Skip to main content

Ethical Stewardship – Implications for Leadership and Trust

Abstract

Great leaders are ethical stewards who generate high levels of commitment from followers. In this paper, we propose that perceptions about the trustworthiness of leader behaviors enable those leaders to be perceived as ethical stewards. We define ethical stewardship as the honoring of duties owed to employees, stakeholders, and society in the pursuit of long-term wealth creation. Our model of relationship between leadership behaviors, perceptions of trustworthiness, and the nature of ethical stewardship reinforces the importance of ethical governance in dealing with employees and in creating organizational systems that are congruent with espoused organizational values.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

References

  • Adams S.: 2005, Thriving on Vague Objectives. (McMeels Publishing, New York)

    Google Scholar 

  • Barney J. B.: 1991, Firm Resources and Sustained Competitive Advantage. Journal of Management 17, 99–120

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Barney J. B., M. H. Hansen: 1994, Trustworthiness as a Source of Competitive Advantage. Strategic Management Journal 15, 175–190

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Barnard C. I. 1938, The Functions of the Executive. The Harvard Press, Cambridge, MA

    Google Scholar 

  • Barney, J. and W. Hesterley: 1996, ‹Organizational Economics: Understanding the Relationship between Organizations and Economic Analysis’, In: Clegg S. R., Hardy C. and Nord W. R. (Eds) Handbook of Organization Studies, (Sage, London), pp. 115–147

  • Barry M.: 2006, Company. (Doubleday, New York)

    Google Scholar 

  • Bass B. M. 1990 From Transactional to Transformational Leadership: Learning to Share the Vision, Organizational Dynamics 19(3):19–31

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Bass B. M. 1995 Theory of Transformational Leadership Redux. Leadership Quarterly 6(4):463–478

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Bews N. F., Rossouw G. J. 2002 A Role for Business Ethics in Facilitating Trustworthiness, Journal of Business Ethics 39:377–390

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Block P.: 1996, Stewardship: Choosing Service Over Self-interest. (Berrett-Koehler Publishers, San Francisco)

    Google Scholar 

  • Burke P. J.: 1997, An Identity Model for Network Exchange, American Sociological Review 62(1), 134–150

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Caldwell C., S. J. Bischoff, R. Karri: 2002, The Four Umpires: A Paradigm for Ethical Leadership, Journal of Business Ethics 36(1/2), 153–163

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Caldwell C., S. Clapham: 2003, Organizational Trustworthiness: An International Perspective, Journal of Business Ethics 47(4), 349–364

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Caldwell, C. and M. Hansen: 2005. “Trustworthiness, Governance, and Wealth Creation.” Paper presented at the Academy of Management Conference in Hawai’i on August 8

  • Caldwell C., R. J. Karri: 2005, Organizational Governance and Ethical Choices: A Covenantal Approach to Building Trust, Journal of Business Ethics 58(1), 249–259

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Caldwell, C., R. Karri, P. Vollmars: (2006). “Principal Theory and Principle Theory: Ethical Governance from the Followers’ Perspective.’ Journal of Business Ethics, 66, 207–223

    Google Scholar 

  • Callahan D.: 2004, The Cheating Culture: Why More Americans are Doing Wrong to Get Ahead. (Harcourt, Inc, Orlando, FL)

    Google Scholar 

  • Cameron K.: 2003, Ethics, Virtuousness, and Constant Change, in N. M. Tichy, A. R. McGill (eds.), The Ethical Challenge: How to Lead with Unyielding Integrity (Jossey-Bass, San Francisco, CA), pp. 185–194

    Google Scholar 

  • Cameron K. S., J. E. Dutton, R. E. Quinn: 2003, Positive Organizational Scholarship: Foundations of a New Discipline, Future Survey 25(12), 23–34

    Google Scholar 

  • Canella A. A., Monroe J. M. 1997 Contrasting Perspectives on Strategic Leaders: Toward a More Realistic View of Top Managers, Journal of Management 23(3):213–237

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Carroll A. B. 1996 Business and Society : Ethics and Stakeholder Management. South-Western College Publishing, Cincinnati, OH

    Google Scholar 

  • Chemers M. M. 1997, An Integrative Theory of Leadership. Lawrence Erlbaum Assoc, Mahwah, NJ

    Google Scholar 

  • Collins J. C.: 2001, Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap ... and Others Don’t. (Harper Business, New York)

    Google Scholar 

  • Collins J. C., J. I. Porras: 1994, Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies. (Harper Business, New York)

    Google Scholar 

  • Cooper R. K., A. Sawaf: 1997, Executive EQ: Emotional Intelligence in Leadership and Organizations. (The Berkley Publishing Group, New York)

    Google Scholar 

  • Covey S. R. 2004 The 8th Habit: From Effectiveness to Greatness. Free Press, New York

    Google Scholar 

  • Creed W. E. D., R. E. Miles: 1996, Trust in Organizations: A Conceptual Framework Linking Organizational Forms, Managerial Philosophies, and the Opportunity Costs of Controls, in R. M. Kramer, T. R. Tyler, (eds.) Trust in Organizations: Frontiers of Theory and Research, (Sage, Thousand Oaks, CA), pp. 16–38

    Google Scholar 

  • Davis J. H., F. D. Schoorman, L. Donaldson: 1997, Toward a Stewardship Theory of Management, Academy of Management Review 22(1), 20–47

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • De Pree M.: 1989, Leadership is an Art. (Dell, New York)

    Google Scholar 

  • Dulany D. E.: 1967, Awareness, Rules, and Propositional Control: A Confrontation with S-R Behavior. In D. Horton, T. Dixon, (eds.) Verbal Behavior and General Behavior Theory. (Prentice-Hall, New York), pp. 340–387

    Google Scholar 

  • Evans P. B. 1975, Multiple Hierarchies and Organizational Control. Administrative Science Quarterly 20:250–259

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Galford R., A. S. Drapeau: 2003a, The Enemies of Trust, Harvard Business Review 81(2), 12–13

    Google Scholar 

  • Galford R., A. S. Drapeau: 2003b, The Trusted Leader – Bringing Out the Best in Your People and Your Company. (The Free Press, New York)

    Google Scholar 

  • Greer C.: 2000, Strategic Human Resource Management: A General Managerial Approach (2nd edition). (Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River, NJ)

    Google Scholar 

  • Heinen J. S., C. O’Neill: 2004, Managing Talent to Maximize Performance, Employee Relations Today 31(2), 67

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Hogan L. M.: 2005, TEAMing for Strategic Learning and Performance Improvement, Performance Improvement 44(7), 8–14

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Hosmer L. T. 1996 The Ethics of Management. Irwin, Chicago

    Google Scholar 

  • Jensen M. C., Meckling W. H. 1976 Theory of the Firm: Managerial Behavior, Agency Costs, and Ownership Structure. Journal of Financial Economics 3:305–360

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Jones G. R., George J. M. 1998 The Experience and Evolution of Trust: Implications for Cooperation and Teamwork. Academy of Management Review 23(3):531–546

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Kolp A., P. Rea: 2006, Leading with Integrity: Character-Based Leadership. (Atomic Dog Publishing, Cincinatti, OH)

    Google Scholar 

  • Kouzes J. M., Posner B. Z. 2003 Credibility: How Leaders Gain and Lose It, and Why People Demand It. Jossey-Bass, San Francisco

    Google Scholar 

  • Lewicki R. J., Stevenson M. A. 1997: Trust Development in Negotiation: Proposed Actions and a Research Agenda. Business and Professional Ethics Journal 16(1--3):99–132

    Google Scholar 

  • Lussier R. N., C. F. Achua: 2004, Leadership: Theory, Application, Skill Development. (South-Western Publishing, Eagan, MN)

    Google Scholar 

  • Manville B., J. Ober: 2003, A Company of Citizens: What the World’s First Democracy Teaches Leaders about Creating Great Organizations. (Harvard Business School Press, Cambridge, MA)

    Google Scholar 

  • McAllister D. J.: 1995, Affect- and Cognition-Based Trust as Foundations for Interpersonal Cooperation in Organizations, Academy of Management Journal 38(1), 24–59

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • McClusky J. E. 2002 Rethinking Non-Profit Organization Governance: Implications for Management and Leadership. International Journal of Public Administration 25(4):539–559

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Mayer R. C., J. H. Davis, and F. D. Schoorman: 1995, ‚An Integration Model of Organizational Trust’, Academy of Management Review, 709–729

  • Mayer R. C., M. B. Gavin: 2005, Trust in Management and Performance: Who Minds the Shop while the Employees Watch the Boss? Academy of Management Journal 48(5), 874–888

    Google Scholar 

  • Mintzberg H.: 2004, Managers Not MBAs. (Berrett-Koehler, San Francisco, CA)

    Google Scholar 

  • Mintzberg H.: 1973, The Nature of Managerial Work. (Harper & Row, New York)

    Google Scholar 

  • Mishra A. K. (1996) Organizational Responses to Crisis: The Centrality of Trust. In: Kramer R. M., Tyler T. R. (Eds) Trust in Organizations: Frontiers of Theory and Research. Sage, Thousand Oaks, CA, pp. 261–287

    Google Scholar 

  • Paine L. S.: 2003, Value Shift: Why Companies Must Shift Social and Financial Imperatives to Achieve Superior Performance. (McGraw-Hill, New York)

    Google Scholar 

  • Pava M.: 2003, Leading with Meaning: Using Covenantal Leadership to Build a Better Organization. (Palgrave MacMillan, New York)

    Google Scholar 

  • Pfeffer J.: 2005, Producing Sustainable Competitive Advantage Through the Effective Management of People, Academy of Management Executive 19(4), 95–108

    Google Scholar 

  • Pfeffer J.: 1998, The Human Equation: Building Profits by ‚Putting People First. (Harvard Business School Press, Boston, MA)

    Google Scholar 

  • Pierce J. L., Gardner D. G. 2002 Management and Organizational Behavior: An Integrated Perspective. South Western, Versailles, KY

    Google Scholar 

  • Primeaux P., Karri R., Caldwell C. 2003 Cultural Insights to Organizational Justice – A Theoretical Perspective through a Subjective Lens. Journal of Business Ethics 46(2):187–199

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Reed R., R. J. DeFillippi: 1990, Causal Ambiguity, Barriers to Imitation, and Sustainable Competitive Advantage, Academy of Management Review 15(1), 88–102

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Rousseau D. M.: 2003, Extending the Psychology of the Psychological Contract: A Reply to ‚Putting the Psychology Back into Psychological Contracts, Journal of Management Inquiry 12(3), 229–238

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Rousseau D. M.: 1995, Psychological Contracts in Organizations – Understanding Written and Unwritten Agreements. (Sage Publications, Thousand Oaks, CA)

    Google Scholar 

  • Rowe W. 2001 Creating Wealth in Organizations: The Role of Strategic Leadership. Academy of Management Executive 15(1):81–94

    Google Scholar 

  • Sankar Y.: 2003, Character Not Charisma is the Critical Measure of Leadership Excellence”, Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies 9(4), 45–54

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Schein E. H. 2004 Organizational Culture and Leadership, 3rd edition. Jossey-Bass, San Francisco

    Google Scholar 

  • Senge P. M.: 1990, The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization. (Doubleday, New York)

    Google Scholar 

  • Shaw R. B.: 1997, Trust in the Balance: Building Successful Organizations on Results, Integrity, and Concern. (Jossey-Bass, San Francisco, CA)

    Google Scholar 

  • Simon H. A.1997 Administrative Behaviour, 4th edition. Simon & Schuster, New York

    Google Scholar 

  • Solomon R. C.: 1992 Ethics and Excellence: Cooperation and Integrity in Business. (Oxford University Press, New York)

    Google Scholar 

  • Solomon R. C., Flores F. 2001 Building Trust in Business, Politics, Relationships, and Life. Oxford University Press, New York

    Google Scholar 

  • Steensma H. K., K. G. Corley: 2001, Organizational Context as a Moderator of Theories on Firm Boundaries for Technology Sourcing, Academy of Management Journal 44(2), 271–291

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Steinberg R. M., Pojunis D. 2000 Corporate Governance: The New Frontier. Internal Auditor 57(6):34–39

    Google Scholar 

  • Suazo M. M., W. H. Turnley, R. R. Mai-Dalton: 2005, The Role of Perceived Violation in Determining Employees’ Reaction to Psychological Contract Breach, Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies 12(1), 24–36

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Thomsen S.: 2005, Corporate Governance as a Determinant of Corporate Values, Corporate Governance 5(4), 10–27

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Turnley W. H., M. C. Bolino, S. W. Lester, J. M. Bloodgood: 2003, The Impact of Psychological Contract Fulfillment on the Performance of In-role and Organizational Citizenship Behaviors, Journal of Management 29, 187–212

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Vroom V. H.: 1964, Work and Motivation. (R. E. Krieger Publishing Company, Malabar, FL)

    Google Scholar 

  • Westley F., H. Mintzberg: 1989, Visionary Leadership and Strategic Management, Strategic Management Journal 10, 17–32

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Cam Caldwell.

Additional information

Cam Caldwell is Assistant Professor of Management in the School of Business at Weber State University. His research is primarily in the areas of organizational governance, ethical leadership and trust. He received his Ph.D from Washington State University where he was Thomas S. Foley Graduate Fellow. He has worked as a City manager, Human Resource Director, and Management Consultants for 30 years.

Linda A. Hayes is Assistant Professor and Director of Program Assessment in the School of Business Administration of the University of Houston – Victoria. She received a B.S.M.E. from Clarkson University, an M.B.A from the University of Houston, and a Ph.D from University of California at Berkeley. Dr. Hayes has 15 years of industry experience. Her research interests include decision-making, stakeholder behavior, business strategy. Dr. Hayes was a 1996 NASA Faculty Fellow. Recently, she has published in the Journal of Management Development, Journal of International Marketing, Business Horizons and International Journal of Mobile Communications.

Ranjan Karri is an Associate Professor of Management at the University of Illinois at Springfield. He received his Ph.D from Washington State University. His research interests are in the areas of entrepreneurship, ethics and strategy.

Patricia Martinez is a cum laude graduate of the University of Houston – Victoria School of Business and works for the Learning Education Achieve Dreams program at that University to help young people in the Victoria, Texas Community set and achieve personal and educational goals.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Caldwell, C., Hayes, L.A., Bernal, P. et al. Ethical Stewardship – Implications for Leadership and Trust. J Bus Ethics 78, 153–164 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10551-006-9320-1

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10551-006-9320-1

Keywords

  • stewardship
  • leadership
  • trust
  • ethics