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From a Behavioral Toward an Interactional Theory of Charisma in Organizations
Unformatted Document Text:  Student Paper Interactional Theory of Charisma 3 From a Behavioral Toward an Interactional Theory of Charisma in Organizations The title of this essay may remind the reader of an article by Conger and Kanungo (1987) appearing in the Academy of Management Review just over fifteen years ago. That is because similarities abound. But so do differences, and it is such differences that will be the focus of the present paper. Conger and Kanungo’s essay “Toward a Behavior Theory of Charismatic Leadership in Organizational Settings” was a groundbreaking effort to understand the behavioral qualities of effective business leaders. Until the appearance of their article that attempted to demystify the concept of charisma, few scholars had rigorously applied the concept of charisma to studies of the workplace. Numerous scholars have proposed theories of charisma in organizations (Berlew, 1974; Dow, 1969; Oberg, 1972; Shamir, Zakay, Breinin, & Popper, 1998), and since the early 1990’s, many have explored how charisma can be taught and cultivated (Alessandra & Alessandra, 2000; Bryman, 1992; Conger, 1989, DuBrin, 1997) in order to condition effective leaders. Charismatic leadership is one of the concepts that surfaces from Max Weber’s (1947) meditation on authority around the turn of the twentieth century. It is, however, only one aspect of Weber’s lengthy treatise on the matter. Moreover, his writings were dense and not clear on the concept of charisma he purported to explain. He did, however, present two ideas on charisma that were both interrelated and distinct. The first was charisma as a prophetic gift, and the second was charisma as an institutionalized office (1968). In organizational literature, the former, charisma as a gift possessed by a leader, has been the Weberian concept of charisma most reported on. What is interesting to note is how organizational scholars have hijacked

Authors: Leonardi, Paul.
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Student Paper Interactional Theory of Charisma 3
From a Behavioral Toward an Interactional Theory of Charisma in Organizations
The title of this essay may remind the reader of an article by Conger and Kanungo (1987)
appearing in the Academy of Management Review just over fifteen years ago. That is because
similarities abound. But so do differences, and it is such differences that will be the focus of the
present paper. Conger and Kanungo’s essay “Toward a Behavior Theory of Charismatic
Leadership in Organizational Settings” was a groundbreaking effort to understand the behavioral
qualities of effective business leaders. Until the appearance of their article that attempted to
demystify the concept of charisma, few scholars had rigorously applied the concept of charisma
to studies of the workplace. Numerous scholars have proposed theories of charisma in
organizations (Berlew, 1974; Dow, 1969; Oberg, 1972; Shamir, Zakay, Breinin, & Popper,
1998), and since the early 1990’s, many have explored how charisma can be taught and
cultivated (Alessandra & Alessandra, 2000; Bryman, 1992; Conger, 1989, DuBrin, 1997) in
order to condition effective leaders.
Charismatic leadership is one of the concepts that surfaces from Max Weber’s (1947)
meditation on authority around the turn of the twentieth century. It is, however, only one aspect
of Weber’s lengthy treatise on the matter. Moreover, his writings were dense and not clear on
the concept of charisma he purported to explain. He did, however, present two ideas on
charisma that were both interrelated and distinct. The first was charisma as a prophetic gift, and
the second was charisma as an institutionalized office (1968). In organizational literature, the
former, charisma as a gift possessed by a leader, has been the Weberian concept of charisma
most reported on. What is interesting to note is how organizational scholars have hijacked


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