The Hubris Project

Hubris is excessive self-confidence, exaggerated self-belief, overweening pride, and contempt for the advice and criticism of others.  It emerges when leaders become intoxicated by power and success.

But it’s not only an occupational hazard for political leaders; business leaders can be equally hubris-prone. The 2008 crash proved that with the demise of banks such as Lehman Brothers and the downfall of RBS’s ex-CEO Fred Goodwin, hubris in the boardroom can have profound and destructive consequences for leaders, businesses, the economy, and society.

Businesses need to understand hubris and be able to avoid its perils and pitfalls.  For this reason the University of Surrey has established The Hubris Project.

Our aims

The Hubris Project at Surrey Business School has been established to undertake:

  1. Identify the nature and causes of hubris in business
  2. Develop tools and techniques for anticipating, detecting, and diagnosing hubris
  3. Understand how sought-after leadership traits such as confidence, self-assurance, and pride can morph into over-confidence, arrogance, and contempt
  4. Explore how managerial hubris feeds corporate hubris, and vice versa
  5. Help organizations anticipate and mitigate hubris.

We encourage inter-disciplinary collaboration and communication with all interested parties from across the academic and professional communities.

Project outputs 

Claxton G, Owen D, Sadler-Smith E. (2015) 'Hubris in leadership: A peril of unbridled intuition?'. Leadership, 11 (1), pp. 57-78.

Contact us

Find us

Surrey Business School
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
University of Surrey