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Leaders: Privilege, Sacrifice, Opportunity, and Personnel Economics in the American Civil War

Dora Costa

Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, 2014, vol. 30, issue 3, 437-462

Abstract: US Civil War data allow examinations of theories of leadership. By observing both leaders and followers during the war and 40 years after it, I establish that the most able became wartime leaders, that leading by example from the front was an effective strategy in reducing desertion rates, and that leaders later migrated to the larger cities because this is where their superior skills would have had the highest payoffs. I find mixed evidence on whether leaders were created or born. I find that US cities were magnets for the most able and provided training opportunities for both leaders and followers: Men might start in a low social status occupation in a city but then move to a higher status occupation. (JEL M50, N31)

Date: 2014
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