Ethical Leadership and Reputation: Combined Indirect Effects on Organizational Deviance

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Abstract

The interest in ethical leadership has grown in the past few years, with an emphasis on the mechanisms through which it affects organizational life. However, research on the boundary conditions that limit and/or enhance its effectiveness is still scarce, especially concerning one of the main misconceptions about ethical leadership, its incompatibility with effectiveness (Brown, Organ Dyn 36:140–155, 2007). Thus, the present study (a) examines the relationship between ethical leadership and organizational deviance via affective commitment to the organization, as a reflection of the quality of the employee–organization relationship and (b) proposes this relationship is conditional on the supervisor’s personal reputation for performance (i.e., the moral standards are coupled with work effectiveness). Using a sample of 224 employees and their respective supervisors from 18 organizations, we confirmed our hypotheses (moderated mediation model). Our findings suggest that ethical leadership is positively related to employees’ affective commitment to the organization, particularly when supervisor’s reputation for performance is high, which in turn is associated with decreased organizational deviance. The theoretical and practical implications of these findings conclude the paper.