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Path-Goal Theories

  • Path-goal theory focuses on the ability of leaders to motivate followers to achieve success. The theory built upon the foundation of expectancy theory that states followers will be motivated when they are confident that they can be successful in achieving the goal. However, there have been many instances related to social movements as far back as the 1700s when followers have been motivated against many odds and barriers with a low likelihood of success. When you look at social movements like the Abolition Movement, Women’s Rights Movement, Labor Movements, Civil Rights Movement, and even Occupy Wall Street, followers were highly motivated, and the likelihood of success was not evident.
  • Do you think these social movements contradict the path-goal theory? Justify your answer.
  • Formulate your own theory as to how these movements are able to motivate so many followers. Support your theory with scholarly research.
  • Why do you think so many of these movements are called “leaderless” movements?
  • If you have little knowledge of our experience with social movements, please read the Unit Four Learning Material article by Nepstad & Bob, “When Do Leaders Matter? Hypotheses on Leadership Dynamics in Social Movements,” Mobilization, 2006

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