New Reads: Leaders, Followers, and Ethics

business_ethics_highlights_2Here are a couple of new papers, just published in the Journal of Business Ethics. Both look interesting. And both tackle different aspects of an under-explored theme — namely, how the relationship between boss and subordinate affect good or bad behaviour by the subordinate. (We’ve only got the abstracts for you — full access will require subscription or institutional access.) >>>

The More You Care, the Worthier I Feel, the Better I Behave: How and When Supervisor Support Influences (Un)Ethical Employee Behavior, by Francesco Sguera, Richard P. Bagozzi, Quy N. Huy, R. Wayne Boss, David S. Boss

Abstract: This article investigates the effects of perceived supervisor support on ethical (organizational citizenship behaviors) and unethical employee behavior (counterproductive workplace behavior) using a multi-method approach (one experiment and one field survey with multiple waves and supervisor ratings of employees). Specifically, we test the mediating mechanism (i.e., supervisor-based self-esteem) and a boundary condition (i.e., employee task satisfaction) that moderate the relationship between support and (un)ethical employee behaviors. We find that supervisor-based self-esteem fully mediates the relationship between supervisor support and (un)ethical employee behavior and that employee task satisfaction intensifies the relationship between supervisor support and supervisor-based self-esteem.

How Does Ethical Leadership Trickle Down? Test of an Integrative Dual-Process Model, by Zhen Wang, Haoying Xu, Yukun Liu

Abstract: Although the trickle-down effect of ethical leadership has been documented in the literature, its underlying mechanism still remains largely unclear. To address this gap, we develop a cross-level dual-process model to explain how the effect occurs. Drawing on social learning theory, we hypothesize that the ethical leadership of high-level managers could cascade to middle-level supervisors via its impact on middle-level supervisors’ two ethical expectations. Using a sample of 69 middle-level supervisors and 381 subordinates across 69 sub-branches from a large banking firm in China, we found that middle-level supervisors’ ethical efficacy expectation and unethical behavior–punishment expectation (as one form of ethical outcome expectations) accounted for the trickle-down effect. The explanatory role of middle-level supervisors’ ethical behavior–reward expectation (as the other form of ethical outcome expectations), however, was not supported. The theoretical and practical implications are discussed.


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