Toxic leadership and academics’ work engagement in higher education: A cross-sectional study from Chile

Blanca Klahn Acuña, Trevor Male

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


The concept of toxic leadership has been widely investigated in diverse settings with most contributors agreeing its impact on followers can have negative effects to the victim's well-being, job satisfaction, group productivity and organisational commitment. However, the concept has not yet been sufficiently researched in tertiary educational settings, and in this case, specifically in Chilean higher education. This paper explores whether toxic leadership was present in country's universities and, if so, to assess its impact over academics’ work engagement. A cross-sectional quantitative study was conducted, using a sample of 592 academics from two different Chilean universities, who voluntarily responded to two validated scales: One to measure toxic leadership perceptions (Schmidt's toxic leadership scale) and other one to measure work engagement (UWESR work engagement scale). The results corroborated the presence of toxic leadership in the consulted institutions, but a significant relationship between this style of leadership and work engagement was not established. This finding suggests that, even though the participants recognise the presence of toxic leadership, work engagement was not necessarily affected by their leader's behaviour.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEducational Management Administration and Leadership
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2022


  • higher education
  • time perception
  • Toxic leadership
  • work engagement

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Strategy and Management


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