Customer orientation and firm performance: the joint moderating effects of ethical leadership and competitive intensity

Taiwen Feng, Dan Wang, Alan Lawton, Ben Nanfeng Luo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

52 Citations (Scopus)


Although the importance of customer orientation (CO) has been recognized, its relationship with firm performance is far from clear. This lack of clarity is partly because the impact of CO on firm performance may depend on certain internal or external factors. Based on social learning theory and an interactional perspective, this study concurrently explores the separate and joint moderating effects of ethical leadership and competitive intensity. Survey data from 264 Chinese firms was collected to test the hypotheses. The results show that humane leadership and moderation leadership help firms to better leverage CO for enhancing their performance. The absence of moderation leadership may be particularly harmful for firms operating in a less competitive environment while the moderating effect is not influenced by competitive intensity. In addition, justice leadership has a positive impact for firms operating in a more competitive environment, which assists firms to better realize the benefits of CO.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)111-121
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Business Research
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2019


  • Competitive intensity
  • Customer orientation
  • Ethical leadership
  • Firm performance

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