Since the 1970s, management scholars have been captivated by the emotional and symbolic
aspects of leadership, particularly charismatic leadership — a form of influence independent of tradition and formal authority. More recently, dramaturgical scholars have sought to augment orthodox understandings of charisma by examining leadership as a ‘performing art’: a ‘front stage’ social interaction between ‘actor’ (leader) and ‘audience’ (followers). Whereas
existing research has examined the nature of charismatic leadership through, for example,
impression management and social constructionism, this thesis suggests that dramaturgical scholars have largely neglected to demonstrate the value of the theatrical metaphor by testing, evaluating and building on extant theory through a case study leader. The thesis seeks to augment extant theory by revealing the importance of i) ‘narrative and storytelling’, and ii) the ‘stage management’ of leader performance to the audience’s attribution and maintenance of what constitutes a ‘charismatic’ leader. Accordingly, this thesis develops a narratologically informed dramaturgical framework of analysis to examine six public performance texts by a case study ‘charismatic leader’ — Steve Jobs of Apple Inc. The framework is tendered as a
useful device through which narrative and storytelling, impression management,
organisational outcomes, and the social construction of charismatic leadership may be further examined.