Intergroup Leadership Across Distinct Subgroups and Identities

David E. Rast*, Michael A. Hogg, Daan van Knippenberg

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Resolving intergroup conflict is a significant and often arduous leadership challenge, yet existing theory and research rarely, if ever, discuss or examine this situation. Leaders confront a significant challenge when they provide leadership across deep divisions between distinct subgroups defined by self-contained identities—The challenge is to avoid provoking subgroup identity distinctiveness threat. Drawing on intergroup leadership theory, three studies were conducted to test the core hypothesis that, where identity threat exists, leaders promoting an intergroup relational identity will be better evaluated and are more effective than leaders promoting a collective identity; in the absence of threat, leaders promoting a collective identity will prevail. Studies 1 and 2 (N = 170; N = 120) supported this general proposition. Study 3 (N = 136) extended these findings, showing that leaders promoting an intergroup relational identity, but not a collective identity, improved intergroup attitudes when participants experienced an identity distinctiveness threat.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1090-1103
Number of pages14
JournalPersonality and Social Psychology Bulletin
Issue number7
Early online date11 Mar 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2018


  • intergroup relational identity
  • intergroup relations
  • leadership
  • social identity


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