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Ethical Leadership in Army Companies: Investigating the Impact of Climate Strength

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[Technical Report, Technical Report]

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Ethical behavior is recognized as a critical aspect of leadership performance in many public, private, and military organizations. Prior research has established that individual employees who see their leaders as more ethical enjoy a range of positive outcomes. However, there is a lack of evidence that these favorable effects also exist in aggregate at the group level. The current study explores whether workgroups led by individuals with higher levels of ethical leadership tend to perform more organizational citizenship behaviors and report higher average levels of affective commitment than their counterparts led by individuals with lower levels of ethical leadership. In addition, we examine whether or not the positive impact of collective perceptions of ethical leadership depends on the strength of a workgroups climate for ethical leadership. We used an archival data set that surveyed 1,358 U.S. Army Soldiers and Officers from 57 Army companies and statistically aggregated individuals responses to test the hypotheses at the company level. Ethical leadership climate level predicted group-level organizational citizenship behavior and affective commitment, but ethical leadership climate strength moderated these relationships. Our results add to the growing body of literature showing that the positive impacts of ethical leadership depend on contextual factors. Implications are particularly useful for understanding the boundary conditions of ethical leadership in a U.S. Army context but may also spark future research that considers the multilevel nature of ethical leadership across organizational contexts.

Subject Categories:

  • Psychology
  • Personnel Management and Labor Relations

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[A, Approved For Public Release]