Pol Pot, alias brother number one: leaders as instruments of history

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13 Citations (Scopus)


Pol Pot is one twentieth century leader with a specific place in history as the orchestrator of one of that century's many significant genocides. As the commander of the deadly Khmer Rouge, he orchestrated the genocide perpetrated in Cambodia between 1974 and 1979, in which 1.7 million people, or 21% of the country's population, died (UN figure). Explanations of how the genocide occurred often stress it as an unanticipated consequence of implementing a utopian vision. That vision was one of a classless society of peasants freed from the shackles of both feudalism and capitalism, in which all dominant feudal and bourgeois institutions had been eliminated in order to 'free' the people. The unfolding of utopian projects in which leaders assume the role of instruments of history reveals dimensions of the leadership process that tend to go unnoticed and under-researched in the management and organisational literature.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)268-286
Number of pages19
JournalManagement and Organizational History
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2011


  • history
  • leadership
  • Pol Pot
  • utopia
  • utopian leadership


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