Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 118, Issue 1, pp 1-12

First online:

Does the Ethical Leadership of Supervisors Generate Internal Social Capital?

  • David PastorizaAffiliated withHEC Montreal Email author 
  • , Miguel A. AriñoAffiliated withIESE Business School

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Ethics has recently gained prominence in debates surrounding social capital creation. Despite the significant theoretical progress in this field, it still lacks empirical research. The goal of this study is to empirically explore the ethical leadership of supervisors as an antecedent of the firm’s social capital. We build on social learning theory to argue that employees can learn standards of appropriate behavior by observing the behavior of role models. By displaying and enforcing ethical behavior, supervisors can facilitate the process through which employees learn to feel empathy toward others and establish profound affective relationships with them. Data were collected from 408 Spanish, French, and Portuguese part-time MBA students. Using structural equation modeling techniques, we show that the ethical leadership of supervisors exerts a significant influence on the structural, relational, and cognitive dimensions of social capital.


Ethical leadership Supervisor Internal social capital Social learning Structural equation modeling