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date: 10 April 2021

Abstract and Keywords

The study of the American presidency is placed in comparative context by stressing the unitary status of an office that has no peers elsewhere in terms of the exercise of national and international power and influence. Presidential studies also have an unusual status within American political science, given the problems involved in measuring presidential leadership. As a result, approaches to the study of the presidency are often controversial. This review starts with an appraisal of Neustadt’s seminal Presidential Power and proceeds to an analysis of personality approaches to the subject, including those by the Georges, Barber, and Greenstein. Finally, structural/historical approaches are assessed, with a special emphasis on the work of Stephen Skowronek. The review concludes with the observation that future research should concentrate on refining the relationship between presidential personality and the increasingly onerous demands that an ever-changing institutional environment place on the leadership skills of incumbents.

Keywords: historical/structural approaches, personality approaches, political regime, presidential/congressional relations, unitary institution

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