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Theorizing Leadership Credibility: The Concept and Causes of the Perceived Credibility of Leadership Initiatives

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There are important reasons to conceptualize leadership credibility and formulate explicit expectations about its causes. First, credibility can be an important precondition when leaders aim to increase performance in public organizations that face complex societal problems and volatile governance. Second, leadership credibility is often mentioned but seldom systematically studied in the public administration literature. Based on a conceptualization of five distinct systematized concepts of leadership credibility, this article develops a theory of the perceived credibility of leadership initiatives and its antecedents (leader credibility, leader investments in the initiative and rules concerning authority, benefits, and costs). We define perceived credibility of leadership initiatives as the plausibility followers assign to a leadership initiative being realized. The concept is applicable across various types of leadership initiatives including visionary and transactional leadership within the public sector. The theory illuminates how leadership credibility draws on individual follower perceptions, leader behaviors, and institutions such as formal rules and professional norms. Compared to existing conceptualizations within public administration, it is more specific as it separates credibility from its effects, its antecedents, and the applied leadership strategies. It provides a much needed theoretical vocabulary for the study of leadership credibility within public administration and adjacent disciplines.

TidsskriftPerspectives on Public Management and Governance
Sider (fra-til)243-254
Antal sider11
StatusUdgivet - apr. 2022

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