Academic journal article Revue Canadienne des Sciences de l'Administration

Measuring Charisma: Dimensionality and Validity of the Conger-Kanungo Scale of Charismatic Leadership

Academic journal article Revue Canadienne des Sciences de l'Administration

Measuring Charisma: Dimensionality and Validity of the Conger-Kanungo Scale of Charismatic Leadership

Article excerpt

Abstract

As part of an ongoing research program on charismatic leadership, Conger and Kanungo (1994) developed and tested a questionnaire to measure the perceived behavioural dimensions of charismatic leadership as proposed in their model (1987, 1988). This article reports on further analyses of the dimensionality and validity of the Conger-Kanungo scale. It begins with a reanalysis of the data from the 1994 study. It then reports on three separate studies conducted in the United States using managers (N=103), in Canada using political party delegates (N=71), and in India using clerical staff (N=98), to examine convergent and discriminant validity. The results of the dimensionality analyses suggest a five-factor model consistent with the Weberian notion of charismatic leadership. The results of the U.S., Canadian, and Indian studies provide further evidence that the CongerKanungo scale has acceptable reliability and validity as a diagnostic tool in diverse contexts.

In its simplest form, the leadership process in organizations can be conceptualized around several distinct stages of activity (Conger, 1992; Conger & Kanungo, 1988; Kotter, 1990; Yukl, 1994). The first stage is an ongoing assessment of opportunities and constraints in both the internal and external environments to determine the organization's direction. The second stage is the formulation of the direction into formal strategies and goals and their articulation for the organization's membership. The final stage involves gaining commitment and mobilizing the organization's membership to implement the strategies and goals and undertake initiatives to achieve them. To summarize, the three stages, then, are: a) environmental assessment, b) direction formulation and communication, and c) membership alignment and implementation. While the stages are presented as a linear process, in reality they are stages of activity that are ongoing and often overlap. In addition, environmental changes require that the stages be continually repeated.

Conger and Kanungo (1987,1988,1992) developed a model of charismatic leadership within organizations that proposes distinguishing behavioural components along these three distinct stages of the leadership process. In the assessment stage, for example, the behaviours of charismatic leaders are perceived to focus on followers' needs and on environmental opportunities that challenge the status quo of the organization. In contrast, other leadership forms will be more intent on building on or undertaking incremental improvements to the status quo. In stage two, charismatic leaders are more likely to be seen as conveying futuristic visions for their organizations in an inspirational manner. Conger and Kanungo proposed that, in the implementation stage, charismatic leaders rely on unconventional means and exhibit behaviours of self-sacrifice and personal risk-taking to align commitment from followers and to empower them to act. On the other hand, noncharismatic leaders rely on more transactional approaches such as the exchange of extrinsic rewards (Burns, 1978) to gain support from followers.

In essence, charismatic leaders differ from other leaders by their ability to formulate and articulate an inspirational vision and by behaviours and actions that foster an impression that they and their mission are extraordinary. As such, individuals choose to follow such leaders in management settings, not only because of their formal authority, but also out of perceptions of their extraordinariness. Thus any measurement of charismatic leadership must be based on the followers' perceptions of specific behavioural attributes of the leader that engender such outcomes. As such, the Conger-Kanungo model posits that charismatic leadership is an attribution based on followers' perceptions of their leader's behaviour. The leader's observed behaviour is interpreted by followers as the expression of charisma in the same sense as a leader's behaviours reflect that individual's participative, people, and task orientations. …

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