Van Quaquebeke, Niels, Jan U. Becker, Niko Goretzki and Christian Barrot

Perceived ethical leadership affects customer purchasing intentions beyond ethical marketing in advertising due to moral identity self-congruence concerns

Journal of Business Ethics, (In press).

Copy reference link   DOI: 10.1007/s10551-017-3577-4

Abstract: Ethical leadership has so far mainly been featured in the organizational behavior domain and, as such, treated as an intra-organizational phenomenon. The present study seeks to highlight the relevance of ethical leadership for extra-organizational phenomena by combining the organizational behavior perspective on ethical leadership with a classical marketing approach. In particular, we demonstrate that customers may use perceived ethical leadership cues as additional reference points when forming purchasing intentions. In two experimental studies (N = 601 and N = 336), we find that ethical leadership positively affects purchasing intentions because of customers’ concerns for moral self-congruence. We show this by means of both mediation and moderation analyses. Interestingly, the effect of perceived ethical leadership on purchasing intentions holds over and above the ethical advertising claims (e.g., cause-related marketing) that are commonly used in marketing. We conclude by discussing the possible ramifications of ethical leadership beyond its effects on immediate employees.

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