[Lecture, Apr 26] Duty of Leaders: Political Incentives, Political Ignorance, and the Spread of COVID-19 Worldwide

time: 2021-04-23

Title: Duty of Leaders: Political Incentives, Political Ignorance, and the Spread of COVID-19 Worldwide

Speaker: Prof. Huang Xu, Associate Dean, School of Business at Hong Kong Baptist University

Time: 9:00-12:00 am, April 26, 2021

Venue: Room 109, Building #12, Wushan Campus

Introduction to the speaker:

Prof. Huang Xu is currently Associate Dean and Head of Department of Management and chair professor at the School of Business of Hong Kong Baptist University. He received his Ph.D. degree from University of Groningen. His research interests include leadership, power, proactive and abnormal work behavior, employee well-being, cross-cultural psychology, and management issues in China. He has published more than 70 papers, most of which were in top tier journals such as Journal of Management, Administrative Science Quarterly, Personnel Psychology, Journal of Organizational Behavior, Human Resource Management, Management and Organization Review, and The International Journal of Human Resource Management, etc.

Prof. Huang serves as deputy editor for Management and Organization Review, senior editor for Asia Pacific Journal of Management, and member of editorial board of Academy of Management Journal, and Human Relations and so on.


A true test of leadership of how well you function in a crisis”. Bryan Tracy

In a crisis of the scale of COVID-19 pandemic, political leaders play a crucial role in saving lives. Yet, we observed a huge variation in the effectiveness of containing the spread of the virus across different regions and countries. We therefore conducted two research projects in the past 9 months to investigate and understand the role of leaders in this crisis. In the first project, using data from 177 cities in China, we showed that, in line with human mobility models, population inflow from Wuhan was strongly associated with epidemic growth; however, among cities where population inflow from Wuhan was high, those with retiring mayors (who were serving the last term before retirement) reported a faster virus spread rate, took longer to contain the epidemic, and recorded relatively more confirmed cases, compared to cities with non-retiring mayors. In the second project, we used data from 144 nations to show how national leaders’ reactions to the crisis during the first week after receiving the first reported case influence the spread of the virus in the first 30 days. We used Artificial Intelligence to code national leaders’ sentiment toward COVID-19 in their Twitter messages during the first week of having reported cases. We found that there is a weak positive effect of national leaders’ positive sentiment (vs. Negative sentiment) toward COVID-19 on the spread of the virus in the first 30 days. We also found that this positive effect is particularly stronger in democratic nations than in non-democratic nations after controlling for national wealth, aging populations, and public health expenditure. In the presentation, I will discuss the duty of leaders, especially in democratic nations, based on our initial findings in the two projects.