Ethical Leaders and Their Followers: The Transmission of Moral Identity and Moral Attentiveness

Weichun Zhu, Linda K. Trevinõ, Xiaoming Zheng

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations

Abstract

In the expanding field of ethical leadership research, little attention has been paid to the association between ethical leaders' ethical characteristics (beyond personality) and perceived ethical leadership, and, more importantly, the potential influence of ethical leadership on followers' ethical characteristics. In this study, we tested a theoretical model based upon social cognitive theory (Bandura, 1986) to examine leaders' moral identity and moral attentiveness as antecedents of perceived ethical leadership, and follower moral identity and moral attentiveness as outcomes of ethical leadership. Based upon data from 89 leaders and 460 followers in China, collected at two points in time, we found that leaders' moral identity and moral attentiveness are associated with follower's perceptions of ethical leadership. Ethical leadership is, in turn, associated with their followers' moral identity and moral attentiveness. We found furthermore that ethical leadership mediates the effect of leaders' moral identity on followers' moral identity, but not the effect of leaders' moral attentiveness on followers' moral attentiveness. We discuss the findings, theoretical contributions, practical implications, and future research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)95-115
Number of pages21
JournalBusiness Ethics Quarterly
Volume26
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Business, Management and Accounting(all)
  • Philosophy
  • Economics and Econometrics

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