Prime ministers as leaders: applying self-determination theory on Australian prime ministers

Joakim Eidenfalk*, Vivien W. Forner, Michael Jones, Dominique Rene Parrish

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
22 Downloads (Pure)


The leadership capability of Australia’s four Prime Ministers 1996 – 2015 has been widely debated by political commentators, financial analysts and the general public. The success of these senior leaders has been questioned, as has their management of their office, staff, and colleagues. This article will investigate the performances of these four Australia Prime Ministers – John Howard, Kevin Rudd, Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott. Self-Determination Theory (SDT) is presented as a framework that could provide guidance on the aspects of leadership that if attended to could result in enhanced performance of political leaders and ultimately security of their position. SDT is also used as a theoretical lens to evaluate the behaviour and provide a comparative assessment of these four Australian Prime Ministers. It is posited that SDT analysis illustrates ways that each of the four Prime Ministers could have performed better and highlights key lessons for current and future leaders around the world.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)224-241
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Social and Political Psychology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Australian politics
  • Autonomy
  • Belonging
  • Competence
  • Leadership
  • Political psychology
  • Self-determination theory


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