Master of Arts
de Clercy, C.
The study of political leadership within the discipline of the political science has recently grown into a large, complex, and insightful literature. However, the extensive number of concepts, theories, and frameworks developed by international leadership scholars have been underutilized when it comes to developing further understanding of political leadership in the Canadian context. This thesis attempts to address this gap by focusing on the process by which individuals are selected to be leaders. I utilizes social psychology and Identity Leadership Theory to theorize that leaders are successful to the extent that are able to cohere with broader group processes by articulating group characteristics, establishing individual prototypicality, and entrenching their policy agenda in pre-existing collective identities and understandings. The study develops and examines a concise causal relationship and hypotheses through a case study of the Albertan provincial context. This comprises analyses of two premiers, William Aberhart and Peter Lougheed, that utilize a set of primary communicative sources to examine the substantive components of their successful leadership appeal. Overall, this thesis’s findings suggest that these leaders were successful despite not meeting the expectations of the analysis’s hypotheses. Consequently, it is concluded that Identity Leadership Theory is not an accurate or useful means by which to understand political leadership in Canada.
Summary for Lay Audience
This thesis explores the process by political leaders are able to articulate successful electoral appeals through a case study of the initial election of two premiers in the province of Alberta, William Aberhart and Peter Lougheed. Through an engagement with conceptual and theoretical questions pertaining the leadership, it utilizes Identity Leadership Theory (ILP) to develop a theory of leadership success. The theory argues that leaders, in seeking to gain a position of authority over a group, are successful to the extent that they are able to base their appeal in the tendencies of that group’s psychological processes. In particular, leaders find their influence and success in their ability to direct the direction of those process to the extent that, by providing answers to the deeper questions of “who we are” and “what we should do”, they are able to legitimize their leadership and policy agenda through their group membership. This theory is operationalized into a concise causal framework, and this thesis establishes a set of two hypothesis to be examined in the two case studies of Alberta. Overall, it is found that both leaders were successful despite not meeting the expectations of the hypotheses. Consequently, this thesis concludes that Identity Leadership Theory (ILP) is not an analytically useful way to understand political leadership in Canada.
Routley, Samuel, "The Social Identity Approach to Leadership: The Case of Alberta" (2021). Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository. 8108.