Leadership Studies

Leadership Studies

The Dialogue of Disciplines

New Horizons in Leadership Studies series

Edited by Michael Harvey and Ronald E. Riggio

This unique, cross-disciplinary volume encourages a new synthesis in the vibrant field of leadership studies. Comprising reflective conversations among scholars from different disciplines, the contributors explore common ground for new research and ideas.

Chapter 12: Political Science and the Study of Leadership: Where Have You Gone, Homo Politicus?

Norman W. Provizer

Subjects: business and management, business leadership, economics and finance, economic psychology, politics and public policy, leadership, social policy and sociology, sociology and sociological theory


Norman W. Provizer Back in 1972, Glenn Paige edited a volume simply titled Political Leadership. In his introduction to the 19 essays collected in the book, Paige laments the lack of attention paid to the study of leadership in political science. To illustrate the point, he notes that of the 2614 articles appearing in the American Political Science Review from 1906 through to 1963, a mere 17, using Kenneth Janda’s computerized keyword index, contained references to leaders or leadership and only one of those (Lester Seligman’s 1950 essay on “The Study of Political Leadership”) actually focused on a “generic” examination of the subject (Paige, 1972: 5). Though Paige recognized the discipline’s limited effort “to conceptualize the study of leadership in a general way”, he also saw hopeful signs. Signs produced by the increased interest in leadership generated by World War II, as well as by the post-war revolutionary movements and the emergence of what would be called “the third world” (Paige, 1972: 5–6). After all, as Montesquieu reminded us, “at the birth of societies, it is the leaders of the commonwealth who create the institutions; afterwards it is the institutions that shape the leaders” (Rustow, 1967: 135). Additionally, Paige argues that despite the neglect of leadership in political science “it would be a mistake to begin the study of political leadership with the idea that little of relevance previously has been accomplished”. Quite to the contrary, there is, in his words, “an abundant literature that can serve as a...

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