Tango in the Dark: The Interplay of Leader’s and Follower’s Level of Self-Construal and its Impact on Ethical Leadership

30 Pages Posted: 17 Mar 2011

See all articles by Suzanne van Gils

Suzanne van Gils

Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR)

Niels Van Quaquebeke

Kühne Logistics University

D.L. van Knippenberg

Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR)

Date Written: April 2011 3,

Abstract

In line with romantic views on leadership, leaders are traditionally held responsible for any kind of ethical misconduct in organizations. Through explicating the influence of followers on their leaders' (unethical) decision-making, we aim to add some nuances to this view with the present chapter. To begin with, we suggest that people generally regard leadership as ethical when the leader takes the collective into account, while only focusing on own gains is largely regarded as unethical. We then posit that the degree to which leaders' decisions are directed towards the one versus the other outcome depends on the leaders' level of self-construal, that is, the way how they see themselves in relation to others. Looking at leader's ethical decision making through this lens suggests that it is open to external influence, in that leaders' self-construal is susceptible to external cues. In particular, followers form an important part of such external cues for a leader's level of self-construal. We thus suggest various mechanisms via which followers indirectly influence their leaders' ethical decision making. In sum, we put forward a model in which we show how leaders and followers reciprocally affect their level of self-construal and thus ultimately the degree to which ethical leadership is enacted.

Keywords: leadership, followers, ethical leadership

JEL Classification: M10, L2, M12, M

Suggested Citation

van Gils, Suzanne and Van Quaquebeke, Niels and Van Knippenberg, Daan, Tango in the Dark: The Interplay of Leader’s and Follower’s Level of Self-Construal and its Impact on Ethical Leadership (April 2011 3,). ERIM Report Series Reference No. ERS-2011-005-ORG, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1788700

Suzanne Van Gils (Contact Author)

Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR) ( email )

Burgemeester Oudlaan 50
3000 DR Rotterdam, Zuid-Holland 3062PA
Netherlands

Niels Van Quaquebeke

Kühne Logistics University ( email )

Großer Grasbrook 17
Hamburg, 20457
Germany

HOME PAGE: http://www.the-klu.org/quaquebeke/

Daan Van Knippenberg

Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR) ( email )

Burgemeester Oudlaan 50
3000 DR Rotterdam, Zuid-Holland 3062PA
Netherlands

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