Indigenous Insights into Ethical Leadership: A Study of Māori Leaders

  • Jarrod Haar
  • Maree Roche
  • David BroughamEmail author
Original Paper


The need for ethical leadership in navigating today’s complex, global and competitive organisations has been established. While research has confirmed the importance of ethical leaders in promoting positive organisational and employee outcomes, scant research has examined the antecedents of ethical leadership. Furthermore, there has been a call for further examination of leadership models, particularly indigenous leadership models. Responding to these issues, this study suggests Māori leaders’ values add insights into enhancing ethical leadership. Three studies confirm the role of Māori values and ethical leadership. Study one, based on kaupapa Māori research methods, is an exploratory 22-interview study of Māori leaders and identifies five values, (humility, altruism, long-term orientation, collectivism and cultural authenticity) as common to successful indigenous leaders. In study two, 249 employees rate their leaders on these five dimensions in relation to their ethical leadership and exchange relationships. Structural equation modelling shows strong support for the distinct nature of the five values and their positive influence on ethical leadership perceptions and quality exchange relationships (LMX). Study three, on 122 employees, reinforces the findings of study two—and demonstrates that LMX predicts job outcomes both indirectly and directly, with humility and collectivism also directly predicting outcomes. Our findings suggest that indigenous leaders’ values enhance perceptions and outcomes of ethical leadership for employees.


Indigenous/Māori leadership Ethical leadership Mixed methods research 



Jarrod Haar has received a research grant for this paper (This study was funded by The Royal Society of New Zealand, Marsden Grant number X957).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

Jarrod Haar, Maree Roche and David Brougham declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of ManagementAuckland University of TechnologyAucklandNew Zealand
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyWaikato UniversityHamiltonNew Zealand
  3. 3.School of ManagementMassey UniversityPalmerston NorthNew Zealand

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