organizations and Unusual Routines: A Systems Analysis of Dysfunctional Feedback Processes. Cambridge University Press. p. 287. ISBN 978-0-521-76864-1.
- Blake Ashforth (2003). "Petty Tyranny in Organizations". In Lyman W. Porter; Harold L. Angle; Robert W. Allen. Organizational Influence Processes (2nd ed.). M.E. Sharpe. pp. 151–171. ISBN 978-0-7656-1134-5.
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