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Leader performance and prototypicality: Their inter-relationship and impact on leaders' identity entrepreneurship



Research has demonstrated that leader performance and leader prototypicality are both predictors of leader endorsement. While performance and prototypicality have generally been considered to be independent, this paper suggests that performance and prototypicality are interdependent and have a bi-directional impact both on each other and on leaders' capacity to engage in identity entrepreneurship (i.e., to define shared group norms and ideals). Two experimental studies indicate that followers infer leaders' prototypicality from their performance and that a leader's prototypicality determines perceptions of performance (indicating reversed causality). Moreover, there is evidence that both performance and prototypicality enhance leaders' capacity to act as identity entrepreneurs. These findings extend our understanding of the mutually dependent causal relationship between followers' perceptions that a leader is ‘one of us’ and that he or she is ‘doing it well’. They also provide the first experimental evidence that these factors are joint determinants of leaders' identity entrepreneurship. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.