Journal of Business Ethics 170 (3):615-634 (2021)

The concept of _feeling trusted_, which has received far less attention from researchers than _trusting_, refers to the trustee’s awareness of trustor’s exposed vulnerability and positive expectations. Previous research has merely centered on employees’ feeling of being trusted by their leaders and its influences on their work-related outcomes, but there is little work about the impact of leader feeling trusted by employees. Grounded in social exchange theory and moral licensing theory, the current research centers on explaining why leaders’ sense of being trusted by employees brings about both positive and negative reactions and considering how leaders’ moral identity moderates these effects. One qualitative study and two quantitative studies were conducted to examine the benefits and drawbacks of leader feeling trusted. Results demonstrated that leader feeling trusted has two main consequences: trusted leaders are more likely to have strong feelings of obligation toward their subordinates, and further engage in benevolent leadership behavior to repay the kindness; and leaders’ sense of being trusted may be conducive to the accumulation of moral credits, thereby stimulating leaders to display laissez-faire leadership behavior. Additionally, our findings indicate that the leader’s moral identity would affect the decisions of the trusted leader to behave better or worse, which promotes benevolent leadership behavior through enhanced felt obligation, and lessens laissez-faire leadership behavior via reduced moral credits.
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DOI 10.1007/s10551-019-04390-7
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Trust and Power.Niklas Luhmann - 1982 - Studies in Soviet Thought 23 (3):266-270.

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