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From a Behavioral Toward an Interactional Theory of Charisma in Organizations
Unformatted Document Text:  Student Paper Interactional Theory of Charisma 17 responsible for whatsoever success experienced by the organization. Moreover, positive or desirable organizational outcomes are often attributed to leadership even though it may be uncertain how they were achieved. This suggests that a follower’s perception of charisma is extremely important in its function, and more importantly, that an office or a symbol may not be behaviorally charismatic at all, but is revered as such because positive outcomes are attributed to it; surely there are successful offices and roles that are admired but not thought of as charismatic. The office can reap the rewards of positive outcomes even though it has done little to nothing to deserve them. Weber strongly recognized the importance of the follower in the construction of charisma. His model of routinization suggests a dual process whereby followers recognize an office as having charisma and thus instantiate its authority. Through the routinization of charisma, “the charismatic group tends to develop into one of the forms of everyday authority, particularly the patrimonial form in its decentralized variant or the bureaucratic” (1947, p. 369). Charisma no longer manifests in certain qualities or characteristics of individuals discussed in the behavior model, but holds sway because it commands authority. The dynamic set up by this relationship is one of dependency. The leader is recognized as having charisma and it is only through such recognition that he comes to have authority. Conversely, the leader needs to demonstrate the possession of a “gift” in order to obtain followers. Charisma is then generated in the relationship and the follower maintains respect for the authority commanded by the leader. As Foucault (1977) observes, power and authority are not typically respected because of those who control them, but because of our inability to see outside the discourse of reason power and authority create. Followers then begin to attribute charisma not to the leader who initially generated it, but to the authority that has sustained it, normally the authority granted to one by an

Authors: Leonardi, Paul.
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Student Paper Interactional Theory of Charisma 17
responsible for whatsoever success experienced by the organization. Moreover, positive or
desirable organizational outcomes are often attributed to leadership even though it may be
uncertain how they were achieved. This suggests that a follower’s perception of charisma is
extremely important in its function, and more importantly, that an office or a symbol may not be
behaviorally charismatic at all, but is revered as such because positive outcomes are attributed to
it; surely there are successful offices and roles that are admired but not thought of as charismatic.
The office can reap the rewards of positive outcomes even though it has done little to nothing to
deserve them.
Weber strongly recognized the importance of the follower in the construction of
charisma. His model of routinization suggests a dual process whereby followers recognize an
office as having charisma and thus instantiate its authority. Through the routinization of
charisma, “the charismatic group tends to develop into one of the forms of everyday authority,
particularly the patrimonial form in its decentralized variant or the bureaucratic” (1947, p. 369).
Charisma no longer manifests in certain qualities or characteristics of individuals discussed in
the behavior model, but holds sway because it commands authority. The dynamic set up by this
relationship is one of dependency. The leader is recognized as having charisma and it is only
through such recognition that he comes to have authority. Conversely, the leader needs to
demonstrate the possession of a “gift” in order to obtain followers. Charisma is then generated in
the relationship and the follower maintains respect for the authority commanded by the leader.
As Foucault (1977) observes, power and authority are not typically respected because of those
who control them, but because of our inability to see outside the discourse of reason power and
authority create. Followers then begin to attribute charisma not to the leader who initially
generated it, but to the authority that has sustained it, normally the authority granted to one by an


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