Employee Entitlement, Engagement, and Performance: The Moderating Effect of Ethical Leadership

  • Toby JoplinEmail author
  • Rebecca L. Greenbaum
  • J. Craig Wallace
  • Bryan D. Edwards
Original Paper


Drawing on theoretical arguments from the psychology discipline, we investigate the implications of employee entitlement in organizational settings. Specifically, we utilize workplace engagement theory to suggest that due to their skewed sense of deservingness, employees high in entitlement are less likely to experience workplace engagement. Furthermore, the negative relationship between employee entitlement and workplace engagement is strengthened when ethical leadership is low, yet mitigated when ethical leadership is high. Finally, we predict that under conditions of low ethical leadership, reductions in engagement explain why employee entitlement results in hindered job performance. This mediated effect does not hold when ethical leadership is high. We tested our theoretical model utilizing field data from employees and their direct supervisors in the financial services industry (N = 243). Our results support our theoretical model. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed.


Employee engagement Employee entitlement Ethical leadership Job performance Workplace engagement theory 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

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 Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.CCK Strategies, PLLCTulsaUSA
  2. 2.School of Management and Labor RelationsRutgers UniversityNew BrunswickUSA
  3. 3.College of BusinessClemson UniversityClemsonUSA
  4. 4.Spears School of BusinessOklahoma State UniversityStillwaterUSA

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