Ethics Matter: Moderating Leaders’ Power Use and Followers’ Citizenship Behaviors

Peter J. Reiley, Rick R. Jacobs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Followers’ perceptions of their leaders’ ethics have the potential to impact the way they react to the influence of these leaders. The present study of 365 U.S. Air Force Academy Cadets examined how followers’ perceptions of their leaders’ ethics moderated the relationships found between the leaders’ use of power, as conceptualized by French and Raven (Studies in social power, 1959), and the followers’ contextual performance. Our results indicated that leaders’ use of expert, referent, and reward power was associated with higher levels of organizational citizenship behaviors (OCBs) among their followers when the followers perceived these leaders to be more ethical. Moreover, when followers perceived their leaders to be less ethical, these followers reported lower levels of OCBs when their leaders’ utilized referent power. Practical implications, limitations, and future research are also discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)69-81
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Business Ethics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Business and International Management
  • Business, Management and Accounting(all)
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Law


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