Ideal types of leadership as patterns of affective meaning: A cross-cultural and over-time perspective

Andreas Schneider, Tobias Schröder

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


We propose that macro-level ideal types of leadership, as described in the classic work of Max Weber and reflected in the contemporary management literature, are mirrored in micro-level affective meanings. Within Osgood's three-dimensional affective space, we identify specific patterns corresponding to leadership styles: people evaluate authoritative/transactional leadership as positive, powerful, and neither passive nor active. Charismatic/transformational leadership is perceived as equally positive and powerful but involves a much higher degree of activity-arousal. Finally, coercive leadership is negative, powerful, and active. Based on Heise's cybernetic symbolic-interactionist affect control theory, we compare cultural representations of business managers in the United States and Germany at different points in time. We demonstrate a shift from transactional to charismatic leadership in the U.S. manager stereotype and a contrasting consolidation of coercive leadership expectations in Germany. We discuss implications for (1) cross-cultural communication and (2) affective meaning as indicator of social change.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)268-287
Number of pages20
JournalSocial Psychology Quarterly
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2012


  • Affect control theory
  • Computer simulation
  • Cross-cultural
  • Ideal types
  • Leadership


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