Open Access Journal

ISSN: 2183-2463

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Contingency and Political Action: The Role of Leadership in Endogenously Created Crises

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Abstract:  Among the recent literature about leadership and crisis situations two main strands are to be observed: structuralist ones mainly treat political leaders as reactive agents who have relatively little room for maneuver, while constructivist ones put greater emphasis on the opportunities in interpreting crises. Our claim is that there is a third analytical possibility mainly neglected in recent literature that is even more voluntaristic than the constructivist approaches. In this scenario, there is no external shock; leaders do not only interpret, but also “invent” crises. To make our claim plausible, we build a conceptual-descriptive typology of the potential relationships between crisis situations and agency. The typology is founded on Kari Palonen’s differentiation between Machiavellian and Weberian types of contingency, but uses his originally conceptual historical argument for analytical purposes. To underpin our theoretical argument, we present short illustrative examples to all three types of crisis scenarios (the structuralist, the constructivist, and the voluntarist one).

Keywords:  Bush; contingency; crisis; leadership; Machiavelli; Orbán; Weber



© András Körösényi, Gábor Illés, Rudolf Metz. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (, which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.