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The role of ethical leadership in enhancing exploitative and explorative learning simultaneously: what does it matter if employees view work as central?

Moazzam Ali (University of Okara, Okara, Pakistan)
Yuanmei (Elly) Qu (College of Business, Rowan University Rohrer, Glassboro, New Jersey, USA)
Shoaib Shafique (Riphah International University, Faisalabad, Pakistan)
Nhat Tan Pham (International University, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam) (Vietnam National University, Linh Trung Ward, Thu Duc City, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam)
Muhammad Usman (Management Sciences, COMSATS University Islamabad, Lahore Campus, Lahore, Pakistan)

Personnel Review

ISSN: 0048-3486

Article publication date: 16 February 2021

Issue publication date: 29 March 2022

640

Abstract

Purpose

The present study aimed to test the hypothesis that ethical leadership positively contributes to exploitative learning and explorative learning simultaneously and then examine the moderating role of work centrality in the relationships of ethical leadership with exploitative learning and explorative learning.

Design/methodology/approach

Time-lagged survey data were collected from 257 middle managers and their 257 immediate supervisors in 76 firms in China. Data were analyzed using structural equation modeling and Hayes' PROCESS macro for SPSS.

Findings

The results revealed that ethical leadership positively contributed to exploitative learning and explorative learning simultaneously. Importantly, the authors found that work centrality strengthened the positive relationships of ethical leadership with both exploitative learning and explorative learning.

Practical implications

The findings can help organizations enhance exploitative learning and explorative learning simultaneously and enable them to gain a sustainable competitive advantage.

Originality/value

Although explorative learning and exploitative learning together constitute fundamental resources for organizations' long-term success, prior research has not looked into whether and when leader behaviors facilitate explorative learning and exploitative learning simultaneously. The study contributed to fill this gap by introducing ethical leadership, signifying its positive role in enhancing both explorative learning and exploitative learning, and establishing work centrality as a moderator to reinforce these two positive relationships.

Keywords

Citation

Ali, M., Qu, Y.(E)., Shafique, S., Pham, N.T. and Usman, M. (2022), "The role of ethical leadership in enhancing exploitative and explorative learning simultaneously: what does it matter if employees view work as central?", Personnel Review, Vol. 51 No. 2, pp. 787-804. https://doi.org/10.1108/PR-12-2019-0708

Publisher

:

Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2020, Emerald Publishing Limited

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