Do Role Models Matter? An Investigation of Role Modeling as an Antecedent of Perceived Ethical Leadership
- 3.7k Downloads
Thus far, we know much more about the significant outcomes of perceived ethical leadership than we do about its antecedents. In this study, we focus on multiple types of ethical role models as antecedents of perceived ethical leadership. According to social learning theory, role models facilitate the acquisition of moral and other types of behavior. Yet, we do not know whether having had ethical role models influences follower perceptions of one’s ethical leadership and, if so, what kinds of role models are important. We conducted a field study, surveying supervisors and their subordinates to examine the relationship between three types of ethical role models and ethical leadership: the leader’s childhood role models, career mentors, and top managers. We found that having had an ethical role model during the leader’s career was positively related to subordinate-rated ethical leadership. As expected, this effect was moderated by leader age, such that the relationship between career mentoring and ethical leadership was stronger for older leaders. Leader age also moderated the relationship between childhood models and ethical leadership ratings, such that having had childhood ethical role models was more strongly and positively related to ethical leadership for younger leaders. We found no effect for top management ethical role models. Implications for research and practice are discussed.
KeywordsEthical leadership Ethical role modeling Role models
- Atkins, R., Hart, D., & Donnelly, D. M. (2004). Moral identity development and school attachment. In D. Lapsley & D. Narvaez (Eds.), Morality, self and identity (pp. 65–82). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
- Avolio, B. J. (1999). Full leadership development: Building the vital forces in organizations. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
- Bandura, A. (1977). Social learning theory. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.Google Scholar
- Bandura, A. (1986). Social foundations of thought and action: A social cognitive theory. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.Google Scholar
- Bandura, A. (1991). Social cognitive theory of moral thought and action. In W. M. Kurtines & J. L. Gewirtz (Eds.), Handbook of moral behavior and development (pp. 45–59). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.Google Scholar
- Bandura, A., Ross, D., & Ross, S. A. (1963). A comparative test of the status envy, social power, and secondary reinforcement theories of identificatory learning. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 67, 527–534.Google Scholar
- Browne, M. W., & Cudeck, R. (1993). Alternative ways of assessing model fit. In K. A. Bollen & J. S. Long (Eds.), Testing structural equation models (pp. 136–162). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
- Clinard, M. B. (1983). Corporate ethics and crime: The role of middle management. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
- Eisenberg, N., & Fabes, R. A. (1998). Prosocial development. In W. Damon & N. Eisenberg (Eds.), Handbook of child psychology (5th ed., pp. 701–778). New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
- Gibson, D. E. (2006). Role Models. In J. H. Grennhaus & G. A. Callanan (Eds.), Encyclopedia of career development (pp. 701–703). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
- Hansen, S. D., Alge, B. J., Brown, M. E., Jackson, C. L., & Dunford, B. E. (2012). Ethical leadership: Assessing the value of a multifoci social exchange perspective. Journal of Business Ethics. doi: 10.1007/s10551-012-1408-1.
- Hoffman, M. L. (1980). Moral development in adolescence. In J. Adleson (Ed.), Handbook of adolescent psychology (pp. 295–343). New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
- Jones, J. M. (2011). Retrieved 4 Jan 2012, from http://www.gallup.com/poll/151460/Record-Rate-Honesty-Ethics-Members-Congress-Low.aspx.
- Joreskog, K. G., & Sorbom, D. (1993). LISREL ® 8: Structural equation modeling with SIMPLIS™ command language. Chicago: Scientific Software International.Google Scholar
- Kohlberg, L. (1969). State and sequence: The cognitive-development approach to socialization. In D. A. Goslin (Ed.), Handbook of socialization theory and research (pp. 347–480). Chicago: Rand McNally.Google Scholar
- Lickona, T. (1983). Raising good children. Toronto: Bantam Books.Google Scholar
- Manz, C. C., & Sims, H. P. (1981). Vicarious learning: The influence of modeling on organizational behavior. Academy of Management Review, 6(1), 105–113.Google Scholar
- Oliner, S. P., & Oliner, P. M. (1988). The altruistic personality: Rescuers of jew in nazi europe. New York: Free Press.Google Scholar
- Rest, J. R. (1986). Moral development: Advances in research and theory. New York: Praeger.Google Scholar
- Rosenhan, D. (1970). The natural socialization of altruistic autonomy. In J. Macaulay & L. Berkowtiz (Eds.), Altruism and helping behavior: Social psychological studies of some antecedents and consequences (pp. 251–268). New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
- Sizer, T. R., & Sizer, N. F. (1999). The students are watching. Boston: Beacon Press.Google Scholar
- Tepper, B. J. (2000). Consequences of abusive supervision. Academy of Management Journal, 43, 178–190.Google Scholar
- The Harris Poll. (2011). Retrieved 4 Jan 2012, from http://www.harrisinteractive.com/vault/HI-Harris-Harris-Poll-Confidence-Index-2011-05-18.pdf.
- Treviño, L. K. (1986). Ethical decision making in organizations: A person–situation interactionist model. The Academy of Management Review, 11(3), 601–617.Google Scholar
- Treviño, L. K. (1990). A cultural perspective on changing and developing organizational ethics. In R. Woodman & W. Passmore (Eds.), Research in organizational change and development (pp. 195–230). Greenwich, CT: JAI Press.Google Scholar
- Treviño, L. K., & Youngblood, S. A. (1990). Bad apples in bad barrels: A causal analysis of ethical decision-making behavior. Journal of Applied Psychology, 75(4), 378–385.Google Scholar
- Walumbwa, F. O., Mayer, D. M., Wang, P., Wang, H., Workman, K., & Christensen, A. L. (2011). Linking ethical leadership to employee performance: The roles of leader–member exchange, self-efficacy, and organizational identification. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 115(2), 204–213.CrossRefGoogle Scholar