Political culture is understood to predispose states toward certain policies, providing the framework within which political leaders operate. However, political culture does not determine political behavior of leaders, although it influences the political performance of leaders. In this sense, there is a gap in the current literature in terms of explaining what determines political leaders’ responsiveness to political culture. Given the emphasis that the study of political leadership places on the impact of personal predispositions of individual leaders, this study asks the question: do political leaders’ personality traits determine how the leaders perform within a given political culture? In response to this research question, this study borrows the basic concept of the “environment→predispositions→response” paradigm, developed by Greenstein (1986). As such, the central hypothesis is established: if the political leader has the particular set of personality traits, then the leader is likely to reflect the appropriate virtues and roles demanded of the leader, which are manifested in the political culture of his or her state; alternatively, if the leader does not possess the particular set of personality traits, then the leader is likely to be insensitive and unresponsive to the appropriate virtues and roles demanded of the leader, and rather focuses on solving seemingly salient problems external to the given political culture. This study examines four comparative case studies – two French presidents and two South Korean presidents – and employs the Leadership Trait Analysis (LTA) to develop a leadership profile to which each leader’s actual behavior concerning political culture is compared. The findings of these case studies suggest that political leaders’ personality traits serve as the determining forces that dictate the leaders’ responsiveness to political culture. However, as the two French presidents studied in this research were not reflective of French political culture, future research should examine a French president who is open to political culture, and compare how such French president looks different from a Korean president who is open to political culture.
Lee, Narae, "To reflect, or not to reflect, that is the question: an examination of the impact of personality traits on political leaders' responsiveness to political culture" (2017). Senior Independent Study Theses. Paper 7714.
Bachelor of Arts
Senior Independent Study Thesis
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