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The Motivational Effects of Charismatic Leadership: A Self-Concept Based Theory


  • Boas Shamir

    (Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology, The Hebrew University, Jerusalem 91905, Israel)

  • Robert J. House

    (Wharton School, Department of Management, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104)

  • Michael B. Arthur

    (School of Management, Suffolk University, Boston, Massachusetts 02108)


The empirical literature on charismatic or transformational leadership demonstrates that such leadership has profound effects on followers. However, while several versions of charismatic leadership theory predict such effects, none of them explains the process by which these effects are achieved. In this paper we seek to advance leadership theory by addressing this fundamental problem. We offer a self-concept based motivational theory to explain the process by which charismatic leader behaviors cause profound transformational effects on followers. The theory presents the argument that charismatic leadership has its effects by strongly engaging followers' self-concepts in the interest of the mission articulated by the leader. We derive from this theory testable propositions about (a) the behavior of charismatic leaders and their effects on followers, (b) the role of followers' values and orientations in the charismatic relationship, and (c) some of the organizational conditions that favor the emergence and effectiveness of charismatic leaders.

Suggested Citation

  • Boas Shamir & Robert J. House & Michael B. Arthur, 1993. "The Motivational Effects of Charismatic Leadership: A Self-Concept Based Theory," Organization Science, INFORMS, vol. 4(4), pages 577-594, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:inm:ororsc:v:4:y:1993:i:4:p:577-594
    DOI: 10.1287/orsc.4.4.577

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