The Impact of Authoritarian Leadership on Ethical Voice: A Moderated Mediation Model of Felt Uncertainty and Leader Benevolence

Yuyan Zheng*, Les Graham, Jiing Lih Farh, Xu Huang

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

    51 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    In a sample of 522 police officers and staff in an English police force, we investigated the role of authoritarian leadership in reducing the levels of employee ethical voice (i.e., employees discussing and speaking out opinions against unethical issues in the workplace). Drawing upon uncertainty management theory, we found that authoritarian leadership was negatively related to employee ethical voice through increased levels of felt uncertainty, when the effects of a motivational-based mechanism suggested by previous studies were controlled. In addition, we found that the negative relationship between authoritarian leadership and employee ethical voice via felt uncertainty is mitigated by higher levels of benevolent leadership. That is, when authoritarian leaders simultaneously exhibit benevolence, they are less likely to cause feelings of uncertainty in their followers who are then more likely to speak up about unethical issues. We discuss theoretical and practical implications of the findings.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)133-146
    Number of pages14
    JournalJournal of Business Ethics
    Volume170
    Issue number1
    Early online date9 Aug 2019
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Apr 2021

    Scopus Subject Areas

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

    User-Defined Keywords

    • Authoritarian leadership
    • Ethical voice
    • Felt uncertainty

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