Leadership: A Case Study on the Importance of Ethics and Trust

Journal of Business 2016

14 Pages Posted: 5 Nov 2021

See all articles by Eric L. Prentis

Eric L. Prentis

University of Saint Thomas, Houston

Sunday E. Igoni

Wenzhou-Kean University

Date Written: March 1, 2016


This research is important because it empirically tests why ethical behavior by business and government leaders is essential for good management—which is to earn trust from customers and constituents—thus ensuring organizations are successful, for the greater good, over the long term, especially in the global marketplace. Law and morality are two standards by which business and government leaders are judged, but these norms fail whenever laws are not enforced and morality is disregarded. Five research questions on leadership are statistically tested, using a Likert-scale response measure questionnaire—based on “perceptions of societal corruption” and “trust levels,” using Bandura’s “aggressive behavior modification theory,” as the model for analysis. Nigeria is selected as the location of this case study on leadership ethics and trust, because Nigerian government officials have a long history of unethical and corrupt behavior. Descriptive statistics, along with chi-square quantitative research methods reveals “perceptions of societal corruption” in Nigeria are high and “trust levels” for government leaders are very low. Leaders in Nigeria are only as ethical as the code-of-conduct prevalent in their country—where cultural, economic and legal factors contribute to the nation’s corrupt society—which may cause Nigeria to become a failed state. To change the Nigerian culture of societal corruption—education is necessary—to instruct elected officials, civil servants, business leaders and Nigerian society, at large, on the importance of ethics and trust. Nigerian government and business leaders should institute an ethics policy—and implement five suggested reforms presented in this paper—which will help establish government leader’s ethical integrity and improve citizens’ trust and confidence in their government. Recommendations for future research on government and business leadership ethics and trust are offered.
This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License 4.0, which allows

Keywords: Corruption, Ethical Leadership, Nigerian Societal Corruption, Organizational Behavior, Trust

JEL Classification: E03, H10, M10

Suggested Citation

Prentis, Eric L. and Igoni, Sunday E., Leadership: A Case Study on the Importance of Ethics and Trust (March 1, 2016). Journal of Business 2016, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3947969

Eric L. Prentis (Contact Author)

University of Saint Thomas, Houston ( email )

Sunday E. Igoni

Wenzhou-Kean University

88 Daxue Rd
Wenzhou, Zhejiang

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