Here’s our latest pick of interesting articles covering moral values in leadership.

How proximity affects moral reasoning
Wildermuth, De Mello e Souza and Kozitza report the results of an experiment designed to determine the effects of psychological proximity—proxied by awareness of pain (empathy) and friendship—on moral reasoning. Their study tests the hypotheses that a moral agent’s emphasis on justice decreases with proximity, while his/her emphasis on care increases. The study further examines how personality, gender, and managerial status affect the importance of care and justice in moral reasoning.

The authors find support for the main hypotheses. They also find that care should be split into two components, one related to protection (or compassion) and the other to the preservation of relationships. Although gender does not affect moral reasoning directly, they find that it does so indirectly via personality, controlling for age, professional status, and professional background.

The researchers do not find a significant effect of managerial status on ethics of justice, but do find that holding a managerial position has a negative impact on ethics of care. Regarding personality, they detect significant positive effects of conscientiousness on ethics of justice and of neuroticism on ethics of care.

Wildermuth, C., De Mello e Souza, C.A. & Kozitza, T. 2017. Circles of ethics: the impact of proximity on moral reasoning.
Journal of Business Ethics, 140(1), 17–42.


Servant leadership and the effect of the interaction between humility, action, and hierarchical power on follower engagement 
Servant leadership has been theorized as a model where the moral virtue of humility co-exists with action-driven behaviour. This article provides an empirical study that tests how these two apparently paradoxical aspects of servant leadership interact in generating follower engagement, while considering the hierarchical power of the leader as a contingency variable. Through a three-way moderation model, a study was conducted based on a sample of 232 people working in a diverse range of companies.

The first finding is that humble leaders showed the highest impact on follower engagement regardless of their hierarchical position. Less humble leaders in lower hierarchical positions seem to be able to compensate for that through a strong action-oriented leadership style. Most notably for leaders in high hierarchical positions, the moral virtue of humility seems to strengthen the impact of their action-oriented leadership the most. These findings provide empirical support and a better understanding of the interplay between the moral virtue of humility and the action-oriented behaviours of servant leadership.

Read the full article for free: Sousa, M. & van Dierendonck, D. 2017. Servant Leadership and the Effect of the Interaction Between Humility, Action, and Hierarchical Power on Follower Engagement.
Journal of Business Ethics, 141(1), 13–25. 


Ethical leadership and employee moral voice 
Despite the general expectation that ethical leadership fosters employees’ ethical behaviours, surprisingly little empirical effort has been made to verify this expected effect of ethical leadership. To address this research gap, Lee et al. examine the role of ethical leadership in relation to a direct ethical outcome of employees: moral voice. Focusing on how and when ethical leadership motivates employees to speak up about ethical issues, the authors propose that moral efficacy serves as a psychological mechanism underlying the relationship, and that leader–follower value congruence serves as a boundary condition for the effect of ethical leadership on moral efficacy.

They tested the proposed relationships with matched reports from 154 Korean white-collar employees and their immediate supervisors, collected at two different points in time. The results revealed that ethical leadership was positively related to moral voice, and moral efficacy mediated the relationship. Importantly, as the relationship between ethical leadership and moral efficacy depended on leader–follower value congruence, the mediated relationship was effective only under high leader–follower value congruence. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed.

Lee, D., Choi, Y., Youn, S. et al. 2017. Ethical Leadership and Employee Moral Voice: The Mediating Role of Moral Efficacy and the Moderating Role of Leader–Follower Value Congruence. 
Journal of Business Ethics, 141(1), 47–57.


Authentic leadership influences team performance via team reflexivity 
This study examines how authentic leadership influences team performance via the mediating mechanism of team reflexivity. Adopting a self-regulatory perspective, the authors propose that authentic leadership will predict the specific team regulatory process of reflexivity, which in turn will be associated with two outcomes of team performance, effectiveness and productivity.

Using survey data from 53 teams in three organisations in the United Kingdom and Greece and controlling for collective trust, Lyubovnikova et al.  found support for the stated hypotheses with results indicating a significant fully mediated relationship. As predicted the self-regulatory behaviours inherent in the process of authentic leadership served to collectively shape team behaviour, manifesting in the process of team reflexivity, which, in turn, positively predicted team performance.

The authors conclude with a discussion of how this study extends theoretical understanding of authentic leadership in relation to teamwork and delineate several practical implications for leaders and organisations.

Lyubovnikova, J., Legood, A., Turner, N. et al. 2017. How Authentic Leadership Influences Team Performance: The Mediating Role of Team Reflexivity. 
Journal of Business Ethics, 141(1), 59–70.


Mutual recognition respect between leaders and followers affects job performance and well-being 
There has been limited research investigating the effects of the recognition form of respect between leaders and their followers within the organisation literature. Clarke and Mahadi investigated whether mutual recognition respect was associated with follower job performance and well-being after controlling for measures of liking and appraisal respect.

Based on data collected from 203 matched leader–follower dyads in the Insurance industry in Malaysia, they found mutual recognition respect predicted both follower job performance and well-being. Significantly, appraisal respect was only found to be positively associated with job performance. These findings suggest mutual recognition respect is an important form of respect in workplace relationships that can bring benefits to both the individual and the organisation.

Clarke, N. & Mahadi, N. 2017. Mutual Recognition Respect Between Leaders and Followers: Its Relationship to Follower Job Performance and Well-Being. 
Journal of Business Ethics, 141(1), 163–178.


How do subordinates perceive pseudo-transformational leadership? 
Based on attribution theory, this research defines pseudo-transformational leadership to be driven by the interaction between transformational leadership and the subordinates’ perception of their supervisor’s manipulative intention. The researchers investigate the effects of pseudo-transformational leadership on contextual performance through organisational identification.

The results of hierarchical linear modelling using a sample of 214 subordinates reporting to 66 supervisors show that when subordinates perceive that their supervisor has a high level of manipulative intention, the impact of group-level transformational leadership on the subordinates will be reduced. More specifically, when subordinates perceive the manipulative intention of transformational leadership, they are less likely to identify with the organisation, which ultimately limits their willingness to demonstrate contextual performance activities. The implications of these findings for theory as well as managerial practice are discussed.

Lin, CS., Huang, PC., Chen, SJ. et al. 2017. Pseudo-transformational Leadership is in the Eyes of the Subordinates.
Journal of Business Ethics, 141(1), 179–190.