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From a Behavioral Toward an Interactional Theory of Charisma in Organizations
Unformatted Document Text:  Student Paper Interactional Theory of Charisma 19 In beginning to conceptualize behavioral components of charisma, Conger and Kanungo (1987) ask, “If the follower’s attribution of charisma depends on observed behavior of the leader, then what are the behavior components responsible for such attributions?” (p. 640). As discussed earlier, I believe this question is useful when thinking of thinking of charisma as something possessed by a leader. If the same question, however, was applied to the concept of charisma as an office, it would yield no useful knowledge. In distilling the qualities of both types of charisma, leader-bound and routinized, we arrive at one practice constitutive of both types: Interaction. In a behavioral theory of charismatic leadership, scholars recognize the importance of the interaction between the leader and the follower (Gibson, Hannon, & Blackwell, 1998; Lenard, 1988), but only inasmuch as the follower is affected by certain nameable practices. That is to say, behavior theories recognize the need for followers, but do no pay attention to the ways in which charisma in instantiated and made stable through the interaction between the office and the follower. It is precisely this between the follower and the charismatic authority of an office or organizational role (Blasi, 1995; Weber, 1968) constitutive of a charismatic relationship. To broaden our understanding of charisma in organizations to include both facets of the process, I propose moving from a behavioral theory to an interactional theory. Of importance here is the sociological process whereby individual charisma is transformed into charisma of office. I believe that for organizational scholars, understanding how and why this process takes place is equally as, or more important understanding what qualities one must have to become a charismatic leader. As with the entire concept of charisma, Weber is unclear on how this process occurs. Over the last hundred years, organizational scholars have done little to further this understanding. I believe part of the reason for this dearth

Authors: Leonardi, Paul.
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Student Paper Interactional Theory of Charisma 19
In beginning to conceptualize behavioral components of charisma, Conger and Kanungo
(1987) ask, “If the follower’s attribution of charisma depends on observed behavior of the leader,
then what are the behavior components responsible for such attributions?” (p. 640). As
discussed earlier, I believe this question is useful when thinking of thinking of charisma as
something possessed by a leader. If the same question, however, was applied to the concept of
charisma as an office, it would yield no useful knowledge. In distilling the qualities of both
types of charisma, leader-bound and routinized, we arrive at one practice constitutive of both
types: Interaction. In a behavioral theory of charismatic leadership, scholars recognize the
importance of the interaction between the leader and the follower (Gibson, Hannon, &
Blackwell, 1998; Lenard, 1988), but only inasmuch as the follower is affected by certain
nameable practices. That is to say, behavior theories recognize the need for followers, but do no
pay attention to the ways in which charisma in instantiated and made stable through the
interaction between the office and the follower. It is precisely this between the follower and the
charismatic authority of an office or organizational role (Blasi, 1995; Weber, 1968) constitutive
of a charismatic relationship. To broaden our understanding of charisma in organizations to
include both facets of the process, I propose moving from a behavioral theory to an interactional
theory.
Of importance here is the sociological process whereby individual charisma is
transformed into charisma of office. I believe that for organizational scholars, understanding
how and why this process takes place is equally as, or more important understanding what
qualities one must have to become a charismatic leader. As with the entire concept of charisma,
Weber is unclear on how this process occurs. Over the last hundred years, organizational
scholars have done little to further this understanding. I believe part of the reason for this dearth


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