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From a Behavioral Toward an Interactional Theory of Charisma in Organizations
Unformatted Document Text:  Student Paper Interactional Theory of Charisma 13 objective, transferable entity. In particular, it may become the charisma of office. In this case, the belief in legitimacy is no longer directed to the individual, but to the acquired qualities and to the effectiveness of the ritual acts. (1947, p. 366) Rather than follow a leader for what she is, the routinization of charisma shows that people often follow leaders for who they were. The individual who summed all the qualities discussed in the previous section drew reverence to her position. When she leaves that position, the prestige and respect she earned remains even though she has gone. The one who occupies her spot may or may not share her charismatic qualities, but that is not altogether important. The office has become endowed with prestige. Weber’s initial analysis of this process is of the Catholic Church. Drawing on the work of Sohm (1892 – see Riesebrodt (1999) for discussion), Weber discusses how the office of the priest is endowed with charisma due to the charismatic founders of the Church. The ability of a priest to perform the laying-on of hands as well as other acts of God is an ability bestowed on him by the office, and continues as a function of that office more than anything else. As he is with most of his writings on the subject, Weber is unclear on how charismatic leadership becomes charisma of office. Weber does note two conditions necessary for this transformation to occur. First, although Weber states that charisma is a gift, he does not treat it as one in his writings. He treats charisma as occurring in the interplay between those who lead and those who follow. While laying out several of the premises of charismatic authority Weber (1947) observes as the first: “It is the recognition on the part of those subject to authority which is decisive for the validity of charisma” (p. 359), and as the third: “The corporate group which is subject to charismatic authority is based on an emotional form of communal relationship” (p. 360). This conceptualization of charisma is different from behavioral theories in an important

Authors: Leonardi, Paul.
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Student Paper Interactional Theory of Charisma 13
objective, transferable entity. In particular, it may become the charisma of office.
In this case, the belief in legitimacy is no longer directed to the individual, but to
the acquired qualities and to the effectiveness of the ritual acts. (1947, p. 366)
Rather than follow a leader for what she is, the routinization of charisma shows that people often
follow leaders for who they were. The individual who summed all the qualities discussed in the
previous section drew reverence to her position. When she leaves that position, the prestige and
respect she earned remains even though she has gone. The one who occupies her spot may or
may not share her charismatic qualities, but that is not altogether important. The office has
become endowed with prestige. Weber’s initial analysis of this process is of the Catholic
Church. Drawing on the work of Sohm (1892 – see Riesebrodt (1999) for discussion), Weber
discusses how the office of the priest is endowed with charisma due to the charismatic founders
of the Church. The ability of a priest to perform the laying-on of hands as well as other acts of
God is an ability bestowed on him by the office, and continues as a function of that office more
than anything else.
As he is with most of his writings on the subject, Weber is unclear on how charismatic
leadership becomes charisma of office. Weber does note two conditions necessary for this
transformation to occur. First, although Weber states that charisma is a gift, he does not treat it
as one in his writings. He treats charisma as occurring in the interplay between those who lead
and those who follow. While laying out several of the premises of charismatic authority Weber
(1947) observes as the first: “It is the recognition on the part of those subject to authority which
is decisive for the validity of charisma” (p. 359), and as the third: “The corporate group which is
subject to charismatic authority is based on an emotional form of communal relationship” (p.
360). This conceptualization of charisma is different from behavioral theories in an important


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