Christian Dippel, Stephan Heblich, 19 February 2019

The importance of leadership in effecting social change is well recorded in history, but the specific role leaders play in coordinating behaviours is less understood. This column uses the case of the Forty-Eighters – revolutionaries expelled from German lands who moved to the US before the American Civil War – to analyse the impact individuals with ‘inherent’ leadership ability have in their networks. The Forty-Eighters went on to play a substantial role in increasing Union Army enlistments in their new home towns, suggesting individuals can have a powerful effect in shaping social norms.

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