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How low does ethical leadership flow? Test of a trickle-down model

Author

Listed:
  • Mayer, David M.
  • Kuenzi, Maribeth
  • Greenbaum, Rebecca
  • Bardes, Mary
  • Salvador, Rommel (Bombie)

Abstract

This research examines the relationships between top management and supervisory ethical leadership and group-level outcomes (e.g., deviance, OCB) and suggests that ethical leadership flows from one organizational level to the next. Drawing on social learning theory [Bandura, A. (1977). Social learning theory. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.; Bandura, A. (1986). Social foundations of thought and action. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.] and social exchange theory [Blau, p. (1964). Exchange and power in social life. New York: John Wiley.], the results support our theoretical model using a sample of 904 employees and 195 managers in 195 departments. We find a direct negative relationship between both top management and supervisory ethical leadership and group-level deviance, and a positive relationship with group-level OCB. Finally, consistent with the proposed trickle-down model, the effects of top management ethical leadership on group-level deviance and OCB are mediated by supervisory ethical leadership.

Suggested Citation

  • Mayer, David M. & Kuenzi, Maribeth & Greenbaum, Rebecca & Bardes, Mary & Salvador, Rommel (Bombie), 2009. "How low does ethical leadership flow? Test of a trickle-down model," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 108(1), pages 1-13, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jobhdp:v:108:y:2009:i:1:p:1-13
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Schminke, Marshall & Ambrose, Maureen L. & Neubaum, Donald O., 2005. "The effect of leader moral development on ethical climate and employee attitudes," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 97(2), pages 135-151, July.
    2. Dalton, Dan R. & Metzger, Michael B., 1992. "Towards Candor, Cooperation, & Privacy in Applied Business Ethics Research: The Randomized Response Technique (RRT)," Business Ethics Quarterly, Cambridge University Press, vol. 2(02), pages 207-221, April.
    3. Brown, Michael E. & Trevino, Linda K. & Harrison, David A., 2005. "Ethical leadership: A social learning perspective for construct development and testing," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 97(2), pages 117-134, July.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Jakob de Haan & David-Jan Jansen, 2011. "Corporate culture and behaviour: A survey," DNB Working Papers 334, Netherlands Central Bank, Research Department.
    2. Muel Kaptein, 2011. "Toward Effective Codes: Testing the Relationship with Unethical Behavior," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 99(2), pages 233-251, March.
    3. repec:eee:touman:v:57:y:2016:i:c:p:139-148 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Walumbwa, Fred O. & Hartnell, Chad A. & Misati, Everlyne, 2017. "Does ethical leadership enhance group learning behavior? Examining the mediating influence of group ethical conduct, justice climate, and peer justice," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 72(C), pages 14-23.
    5. Liu, Dong & Jiang, Kaifeng & Shalley, Christina E. & Keem, Sejin & Zhou, Jing, 2016. "Motivational mechanisms of employee creativity: A meta-analytic examination and theoretical extension of the creativity literature," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 137(C), pages 236-263.
    6. Yusuf Esmer & Faruk Dayi, 2014. "A New Paradigm In Management: Ethical Leadership," Proceedings of International Academic Conferences 0701434, International Institute of Social and Economic Sciences.
    7. repec:eee:touman:v:52:y:2016:i:c:p:341-368 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Ans Kolk & Willemijn Dolen & Marlene Vock, 2010. "Trickle Effects of Cross-Sector Social Partnerships," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 94(1), pages 123-137, July.
    9. Hannah, Sean T. & Jennings, Peter L. & Bluhm, Dustin & Peng, Ann Chunyan & Schaubroeck, John M., 2014. "Duty orientation: Theoretical development and preliminary construct testing," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 123(2), pages 220-238.
    10. Koopman, Joel & Matta, Fadel K. & Scott, Brent A. & Conlon, Donald E., 2015. "Ingratiation and popularity as antecedents of justice: A social exchange and social capital perspective," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 131(C), pages 132-148.
    11. Michael Housman & Dylan Minor, 2015. "Toxic Workers," Harvard Business School Working Papers 16-057, Harvard Business School, revised Nov 2015.
    12. James Avey & Michael Palanski & Fred Walumbwa, 2011. "When Leadership Goes Unnoticed: The Moderating Role of Follower Self-Esteem on the Relationship Between Ethical Leadership and Follower Behavior," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 98(4), pages 573-582, February.
    13. Bauman, Christopher W. & Tost, Leigh Plunkett & Ong, Madeline, 2016. "Blame the shepherd not the sheep: Imitating higher-ranking transgressors mitigates punishment for unethical behavior," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 137(C), pages 123-141.
    14. Kennedy, Jessica A. & Anderson, Cameron, 2017. "Hierarchical rank and principled dissent: How holding higher rank suppresses objection to unethical practices," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 139(C), pages 30-49.
    15. DeConinck, James B., 2015. "Outcomes of ethical leadership among salespeople," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 68(5), pages 1086-1093.
    16. Mayer, David M. & Nurmohamed, Samir & Treviño, Linda Klebe & Shapiro, Debra L. & Schminke, Marshall, 2013. "Encouraging employees to report unethical conduct internally: It takes a village," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 121(1), pages 89-103.
    17. Zapata, Cindy P. & Olsen, Jesse E. & Martins, Luis L., 2013. "Social exchange from the supervisor’s perspective: Employee trustworthiness as a predictor of interpersonal and informational justice," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 121(1), pages 1-12.
    18. Walumbwa, Fred O. & Mayer, David M. & Wang, Peng & Wang, Hui & Workman, Kristina & Christensen, Amanda L., 2011. "Linking ethical leadership to employee performance: The roles of leader-member exchange, self-efficacy, and organizational identification," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 115(2), pages 204-213, July.

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    Keywords

    Ethics Leadership Deviance OCB;

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