The romance of leadership: Rekindling the fire through replication of Meindl and Ehrlich

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Leadership Quarterly




Given changes in business and society, the romance of leadership theory, which describes a glorification of the perceived influence of leaders on organizational outcomes, is arguably more relevant than at its conception over thirty years ago. This paper presents four studies aimed to replicate Meindl and Ehrlich (1987) early experiment on the romance of leadership, specifically considering the effect of leadership attributions on company evaluations. Studies 1 and 2 are close replications, whereas Studies 3 and 4 provide a conceptual replication drawing from a broader sample in age and work experience and include additional experimental conditions. These conditions vary the gender of the leader and including both success and failure situations, as well as including additional outcomes variables of participants’ behavioral intentions to support, invest, seek employment, or purchase from the company. Taken together, these studies do not support Meindl and Ehrlich's findings that organizations are viewed more favorably when such outcomes are attributed to leadership. We discuss implications for the romance of leadership theory.


Attribution, Gender, Romance of leadership, We would like to thank Grand Reims for their partial funding of the data collection