Ethical leadership and whistleblowing: Collective moral potency and personal identification as mediators

Fa-wang Zhang1, Jian-qiao Liao1, Jin-ming Yuan2
1School of Management, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, People’s Republic of China
2Guangzhou Branch of the People’s Bank of China, People’s Republic of China
Cite this article:  Zhang, F.-w., Liao, J.-q., & Yuan, J.-m. (2016). Ethical leadership and whistleblowing: Collective moral potency and personal identification as mediators. Social Behavior and Personality: An international journal, 44(7), 1223-1232.

Volume 44 Issue 7 | e5538 | Published: August 2016 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.2224/sbp.2016.44.7.1223

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Given the prevalence and concealment of misconduct in the workplace, whistleblowing has become an important organizational control mechanism. In this study, we focused on the process by which ethical leadership influences employees to blow the whistle internally. We collected data via a survey administered to the respondents, who were leader–member dyads in a large branch of the central bank in southern China. Hierarchical linear modeling results revealed that ethical leadership was positively related to internal whistleblowing by subordinates. We controlled for ethical climate and found that collective moral potency as a component of the ethical environment, and employees’ personal identification with their supervisors fully mediated the relationship between ethical leadership and internal whistleblowing. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed and directions for future research are suggested.

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