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date: 18 October 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Max Weber’s concept of charismatic authority and Anthony Downs’ expansion of this idea both highlight the role charismatic founders of institutions play in structuring such institutions’ later authority. Downs carries this idea forward by suggesting that all organizations have a life cycle whose early stages harbour unique conditions for growth and innovation. For international organizations, the circumstances surrounding their creation and the subsequent establishment of organizational norms are poorly understood. This chapter examines the conditions surrounding the founding of two international organizations: the International Finance Corporation; and, the Green Climate Fund. Through an examination of the circumstances surrounding their founding, including the choice of leadership, and the shaping of organizational mandates through the role of ‘charismatic leadership’ in each, this chapter develops a set of questions drawn from this formative period to create a comparative framework for analysis. Using these founding narratives, this chapter demonstrates the influential role that charisma can play in shaping where organizations may go in the future, and lends support to the predictions offered by Downs.

Keywords: charismatic authority, organizational life cycle, mission drift, routinization of charisma, transnational public organizations

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