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

Abstract

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.

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Joplin, T., Greenbaum, R.L., Wallace, J.C. et al. Employee Entitlement, Engagement, and Performance: The Moderating Effect of Ethical Leadership. J Bus Ethics (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10551-019-04246-0

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Keywords

  • Employee engagement
  • Employee entitlement
  • Ethical leadership
  • Job performance
  • Workplace engagement theory