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

Yijing Lyu, Long Zeng Wu*, Yijiao Ye, Ho Kwong Kwan, Yuanyi Chen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)483–498
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Business Ethics
Issue number3
Early online date8 Aug 2022
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2023

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Business, Management and Accounting(all)
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Law

User-Defined Keywords

  • Exploitative leadership
  • Hostile attribution bias
  • Interpersonal deviance
  • Moral justification
  • Organizational deviance


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