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Pers Soc Psychol Bull. 2018 Jul;44(7):1090-1103. doi: 10.1177/0146167218757466. Epub 2018 Mar 11.

Intergroup Leadership Across Distinct Subgroups and Identities.

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1 University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada.
2 Claremont Graduate University, CA, USA.
3 Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University, The Netherlands.


Resolving intergroup conflict is a significant and often arduous leadership challenge, yet existing theory and research rarely, if ever, discuss or examine this situation. Leaders confront a significant challenge when they provide leadership across deep divisions between distinct subgroups defined by self-contained identities-The challenge is to avoid provoking subgroup identity distinctiveness threat. Drawing on intergroup leadership theory, three studies were conducted to test the core hypothesis that, where identity threat exists, leaders promoting an intergroup relational identity will be better evaluated and are more effective than leaders promoting a collective identity; in the absence of threat, leaders promoting a collective identity will prevail. Studies 1 and 2 ( N = 170; N = 120) supported this general proposition. Study 3 ( N = 136) extended these findings, showing that leaders promoting an intergroup relational identity, but not a collective identity, improved intergroup attitudes when participants experienced an identity distinctiveness threat.


intergroup relational identity; intergroup relations; leadership; social identity


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