In modern societies, followers might dissociate from their leaders. In our conceptual paper we discuss how the societal-level process of value erosion (Sennett, 2005) influences this phenomenon. First, we outline in what way value erosion will lead to followers' leadership-related cynicism on the one hand and an increased need for meaning on the other hand. We then describe in what way followers' cynicism and need for meaning moderate the positive relation between charismatic leadership and followers' affective and normative commitment. Last, we address the balance between the opposing dynamics of cynicism and need for meaning among followers by discussing the circumstances in which cynicism diminishes the positive moderating effect of need for meaning, and need for meaning compensates for the negative moderating effect of cynicism. We outline future research paths and implications for management.
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