Charismatic Leadership in Foreign Policy

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Charismatic leadership is an integral yet understudied aspect of foreign policy in liberal democratic states. Combining insights from recent developments on charismatic leadership in organization and management studies with literature on foreign policy, we construct a novel theoretical framework for understanding how foreign policy leaders exercise charismatic leadership. We argue that charismatic leadership makes sense of who ‘we’ are and where we are going through communicative practices. We specify these practices and discuss why charismatic leadership is important in foreign policy analysis; what it is; and how and why sense-making matters for a charismatic leadership style. We contribute with new empirical knowledge by probing our theoretical propositions in a comparative case-study of the charismatic leadership practices of Donald Trump and Angela Merkel. The case-studies illustrate the importance of charismatic communication for both leaders, while disclosing variations in both the ‘thickness’ of charismatic leadership practices and their compatibility with rational legal authority and liberal democratic values.
Original languageDanish
JournalInternational Affairs
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)365-383
Number of pages19
Publication statusPublished - 2021

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