Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Logistics and Supply Chain Management


Department of Operational Sciences

First Advisor

Matthew A. Douglas, PhD.

Second Advisor

Benjamin T. Hazen, PhD.


The purpose of this thesis was to determine what characteristics of the Air Force’s environment and Airmen perpetuate toxic leadership behaviors. This survey study was designed, using the toxic triangle theory, to evaluate the toxic leadership behaviors, susceptible follower traits, and conducive environment characteristics participants have experienced in the Air Force. The study applied ordinary least squares path analysis to determine the influence susceptible followers and characteristics of a conducive environment have on toxic leadership behaviors in the Air Force. Results revealed that collusive followers have a direct influence on toxic leadership. While only two characteristics of a conducive environment -- ethics and absence of checks and balances --influence toxic leadership behavior directly. Furthermore, the mediating model found that two other characteristics of a conducive environment-instability and favoritism - have indirect effect on toxic leadership behaviors through susceptible followers. These findings suggest that leaders of organizations should target creating an environment based on an ethical culture and implementing a system of checks and balances of its unit and leaders. Moreover, leaders should eliminate areas of instability and practices of favoritism to eliminate collusive behaviors from subordinates. Directing focus at these specific elements may put an end to toxic leadership behavior.

AFIT Designator


DTIC Accession Number