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From a Behavioral Toward an Interactional Theory of Charisma in Organizations
Unformatted Document Text:  Student Paper Interactional Theory of Charisma 15 charisma do not come directly from a leader’s behavior, but often are attributed to him because he appears responsible for success (Meindl, 1990). Charisma becomes a wistful emotion. When organizational outcomes are successful, charisma is associated with the person with authority for the outcome. This may or may not be the person who displayed personal behavior characteristics of charisma initially. She often occupies the vacant position of the charismatic leader who established it. The transference of charisma from a leader to an office demonstrates that charisma can be attributed to a variety of organizational processes including norms and symbols (Nur, 1998). Charisma then becomes just as much a process of attribution as one of behavior. The ways in which organizational members come to view a particular office or symbol determines whether or not charisma will be associated with it. So as to not get carried away with a follower-centered perspective on charisma, Waldman and Yammarino (1999) remind us that the charisma attributed to an office comes from somewhere. In their examination of the office of CEO, the authors explain that it is initial individual performance that is captured and transformed into charisma associated with the particular office. As a result, the new leader chosen to occupy the position has a tremendous load to bear since “it is not the individual who is being so represented, but the individual wrapped in the powerful nimbus of organizational authority” (Feldman, 1986, p. 214). Weber’s analysis of the routinization of charisma continues as he probes at the office of the monarch in feudal societies. More contemporary analyses of the charisma of office include that of the president (Emrich, Brower, Feldman, & Garland, 2001; House, Spangler, & Woycke, J., 1991), and of religious leaders (Aldridge, 1989). Despite such investigations, attention to the actual process of routinization, how charisma comes to be present in an office instead of a

Authors: Leonardi, Paul.
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Student Paper Interactional Theory of Charisma 15
charisma do not come directly from a leader’s behavior, but often are attributed to him because
he appears responsible for success (Meindl, 1990). Charisma becomes a wistful emotion. When
organizational outcomes are successful, charisma is associated with the person with authority for
the outcome. This may or may not be the person who displayed personal behavior characteristics
of charisma initially. She often occupies the vacant position of the charismatic leader who
established it.
The transference of charisma from a leader to an office demonstrates that charisma can be
attributed to a variety of organizational processes including norms and symbols (Nur, 1998).
Charisma then becomes just as much a process of attribution as one of behavior. The ways in
which organizational members come to view a particular office or symbol determines whether or
not charisma will be associated with it. So as to not get carried away with a follower-centered
perspective on charisma, Waldman and Yammarino (1999) remind us that the charisma
attributed to an office comes from somewhere. In their examination of the office of CEO, the
authors explain that it is initial individual performance that is captured and transformed into
charisma associated with the particular office. As a result, the new leader chosen to occupy the
position has a tremendous load to bear since “it is not the individual who is being so represented,
but the individual wrapped in the powerful nimbus of organizational authority” (Feldman, 1986,
p. 214).
Weber’s analysis of the routinization of charisma continues as he probes at the office of
the monarch in feudal societies. More contemporary analyses of the charisma of office include
that of the president (Emrich, Brower, Feldman, & Garland, 2001; House, Spangler, & Woycke,
J., 1991), and of religious leaders (Aldridge, 1989). Despite such investigations, attention to the
actual process of routinization, how charisma comes to be present in an office instead of a


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