ISSN 0439-755X
CN 11-1911/B

Acta Psychologica Sinica ›› 2012, Vol. 44 ›› Issue (9): 1231-1243.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2012.01231

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Effect of Leader Core Self-Evaluation on Follower Organizational Citizenship Behavior: The Role of Ethical Leadership and Collectivistic Orientation

WANG Zhen;SUN Jian-Min;ZHANG Rui-Juan   

  1. (1 School of Business, Central University of Finance and Economics, Beijing 100081, China) (2 School of Labor and Human Resources, Renmin University of China, Beijing 100872, China) (3 Department of Psychology, Renmin University of China, Beijing 100872, China)
  • Received:2010-12-23 Published:2012-09-28 Online:2012-09-28
  • Contact: WANG Zhen

Abstract: Despite that a growing body of literature has demonstrated the importance of personality as a predictor of organizational citizenship behavior (OCB), these studies mainly focused on personality-OCB linkage at the same level, and ignored the trickle-down effect from the leader to the follower. Drawing on trait-based perspective of leadership effectiveness, we first investigated the effect of leader’s core self-evaluation (CSE) on follower’s OCB. The second unanswered question was that if leader’s CSE influenced follower’s OCB, what was the underlying mechanism? This question was consistent with previous argument that most studies paid less attention to the mechanism of personality-performance relationship. Based on theoretical and empirical evidence, we proposed that it was through ethical leadership behavior that leader’s CSE influenced follower’s OCB. The third question addressed the potential boundary condition of relationship among leader’s CSE, ethical leadership and follower’s OCB. Although leadership researchers have frequently suggested that followers’ reactions to leadership were contingent on their individual differences, to date this claim has not been comprehensively investigated in ethical leadership area. In this field study, we explored the role of follower’s collectivistic orientation, a cultural value at individual level in ethical leadership-OCB linkage. Thus, the general purpose of this paper was to develop and test a model in which leader’s CSE influenced follower’s OCB through the mediating effect of ethical leadership, and follower’s collectivistic orientation moderated the association of ethical leadership with follower’s OCB. We examined these research questions with matched field data collected from China. Consistent with hypotheses, results revealed that leader’s CSE had significant positive effects on follower’s OCB targeted at both the organization and the individual, and these effects were mediated by leader’s ethical behavior. In addition, results of cross-level moderating effect analysis demonstrated that follower’s collectivistic orientation moderated the association of ethical leadership and OCB in such a way that the effect of ethical leadership was stronger for followers who were high in collectivistic orientation. Our study extended personality-performance relationship by linking leader’s CSE with follower’s OCB, and its underlying moderating and mediating mechanisms. In addition, we tested the cultural contingency of ethical leadership by investigating whether ethical leadership and its relationship with OCB could be generalized across cultures. It is claimed that ethical leadership and its consequences might be variform functional universal, given that its relationship with OCB varies with follower’s collectivistic orientation. However, the readers are reminded that such a statement should be interpreted with cautions, and investigated in future cross-cultural studies.

Key words: core self-evaluation, ethical leadership, organizational citizenship behavior, collectivistic orientation, cross-level study