Journal of Business Ethics:1-18 (forthcoming)

Integrating research on empowering leadership with the literature on power in social psychology, we examine how empowering leaders affect the propensity of followers to engage in deviance. Across a multi-source, multi-wave field study and a controlled laboratory experiment, we find that, compared to the followers of less-empowering leaders, the followers of more empowering leaders feel subjectively more powerful and engage in more deviant behaviors. Moreover, we find that the propensity of empowered followers to engage in more deviance depends on their prosocial attributes. Specifically, empowered followers engage in the highest levels of deviance when they have a weak moral identity and a strong desire for dominance. We further find that empowering leadership does not increase follower deviance when followers either have a strong moral identity or a weak desire for dominance. In sum, although past research suggests that empowering leadership may facilitate productivity and employee engagement, our work demonstrates that it can also cultivate harmful effects, such as increased deviance among certain types of followers. We discuss our theoretical contributions as well as practical implications for practicing empowering leadership.
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DOI 10.1007/s10551-021-04917-x
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