Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 116, Issue 2, pp 441–455

How Ethical Leadership Influence Employees’ Innovative Work Behavior: A Perspective of Intrinsic Motivation


DOI: 10.1007/s10551-012-1455-7

Cite this article as:
Yidong, T. & Xinxin, L. J Bus Ethics (2013) 116: 441. doi:10.1007/s10551-012-1455-7


Drawing on the cognitive evaluation theory, we proposed a homologous multilevel model to explore how ethical leadership influenced employees’ innovative work behavior through the mediation of intrinsic motivation at both group and individual level. With questionnaires rated by 302 employees from 34 work units of two companies in the mainland of China, we conducted multilevel analysis to examine our hypotheses. The results showed that individual innovative work behavior was positively related to both individual perception of ethical leadership and group ethical leadership, while individual intrinsic motivation mediated the two relationships. Moreover, group intrinsic motivation mediated the relationship between group ethical leadership and innovative work behavior. The theoretical and practical implications were further discussed.


Ethical leadershipInnovative work behaviorIntrinsic motivationMultilevel analysis



Cognitive evaluation theory

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Economics and Management SchoolWuhan UniversityWuhan CityPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.School of Labor and Human ResourcesRenmin University of ChinaBeijingPeople’s Republic of China