Unearthing the Moral Emotive Compass: Exploring the Paths to Leader Moral Behavior
09 / 2010 - 09 / 2014
The rash of recent corporate scandals, such as those at Enron and WorldCom has instigated societal interest in leader (im)moral behavior. When studying immoral behavior in organizations leaders seem to be of unique interest, because of their potential to influence employees and organizational processes at large. Indeed, numerous empirical studies have shown that leader immoral behavior has negative consequences, whereas leader moral behavior has positive ones. Hence, an understanding of factors that feed into the extent to which leaders behave morally is crucial. We argue that leader moral emotions (i.e., emotions that elicit prosocial action tendencies, and are triggered by disinterested elicitors, such as other individuals or society as a whole) are obvious contenders. However, leadership research to date has hardly produced empirical evidence for this contention. Moreover, because of its dual nature we consider the emotion of pride to be a particularly interesting factor. Therefore, the first goal of the proposed project is to explore the role of the self-focused positive moral emotion of pride (i.e., authentic vs. hubristic pride) in predicting leader immoral behavior. We posit that hubristically proud leaders, as compared with authentically proud leaders, show higher levels of immoral behavior. The second goal of the project is to gain more insight into the underlying mechanisms responsible for the proposed detrimental effects of hubristic pride on leader moral behavior by testing the mediating role of objectification of others and adopted achievement goals. The third goal is to address the role of power on leaders’ tendency to act upon their feelings of pride. A fourth goal is to address the role of two moderators that could potentially dampen the negative effects of hubristic pride on leader moral behavior and are considered to be especially relevant in the leadership context (i.e., leader’s moral identity and the organizations’ ethical climate).