Positivist Accounts of Political Leadership

  • Robert Elgie
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Political Leadership book series (PSPL)


We begin this chapter by identifying the basic relationship between positivism and the study of political leadership, emphasizing the problems many positivists have with the study of this topic. Next, we identify three specific positivist accounts. The first, the notion of leadership as a response to the problem of social coordination, is perhaps the most distinctive positivist contribution to this topic. The second, the rational choice institutionalist account, focuses on the impact of leadership institutions rather than leaders themselves. The third, leader effects accounts, examines the impact of individual-level, leader-related variables on political outcomes. We present two types of leader effects accounts. We end the chapter with a critical evaluation of positivist accounts of political leadership.


Political Leadership Vote Behavior Collective Good Party Leader Street Lighting 
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Copyright information

© Robert Elgie 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert Elgie
    • 1
  1. 1.Dublin City UniversityIreland

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