Psychological Science 2018, (3) 706-712 DOI:     ISSN: 0412-1961 CN: 21-1139/TG

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leader integrity
individual differences
Chinese indigenous culture
YU Ting
Article by Yu,t
Article by Yang,f

Leader integrity: Conception, measurement, and prospect



In recent years, the corporate scandals and management malfeasances in organizations like Enron, Adelphia Communications, WorldCom, and Tyco International, occurred frequently and have sparked a growing interest about leader integrity. As a frontier topic in the field of leader research, leader integrity has garnered extensive attention from organizational scholars and practitioners. Leader integrity has long been mentioned as a key part of effective leadership. However, researches on leader integrity’s conception, dimension, measurement, mediation and moderation remain incomplete. By systematically clarifying the conception of leader integrity, its dimension, measurement, antecedents and consequences, this study summarizes and evaluates relative research at home and abroad. There are two recent definitions of leader integrity within the organizational literature. First, leader integrity is defined as a general description of moral and ethical behavior, which includes perceived leader integrity and some aspects of ethical leader behavior. Second, leader integrity refers to perception of the consistency between a leader’s words and deeds. However, leader integrity is often associated with or mentioned in conjunction with individual traits such as honesty, fairness, sincerity and trustworthiness. In some cases, integrity has simply been viewed as synonymous with honesty. The basic definition of leader integrity should emphasize moral behavior and consistency between a person’s espoused values and behavior. Future research should further explore the definition of leader integrity and provide a theoretical foundation for leader integrity at home and abroad. In the field of leadership, two instruments have been developed to measure integrity. The first measure of leader integrity was developed by Craig and Gustafson (1998). The second instrument is Simons,Friedman,Liu and McLean’s (2007) Leadership Behavior Integrity Scale. Both instruments rely upon subordinates’ perceptions of leader behavior. There may be other ways to measure integrity which complement the current approaches. For example, a neutral third-party observer may be able to provide a measure of integrity by careful observation. Self-rating of integrity may also mitigate potential bias from social desirability. A plethora of empirical research has looked at identifying factors that influence leader integrity, such as individual differences, leadership styles, and leadership intervention. Some qualitative studies suggested that organizational characteristics, organizational climate, individual traits were correlated with leadership integrity. Empirical research has confirmed the impact of leadership integrity on followers’ attitudes, behaviors, and performance. In the team level, some studies found that team leader integrity was positively related to team members’ moral intention, trust, and innovation. Although scholars have investigated the effects of leader integrity on followers’ outcomes, considerably less is known about the mediating and moderating mechanisms. In the terms of mediation, previous studies indicated that leader behavioral integrity was not directly related to follower job performance, but was related indirectly via trust in the leader and follower satisfaction with the leader. According to contingency theory of leadership, leadership effectiveness is largely influenced by subordinates’ individual differences. The individual differences may play a key role on the relationship between leader integrity and followers’ outcomes. There are several limitations in the previous studies, which, in turn point to promising directions for future research. First, future research should explore the definition of leader integrity and develop its measurement in the Chinese organizational context. Second, based on the perspective of individual characteristics, future research should focus on examining the antecedents of leader integrity, such as self-control, conscientiousness, and machiavellism. Third, from the perspective of culture values, future research should investigate the effectiveness of leader integrity in the Chinese organizational context.

Keywords moral   leader integrity   context   individual differences   Chinese indigenous culture  
Received 2017-06-02 Revised 2018-01-05 Online: 2018-05-20 
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