Publication: Journal of Applied Psychology (DEC 2010)
Article: Fostering good citizenship through ethical leadership: Exploring the moderating role of gender and organizational politics.
Authors: Michele Kacmar, Daniel Bachrach, Kenneth Harris, and Suzanne Zivnuska
Reviewed By: Bobby Bullock
Kacmar, Bachrach, Harris, and Zivnuska (2010) sought to expand on ethical leadership research by examining its relationship with organizational citizenship behavior. First, they examined the direct relationship between ethical leadership (honest, fair, and transparent leadership) and organizational citizenship behavior (OCB- prosocial behavior at work such as helping fellow employees with difficult tasks). The results of their blanket study indicated that the presence of ethical leadership in an organization led to higher rates of OCB. This showed that when employees feel indebted to ethical leaders, they may seek to “repay” them with OCB. If it were that simple it would be great- make sure leaders act ethically and you could create a positive, prosocial work environment just like that! Things aren’t always so simple, as we find out in the latter parts of their study.
However straightforward the above findings are, they do not take into account various social and political factors that are present in most workplaces. Here’s where things get interesting. Employee gender roles and perceptions of organizational politics (POP- an employee’s perception of the political environment of their workplace, whereby high POP would indicate a politicized work environment where employees act selfishly and are motivated by self-interest) can influence the strength and direction of the above relationship. In terms of gender roles, social role theory (SRT) suggests that men engage in OCBs in part to increase their status and further their careers. In contrast, SRT would indicate that women engage in OCBs in part because of stronger social orientations and the desire to strengthen bonds with fellow coworkers.