Organization Management Journal


Theoretical frameworks associated with ethical leadership have not fully considered the nature of the leader–follower exchange, and, in addition, few studies have considered the impact of follower individual differences in reactions to ethical leadership. Our research extends the customary social exchange perspective of transactional and relational resources by accounting for the ideological resources (i.e., value-oriented principles) that can also imbue the leader–subordinate relationship. Second, differences in equity sensitivity are hypothesized to moderate the influence of ethical leadership on employee attachment to the organization. We predicted that the impact of ethical leadership on organizational commitment, job satisfaction, and organizational identification is greater for individuals with a more benevolent orientation. In Study 1 (N = 223), equity sensitivity moderated the influence of ethical leadership on organizational commitment and organizational identification. In Study 2 (N = 244), an interactive effect was found for the outcomes of organizational commitment and job satisfaction. We consider the theoretical implications of how and why ethical leadership influences follower attitudes and beliefs.