Leadership in Small-scale Societies: Some Implications for Theory, Research, and Practice
Leadership studies concentrate on large-scale societies and organizations with formal hierarchies, large power differences, and diverse membership. Much less is known about leadership in small-scale, homogeneous, and relatively egalitarian societies in which humans have spent most of their existence. We summarize the anthropological literature on leadership from traditional, small-scale societies in terms of (1) the functions and roles of leaders; (2) the traits and behaviors conducive to leader emergence and effectiveness; and (3) the motivations and incentives to assume leadership positions. We address how studies of leadership in small-scale societies inform theory development. By viewing leadership and followership in light of our evolutionary history in small-scale societies, we shed new light on outstanding questions in leadership research and on challenges for leadership practice.
Copyright © 2015 Elsevier B.V. This article first appeared in The Leadership Quarterly 26:6 (2015), 978-990.
von Rueden, Christopher, and Mark Van Vugt. "Leadership in Small-scale Societies: Some Implications for Theory, Research, and Practice." The Leadership Quarterly 26, no. 6 (December 2015): 978-90. doi:10.1016/j.leaqua.2015.10.004.