Social Identity Theory

Social identity theory can explain some aspects of leadership emergence.

Social Identity Theory of Leadership is a theory started by Michael A. Hogg. In his book "Social Identity Processes in Organizational Contexts," he comes up with "ingroup prototypicality" theory which describes how groups view themselves and the issues they feel are important.The theory's general premise is that leaders can be identified by a specific social group rather than by the leader. This gives the leader power to push through the agenda of the group with his approval and achieve a result by appealing to the group's needs.

From this perspective, leadership emergence is the degree to which a person fits with the identity of the group as a whole. As groups develop over time, a group prototype also develops. Individuals emerge as leaders in the group when they become most like the group prototype (Northouse, 2007, p.6).


iDevice icon Reflection

Take a minute and think about your previous experience: Give some examples of assigned and emergent leadership. Describe the characteristic features of these leaders.

Share your opinion with your study group or with your teacher/tutor.

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Sirje Virkus, Tallinn University, 2009