Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 126, Issue 3, pp 423–436 | Cite as

The Effect of Leadership Style, Framing, and Promotion Regulatory Focus on Unethical Pro-Organizational Behavior

  • Katrina A. GrahamEmail author
  • Jonathan C. Ziegert
  • Johnna Capitano


The goal of this paper is to examine the impact of leadership and promotion regulatory focus on employees’ willingness to engage in unethical pro-organizational behavior (UPB; Umphress and Bingham, J Appl. Psychol 95:769–780, 2011). Building from a person–situation interactionist perspective, we investigate the interaction of leadership style and how leaders frame messages, as well as test a three-way interaction with promotion focus. Using an experimental design, we found that inspirational and charismatic transformational leaders elicited higher levels of UPB than transactional leaders when the leaders used loss framing, but not gain framing. Furthermore, followers’ promotion regulatory focus moderated this relationship such that the effect held for followers with low promotion focus, but not for individuals with high promotion focus. Our findings extend the understanding of UPB, offer theoretical mechanisms to explain when this behavior occurs, and contribute to leadership theory and research on ethical decision making.


Framing Transactional leadership Transformational leadership Promotion regulatory focus Unethical pro-organizational behavior 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Katrina A. Graham
    • 1
    Email author
  • Jonathan C. Ziegert
    • 1
  • Johnna Capitano
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Management, LeBow College of BusinessDrexel UniversityPhiladelphiaUSA

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