Unearthing the Moral Emotive Compass: Exploring the Paths to (Un)Ethical Leadership: Exploring the paths to (un)ethical leadership

Stacey Sanders

Research output: ThesisThesis fully internal (DIV)

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Unethical and abusive supervision have been associated with substantial psychological and financial costs (e.g., Tepper, 2007). In contrast, ethical leadership is associated with favorable outcomes in the work place (e.g., Mayer, Kuenzi, Greenbaum, Bardes, & Salvador, 2009). However, our scientific understanding of drivers of leader (un)ethical behavior is constrained by an exclusive focus on more cognitive and rational determinants (e.g., moral reasoning). As people do not always act rationally and do not always seem to be guided by rational decision-making processes (e.g., Ariely, 2010), this dissertation aimed to shed light on the role of discrete emotions as predictors of (un)ethical leader behavior as well as employees’ supervisor-directed deviance. In a series of experimental and field studies, I found that authentically proud leaders show higher levels of ethical behavior than hubristically proud leaders, especially when their moral identity is salient. Second, I found that feelings of contempt diminish the negative link between moral identity and unethical leadership and that power increases the negative relationship between contempt and ethical leadership. Finally, I showed that faced with an abusive supervisor as compared with an ethical supervisor, employees experience less anticipated guilt about deviating against their supervisor, which, in turn, leads to higher levels of deviant behavior.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • University of Groningen
  • Wisse, Barbara, Supervisor
  • van Yperen, Nico, Supervisor
Award date22-Oct-2015
Place of Publication[Groningen]
Print ISBNs978-90-367-8156-5
Electronic ISBNs978-90-367-8155-8
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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