A Meta-analytic Review of Ethical Leadership Outcomes and Moderators

Journal of Business Ethics 139 (3):517-536 (2016)
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Abstract

A growing body of research suggests that follower perceptions of ethical leadership are associated with beneficial follower outcomes. However, some empirical researchers have found contradictory results. In this study, we use social learning and social exchange theories to test the relationship between ethical leadership and follower work outcomes. Our results suggest that ethical leadership is related positively to numerous follower outcomes such as perceptions of leader interactional fairness and follower ethical behavior. Furthermore, we explore how ethical leadership relates to and is different from other leadership styles such as transformational and transactional leadership. Results suggest that ethical leadership is positively associated with transformational leadership and the contingent reward dimension of transactional leadership. With respect to the moderators, our results show mixed evidence for publication bias. Finally, geographical locations of study samples moderated some of the relationships between ethical leadership and follower outcomes, and employee samples from public sector organizations showed stronger mean corrected correlations for ethical leadership–follower outcome relationships.

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