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PhD thesis: a PhD thesis.
Schmid Mast Marianne
Antonakis John
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Université de Lausanne, Faculté des hautes études commerciales
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Although charismatic leadership has been the topic of many research articles, many findings are not informative for leadership theory or practice (Antonakis et al., 2016; Banks et al., 2017). There are still many unexplored issues that surround the concept; for instance, it is unclear whether charismatic leadership is equally effective for women and for men (Banks et al., 2017) and whether women and men use charisma in the same manner. Also, is charismatic leadership equally effective in the academic or entrepreneurial settings out of scope of traditional leadership? I try to answer these questions in this doctoral dissertation, seeking to expand the knowledge about areas of effectiveness of charisma and to investigate whether charisma’s effectiveness for women and men.
Using field and experimental studies, these papers tackle the questions about charisma through four different perspectives. The first paper builds on evidence that charismatic signaling matters in informal contexts (Tur et al., 2021) and explores whether charisma is effective in the academic context, through the investigation of public speaking competitions for doctoral students. We analyze whether the use of charismatic signaling can boost the likelihood of individuals succeeding in advancing in the competition. The second paper looks at the impact of verbal charisma and gendered communication styles in the entrepreneurial pitches for women and men entrepreneurs. Also, I investigate whether women and men naturally use gendered communication styles in their charismatic speeches. I pursued this avenue because it was important to understand first how women and men express themselves and how this could affect the perception of entrepreneurial pitches and if necessary to recommend a style to choose in the pitching context. Finally, in the third paper I disentangled the verbal and nonverbal charisma using virtual humans in entrepreneurial pitching. I was curious to investigate the pure effect of verbal and nonverbal charisma, but to be careful to not have the effect of feminine or masculine nonverbal behavior interfere with the effect of charisma. In the papers I applied technology such as OpenPose (Cao et al., 2019) in case of the field studies to extract nonverbal behavior from individuals, deepfake algorithms (Mahmud & Sharmin, 2021) to project nonverbal behavior on to faces of individuals, and the use of virtual humans (Burden & Savin-Baden, 2019) to create the exact vignettes that we need.
Paper 1 – Charismatic Signaling in Academic Settings: Evidence from Thesis Competitions
Charisma is associated with increased follower motivation (Awamleh & Gardner, 1999), influence in social media (Tur et al., 2021), and influence in politics (Jacquart & Antonakis, 2015). The aim of this research is to investigate whether charismatic signaling can increase the likelihood of success in public speaking competitions in the academic setting. We investigate the French and English-speaking doctoral student competition “Ma Thèse en 180 secondes” (MT180) and “Three Minute Thesis” (3MT), during which contestants summarize their research in a three-minute talk.
In Study 1, I used data from 218 participants, doctoral students from universities in Switzerland and France, who participated in the MT180 competition. In Study 2, the data were from 296 doctoral students from universities in the United Kingdom who participated in the 3MT competition.
In Study 1, human coders coded the verbal and nonverbal charismatic tactics. In Study 2, we used an algorithm to code for verbal charismatic tactics. Furthermore, we used an algorithm to mask the appearance of the contestants and to only show the nonverbal behavior, which was then rated by a coding panel of online participants.
The findings of Studies 1 and 2 provide evidence of the potency of verbal charismatic signaling in the academic context. Furthermore, in Study 2, expressive nonverbal behavior also contributed to success in the competitions. There was no difference in the effect of charisma between women and men in their use of verbal or nonverbal charisma. Nevertheless, in Study 2, being a woman reduced the likelihood of reaching the finals of the competition.
Paper 2 – Gendered Language in Entrepreneurial Pitching
In general, women entrepreneurs raise less venture funding than do men (Greene et al., 2003); this observation is partially due to the backlash effect (Rudman & Glick, 2001), because women’s agentic professional role (Gupta et al., 2009) is incongruent with their communal gender role (Eagly, 1987). This paper investigates whether using charisma can mitigate the backlash effect, which would have important practical implications (i.e., help to diminish the gender funding gap). Furthermore, we investigate whether combining charisma and gendered communication styles is beneficial for the perceived market potential of a firm (Studies 1 and 2), and whether individuals naturally use a gendered speech style in managerial discourse (Study 3).
In Study 1, 551 on-line participants were randomly assigned to read an entrepreneurial pitch of a fictitious company, showcasing either a woman or man entrepreneur written in a non-charismatic, charismatic gender-neutral, charismatic gender-incongruent, charismatic gender-congruent style. In Study 2, 560 participants in an online study watched a 10-second video of male or female individual posing as an entrepreneur and then read one of the pitches. In Study 3, 308 participants, university students, wrote motivational speeches in French using charismatic tactics, that were then rated by a coding panel for perceived genderedness.
In Study 1, the charismatic gender-congruent writing style led to a lower perceived market opportunity for both women and men entrepreneurs. In Study 2, such an effect was not observed. There was no significant difference between non-charismatic and charismatic gender-neutral pitches for entrepreneurs in both Studies 1 and 2. In Study 3, metaphors in speeches produced by women and men writers were not judged as more female or male- gendered; however, raters more often identified the speech writer as man.
The findings of Studies 1 and 2 suggest that a gender-neutral writing style for entrepreneurial pitching might be preferable. The use of charisma did not lead to better outcomes for funding. However, future research is needed to investigate if the use of the combined verbal and nonverbal charisma can diminish the venture funding gap.
Paper 3 – Charisma in Entrepreneurial Pitching: Investigating with Virtual Humans
Entrepreneurship and start-up creations are major contributors to the global economy, job creation, and innovation (Haltiwanger et al., 2009), but not all are treated equally; women entrepreneurs raise less funding than men (Greene et al., 2003; Lins & Lutz, 2016). This paper investigates whether using charisma could lead to more investment for entrepreneurs, and hence help diminish the gender funding gap; specifically, we look at too whether verbal or nonverbal charisma is more influential in potentially raising capital for entrepreneurs. Given we investigate these questions using virtual humans, in a preliminary study we test whether charisma leads to the same effects when used by virtual humans compared to real humans.
After, we investigate whether verbal or nonverbal charisma results in a higher perceived market potential of ventures and whether this effect is similar for women and men entrepreneurs.
In the preliminary study, 275 participants in an online study were randomly assigned to watch one of four videos of a real or virtual human giving a speech about the rules of a public goods game in either a charismatic or a non-charismatic manner. In the main study, 558 participants in an online were randomly assigned to watch one of 16 videos of a virtual human (woman or man) delivering a pitch high or low in verbal charisma entrepreneurial pitch in a manner high or low in nonverbal charisma.
The findings of the preliminary study show that charisma was perceived to the same extent when enacted by real or by virtual humans. The findings of the main study suggest that using verbal or nonverbal charisma does not make a significant difference on the perceived market potential of the venture when used by of female or male entrepreneurs.
The initial goal of this thesis was to investigate whether charisma was equally effective for women and men, whether women and men used charisma differently, and whether it was effective in the academic and entrepreneurial settings. In the papers, we investigated the intersectionality of gendered language styles and charisma, disentangled the effects of verbal and nonverbal charisma, and investigated the effects of charisma in new settings. Furthermore, we outline methodological contributions of using nonverbal behavior extraction and using virtual humans in the development of vignettes.
In the first paper, we revealed that in the setting of academic competitions, both in French and English-speaking versions of the competition, utilizing verbal charismatic tactics was linked to success in passing to the next round of the competition. Furthermore, when masking the appearance of individuals, nonverbal expressivity, specifically expressive body gestures, were linked to success in achieving the next level of the competition. These results confirm previous findings about the effectiveness of charismatic signaling in informal leadership settings. Furthermore, I provide evidence that masking the appearance of individuals when rating their nonverbal behavior can alleviate a certain level of bias. Thus, it would be useful to implement and promote this method in the future.
When focusing purely on verbal charisma in paper 2 we introduced the interplay of charisma and gendered writing styles into the entrepreneurial pitch. The versatility of verbal charismatic signaling enables one to investigate how gendered styles can influence the effectiveness of the message. These results show us that a gender-neutral style is preferable to masculine or feminine pitch styles, which is that we provide experimental evidence to existing research (Balachandra et al., 2021) that a gender-neutral language style is preferential in an entrepreneurial setting. Contrary to what others have claimed (Greene et al., 2003), there was no gender gap between in perceived market potential between the pitches done by women or men entrepreneurs. This result is promising because it suggests that charismatic communication (in text at the least) could be beneficial in the funding process.
In paper 3 we disentangle verbal and nonverbal behavior and outline a methodology of transfer of nonverbal behavior onto virtual humans. We did not find any differences of the perceived market potential of the venture depending on the entrepreneur’s gender. Indeed, in combination with the results of paper 3 there are no different perceived market potential for women or men entrepreneurs contrary to the existing gender gap in entrepreneurial financing (Greene et al., 2003). These findings reveal that with careful design and standardization between conditions there appear to be no differences in perceived market potential between women and men entrepreneurs. In the future it would be interesting to investigate whether there would also be no gender differences in case of ventures that operate in an industry dominated more by women or men.
The findings of the thesis show a different effect of charisma in paper 1 compared to papers 2 and 3 (i.e., charisma having a positive effect in the academic competition setting, and no effect in the entrepreneurial pitch setting). The differing settings partially explain the difference in the study results. On one hand the doctoral students in paper 1 take part in an academic public speaking competition and are evaluated by a panel of judges on criteria that partially coincide with charismatic leadership tactics. On the other hand, in the entrepreneurial pitch setting the information pertaining to the venture remained constant, whereas the level of charisma and the gender of the entrepreneur in the respective pitches varied. Participants were asked to take on the role of potential investors and to evaluate the perceived market potential of the venture. It is possible the information about the venture, which remained constant throughout the pitches overpowered the influence of the charismatic tactics present in the pitch. Furthermore, in paper 2 we only used verbal charismatic tactics, which might have constituted a weaker form of charisma, not reaping all the effects. In paper 3 we used both verbal and nonverbal tactics but utilizing a novel method – a virtual human and not an actor. Possibly, the full effects of charisma might have been diminished because of using a real and not a virtual human.
Finally, an overall contribution of the three papers is that we apply methodological innovations. Specifically in paper 1, we demonstrated how the use of OpenPose (Cao et al., 2019) to assess the nonverbal behaviors of individuals, while masking their appearance.
Comparing the results of the assessment of the nonverbal behaviors of the original videos and the videos treated with OpenPose reveal that raters were influenced by the gender of the individual shown and by the verbal charismatic tactics. Furthermore, in paper 2, we demonstrate how to use deepfake (Mahmud & Sharmin, 2021) for the creation of materials used in experimental studies. In paper 3 we explore how to map nonverbal behavior onto women and men virtual humans.
Future Research
These three papers lead to several avenues for future research. I provide evidence that masking the appearance of individuals when rating their nonverbal behavior can alleviate a certain level of bias. Thus, it would be useful to implement and promote this method in the future. Furthermore, that charisma is effective in the academic setting shows it is a broad method of influence that works even in technical areas with intellectually sophisticated audiences. Another fruitful direction to explore would be to test the effect of charisma in influencing individuals to adopt sustainable and environmentally friendly measures. This topic is very important nowadays and especially to given that charisma appears to have potent effects in morally charged settings. Future research can also address whether charisma is useful in the classroom in the sense that it aids in comprehension and retention of complex information.
Finally, the findings of this thesis suggest that charisma is not essentially effective in entrepreneurial pitching. Future research should investigate this using a field study with data from startup competitions and then understand whether this result was due to our use of purely text or our use of virtual humans. Perhaps the level of realism of the virtual human interferes with the impact of the pitch. It would thus be opportune to compare our results with the results of having a real human performing the role of an entrepreneur.
Gender differences in being able to influence others in leadership, academia, and entrepreneurship is interesting from a basic research point of view, but also has important practical implications. Using the framework of charismatic leadership tactics enables researchers to study interesting and important questions in a systematic fashion. I hope that this thesis contributes to the understanding of these topics.
Taking part in a thesis competition myself and attending multiple entrepreneurial pitch events, led me to witness the power of charisma in the pitching process and the versatility of how charisma can be used. This thesis has made the steps to in investigating gender differences in how charisma is perceived based on the gender of the speaker answering a call for research of the effects of socio-demographics on charisma (Banks et al., 2017).
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01/11/2023 10:03
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