Second-Generation Leader Categorization Research: How Subordinates' Self- and Typical Leader Perceptions Moderate Leader Categorization Effects


Niels Van Quaquebeke, Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University, Burgemeester Oudlaan 50, 3062 PA Rotterdam, The Netherlands. E-mail:


Leader categorization theory proposes that the more leaders match their subordinates' cognitive image (prototype) of an ideal leader the easier it is for subordinates to “categorize” them as leaders and consequently follow their leadership. Based on self-concept research, we extend this perspective and argue that the relationship assumed in leader categorization theory should be stronger when subordinates perceive themselves to represent the ideal leader prototype. Further, this moderating effect should be stronger when subordinates perceive the ideal leader prototype to not only be an abstract ideal category, but one that is generally also met in reality; i.e., when it is met by typical leaders. Findings of a cross-sectional study with employees in Germany (N = 297) support both predictions.