Theses and Dissertations


Hok Roth

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Emison, Gerald A.

Committee Member

French, P. Edward

Committee Member

Shoup, Brian D.

Committee Member

Stanisevski, Dragan

Date of Degree


Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access


Public Policy and Administration

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


College of Arts and Sciences


Department of Political Science and Public Administration


The purpose of this dissertation is to help explain how and why two revolutionary national leaders of Cambodia–Lon Nol and Pol Pot, particularly the latter–had spectacular failures and became pseudotransformational leaders. It aims to build a proposition or theory that revolutionary leaders in the public sector, particularly of undemocratic regimes, tend to become pseudotransformational leaders when a) they lack certain components of emotional intelligence (EI) and/or b) adopt certain leadership styles and use them inappropriately. The author used a mixed methods comparative case study with the quantitative method nested in the qualitative one. He collected empirical data from a quantitative questionnaire survey and qualitative individual interviews and other print and audio-visual data from various primary sources, including the Documentation Center of Cambodia (DC-Cam) and the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (E), as well as from secondary sources such as books and articles. The author administered the survey to a sample of over 400 Cambodian participants from different socio-economic and political backgrounds and sectors and conducted individual in-depth interviews with 38 participants selected from the sample. Overall, this study’s findings tend to support the proposed theory, albeit with some limitations. In the main, both Lon Nol and Pol Pot were coercive and authoritative leaders. Only Pol Pot was a pacesetting leader. Both leaders severely lacked emotional intelligence, especially the domain of self-awareness. This dissertation makes some contribution to the existing literature on leadership in general and bad leadership in particular and, more specifically, on the two leaders’ leadership qualities, in that it proposes a linkage between leadership ineffectiveness or failures and lack of emotional intelligence and improper use of leadership styles. The practical implications or lessons drawn from the dissertation include the following. First, a national leader’s distance or isolation from the masses can undermine her or his emotional intelligence and/or leadership effectiveness. Second, national/public interest should take precedence over the leader’s other interests and partisan politics. Third, a leadership team of friends or cronies is, more often than not, harmful to quality decision/policy making and administration because it tends to foster groupthink.



Khmer Rouge||speudotransformational leadership||leadership style||Pol Pot||emotional intelligence||Lon Nol