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Development and validity of the Ethical Leadership Questionnaire

Lyse Langlois (Industrial Relations, Laval University, Quebec City, Canada)
Claire Lapointe (Educational Foundations and Practice, Laval University, Quebec City, Canada)
Pierre Valois (Educational Foundations and Practice, Laval University, Quebec City, Canada)
Astrid de Leeuw (University of Luxemburg, Luxembourg City, Luxembourg)

Journal of Educational Administration

ISSN: 0957-8234

Article publication date: 29 April 2014




This study had five objectives: explain the initial steps that led to the construction of the Ethical Leadership Questionnaire (ELQ); analyze the items and verify the ELQ reliability using item response theory (IRT); examine its factorial structure with a confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) and an exploratory structural equation modeling (ESEM) approach; test the item bias of the ELQ; assess the relation between the ELQ dimensions and ethical sensitivity. The paper aims to discuss these issues.


Study 1 and Study 2 involved 200 and 668 respondents, respectively. Step 1 consisted in IRT; Step 2 in CFA and ESEM analysis; Step 3 in invariance of the ELQ items across gender, and Step 4 in structural equation modeling.


Results indicated the presence of the three types of ethic in the resolution of moral dilemmas, validating Starratt's model. The factor structure was gender invariant. Ethic of critique was significantly related to ethical sensitivity.

Research limitations/implications

More replications will be needed to fully support the ELQ's validity. Given that the instrument may be used in diverse cultural contexts, invariance across cultures would be warranted.

Practical implications

As educational organizations become aware of the crucial need for more ethical leaders, they will need to pay particular attention to the ethic of critique as it appears to play a significant role in the development of ethical sensitivity.

Social implications

Results presented in this paper answer a vital need for more ethical skills in educational leadership.


The ELQ provides a validated measure of Starratt's conceptual framework and highlights the key role played by ethical sensitivity and the ethic of critique.



Langlois, L., Lapointe, C., Valois, P. and de Leeuw, A. (2014), "Development and validity of the Ethical Leadership Questionnaire", Journal of Educational Administration, Vol. 52 No. 3, pp. 310-331.



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