A Multilevel Perspective on Leader Group Prototypicality and Leadership Effectiveness
Daan van Knippenberg
Erasmus University Rotterdam
Renmin University of China
Dr. Daan van Knippenberg is Professor of Organizational Behavior at the Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University Rotterdam, The Netherlands. He is Co-chair of Department of Organization and Human Resources at School of Business, RUC. His research interests include leadership, teams, diversity and creativity; topics that he publishes about in such outlets as Academy of Management Annals, Academy of Management Journal, Academy of Management Review, Journal of Applied Psychology, Organization Science, and Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes.Daan is Associate Editor of Academy of Management Journal, Founding Editor of Organizational Psychology Review, and a former Associate Editor of Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes andJournal of Organizational Behavior. He is a Fellow of the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology and of the American Psychological Association.
The social identity theory of leadership emphasizes a fact typically ignored in leadership research: Leaders are also members of the groups (i.e., teams, organizations, etc.) they lead, and followers respond to leadership also on the basis of leaders‘s perceived characteristics as a group member (Hogg & van Knippenberg, 2003; van Knippenberg & Hogg, 2003). This analysis highlights the role of leader group prototypicality leaders’ representativeness of the shared group identity as a key factor in leadership effectiveness. Prototypicality perceptions are rooted in individual self-definition (i.e., social identity, self-categorization) and in line with this starting point research in the social identity theory of leadership has so far been limited to the individual level of analysis. Social identity will often be socially shared, however, indicating the relevance of a consideration of leader group prototypicality at the group level of analysis. Addressing this issue to advance the social identity theory of leadership, I present a multilevel analysis of the relationship between leader group prototypicality and leadership effectiveness. Building on research in social identity and shared cognition, I propose that leader group prototypicality is more strongly related to leadership effectiveness the more the perception of the leader抯 prototypicality is shared by group members (i.e., the more their perceptions are in agreement) an interaction of mean and sharedness of prototypicality perceptions at the group level. In addition, however, connecting with earlier individual-level analyses, we recognize that some group members are more sensitive to leader group prototypicality than others as a function of their dispositional need for closure a desire to reduce uncertainty that leads people to rely on their group memberships a cross-level interaction of prototypicality, sharedness of perceptions, and individual need for closure. I present evidence in support of these hypotheses from a study of work groups in Italian organizations combining group member ratings of leadership and supervisor ratings of individual group member performance as indicator of leadership effectiveness.