Leadership, Identity and Performance: The Nature and Effect of ‘Prototypicality’ in Indonesia

Open Access Journal | ISSN: 2183-2463

Article | Open Access

Leadership, Identity and Performance: The Nature and Effect of ‘Prototypicality’ in Indonesia


  • David Hudson International Development Department, School of Government, University of Birmingham, UK
  • Claire Mcloughlin International Development Department, School of Government, University of Birmingham, UK
  • Anna Margret Cakra Wikara Indonesia, Department of Political Science, Faculty of Social and Political Science, University of Indonesia, Indonesia
  • Yolanda Pandjaitan Cakra Wikara Indonesia, Department of Political Science, Faculty of Social and Political Science, University of Indonesia, Indonesia


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Abstract:  What makes a leader worthy of support? The article uses novel survey and experimental data from Indonesia to test the proposition that identity trumps performance for citizens perceptions of their political leaders. The results confirm theories of ‘prototypicality’—leaders that best reflect and represent the identity of the group tend to be more trusted and have a licence to fail. We argue and show that the dimensions of identity that matter most varies and is context specific. In the Indonesian context religious identity is most important. But the data also suggest that this varies across space, time, and follower identity: We show that gender matters, as women are less easily persuaded by prototypicality. We conclude by reflecting on the implications for leaders, politics and support for leadership development.

Keywords:  Indonesia; leadership; prototypicality; social identity theory; women in politics

Published:   25 November 2020


DOI: https://doi.org/10.17645/pag.v8i4.3553


© David Hudson, Claire Mcloughlin, Anna Margret, Yolanda Pandjaitan. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.