Amore, M. D., Garofalo, O., & Guerra, A. (2022). How Leaders Influence (un) Ethical Behaviors Within Organizations: A Laboratory Experiment on Reporting Choices. Journal of Business Ethics, 1-16.
Amore et al. (2022) research uses lab experiments to examine whether and how leaders impact employees’ (un)ethical conduct through financial reporting choices. During the study, the authors randomly assigned the role of leaders or employees to subjects, who can choose to report an outcome via automatic or self-reporting. Based on the study, self-reporting enhances profitable and untraceable earnings manipulation. According to Amore et al. (2022), reporting choices of leaders impact organizational culture and, eventually, financial performance. However, the effects of leaders’ reporting choices on corporate transparency are not yet well understood.
In most cases, such incidents occur when unethical behaviors are generally hidden from view and hence challenging to measure empirically. The findings of this study showed a dual outcome of leadership on ethical conduct in an organization (Amore et al., 2022). The results showed that employees behave more morally when leaders make ethical decisions, but leaders mostly make unethical choices, which concludes that leading by example can backfire in the organization.
Bao, Y., & Li, C. (2019). From moral leadership to positive work behaviors: the mediating roles of value congruence and leader-member exchange. Frontiers of Business Research in China, 13(1), 1-18.
Bao & Li (2019) use two-wave survey data from 395 Chinese employees to study whether value correspondence and leader-member exchange (LMX) facilitate the effect of ethical leadership on supporters’ positive work conducts. Based on the authors, leaders have hierarchical authority, distribute valuable resources, and set the values of social standards in organizations. Through the processes of social learning and social exchange, workers’ attitudes and behaviors would be profoundly impacted by whether their leaders act with morality. In their research, Bao & Li (2019) define moral leadership as a learner’s conduct that displays superior personal virtues, unselfishness, and discipline. Regarding social learning and social exchange, the study’s results showed that value congruence and LMX act as facilitators in the association between ethical leadership and encouraging work conduct. A sequential facilitating link from ethical leadership to value correspondence, then to LMX, and lastly, positive work conducts was also revealed in the study.
Bedi, A., Alpaslan, C. M., & Green, S. (2016). A meta-analytic review of ethical leadership outcomes and moderators. Journal of Business Ethics, 139(3), 517-536. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10551-015-2625-1
This study utilized information from 134 independent samples integrating 54 920 employees to conduct a meta-analysis of the results of ethical leadership. Based on the authors, previous studies suggest that team perceptions of ethical leadership are connected to beneficial associate outcomes (Bedi et al., 2016). The findings of this investigation indicated that ethical leadership is related to several positive results, including encouraging attitudes toward the leaders, improved satisfaction among team members, and psychological well-being. The authors examined the moderating effects of publication status, geographical locations, and corporate sectors on such relationships, which proved that the Influence of ethical leaders is more substantial in published rather than published studies. The results also confirmed that the Influence varies depending on geographical region, for instance, between North America vs. Western European populations, and is more vital for public vs. private sector workers. Bedi et al. (2016) also examined the relationship between ethical, transactional, and transformational leadership styles and concluded that ethical leadership is strongly connected to transformational leadership.
Metwally, D., Ruiz-Palomino, P., Metwally, M., & Gartzia, L. (2019). How ethical leadership shapes employees’ readiness to change: The mediating role of an organizational effectiveness culture—frontiers in Psychology, 10, 2493.
Metwally et al. (2019) use data from 270 direct reports of middle-lower managers in public foreign trade Egyptian workers to examine whether the ethical leadership of middle-lower echelons impacts workers’ willingness to change positively and if such association is facilitated through modeling an organizational culture of efficiency. Based on the authors, existing organizations work in a competitive and shifting environment that forces them to endlessly familiarize their organizational structures with such a setting. However, this change initiative may encounter a barrier in employees’ response, especially when they lack the willingness to change. The study’s results suggested that ethical leadership enhances employees’ desire to change and that an organizational culture of effectiveness facilitates such impact. Therefore, the findings conclude that ethical leadership and its mechanisms enhance work willingness to change within an organization. While leadership can nurture an organization’s culture and effectiveness and help improve workers’ desire to change, ethical leaders, who serve as a guide and support, can also make a difference by minimizing uncertainty within the organization.
Newstead, T., Dawkins, S., Macklin, R., & Martin, A. (2021). We don’t need more leaders–We need more good leaders. Advancing a virtues-based approach to leader (ship) development. The Leadership Quarterly, 32(5), 101312.
This study examines the idea of “good leadership,” an integration of effective leadership and ethical leadership, in the setting of leadership development. The authors draw on their previous definition of virtues’ as the inclination to feel, think and act in ways that express ethical distinction and back to the common good to advance a virtue-based approach to moral leadership where good leadership is defined as engaging in ethical influence practices (Newstead et al., 2021). Newstead et al. (2021) claimed that virtue and leadership are synergistic ideas. Hence, a virtue-based method that accounts for leadership efficiency and ethics is appropriate for leadership development investigation, given that virtue and leadership are both learnable. They also claim that the approach accounts for the development of a leader’s character and is generalizable across settings and cultures since virtue tends to be universal. The authors conclude their study with a comment about the aspirational nature of good leadership, pointing out the significance of leader intentions, not just leader conducts.
Paterson, T. A., & Huang, L. (2019). Am I expected to be ethical? A role-definition perspective of ethical leadership and unethical behavior. Journal of Management, 45(7), 2837-2860.
This study introduces the idea of role ethicality to describe why moral leadership prevents supporters’ ethical misconduct. Paterson and Huang (2019) describe role ethicality as the degree to which members of the organization prefer to act morally as part of their organizational role necessities. In the organization, moral leadership is needed to minimize unethical conduct since leaders are the core source of role expectations for supporters. Hence, leaders’ ethical conduct provides supporters with an indicator of role ethicality. For instance, they suggest the extent to which moral conduct is expected from an employee in a given organization. The study’s results revealed that supporters’ ratings of the moral leadership of a leader have positively connected to followers’ perception of their role ethicality and that role ethicality perceptions were negatively associated with supporters’ unethical conduct (Paterson & Huang, 2019). The authors suggest further research which considers role theory and social learning theory in investigating moral leadership and its outcome.
Qiu, H., Zhang, Y., Hou, G., & Wang, Z. (2018). The integrative effects of leading by example and follower traits in public goods game: A multilevel study. Frontiers in Psychology, 9, 1687.
The authors conduct a cross-level investigation that shows a probable integrative context of both signaling and reciprocity viewpoint on leading by example. Data from 120 Chinese college students were utilized in the study. The students were allocated into one baseline group and three experimental groups. Qiu et al. (2018) used a hierarchical model to examine the effects of leading by example on diverse levels. Research findings revealed that leading by example positively affects the teamwork of supporters on both the group and individual levels. Based on the findings, the risk attitude positively affected teamwork among followers, while the trusting attitude revealed adverse effects. Therefore, based on the findings, the authors conclude that leading by example and personal traits significantly impact teamwork but on different levels. However, more research on a more systematic way is needed to understand ethical leadership in the current organization.
Zhang, Y., Zhou, F., & Mao, J. (2018). Ethical leadership and follower moral actions: Investigating an emotional linkage. Frontiers in Psychology, 1881.
Zhang et al. (2018) implemented a time-lagged study design incorporating 64 leaders and 289 supporters. The study’s main objective was to examine an emotional explanation for the effectiveness of ethical leadership. Based on the authors, there is not enough knowledge about ethical leadership mechanisms and its outcome. For instance, there is a gap in the literature about how ethical leaders trigger supporters’ moral actions. Based on the authors, even though the connection between ethical leadership and followers’ ethical or unethical conduct has been investigated, enough research is still needed to determine why followers can translate their leaders’ ethical conduct into their moral actions, which is even essential to understand the effectiveness of ethical leadership. Research findings revealed that ethical leadership invokes followers’ other-praising sentiments and improves their moral actions. More findings showed that core self-evaluation promotes the constructive effects of ethical leadership on supporters’ other-praising right feelings and succeeding ethical actions.