The white standard in leadership evaluations: Attributional benefits of a white corporate leader

Journal Article

Relative to White corporate leaders, African-Americans have typically been under-represented in upperlevel management and this study investigated whether psychological biases contribute to this under representation. In all, 479 participants from different racial backgrounds (African-American, White, Asian, and Hispanic) evaluated a White or African-American CEO's leadership effectiveness after finding that the CEO's company had a recent record of financial success or failure, and that the company's performance was attributable to the CEO's leadership or to environmental conditions. Results showed that White CEOs were considered much more effective than African-American CEOs when a company's success was attributed to the CEO's leadership, but that White CEOs were considered less responsible than African-American CEOs when an organization's failure was attributed to the CEO's leadership. Participants' race did not moderate these effects. Evidence from this study and a supplementary pilot test support the idea that White leaders are evaluated more favorably because they are considered more prototypical leaders.

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Rosette, AS; Phillips, KW; Leonardelli, GJ

Published Date

  • December 1, 2006

Published In

  • Academy of Management 2006 Annual Meeting: Knowledge, Action and the Public Concern, Aom 2006

Citation Source

  • Scopus