Von Rueden, C., & Van Vugt, M. (2015). Leadership in small-scale societies: Some implications for theory, research, and practice. The Leadership Quarterly, 26, 978-990.

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Abstract

Leadership studies concentrate on large-scale societies and organizations with formal

hierarchies, large power differences, and diverse membership. Much less is known about

leadership in small-scale, homogeneous, and relatively egalitarian societies in which humans

have spent most of their existence. We summarize the anthropological literature on leadership

from traditional, small-scale societies in terms of (1) the functions and roles of leaders; (2) the

traits and behaviors conducive to leader emergence and effectiveness; and (3) the motivations

and incentives to assume leadership positions. We address how studies of leadership in smallscale

societies inform theory development. By viewing leadership and followership in light of

our evolutionary history in small-scale societies, we shed new light on outstanding questions

in leadership research and on challenges for leadership practice

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