PhD Defence Ben Korman


In his dissertation ‘Leader-Subordinate Relations: The Good, the Bad and the Paradoxical’ Benjamin Ashlin Korman highlighted the diverse emotional and behavioral effects that leader-subordinate relations can have on focal subordinates and their coworkers. In doing so, the research presented herein reveals the good, the bad and the at times paradoxical effects that leader-subordinate relations can have on an organization’s overall work environment. Benjamin has defended his dissertation on Thursday, 18 March at 10:30h. His supervisors were Prof. Steffen R. Giessner (RSM) and Prof. Christian Tröster (Kühne Logistics University). The members of the Doctoral Committee were Dr Inga Hoever (RSM), Dr Hannes Leroy (RSM), Prof. Daan Stam (RSM) and Prof. Martin Schweinsberg (European School of Management and Technology Berlin).

About Ben Korman

Benjamin Ashlin Korman began his doctoral studies at the Kühne Logistics University in Hamburg, Germany in 2016, later joining the Rotterdam School of Management at Erasmus University in the Netherlands as an external doctoral candidate. Prior to his doctoral studies, Ben received his Bachelor of Science in Biopsychology from the University of California, Santa Barbara in the United States in 2012 and his Master of Science in Psychology from Leiden University in the Netherlands in 2014. Since the end of 2020, he is a post-doctoral researcher in organizational behavior at the University of Konstanz in Germany.


Ben’s research interests are diverse and span the fields of Social Psychology and Neuroscience. These interests include (1) the effects of social comparison on individual’s emotional experiences and subsequent behavior (2) the evolutionary bases of social emotions (3) the neural underpinnings of altered states of consciousness and (4) the medical applications of psychedelic drugs. His doctoral thesis explores the various emotional and behavioral outcomes arising from leader-subordinate relations. His work has been published in Proceedings of the 2020 Academy of Management Meeting and he regularly presents his research at international conferences in Europe and North America.

Thesis Abstract

Leaders’ interactions with their subordinates play a major role in determining how subordinates treat one another. This is in large part due to the emotional effects that leader treatment can have on subordinates which, in turn, motivate specific behaviors (or behavioral intentions) in subordinates. The aim of this dissertation is to highlight the diverse emotional and behavioral effects that leader-subordinate relations can have on focal subordinates and their coworkers. In doing so, the research presented herein reveals the good, the bad and the at times paradoxical effects that leader-subordinate relations can have on an organization’s overall work environment. Initially, this dissertation focuses on the potential downsides associated with subordinates who are abused by their leader either more, or less, relative to their fellow group members. Following this, the simultaneous prosocial and undermining behavior of subordinates perceiving themselves as having a uniquely positive relationship with their leader is examined. Finally, the perspective shifts to take into account how subordinates experience and respond to abusive supervision directed at a fellow group member. In sum, this work offers a more detailed perspective on how work groups, and organizations as a whole, are shaped by their leaders.