Managerial ethical leadership, ethical climate and employee ethical behavior: does moral attentiveness matter?

Ethics and Behavior 31 (8):604-627 (2021)
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Abstract

ABSTRACT Ethical leaders can influence followers’ ethical behaviors by establishing an ethical climate. However, followers’ responses to an ethical climate may also differ according to the amount of attention they devote to moral questions. This study analyzes whether moral attentiveness augments the positive effect of an ethical climate on employees’ ethical behaviors, as well as the indirect effect of ethical leadership on employee ethical behavior through an ethical climate. Data from 270 employees in the Malaysian manufacturing industry indicate that the positive impact of an ethical climate on ethical behavior is greater among employees who exhibit high rather than low moral attentiveness; this moderating role also applies to the relationship between ethical leadership and employee ethical behavior through the ethical climate. This study thus sheds new light on the notable role of moral attentiveness in ensuring that ethical leadership and ethical climate enhance ethical behavior in the workplace.

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