Power distance and leader integrity: The roles of moral disengagement and narcissism

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Huali Shen
Xiaokang Zhao
Xiujuan Jiang
Anqi Wang
Cite this article:  Shen, H., Zhao, X., Jiang, X., & Wang, A. (2021). Power distance and leader integrity: The roles of moral disengagement and narcissism. Social Behavior and Personality: An international journal, 49(8), e10162.


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The focus in most research on leader integrity has been on its positive consequences; however, studies on the antecedents of leader integrity are still lacking. Drawing on moral disengagement theory, in this empirical study we examined the relationship between power distance and leader integrity, and the roles of moral disengagement and narcissism in this relationship. We analyzed paired leader–subordinate data obtained from a survey conducted with 253 leaders and their direct subordinates in China. The results show that leaders’ power distance was negatively related to their integrity, leader moral disengagement mediated the relationship between power distance and integrity, and narcissism positively moderated the relationship between power distance and moral disengagement. Moreover, narcissism strengthened the mediating effect of moral disengagement: The higher the level of narcissism, the stronger the indirect effect of power distance on leader integrity via moral disengagement. Our findings enrich the theory of leader integrity and provide guidance for preventing damage to leader integrity.

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