Linking ethical leadership with firm performance: a multi-dimensional perspective

Dan Wang, Taiwen Feng, Alan Lawton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Despite the importance of ethical leadership,the impacts of its different facets on firm-level performanceare unclear. Drawing on the resource-based view of thefirm and the group engagement model, we propose thatethical leadership consisting of leader humane orientation,leader responsibility and sustainability orientation andleader moderation orientation are beneficial to firm performance,and leader justice orientation plays moderatingroles. We empirically tested this theoretical frameworkemploying multi-source survey data collected from 264Chinese firms. The findings reveal that both leader humaneorientation and leader responsibility and sustainabilityorientation have positive influences on both firm financialand social performance, while leader moderation orientationonly has positive influence on firm financial performance.In addition, leader justice orientation positivelymoderates the relationship between leader humane orientationand leader responsibility and sustainability orientationand financial performance as well as the relationshipbetween leader moderation orientation and social performance.These findings provide theoretical and practicalimplications for understanding how different facets ofethical leadership jointly function to influence firmperformance.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)95-109
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Business Ethics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2017


  • Ethical leadership
  • Firm performance
  • Leader humane orientation
  • Leader justice orientation
  • Leader moderation orientation
  • Leader responsibility
  • sustainability orientation

Cite this