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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.
    4. Anne Davis & Hannah Rothstein, 2006. "The Effects of the Perceived Behavioral Integrity of Managers on Employee Attitudes: A Meta-analysis," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 67(4), pages 407-419, September.
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    Keywords

    Ethics Leadership Deviance OCB;

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