Unethical leadership and employee knowledge-hiding behavior in the Chinese context: a moderated dual-pathway model

Yazhou Qin, Yuhua Xie, Fang Lee Cooke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


On the basis of conservation of resource theory and job characteristics theory, we developed a moderated dual-pathway model, wherein unethical leadership increases knowledge hiding through external relational resources and internal psychological resources, with job complexity acting as a contextual condition. Surveying 235 employees and 41 leaders in China, our findings show that unethical leadership is positively associated with knowledge hiding. Furthermore, this positive relationship is fulfilled through two opposite mechanisms: on one hand, unethical leadership decreases employees’ relational identification, which then negatively predicts knowledge hiding. On the other hand, unethical leadership is positively related to psychological distress, which has a subsequent positive effect on knowledge hiding. The presence of high job complexity mitigates the effect of unethical leadership on psychological distress, which in return reduces knowledge hiding. Our findings have implications for leadership behavior in developing a knowledge-sharing workplace environment.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages25
JournalAsian Business and Management
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2021


  • China
  • Conservation of resource theory
  • Job complexity
  • Knowledge hiding
  • Psychological distress
  • Relational identification
  • Unethical leadership

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