We take historical stock of charisma, tracing its origins and how it has been conceptualized in the sociological and organizational sciences literatures. Although charisma has been intensely studied, the concept is still not well understood and much of the research undertaken cannot inform policy. We show that the major obstacles to advancing our understanding of charisma have included issues with its definition, its confusion with transformational leadership, the use of questionnaire measures, and that it has not been studied using correctly specified causal models. To help spawn a new genre of research on charisma, we use signaling theory to provide a general definition of charisma, and make suggestions about how charisma should be conceptualized, operationalized, and modeled. We also describe trends and patterns in articles we reviewed, using cocitation as well as bibliometric analyses, and discuss the practical implications of our findings.


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