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Journal of Business and Psychology

, Volume 34, Issue 4, pp 539–553 | Cite as

Facilitate Knowledge Sharing by Leading Ethically: the Role of Organizational Concern and Impression Management Climate

  • Xinxin LuEmail author
  • Haiming Zhou
  • Si Chen
Original Paper
  • 307 Downloads

Abstract

This study seeks to investigate whether, how, and when leaders can facilitate knowledge sharing by leading ethically. Drawing on social learning theory, we hypothesize that ethical leadership can promote knowledge sharing through inducing organizational concern among employees. However, impression management climate will nullify the effect of ethical leadership on organizational concern and the consequent knowledge sharing. Two-wave data were collected from 567 employees and their supervisors from 73 teams in China. Mediation and moderated mediation hypotheses were examined using multilevel modeling. The results show that ethical leadership is positively related to knowledge sharing and that organizational concern significantly mediates the relationship. Moreover, impression management climate neutralizes the effect of ethical leadership on organizational concern and the resulting knowledge sharing. Our research suggests that leaders can enhance knowledge sharing by aligning their followers with the collective interest and generating genuine concern among them for the organization. To ensure the effectiveness of ethical leadership, organizations are recommended to put less emphasis on impression management and avoid linking performance appraisal and rewards with personal image. Employees’ concern about self-interest represents a great barrier to knowledge sharing. This study is among the first to shed light on the role of ethical leadership in facilitating knowledge sharing; ethical leadership motivates employees to go beyond self-interest and show concern for the organization. We also highlight the potentially negative effect of the group climate and enrich our knowledge of impression management.

Keywords

Ethical leadership Knowledge sharing Organizational concern Impression management climate 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Managerial Studies, College of Business and AdministrationUniversity of Illinois at ChicagoChicagoUSA
  2. 2.College of Humanities and LawShandong University of Science and TechnologyBeijingPeople’s Republic of China
  3. 3.University of AmsterdamAmsterdamNetherlands

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