Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

Contextual constraints on prototype generation and their multi-level consequences for leadership perceptions

Lord, R.G.; Brown, D.J.; Harvey, J.L.; Hall, R.J.


D.J. Brown

J.L. Harvey

R.J. Hall


It has become increasingly evident that no single prototype or style of leadership applies to all situations. In fact, we argue that definitions of leadership depend upon innumerable situational and contextual factors related both to the leader being perceived and to the broader external environment. To date, however, there is no theoretical framework that easily explains how perceivers integrate such a broad range of factors. In the current paper, we first present a model, based on recent advances in cognitive science, that allows for the simultaneous cognitive integration of multiple factors influencing the definition of leadership. We contend that this model can be used to understand both the stability and flexibility that is witnessed in the application of leadership prototypes. The framework is then integrated with the idea of alternative levels of analysis, providing a new perspective on how levels of analysis issues can be explored. Finally, we discuss the practical implications of our framework.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date 2001-09
Deposit Date Apr 2, 2013
Journal Leadership Quarterly
Print ISSN 1048-9843
Electronic ISSN 1873-3409
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 12
Issue 3
Pages 311-338
Public URL