ISSN 1671-3710
CN 11-4766/R

Advances in Psychological Science ›› 2017, Vol. 25 ›› Issue (1): 121-132.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1042.2017.00121

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Ethical leadership: Conceptualization and measurement

SUN Jian-Min; LU Xinxin   

  1. (School of Labour and Human Resources, Renmin University of China, Beijing 100872, China)
  • Received:2016-01-18 Online:2017-01-15 Published:2017-01-15
  • Contact: SUN Jian-Min, E-mail:


The construct of ethical leadership has garnered much research attention in recent years. However, researchers have not reached consensus on the conceptualization and measurement of ethical leadership. Based on an extensive review of publications, this paper classifies prescriptive and scientific definitions of ethical leadership, defines connotations and boundary of ethical leadership from a scientific view, and distinguishes ethical leadership from other similar leadership constructs. Then, we summarize and compare scales used in ethical leadership research, and highlight potential deficiencies of these instruments. We further provide recommendations for improving the conceptualization and measurement of ethical leadership, as well as indigenous research in the Chinese context.

Key words: ethical leadership, conceptual clarification, measurement, Chinese context, indigenous research