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The alpha male syndrome

February 9, 2014

 Abstract: Leadership behaviour or alpha male syndrome (AMS) trait of primates is manifest in the process of governance. This syndrome can have both a positive or negative impact. At an agency level negative manifestation of this syndrome relates to incomplete projects of the predecessors. The successor has different priorities and does not care to close out the previous projects. In contrast, a positive manifestation can be seen when dysfunctional and unproductive systems and processes are ended or restructured as a show of AMS by a new agency leader. Changes in government unleashes AMS with a vengeance and unfortunately, most are of the negative kind. Studies have well documented the critical role of robust, durable and stable institutions in promoting economic growth. Yet, in their eagerness to replace predecessors’ legacies with their own, new governments risk weakening this very foundation of sustained growth. The long-term challenge is to strive toward a more discerning AMS, by casting out the dysfunctional and preserving and strengthening the functional.

Keywords: Alpha male syndrome (AMS); primates; governance trait; change management

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