Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
Amsterdam School of Economics Research Institute (ASE-RI)
This article discusses the relationship between one of the Big Five personality traits 'agreeableness' and the autocratic and participative leadership behavior and effectiveness of mayors during crises. Based on trait activation theory, it was expected that the relationship between a mayor's agreeableness and his autocratic and participative leadership behavior and its effectiveness are dependent on the extent to which a crisis is characterized by time pressure and ambiguity. Expectations were tested in 68 public order and safety crises. During crises, the extent of agreeableness appeared to be negatively related, via autocratic leadership behavior, to the effectiveness of the mayor's leadership. Under low or high time pressure, agreeableness was also found to be positively or negatively related to leadership effectiveness, via participative leadership behavior. Contrary from what was predicted, autocratic leadership behavior on the part of mayors was shown to be effective, especially if there was a high level of situational ambiguity. Our conclusion discusses the implications for leadership theory and crisis management.