Previous research on the allocation of scarce resources shows that when people are assigned labels of leader or follower in their group, leaders allocate more of the scarce resources to themselves than followers do. In three laboratory studies, we examine the idea that how people are selected for the leader role (i.e. election or appointment) determines whether leaders take more or equal shares (relative to followers) from a common resource. In a first experiment, we show that participants were more accepting of norm violating behavior by an appointed versus elected leader. In a second experiment, we show that when participants were assigned to a leader or follower role, allocations of appointed leaders differed significantly from those of elected leaders and followers, whereas there was no difference between the two latter conditions. Moreover, elected leaders were shown to feel more social responsibility than both appointed leaders and followers. In a final experiment, we show that when participants were primed with the concept of social responsibility (relative to a neutral condition) no difference in allocations between appointed and elected leaders emerged.

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ERIM Article Series (EAS)
Group Processes & Intergroup Relations
Erasmus Research Institute of Management

de Cremer, D., & van Dijk, E. (2008). Leader-follower effects in resource dilemmas: The roles of leadership selection and social responsibility. Group Processes & Intergroup Relations, 11(3), 355–369. doi:10.1177/1368430208090647