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From a Behavioral Toward an Interactional Theory of Charisma in Organizations
Unformatted Document Text:  Student Paper Interactional Theory of Charisma 18 institutionalized positions. Charisma becomes power, and as Weber (1946) observes, power is not found in people, but in positions. The instantiation of charisma in office becomes an ideological force difficult to repudiate. One cannot be opposed to the office because it has proven itself over time (Blau, 1963). Organizational members are, to a certain extent controlled by the social relations inherent in the relationship between the office and their positions (Merton, 1957). From the preceding discussion it is clear that behavioral theories of charismatic leadership do not adequately help further our understanding as to how charisma becomes routinized in organizations. In demystifying the “gift” of charisma, behavioral theories allow us to distill the qualities of effective leadership, turning charisma from an unstable, revolutionary force into desirable, teachable, and often manipulative practices. This does not help to explain how the charisma associated with that leader remains with the office even after the leader is gone. For Weber, charisma is something mystical and magical in the eyes of the followers. Its routinization perpetuates that magic in the sacredness of the office – the office of the Pope serves as a prime example. Why, then, is it necessary to remove the magic from the charisma concept? Should we do so because “magic” is unscientific? Understanding how charisma becomes routinized demands a new theory that takes into account both the behaviors of the initial leader and the attributions of sacredness of “magic” by followers. In the next section I propose propositions toward an interactional theory of charisma in organizations that seeks to explain the process of the routinization of charisma, the charisma of office rather than the individual. Charisma of Office as Constituted in Interaction

Authors: Leonardi, Paul.
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Student Paper Interactional Theory of Charisma 18
institutionalized positions. Charisma becomes power, and as Weber (1946) observes, power is
not found in people, but in positions. The instantiation of charisma in office becomes an
ideological force difficult to repudiate. One cannot be opposed to the office because it has
proven itself over time (Blau, 1963). Organizational members are, to a certain extent controlled
by the social relations inherent in the relationship between the office and their positions (Merton,
1957).
From the preceding discussion it is clear that behavioral theories of charismatic
leadership do not adequately help further our understanding as to how charisma becomes
routinized in organizations. In demystifying the “gift” of charisma, behavioral theories allow us
to distill the qualities of effective leadership, turning charisma from an unstable, revolutionary
force into desirable, teachable, and often manipulative practices. This does not help to explain
how the charisma associated with that leader remains with the office even after the leader is
gone. For Weber, charisma is something mystical and magical in the eyes of the followers. Its
routinization perpetuates that magic in the sacredness of the office – the office of the Pope serves
as a prime example. Why, then, is it necessary to remove the magic from the charisma concept?
Should we do so because “magic” is unscientific? Understanding how charisma becomes
routinized demands a new theory that takes into account both the behaviors of the initial leader
and the attributions of sacredness of “magic” by followers. In the next section I propose
propositions toward an interactional theory of charisma in organizations that seeks to explain the
process of the routinization of charisma, the charisma of office rather than the individual.
Charisma of Office as Constituted in Interaction


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