Impact of relational leadership on employees’ unethical pro-organizational behavior: A survey based on tourism companies in four countries

Autoři: Xianchun Zhang aff001;  Zhu Yao aff003
Působiště autorů: ASEAN Tourism Research Center of China Tourism Academy, Guilin Tourism University, Guilin, Guangxi, China aff001;  Sino-Indonesia Tourism Academy, Trisakti School of Tourism, Jakarta, Indonesia aff002;  School of Economics and Management, Tongji University, Shanghai, China aff003
Vyšlo v časopise: PLoS ONE 14(12)
Kategorie: Research Article
doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0225706


Based on the theory of social construction and self-consistency, this study aims to investigate the mechanism of relational leadership’s role in employees’ unethical pro-organizational behavior (UPB) from the perspective of moral identity and ethical climate. We found that relational leadership negatively correlates with the instrumental ethical climate, positively correlates with caring ethical climate, and exerts no significant impact on the rule ethical climate. Instrumental ethical climate and caring ethical climate mediate the relationship between relational leadership and employees’ unethical pro-organizational behavior. In addition, moral identity negatively moderates the relationship between instrumental ethical climate and employees’ unethical pro-organizational behavior, and between caring ethical climate and employees’ unethical pro-organizational behavior. Furthermore, moral identity positively moderates the relationship between a rule ethical climate and employees’ unethical, pro-organizational behavior.

Klíčová slova:

Behavior – Cognition – Consciousness – Employment – Industrial organization – Learning – Questionnaires – Social theory


1. Palmer D. Extending the process model of collective corruption. Research in Organizational Behavior. 2008; 28(4): 107–135.

2. Trevino LK, den Nieuwenboer NA, Kishgephart JJ. (Un)ethical behavior in organizations. Annual Review of Psychology. 2014; 65(1): 635–660.

3. Umphress EE, Bingham JB, Mitchell MS. Unethical behavior in the name of the company: the moderating effect of organizational identification and positive reciprocity beliefs on unethical pro-organizational behavior. Journal of Applied Psychology. 2010; 95(4): 769–780. doi: 10.1037/a0019214 20604596

4. Robertson CB. Organizational management of conflicting professional identities. Case Western Reserve Journal of International Law. 2011; 43(3): 603–623.

5. Chen M, Chen CC, Sheldon OJ. Relaxing moral reasoning to win: how organizational identification relates to unethical pro-organizational behavior. Journal of Applied Psychology. 2016; 101(8): 1082–1096. doi: 10.1037/apl0000111 27100068

6. Umphress EE, Bingham JB. When employees do bad things for good reasons: examining unethical pro-organizational behaviors. Organization Science. 2011; 22(3): 621–640.

7. Effelsberg D, Solga M, Gurt J. Transformational leadership and follower’s unethical behavior for the benefit of the company: a two-study investigation. Journal of Business Ethics. 2014; 120(1): 81–93.

8. Graham KA, Ziegert JC, Capitano J. The effect of leadership style, framing, and promotion regulatory focus on unethical pro-organizational behavior. Journal of Business Ethics. 2015; 126(3): 423–436.

9. Kalshoven K, Dijk HV, Boon C. Why and when does ethical leadership evoke unethical follower behavior. Academy of Management Annual Meeting Proceedings. 2016; 2013(1): 13515–13515.

10. Nicholson J, Kurucz E. Relational leadership for sustainability: building an ethical framework from the moral theory of ‘ethics of care’. Journal of Business Ethics. 2019; 156(1): 25–43.

11. Branson CM, Marra M. Leadership as a relational phenomenon: what this means in practice. Research in Educational Administration & Leadership. 2019; 4(1): 81–108.

12. Eriksen M, Cunliffe A. Response to Jeffrey McClellan, relational leadership. Complicity an International Journal of Complexity & Education. 2010; 7(2): 97–100.

13. Henry E, Wolfgramm R. Relational leadership—an indigenous Mori perspective. Leadership. 2018; 14(2): 203–219.

14. Carifio JB. The development and validation of a measure of relational leadership. Correlation, 2002; 38.

15. Akram T, Shen L, Hussain ST, Haider MJ, Akram MW. Does relational leadership generate organizational social capital? a case of exploring the effect of relational leadership on organizational social capital in China. Future Business Journal. 2016; 2(2): 116–126.

16. Kurucz EC, Colbert BA, Lüdeke-Freund F, Upward A, Willard B. Relational leadership for strategic sustainability: practices and capabilities to advance the design and assessment of sustainable business models. Journal of Cleaner Production. 2017; 140: 189–204.

17. DeLysa B. Other voices/other rooms: towards a care-centered public administration. Administrative Theory & Praxis. 2003; 25(4): 529–544.

18. Cunliffe AL, Eriksen M. Relational leadership. School Administrator. 2011; 58(11): 1425–1449.

19. Tian Q, Peterson DK. The effects of ethical pressure and power distance orientation on unethical pro-organizational behavior: the case of earnings management. Business Ethics: A European Review. 2016; 25(2):159–171.

20. Kong DT. The pathway to unethical pro-organizational behavior: organizational identification as a joint function of work passion and trait mindfulness. Personality and Individual Differences. 2016; 93: 86–91.

21. Van Dijke M, De Cremer D, Mayer DM, Van Quaquebeke N. When does procedural fairness increase organizational citizenship behavior? integrating empowering leadership types in relational justice models. Organizational Behavior & Human Decision Processes. 2012; 117(2): 235–248.

22. Sharma PN, Kirkman BL. Leveraging leaders: a literature review and future lines of inquiry for empowering leadership research. Group & Organization Management an International Journal. 2015; 40(2): 193–237.

23. Anderson C, Galinsky AD. Power, optimism, and risk-taking. European Journal of Social Psychology. 2010; 36(4): 511–536.

24. Fulop L, Mark A. Relational leadership, decision-making and the messiness of context in healthcare. Leadership. 2013; 9(2): 254–277.

25. Zhang X, Zhou J. Empowering leadership, uncertainty avoidance, trust, and employee creativity: interaction effects and a mediating mechanism. Organizational Behavior & Human Decision Processes. 2014; 124(2): 150–164.

26. Thamhain HJ. Managing innovative R&D teams. R & D Management. 2010; 33(3): 297–311.

27. Deshpande SP. Ethical climate and the link between success and ethical behavior: an empirical investigation of a non-profit organization. Journal of Business Ethics. 1996; 15(3): 315–320.

28. Lu CS, Kuo SY, Chiu YT. Ethical leadership and ethical climate in the container shipping industry. International Journal of Shipping and Transport Logistics. 2013; 5(6): 591–604.

29. Martin KD, Cullen JB. Continuities and extensions of ethical climate theory: a meta-analytic review. Journal of Business Ethics. 2006; 69(2): 175–194.

30. Victor B, Cullen JB. The organizational bases of ethical work climates. Administrative Science Quarterly. 1988; 33(1): 101–125.

31. Victor B, Cullen JB. A theory and measure of ethical climate in organizations. Research in Corporate Social Performance and Policy. 1987; 9(1): 51–71.

32. Na Z, Jian Z. Chinese insurance agents in “bad barrels”: a multilevel analysis of the relationship between ethical leadership, ethical climate and business ethical sensitivity. Springerplus. 2016; 5(1): 2078. doi: 10.1186/s40064-016-3764-2 28018786

33. Vardaman JM, Gondo MB, Allen DG. Ethical climate and pro-social rule breaking in the workplace. Human Resource Management Review. 2014; 24(1): 108–118.

34. Cullen JB, Parboteeah KP, Victor B. The effects of ethical climates on organizational commitment: a two-study analysis. Journal of Business Ethics. 2003; 46(2): 127–141.

35. Kang DS, Stewart J, Kim H. The effects of perceived external prestige, ethical organizational climate, and leader-member exchange (LMX) quality on employees’ commitments and their subsequent attitudes. Personnel Review. 2011; 40(6): 761–784.

36. Aquino K, Nd RA. The self-importance of moral identity. Journal of Personality & Social Psychology. 2002; 83(6): 1423–1440.

37. Blasi A. Bridging moral cognition and moral action: a critical review of the literature. Psychological Bulletin. 1980; 88(88): 1–45.

38. Hardy SA, Carlo G. Moral identity: what is it, how does it develop, and is it linked to moral action?. Child Development Perspectives. 2011; 5(3): 212–218.

39. Hardy SA, Walker LJ, Rackham DD, Olsen JA. Religiosity and adolescent empathy and aggression: the mediating role of moral identity. Psychology of Religion & Spirituality. 2012; 4(3): 237–248.

40. He HW, Harris L. Moral disengagement of hotel guest negative WOM: moral identity centrality, moral awareness, and anger. Annals of Tourism Research. 2014; 45(1): 132–151.

41. Shu X. Contagion effect of unethical pro-organizational behavior among members within organization. Metallurgical & Mining Industry. 2015; 7(5): 235–242.

42. Mulder LB, Aquino K. The role of moral identity in the aftermath of dishonesty. Organizational Behavior & Human Decision Processes. 2013; 121(2): 219–230.

43. Birtch TA, Chiang FFT. The influence of business school’s ethical climate on students’ unethical behavior. Journal of Business Ethics. 2014; 123(2): 283–294.

44. Cheng MY, Wang L. The mediating effect of ethical climate on the relationship between paternalistic leadership and team identification: a team-level analysis in the Chinese context. Journal of Business Ethics. 2015; 129(3): 639–654.

45. Gerpott FH, Van Quaquebeke N, Schlamp S, Voelpel SC. An identity perspective on ethical leadership to explain organizational citizenship behavior: the interplay of follower moral identity and leader group prototypicality. Journal of Business Ethics. 2019; 156(4): 1063–1078.

46. Zhou LL, Liu Y, Chen ZH, Zhao SM. Psychological mechanisms linking ethical climate to employee whistle-blowing intention. Journal of Managerial Psychology. 2018; 33(2): 196–213.

47. Matherne CF, Ring JK, Farmer S. Organizational moral identity centrality: Relationships with citizenship behaviors and unethical prosocial behaviors. Journal of Business and Psychology. 2018; 33(6): 711–726.

48. Matherne ICF, Litchfield SR. Investigating the relationship between affective commitment and unethical pro-organizational behaviors: the role of moral identity. Journal of Leadership Accountability & Ethics. 2012; 9(5): 35–46.

49. Podsakoff PM, MacKenzie SB, Lee JY, Podsakoff NP. Common method biases in behavioral research: A critical review of the literature and recommended remedies. Journal of Applied Psychology. 2003; 88(5): 879–903. doi: 10.1037/0021-9010.88.5.879 14516251

50. Koehn D. Reframing economic ethics: The philosophical foundations of humanistic management. Business Ethics Quarterly. 2017; 27(3): 459–462.

51. Thau S, Derflerrozin R, Pitesa M, Mitchell MS, Pillutla MM. Unethical for the sake of the group: risk of social exclusion and pro-group unethical behavior. Journal of Applied Psychology. 2015; 100(1): 98–113. doi: 10.1037/a0036708 24773402

52. Aryati AS, Sudiro A, Hadiwidjaja D, et al. The influence of ethical leadership to deviant workplace behavior mediated by ethical climate and organizational commitment. International Journal of Law and Management. 2018; 60(2): 233–249.

53. Yurtkoru ES, Ensari Sebnem, ErdilekKarabay M. To what extent trust in leader and ethical climate affect turnover intention? A research on private and public bank employees. International Journal of Organizational Leadership. 2018; 7(1): 12–26.

54. Dierdorff EC, Bell ST, Belohlav JA. The power of “we”: effects of psychological collectivism on team performance over time. Journal of applied psychology. 2011; 96(2): 247–262. doi: 10.1037/a0020929 20919792

55. Eisenberger R, Karagonlar G, Stinglhamber F, Neves P, Becker TE, Gonzalezmorales MG, et al. Leader-member exchange and effective organizational commitment: the contribution of supervisor’s organizational embodiment. Journal of Applied Psychology. 2010; 95(6): 1085–1103. doi: 10.1037/a0020858 20718516

Článek vyšel v časopise


2019 Číslo 12