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Dissertation Abstract

Ethical Leadership, Prototypicality, Integrity, Trust, and Leader Effectiveness

J. Alan Marshall
March 2012

This quantitative study investigates the relationships between ethical leadership, prototypicality, integrity, trust, and leader effectiveness. Beyond leader traits, behaviors, power tactics, and situational influences, an ethical dimension of leadership has emerged in leadership research. M. E. Brown, Trevino, and Harrison (2005) proposed ethical leadership theory consistent with this ethical dimension and showed ethical leadership to be related to leader effectiveness. Kalshoven and Den Hartog (2009) confirmed this relationship and further showed that leader prototypicality and follower trust mediate the relationship between ethical leadership and leader effectiveness. However, in the Kalshoven and Den Hartog study, prototypicality did not fully explain the relationship between ethical leadership and follower trust, leading researchers to conclude that other influencing mechanisms must exist. Taken with Yukl's (2006) proposition that integrity is a major influence on interpersonal trust and Morgan's (1989) finding that leader integrity was the single best predictor of follower trust in a leader, this study hypothesizes that integrity moderates the relationship between prototypicality and trust, and the inclusion of leader integrity into the Kalshoven and Den Hartog model better explains the relationship between ethical leadership and leader effectiveness. A direct, concise, and positive perspective leader integrity instrument was developed to measure the integrity construct in this study. The findings in this study validate the proposition that there is a relationship between ethical leadership and leader effectiveness. This relationship is partially mediated by leader prototypicality and follower trust in the leader, and perceived leader integrity moderates the relationship between leader prototypicality and follower trust in the leader.