Ethical Leadership Antecedents Review: Call for More Research Contextualization & Proposition of Conceptual Framework
Ethical leadership has been investigated as a standalone area because of scholars’ notable focus on ethical leaders’ behaviors instead of examining other leadership styles’ (e.g., transformational, transactional, charismatic leadership) ethical dimensions. The present article reviews ethical leadership literature focusing on variables driving its emergence. The area with most hanging fruits is the role of individual traits (e.g., personality traits, Kalshoven et al. 2011; and moral identity, Mayer et al. 2012) in shaping ethical leadership. However, still little is known about context’s contribution in understanding leaders’ important ethicality. To address this gap, based on Johns (2006) context framework, we have recognized and classified existing antecedents from a context stand, and analyzed their effect on ethical leaders’ emergence. Yet, the empirical research body exploring contextual variables is focused on specific areas and is not systematic. At discrete context level, organization’s characteristics (e.g., ethical climate, organizational justice) and social network have important credits in forming ethical leadership with a deficient focus on omnibus contextual variables. Our review raises calls for considering three main avenues. Firstly, we encourage more research about omnibus contextual factors specifically “when” and “who” to make the story telling about ethical leadership predictors more comprehensive. Secondly, since they are nested within the omnibus context, discrete contextual factors might be considered for their possible moderating effect on the investigated relationship. Thirdly, as contexts are dynamic, interactionist approach between omnibuses and discrete contextual variables can offer meaningful discussions about ethical leadership. A framework (figure 2) is proposed enclosing individual traits and contextual factors impacting ethical leadership.
JEL Classification: D23, O15
Paper Type: Theoretical Research
Copyright (c) 2021 Laila Frija, Redouane Barzi
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