Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 126, Issue 3, pp 513–529 | Cite as

Does Moral Leadership Enhance Employee Creativity? Employee Identification with Leader and Leader–Member Exchange (LMX) in the Chinese Context

  • Qinxuan Gu
  • Thomas Li-Ping Tang
  • Wan Jiang


In this article, drawing from a relational perspective, we explore the relationship between moral leadership and employee creativity, treat employee identification with leader and leader–member exchange (LMX) as two mediators, and develop a new theoretical model of employee creativity. Our data collected from 160 supervisor–subordinate dyads in the People’s Republic of China demonstrate that moral leadership is positively related to both employee identification with leader and LMX. Further, employee identification with leader partially mediates the relationship between moral leadership and LMX. In particular, employee identification with leader greatly enhances LMX which leads to high creativity. Overall, the relationship between moral leadership and employee creativity is mediated by not only employee identification with leader but also LMX. Our findings offer a new theoretical framework for future theory development and testing on creativity as well as practical implications for researchers and managers in business ethics.


Paternalistic leadership Moral leadership Identification with leader Leader–member exchange (LMX) Relational process Confucianism Employee creativity 



We would like to thank the National Natural Science Foundation of China for a Grant awarded to the first author (Grant No. 71032003). The opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not represent views of the National Natural Science Foundation of China. We also would like to thank Anne S. Tsui for her insightful comments on the conceptual design of this research.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Management and Organization Department, Antai College of Economics & ManagementShanghai Jiao Tong UniversityShanghaiChina
  2. 2.Department of Management and Marketing, Jennings A. Jones College of BusinessMiddle Tennessee State UniversityMurfreesboroUSA

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