Pathways to Legitimacy for Black and White Authorities: Impressions of Competence and Warmth

Academic Article


  • Legitimacy is crucial for the effectiveness of leaders in the workplace. We investigate pathways by which authorities in the workplace gain legitimacy and how they differ by authority race. In addition to leaders’ behaviors, subordinates’ impressions of leaders’ competence and warmth, stemming from those behaviors, impact their views of leader legitimacy. We further assess how the role of mediating impressions depends on the race of the authority enacting the behaviors. In an experimental vignette study, we manipulate the authority’s actions (use of fair procedures and power benevolently) and race (Black/white) and measure perceived competence, warmth, and legitimacy. Results indicate that the effects of leader behaviors on legitimacy operate through impressions of competence and warmth. Moreover, authority race alters this pathway; behaviors operate through competence impressions for white managers and through warmth impressions for Black managers. Our study illuminates how leaders gain legitimacy at work and how this process is racialized.
  • Authors

  • Hawks, Kate
  • Hegtvedt, Karen A
  • Gibson, Ryan
  • Johnson, Cathryn
  • Zion, Jamica
  • Has Subject Area

    Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Start Page

  • 019027252311620
  • End Page

  • 019027252311620