Ethical Leadership and Corporate Social Responsibility in China: A Multilevel Study of Their Effects on Trust and Organizational Citizenship Behavior

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Using multisource data and multilevel analysis, we propose that the ethical stance of supervisors influences subordinates’ perceptions of corporate social responsibility (CSR) which in turn influences subordinates’ trust in the organization resulting in their taking increased personal social responsibility and engagement in organizational citizenship behaviors (OCB) oriented toward both the organization and other individuals. Using a multilevel model, we assessed the extent to which ethical leadership and CSR at the work unit level impacts subordinates’ behaviors mediated by organizational trust at the individual level. We employed a sample of 71 work unit supervisors and 308 subordinates from five businesses of a conglomerate company located in mainland China. Subordinates were asked to rate supervisory ethical leadership practices, CSR, and their extent of organizational trust. Supervisors were asked to rate the personal social responsibility taking and OCB of their respective subordinates. A multilevel path analysis revealed that ethical leadership has a positive effect on CSR at the work unit level and that CSR has a positive cross-level effect on organizational trust at the individual level, which in turn significantly and positively impacts OCB through the mediating effect of taking personal social responsibility. Results are discussed in the context of China’s manufacturing sector.


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Tourigny, Louise] University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, Whitewater, USA

[Han, Jian; Pan, Polly] China Europe International Business School, Shanghai, China

[Baba, Vishwanath V.] McMaster University, Hamilton, Canada

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