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Antecedents of ethical leadership: the theory of planned behavior

H.M. Saidur Rahaman (University of Leuven, Leuven, Belgium)
Jeroen Stouten (University of Leuven, Leuven, Belgium)
Liang Guo (Shandong University at Weihai, Weihai, China)

Leadership & Organization Development Journal

ISSN: 0143-7739

Article publication date: 28 August 2019

Issue publication date: 12 September 2019

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to examine the antecedents of ethical leadership by drawing on the theory of planned behavior (TPB). The authors hypothesized that a leader’s attitude toward ethical behavior, subjective norm about ethical behavior and perceived behavioral control relate to his/her ethical intention and subsequently to the follower’s perceptions of ethical leadership.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors found general support for the model using data collected from a two-wave and two-source field study involving 119 supervisor-subordinate dyads.

Findings

The results demonstrated that the leader’s favorable attitude toward ethical behavior and perceived behavioral control predicted his/her ethical intention and subsequently to the follower’s perception of ethical leadership, whereas the subjective norm did not.

Practical implications

The findings of the study provide important insights into developing relevant training and intervention programs in organizations to cultivate ethical leadership. These can be done by encouraging leaders’ ethical intentions through changing their attitudinal and control beliefs regarding ethical behavior. Study findings also provide important insight on developing the recruiting device in a way that would help selecting individuals who may have favorable beliefs toward ethical behavior and thus have the potential to be an ethical leader.

Originality/value

This study first demonstrates the applicability of the TPB in examining the antecedents of ethical leadership.

Keywords

Citation

Rahaman, H.M.S., Stouten, J. and Guo, L. (2019), "Antecedents of ethical leadership: the theory of planned behavior", Leadership & Organization Development Journal, Vol. 40 No. 6, pp. 735-746. https://doi.org/10.1108/LODJ-11-2018-0417

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

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