Journal Articles (Peer-Reviewed)
van Gils, Suzanne, Niels Van Quaquebeke, Jan Borkowski and Daan van Knippenberg (In press): Respectful leadership: Reducing performance challenges posed by leader role incongruence and gender dissimilarity, Human Relations.
Abstract: We investigate how respectful leadership can help overcome the challenges for follower performance that female leaders face when working (especially with male) followers. Firstly, based on role congruity theory (Eagly & Karau, 2002), we illustrate the biases faced by female leaders. Secondly, based on research on gender (dis-)similarity, we propose that these biases should be particularly pronounced when working with a male follower. Finally, we propose that respectful leadership is most conducive to performance in female leader/male follower dyads compared to all other gender configurations. A multi-source field study (N = 214) provides partial support for our hypothesis. While our hypothesized effect was confirmed, respectful leadership seems to be generally effective for female leaders irrespective of follower gender, thus lending greater support in this context to the arguments of role congruity rather than gender dissimilarity.
Reh, Susan, Christian Tröster and Niels Van Quaquebeke (In press): Keeping (future) rivals down: Temporal social comparison predicts coworker social undermining via future status threat and envy, Journal of Applied Psychology.
Gerpott, Fabiola H., Niels Van Quaquebeke, Sofia Schlamp and Sven C. Voelpel (In press): An Identity Perspective on Ethical Leadership to Explain Organizational Citizenship Behavior: The Interplay of Follower Moral Identity and Leader Group Prototypicality, Journal of Business Ethics.
Abstract: Despite the proliferation of research on ethical leadership, there remains a limited understanding of how specifically the assumingly moral component of this leadership style affects employee behavior. Taking an identity perspective, we integrate the ethical leadership literature with research on the dynamics of the moral self-concept to posit that ethical leadership will foster a sense of moral identity among employees, which then inspires followers to adopt more ethical actions, such as increased organization citizenship behavior (OCB). We further argue that these identity effects should be more pronounced when leaders are perceived to be group prototypical, as their actions then speak louder to followers’ sense of identity. Two studies—a scenario experiment with 138 participants and a field study with 225 employees—provided support for our hypothesized moderated mediation model. Perceived ethical leadership positively affected OCB via followers’ moral identity but only under conditions of high perceived leader group prototypicality. We discuss how the identity pathway of ethical leadership can facilitate novel theorizing about moral transference. Our findings also suggest that, when hiring external ethical leaders or training internal managers, practitioners are well advised to consider that these individuals may only be effective in morally transforming followers when they are perceived as prototypical for the group.
Wenzel, Ramon and Niels Van Quaquebeke (In press): The double-edged sword of Big Data in organizational and management research: A review of opportunities and risks, Organizational Research Methods.
Abstract: While many disciplines embrace the possibilities that Big Data present for advancing scholarship and practice, organizational and management research has yet to realize Big Data’s potential. In an effort to chart this newfound territory, we briefly describe the principal drivers and key characteristics of Big Data. We then review a broad range of opportunities and risks that are related to the Big Data paradigm, the data itself, and the associated analytical methods. For each, we provide research ideas and recommendations on how to embrace the potentials or address the concerns. Our assessment shows that Big Data, as a paradigm, can be a double- edged sword, capable of significantly advancing our field but also causing backlash if not utilized properly. Our review seeks to inform individual research practices as well as a broader policy agenda in order to advance organizational and management research as a scientifically rigorous and professionally relevant field.
Van Quaquebeke, Niels, Jan U. Becker, Niko Goretzki and Christian Barrot (In press): Perceived ethical leadership affects customer purchasing intentions beyond ethical marketing in advertising due to moral identity self-congruence concerns, Journal of Business Ethics.
Abstract: Ethical leadership has so far mainly been featured in the organizational behavior domain and, as such, treated as an intra-organizational phenomenon. The present study seeks to highlight the relevance of ethical leadership for extra-organizational phenomena by combining the organizational behavior perspective on ethical leadership with a classical marketing approach. In particular, we demonstrate that customers may use perceived ethical leadership cues as additional reference points when forming purchasing intentions. In two experimental studies (N = 601 and N = 336), we find that ethical leadership positively affects purchasing intentions because of customers’ concerns for moral self-congruence. We show this by means of both mediation and moderation analyses. Interestingly, the effect of perceived ethical leadership on purchasing intentions holds over and above the ethical advertising claims (e.g., cause-related marketing) that are commonly used in marketing. We conclude by discussing the possible ramifications of ethical leadership beyond its effects on immediate employees.
Salem, Mojtaba, Niels Van Quaquebeke and Maria Besiou (In press): How field office leaders drive learning and creativity in humanitarian aid: Exploring the role of boundary-spanning leadership for expatriate and local aid worker collaboration, Journal of Organizational Behavior.
Abstract: Many humanitarian aid workers receive training prior to being dispatched into the field, but they often encounter challenges that require additional learning and creativity. Consequently, aid organizations formally support collaboration among the expatriate and local workers in a field office. At best, those aid workers would not only exploit their joint knowledge but also explore novel ways of managing the challenges at hand. Yet differences between expatriate and local groups (e.g., in ethnicity, religion, education, and salary) often thwart intergroup collaboration in field offices and, by extension, any joint learning or creativity. In response to this issue, we study the role of field office leaders—specifically, how their boundary-spanning behavior may inspire collaboration between the two groups and therefore facilitate joint learning and creativity. We propose that a leader's in-group prototypicality additionally catalyzes this process—that is, a leader's behavior has more impact if s/he is seen as representing his/her group. We tested and found support for our hypothesized moderated mediation model in a field sample of 137 aid workers from 59 humanitarian organizations. Thus, our study generally highlights the pivotal role that field office leaders play for crucial outcomes in humanitarian aid operations. Furthermore, we offer concrete steps for field office leaders who want to inspire better collaboration between the expatriate and local aid workers they lead.
Schuh, Sebastian C., Niels Van Quaquebeke, Natalija Keck, Anja S. Göritz, Katherine Xin and David De Cremer (In press): Does it take more than ideals? How counter-ideal value congruence shapes employees' trust in the organization, Journal of Business Ethics.
Abstract: Research on value congruence rests on the assumption that values denote desirable behaviors and ideals that employees and organizations strive to approach. In the present study, we develop and test the argument that a more complete understanding of value congruence can be achieved by considering a second type of congruence based on employees’ and organizations’ counter-ideal values (i.e., what both seek to avoid). We examined this proposition in a time-lagged study of 672 employees from various occupational and organizational backgrounds. We used difference scores as well as polynomial regression and response surface analyses to test our hypotheses. Consistent with our hypotheses, results reveal that counter-ideal value congruence has unique relations to employees’ trust in the organization that go beyond the effects of ideal value congruence. We discuss theoretical and practical implications of this expanded perspective on value congruence.
Van Quaquebeke, Niels and Will Felps (In press): Respectful inquiry: A motivational account of leading through asking questions and listening, Academy of Management Review.
Abstract: Practitioners repeatedly note that the everyday behavior of asking followers open questions and attentively listening to their responses is a powerful leadership technique. Yet, despite such popularity, these practices are currently under-theorized. Addressing this gap, we formally define the behavioral configuration of asking open questions combined with attentive listening as “Respectful Inquiry”, and then draw on Self-Determination Theory to provide a motivational account of its antecedents, consequences, and moderators within a leader-follower relationship. Specifically, we argue that Respectful Inquiry principally satisfies followers' basic psychological needs for competence, relatedness, and autonomy. Against this background, we highlight ironic contexts where Respectful Inquiry is likely to be especially rare, but would also be especially valuable. These ironic contexts include situations where interpersonal power difference, time pressure, physical distance, cognitive load, follower dissatisfaction, or organizational control focus are high. We additionally outline how the effect of Respectful Inquiry behaviors critically hinges upon the interaction history a follower has with a leader. More generally, we make the suggestion that the leadership field would benefit from complementing its traditional focus on “gestalt” leadership styles with research on concrete and narrow communicative behaviors, such as Respectful Inquiry.
Tröster, Christian, Niels Van Quaquebeke and Karl Aquino (In press): Worse than others but better than before: Integrating social and temporal comparison perspectives to explain executive turnover via pay standing and pay growth, Human Resource Management.
Abstract: Organizations often pay greater salaries to higher-ranking executives compared to lower-ranking executives. While this method can be useful for retaining those at the organization’s apex, it may also incline executives at the bottom of the pay pyramid to see themselves at a disadvantage and thus exit the firm. Naturally, organizations often want to retain some of their lower-paid, but highly valuable executives; the question, then, is how organizations can reduce the turnover of lower-ranking executives. By integrating social with temporal comparison theory, we argue that, when executives earn relatively less than their peers, more pay growth (i.e., individual pay increases over time) leads to less turnover. By the same token, we also argue that pay growth is unrelated to the turnover of executives who already earn substantially more than their peers. The results of our analysis, which covered almost 20 years of objective data on a large sample of U.S. top executives, provide support for our theory.
Mölders, Christina, Niels Van Quaquebeke and Maria P. Paladino (2017): Consequences of Politicians’ Disrespectful Communication Depend on Social Judgment Dimensions and Voters’ Moral Identity, Political Psychology, 38 (1): 119-135.
Abstract: The present study investigates the consequences of respectful versus disrespectful communication in political debates on voters’ social judgments and voting decisions. Reconciling previously mixed results, we argue that the consequences of disrespect vary with the judgment dimension (communion vs. agency) and voters’ moral identity. An initial study (N = 197) finds that a political candidate's disrespect towards his or her opponent affects voting decision through voting intention. A second study (N = 327) shows that disrespect influences voting intention through communion but not through agency ratings. Qualifying the previous finding, a third study (N = 329) shows that both communion and agency judgments act as mediators, but in different ways depending on the level of moral identity. Overall, communion judgments played a more prominent part in explaining the consequences of disrespectful communication. Our findings thus present a nuanced picture of respect and disrespect in political communication and shed light on their ramifications.
van Gils, Suzanne, Michael A. Hogg, Niels Van Quaquebeke and Daan van Knippenberg (2017): When Organizational Identification Elicits Moral Decision-Making: A Matter of the Right Climate, Journal of Business Ethics, 142 (1): 155-168.
Abstract: To advance current knowledge on ethical decision-making in organizations, we integrate two perspectives that have thus far developed independently: the organizational identification perspective and the ethical climate perspective. We illustrate the interaction between these perspectives in two studies (Study 1, N = 144, US sample; and Study 2, N = 356, UK sample), in which we presented participants with moral business dilemmas. Specifically, we found that organizational identification increased moral decision-making only when the organization’s climate was perceived to be ethical. In addition, we disentangle this effect in Study 2 from participants’ moral identity. We argue that the interactive influence of organizational identification and ethical climate, rather than the independent influence of either of these perspectives, is crucial for understanding moral decision-making in organizations.
Mölders, Christina and Niels Van Quaquebeke (2017): When and why politicians’ disrespect affects voters’ trust in the political system: The role of social judgments and category prototypicality, Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 47 (9): 515-527.
Abstract: We propose that one politician's disrespectful behavior can spill over to voters' generalized judgments of politicians and thereby affect trust in the political system. We delineate the spillover effect along the basic dimensions of social judgment, communion, and agency. Moreover, we argue that any spillover effect is contingent on the focal politicians' category prototypicality, that is, their representativeness of politicians as such. Conducting an experiment (N = 392) and a field study (N = 273), we found that politicians' respect only affected trust through generalized communion ratings. This spillover only occurred if the observed politician was perceived as prototypical. Our findings provide new insights on when and how individual politicians may be able to undermine voters' trust in the political system.
Jelinek, Lena, Niels Van Quaquebeke and Steffen Moritz (2017): Cognitive and Metacognitive Mechanisms of Change in Metacognitive Training for Depression, Scientific Reports, 7 (3449).
Abstract: Metacognitive Training for Depression (D-MCT), a low-threshold group intervention, has been shown to improve depressive symptoms. It aims at the reduction of depression by changing dysfunctional cognitive as well as metacognitive beliefs. The purpose of the present study was to investigate whether the mechanisms of change in D-MCT are cognitive (and thus primarily concern the content of cognition) or metacognitive in nature. Eighty-four outpatients with depression were included in a randomized controlled trial comparing D-MCT to an active control intervention. Level of depression, dysfunctional cognitive beliefs (DAS), and metacognitive beliefs (MCQ subscales: Positive Beliefs, Negative Beliefs, Need for Control) were assessed before (t0) and after treatment (t1). Severity of depression was also assessed 6 months later (t2). Linear regression analyses were used to determine whether change in depression from t0 to t2 was mediated by change in cognitive vs. metacognitive beliefs from t0 to t1. D-MCT’s effect on change in depression was mediated by a decrease in dysfunctional metacognitive beliefs, particularly ‘need for control’. Our findings underline that one of the key mechanisms of improvement in D-MCT is the change in metacognitive beliefs. The current study provides further support for the importance of metacognition in the treatment of depression.
Mölders, Christina and Niels Van Quaquebeke (2017): Some like it hot: How voters’ attitude towards disrespect in politics affects their judgments of candidates, Journal of Social and Political Psychology, 5 (1): 58-81.
Abstract: In public debates, political candidates often attack their opponents disrespectfully. Research revealed mixed effects of such behavior on voters’ candidate judgments. In order to understand these results, we argue that it is necessary to consider onlookers’ general attitude towards disrespect in politics. Across an experimental design (N = 229) and a field study (N = 199), we found that voters who consider disrespect a “necessary evil” in the political arena judged disrespectful politicians as more communal and more agentic. Furthermore, they displayed a higher intention to vote as well as actually voted more in favor of disrespectful candidates compared to voters who disapproved of disrespect in politics. The results show that the success of a disrespectful communication strategy substantively depends on the audience.
Reh, Susan, Niels Van Quaquebeke and Steffen R. Giessner (2017): The aura of charisma: A review on the embodiment perspective as signaling, The Leadership Quarterly, 28: 486-507.
Abstract: Charismatic leaders have consistently been shown to affect followers’ performance, motivation, and satisfaction. Yet, what precisely constitutes charisma still remains somewhat enigmatic. So far, research has mainly focused on leader traits, leader behaviors, or the leader follower- relationship, and the subsequent consequences of each on followers’ self-concepts. All of these approaches share the notion that leader charisma depends on an explicit interaction between leader and follower. With the present review paper, we extend extant theorizing by arguing that charisma is additionally informed by embodied signals that flow directly from either the leader or the immediate environment. We introduce the embodiment perspective on human perception and describe its utility for theoretically understanding the charismatic effect. Correspondingly, we review studies that show which concrete embodied cues can support the charismatic effect. Finally, we discuss the variety of new theoretical and practical implications that arise from this research and how they can complement existing approaches to charismatic leadership.
Gläser, Daniel, Suzanne van Gils and Niels Van Quaquebeke (2017): Pay-for-performance and interpersonal deviance: Competitiveness as the match that lights the fire, Journal of Personnel Psychology, 16: 77-90.
Abstract: Many organizations use Pay-for-Performance (PfP) programs in order to fuel employee motivation and performance. In the present article, we argue that PfP may also increase employees’ interpersonal deviance (i.e., active harming behavior towards co- workers) because it might induce social comparison and competition. In order to uncover the underlying process, we further argue that this effect should be particularly pronounced for employees who are high in individual competitiveness, i.e., employees who have a strong desire for interpersonal comparison and aspire to be better than others. A cross-sectional field study (N=250) and two experiments (N=92; N=192) provide support for our interaction hypothesis. We discuss the theoretical implications regarding PfP and competitiveness, and offer suggestions concerning the practical implementation of PfP.
Schuh, Sebastian C., Niels Van Quaquebeke, Anja S. Göritz, Katherine Xin, David De Cremer and Rolf van Dick (2016): Mixed feelings, mixed blessing? How ambivalence in organizational identification relates to employees’ regulatory focus and citizenship behaviors., Human Relations, 69 (12): 2224-2249.
Abstract: Recent conceptual work suggests that the sense of identity that employees develop vis-vis their organization goes beyond the traditional notion of organizational identification and can also involve conflicting impulses represented by ambivalent identification. In this study, we seek to advance this perspective on identification by proposing and empirically examining important antecedents and consequences. In line with our hypotheses, an experimental study (N = 199 employees) shows that organizational identification and ambivalent identification interactively influence employees’ willingness to engage in organizational citizenship behavior. The effect of organizational identification on organizational citizenship behavior is significantly reduced when employees experience ambivalent identification. A field study involving employees from a broad spectrum of organizations and industries (N = 564) replicated these findings. Moreover, results show that employees’ promotion and prevention focus form differential relationships with organizational identification and ambivalent identification, providing first evidence for a link between employees’ regulatory focus and the dynamics of identification. Implications for the expanded model of organizational identification and the understanding of ambivalence in organizations are discussed.
Van Quaquebeke, Niels (2016): Paranoia as an Antecedent and Consequence of Getting Ahead in Organizations: Time-Lagged Effects Between Paranoid Cognitions, Self-Monitoring, and Changes in Span of Control, Frontiers in Psychology, 7 (1446).
Abstract: A six-month, time-lagged online survey among 441 employees in diverse industries was conducted to investigate the role paranoia plays as an antecedent and as a consequence of advancement in organizations. The background of the study is the argument that it requires active social sense-making and behavioral adaptability to advance in organizations. The present paper thus explores the extent to which employees’ paranoid cognitions—representative of a heightened albeit suspicious sense-making and behavioral adaptability—link with their advancement in organizations (operationalized as changes in afforded span of control), both as an antecedent and an outcome. Following the strategy to illuminate the process by interaction analysis, both conditions (antecedent and outcome) are examined in interaction with employees’ self-monitoring, which is considered representative of a heightened but healthy sense-making and behavioral adaptability. Results support the expected interference interaction between paranoid cognitions and self-monitoring in that each can to some degree compensate for the other in explaining employees’ organizational advancement. Reversely, changes in span of control also affected paranoid cognitions. In particular, low self-monitors, i.e. those low in adaptive sense-making, reacted with heightened paranoid cognitions when demoted. In effect, the present study is thus the first to empirically support that paranoid cognitions can be a consequence but also a prerequisite for getting ahead in organizations. Practical advice should, however, be suspended until it is better understood whether and under what circumstances paranoia may relate not only to personally getting ahead but also to an increased effectiveness for the benefit of the organization.
van Gils, Suzanne, Niels Van Quaquebeke, Daan van Knippenberg, Marius van Dijke and David De Cremer (2015): Ethical leadership and follower organizational deviance: The moderating role of follower moral attentiveness, The Leadership Quarterly, 26: 190-203.
Abstract: The literature on ethical leadership has focused primarily on the way ethical leaders influence follower moral judgment and behavior. It has overlooked that follower responses to ethical leaders may differ depending on the attention they pay to the moral aspects of leadership. In the present research, we introduce moral attentiveness as an important moderator for the relationship between ethical leadership and unethical employee behavior. In a multisource field study (N = 90), we confirm our hypothesis that morally attentive followers respond with more deviance to unethical leaders. An experimental study (N = 96) replicates the finding. Our paper extends the current leader-focused literature by examining how follower moral attentiveness determines the response of followers to ethical or unethical leadership.
Decker, Catharina and Niels Van Quaquebeke (2015): Getting Respect from a Boss You Respect: How Different Types of Respect Interact to Explain Subordinates’ Job Satisfaction as Mediated by Self-Determination, Journal of Business Ethics, 131 (3): 543-556.
Abstract: Interpersonal respect can be differentiated into two kinds: (1) horizontal respect, i.e. treating someone with dignity; and (2) vertical respect, i.e. genuinely honoring someone’s merits. With the present research, we draw on motivation theory to explore their interplay in leadership relations. Specifically, we argue for a moderated mediation hypothesis in that (a) leaders’ horizontal respect for their subordinates fundamentally speaks to subordinates’ self-determination and (b) that the message of respectful leadership is enhanced by the vertical respect subordinates have for their leaders. As a result, subordinates are more satisfied with their jobs, which should also show in a decreased willingness to leave. The proposed model was supported in two survey studies (N = 391 and N = 518) and an experimental scenario study (N = 107)—thus suggesting that perceived leader behavior needs to be complemented by leader standing.
van Dijke, Marius, David De Cremer, Lieven Brebels and Niels Van Quaquebeke (2015): Willing and Able: Action-State Orientation and the Relation Between Procedural Justice and Employee Cooperation, Journal of Management, 41 (7): 1982-2003.
Abstract: Existing justice theory explains why fair procedures motivate employees to adopt cooperative goals, but it fails to explain how employees strive toward these goals. We study self-regulatory abilities that underlie goal striving, abilities that should thus affect employees’ display of cooperative behavior in response to procedural justice. Building on action control theory, we argue that employees who display effective self-regulatory strategies (action-oriented employees) display relatively strong cooperative behavioral responses to fair procedures. A multisource field study and a laboratory experiment support this prediction. A subsequent experiment addresses the process underlying this effect by explicitly showing that action orientation facilitates attainment of the cooperative goals that people adopt in response to fair procedures, thus facilitating the display of actual cooperative behavior. This goal striving approach better integrates research on the relationship between procedural justice and employee cooperation in the self-regulation and the work motivation literature. It also offers organizations a new perspective on making procedural justice effective in stimulating employee cooperation by suggesting factors that help employees reach their adopted goals.
Mertz, Corinna, Tilman Eckloff, Julia Johannsen and Niels Van Quaquebeke (2015): Respected Students Equal Better Students: Investigating the Links between Respect and Performance in Schools, Journal of Educational and Developmental Psychology, 5 (1).
Abstract: This study examines the relationship between students’ (N = 334) perceived teacher respect and their performance on a math exam in school settings. The incremental validity of respect on performance beyond that accounted for by intelligence is assessed. Results suggest that respect accounts for significant additional variability in students’ performance above that accounted for by intelligence. Further analyses reveal that the relationship between respect and performance is moderated by immigration. For German students (N = 150), perceived respect accounts for a part of the variability in performance over the variability accounted for by intelligence. For students with an immigrant background (N = 181) this relationship is not significant. Cultural implications of respect in school settings are discussed.
Moritz, Steffen, Anja S. Göritz, Jürgen Gallinat, Milena Schafschetzy, Niels Van Quaquebeke, Maarten J.V Peters and Christina Andreou (2015): Subjective competence breeds overconfidence in errors in psychosis. A hubris account of paranoia, Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, 48: 118-124.
Abstract: Background and objectives Overconfidence in errors is a well-replicated cognitive bias in psychosis. However, prior studies have sometimes failed to find differences between patients and controls for more difficult tasks. We pursued the hypothesis that overconfidence in errors is exaggerated in participants with a liability to psychosis relative to controls only when they feel competent in the respective topic and/or deem the question easy. Whereas subjective competence likely enhances confidence in those with low psychosis liability as well, we still expected to find more ‘residual’ caution in the latter group. Methods We adopted a psychometric high-risk approach to circumvent the confounding influence of treatment. A total of 2321 individuals from the general population were administered a task modeled after the “Who wants to be a millionaire” quiz. Participants were requested to endorse one out of four response options, graded for confidence, and were asked to provide ratings regarding subjective competence for the knowledge domain as well as the subjective difficulty of each item. Results In line with our assumption, overconfidence in errors was increased overall in participants scoring high on the Paranoia Checklist core paranoia subscale (2 5SD6 above the mean). This pattern of results was particularly prominent for items for which participants considered themselves competent and which they rated as easy. Limitations Results need to be replicated in a clinical sample. Discussion In support of our hypothesis, subjective competence and task difficulty moderate overconfidence in errors in psychosis. Trainings that teach patients the fallibility of human cognition may help reduce delusional ideation.
Giessner, Steffen R., Niels Van Quaquebeke, Suzanne van Gils, Daan van Knippenberg and Janine A. J. M. Kollée (2015): In the moral eye of the beholder: The interactive effects of leader and follower moral identity on perceptions of ethical leadership and LMX quality, Frontiers in Psychology, 6 (1126).
Abstract: Previous research indicated that leader moral identity (MI; i.e., leaders’ self-definition in terms of moral attributes) predicts to what extent followers perceive their leader as ethical (i.e., demonstrating and promoting ethical conduct in the organization). Leadership, however, is a relational process that involves leaders and followers. Building on this understanding, we hypothesized that follower and leader MI (a) interact in predicting whether followers will perceive their leaders as ethical and, as a result, (b) influence followers’ perceptions of leader–follower relationship quality. A dyadic field study (N = 101) shows that leader MI is a stronger predictor of followers’ perceptions of ethical leadership for followers who are high (vs. low) in MI. Perceptions of ethical leadership in turn predict how the quality of the relationship will be perceived. Hence, whether leader MI translates to perceptions of ethical leadership and of better relationship quality depends on the MI of followers.
Van Quaquebeke, Niels, Matthias M. Graf and Tilman Eckloff (2014): What do leaders have to live up to? Contrasting the effects of central tendency- versus ideal-based leader prototypes in leader categorization processes, Leadership, 10 (2): 191-217.
Abstract: Leader categorization theory proposes that subordinates perceive leaders against the backdrop of a cognitively represented leader prototype. The match between the two ultimately determines how favourably subordinates respond towards leaders. The respective research, however, yields some confusion as to what kind of prototype is exactly used in this process. Are leaders matched against a central tendency leader prototype, i.e. to an average image of leaders in general, or is it subordinates' goal-directed leader prototype, i.e. their image of an ideal leader, that leaders have to live up to? We reanalysed a field study (N = 266) and conducted a second one likewise with employees (N = 271) to contrast the relevance of both prototypes. The analyses reveal that only the match with the ideal leader prototype was predictive of subordinates’ responses towards their leaders. Previous central tendency leader categorization research thus might have pertained to the ideal aspects in the existing leader population.