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

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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

785 Scopus citations

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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalOrganizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes
Volume108
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2009
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Applied Psychology
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management

Keywords

  • Deviance
  • Ethics
  • Leadership
  • OCB

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