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We develop and test predictions about how differences in people’s social class backgrounds, as well as interpersonal perceptions of social class, influence leadership emergence as teams change tasks and group membership. Drawing on adaptive leadership theory, we test distinct pathways for how team members’ social class backgrounds contribute to their likelihood of emerging as a leader. Using data from two samples consisting of 90 teams and over 500 individuals, we find consistent support for a person’s objective class background informing subjective perceptions of social class, which in turn predict leadership emergence. Our findings extend recent research examining the relevance of social class in leadership research by demonstrating how interpersonal judgments of one’s class position contribute to leader emergence even as the group’s membership or task changes and irrespective of an individual’s performance. By examining the role of social class in these informal, yet important, attributions of leadership, our study identifies potential avenues by which class-based inequalities can be reproduced within contemporary organizations.
Österreichische Systematik der Wissenschaftszweige (ÖFOS)
- 502052 Betriebswirtschaftslehre
- 502044 Unternehmensführung
- 502048 Wirtschaftsethik