Rebellion Under Exploitation: How and When Exploitative Leadership Evokes Employees’ Workplace Deviance

Journal of Business Ethics 185 (3):483-498 (2023)
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Drawing on the perspective of causal reasoning and the social cognitive theory of moral thought and action, this study explores the mechanisms underlying the association between exposure to exploitative leadership and employee workplace deviance. The results of a time-lagged survey conducted in China reveal that exposure to exploitative leadership can evoke a moral justification process that leads to increased employee organizational and interpersonal deviance. A tendency toward hostile attribution bias reinforces the direct link between exploitative leadership and moral justification and the indirect effects of exploitative leadership on employee organizational and interpersonal deviance, via moral justification. The theoretical and practical implications of this study are discussed and potential directions for future studies are proposed.



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