Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 124, Issue 2, pp 209–223 | Cite as

The Effects of Ethical Leadership and Ethical Climate on Employee Ethical Behavior in the International Port Context



This study empirically examined the effects of ethical leadership and ethical climate on employee ethical behavior in the international port context using survey data collected from 128 respondents who worked in Taiwan International Ports Corporation (TIPC) in Taiwan. Research hypotheses were formulated from the previous literature and tested using structural equation modeling. Results indicated that ethical leadership had a significant impact on ethical climate and the ethical behavior of TIPC employees. Ethical climate was found to be positively associated with employee ethical behavior. The theoretical and practical implications of the research findings are discussed.


Ethical leadership Ethical climate Ethical behavior Structural equation modeling 



The authors would like to thank the National Science Council, Taiwan, ROC, for its sponsorship in this research under the research grant number NSC 100-2410-H-006-008-MY2.


  1. Akaah, I. P. (1992). Social inclusion as a marketing ethics correlate. Journal of Business Ethics, 11, 599–608.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Albaum, G. R., & Peterson, A. (2006). Ethical attitudes of future business leaders: Do they vary by gender and religiosity? Business and Society, 45, 300–321.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Anderson, J. C., & Gerbing, D. W. (1988). Structural equation modeling in practice: A review and recommended two-step approach. Psychological Bulletin, 103(3), 411–423.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Armstrong, S. J., & Overton, T. S. (1977). Estimating nonresponse bias in mail survey. Journal of Marketing Research, 14, 396–402.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Babin, B. J., Boles, J. S., & Robin, D. P. (2000). Representing the perceived ethical work climate among marketing employees. Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, 28(3), 345–358.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bagozzi, R. P., & Yi, Y. (1988). On the evaluation of structural equation models. Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, 16(1), 74–93.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bass, B. M. (1985). Leadership and performance beyond expectations. New York: Free Press.Google Scholar
  8. Bass, B. M. (1999). Two decades of research and development in transformational leadership. European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology, 8(1), 9–32.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Blau, P. (1964). Exchange and power in social life. New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  10. Bollen, K. A. (1989). Structural equations with latent variables. New York: Wiley.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Brown, M. E., & Treviño, L. K. (2006). Ethical leadership: A review and future directions. The Leadership Quarterly, 17(6), 595–616.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Brown, M. E., Treviño, L. K., & Harrison, D. A. (2005). Ethical leadership: A social learning perspective for construct development and testing. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 97(2), 117–134.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Browning, J., & Zabriskie, N. B. (1983). How ethical are industrial buyers? Industrial Marketing Management, 12, 219–224.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Burke, C. S., Stagl, K. C., Goodwin, G. F., & Halpin, S. M. (2006). What type of leadership behaviors are functional in teams? A meta-analysis. The Leadership Quarterly, 17(3), 288–307.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Burns, J. M. (1978). Leadership. New York: Harper Row.Google Scholar
  16. Byrne, B. M. (2001). Structural equation modeling with AMOS: Basic concepts, applications, and programming. Hillsdale, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  17. Carlson, S. (1951). Executive behavior: A study of the workload and working methods of managing directors. Stockholm: Strombergs.Google Scholar
  18. Carmines, E. G., & Richard, A. Z. (1979). Reliability and Validity Assessment. Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Carr, A. S., & Pearson, J. N. (1999). Strategically managed buyer–supplier relationships and performance outcomes. Journal of Operations Management, 17, 497–519.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. De Hoogh, A. H. B., & Den Hartog, D. N. (2008). Ethical and despotic leadership, relationship with the leader’s social responsibility, top management team effectiveness and subordinates’ optimism: a multi-method study. The Leadership Quarterly, 19(3), 297–311.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Deshpande, S. P., & Joseph, J. (2009). Impact of emotional intelligence, ethical climate, and behavior of peers on the ethical behavior of nurses. Journal of Business Ethics, 85, 403–410.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Dickson, M. W., Smith, D. B., Grojean, M. W., & Ehrhart, M. (2001). An organizational climate regarding ethics: The outcome of leader values and the practices that reflect them. The Leadership Quarterly, 12(2), 197–217.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Elçi, M., & Alpkan, L. (2009). The impact of perceived organizational ethical climate on work satisfaction. Journal of Business Ethics, 84(3), 297–311.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Engelbrecht, A. S., Van Aswegen, A. S., & Thero, C. C. (2005). The effect of ethical values on transformational leadership and ethical climate in organizations. South African Journal of Business Management, 36(2), 19–26.Google Scholar
  25. Ethics Resource Center. (2012). National business ethics survey of fortune 500 employees. Washington, DC: Ethics Resource Center.Google Scholar
  26. Ferrell, O. C., Fraedrich, J., & Ferrell, L. (2000). Business ethics: Ethical decision making and cases (4th ed.). New York: Houghton Mifflin Inc.Google Scholar
  27. Ferrell, O. C., & Skinner, S. J. (1988). Ethical behavior and bureaucratic structure in marketing research organizations. Journal of Marketing Research, 25, 103–109.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Flynn, B. B., Sakakibara, S., Schroeder, R. G., Bates, K. A., & Flynn, E. J. (1990). Empirical research methods in operations management. Journal of Operations Management, 9(2), 250–284.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Fornell, C., & Larcker, D. F. (1981). Evaluating structural equation models with unobservable variables and measurement error. Journal of Marketing Research, 18, 186–192.Google Scholar
  30. Fraedrich, J. P. (1993). The ethical behavior of retail managers’. Journal of Business Ethics, 12(3), 207–218.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Gilbert, J. (2003). A matter of trust. Sales and Marketing Management, 155(3), 30–35.Google Scholar
  32. Hair, J. F., Black, W. C., Babin, B. J., & Anderson, R. E. (2010). Multivariate data analysis (7th ed.). Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall.Google Scholar
  33. Heller, F. A. (1972). Managerial decision making: A study of leadership styles and power sharing among senior managers. New York: Harper and Row.Google Scholar
  34. Iacobucci, D., & Churchill, G. A. (2010). Marketing research: Methodological foundations (10th ed.). London: South-Western.Google Scholar
  35. James, L. R., Mulaik, S. A., & Brett, J. M. (2006). A tale of two methods. Organizational Research Methods, 9(2), 233–244.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Khuntia, R., & Suar, D. (2004). A scale to assess ethical leadership of Indian private and public sector managers. Journal of Business Ethics, 49(1), 13–26.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Kim, J. O., & Muller, C. W. (1978). Introduction to factor analysis: What it is and how to do it. Series: Quantitative applications in the social sciences. Newbury Park, California: Sage Publication Inc.Google Scholar
  38. Kimmel, M. J. (1981). Senior leadership: An annotated bibliography of the military and nonmilitary literature. Alexandria, VA: US Army Research Institute for the Behavioral and Social Sciences.Google Scholar
  39. Koh, H. C., & Boo, E. H. Y. (2001). The link between organizational ethics and job satisfaction: A study of managers in Singapore. Journal of Business Ethics, 29, 309–324.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Koufteros, X. A. (1999). Testing a model of pull production: A paradigm for manufacturing research using structural equation modeling. Journal of Operations Management, 17, 467–488.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Litwin, M. S. (1995). How to measure survey reliability and validity. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publication.Google Scholar
  42. Lu, C. S., & Yang, C. S. (2010). Safety leadership and safety behavior in container terminal operations. Safety Science, 48(2), 123–134.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Luria, G., & Yagil, D. (2008). Procedural justice, ethical climate and service outcomes in restaurants. International Journal of Hospitality Management, 27(2), 276–283.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Mayer, D. M., Kuenzi, M., Greenbaum, R., Bardes, M., & Salvador, R. (2009). How low does ethical leadership flow? Test of a trickle-down model. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 108(1), 1–13.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Ministry of Transportation and Communications R.O.C. (2012). Monthly Statistics of Transportation and Communications, Taiwan.Google Scholar
  46. Mortensen, R. A., Smith, J. E., & Cavanagh, G. F. (1989). The importance of ethics to job performance: An empirical investigation of managers’ perceptions. Journal of Business Ethics, 8(4), 253–260.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Mulki, J. P., Jaramillo, J. F., & Locander, W. B. (2007). Effect of ethical climate on turnover intention: Linking attitudinal and stress theory. Journal of Business Ethics, 78(4), 559–574.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Neese, W. T., Ferrell, L., & Ferrell, O. C. (2005). An analysis of federal mail and wire fraud cases related to marketing. Journal of Business Research, 58(6), 910–918.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Neubert, M. J., Carlson, D. S., Kacmar, K. M., Roberts, J. A., & Chonko, L. B. (2009). The virtuous influence of ethical leadership behavior: Evidence from the field. Journal of Business Ethics, 90(2), 157–170.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Newstrom, J. W., & Rush, W. A. (1975). The ethics of management and the management of ethic. MSU Business Topics, 23(1), 29–37.Google Scholar
  51. Nunnally, J. C. (1978). Psychometric Theory (2nd ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill.Google Scholar
  52. Okpara, J. O., & Wynn, P. (2008). The impact of ethical climate on job satisfaction, and commitment in Nigeria: Implications for management development. Journal of Management Development, 27(9), 935–950.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Phillips, R. L., & Hunt, J. G. (1992). Strategic leadership: A multiorganizational-level perspective. Westport, CT: Quorum Books.Google Scholar
  54. Piccolo, R. F., Greenbaum, R., Den Hartog, D. N., & Folger, R. (2010). The relationship between ethical leadership and core job characteristics. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 31(2), 259–278.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Podsakoff, P. M., Mackenzie, S. B., Lee, J. Y., & Podsakoff, N. P. (2003). Common method biases in behavioral research: A critical review of the literature and recommended remedies. Journal of Applied Psychology, 88(5), 879–903.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Podsakoff, P. M., & Organ, D. W. (1986). Self-reports in organizational research: Problems and prospects. Journal of Management, 12(4), 531–544.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Rubin, R. S., Dierdorff, E. C., & Brown, M. E. (2010). Do ethical leaders get ahead? Exploring ethical leadership and promotability. Business Ethics Quarterly, 20(2), 215–236.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Sama, L. M., & Shoaf, V. (2008). Ethical leadership for the professions: Fostering a moral community. Journal of Business Ethics, 78, 39–46.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Sanchez-Rodriguez, C., Hemsworth, D., & Martinez-Lorente, A. R. (2005). The effect of supplier development initiatives on purchasing performance: a structural model. Supply Chain Management: An International Journal, 10(4), 289–301.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Schminke, M., Ambrose, M. L., & Neubaum, D. O. (2005). The effect of leader moral development on ethical climate and employee attitudes. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 97(2), 135–151.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Schneider, B. (1975). Organizational climates: An essay. Personnel Psychology, 28, 447–479.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Schwepker, C. H. (2001). Ethical climate’s relationship to job satisfaction, organizational commitment, and turnover intention in the sales force. Journal of Business Research, 54(1), 39–52.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Stead, W. E., Worrell, D. L., & Stead, J. G. (1990). An integrative model for understanding and managing ethical behavior in business organizations. Journal of Business Ethics, 9, 233–242.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Thomas, T., Schermerhorn, J. R, Jr, & Dienhart, J. W. (2004). Strategic leadership of ethical behavior in business. Academy of Management Executive, 18(2), 56–66.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Toor, S. R., & Ofori, G. (2009). Ethical leadership: Examining the relationships with full range leadership model, employee outcomes, and organizational culture. Journal of Business Ethics, 90(4), 533–547.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Treviño, L. K., Butterfield, K. D., & McCabe, D. (1998). The ethical context in organizations: Influences on employee attitudes and behaviors. Business Ethics Quarterly, 8(3), 447–476.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Treviño, L. K., Hartman, L. P., & Brown, M. (2000). Moral person and moral manager: How executives develop a reputation for ethical leadership. California Management Review, 42, 128–142.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Tsai, M. T., & Huang, C. C. (2008). The relationship among ethical climate types, facets of job satisfaction, and three components of organizational commitment: A study of nurses in Taiwan. Journal of Business Ethics, 80(3), 565–581.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) (2012). Review of Maritime Transport, UNCTAD/RMT/2012. United Nations Publication.Google Scholar
  70. Valentine, S., Varca, P., Godkin, L., & Barneet, T. (2010). Positive job response and ethical job performance. Journal of Business Ethics, 91, 195–206.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Victor, B., & Cullen, J. B. (1988). The organizational bases of ethical work climates. Administrative Science Quarterly, 33(1), 101–125.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Viswesvaran, C., Deshpande, S. P., & Joseph, J. (1998). Job satisfaction as a function of top management support for ethical behavior: A study of Indian managers. Journal of Business Ethics, 17, 365–371.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Weeks, A. W., Loe, T. W., Chonko, L. L., & Wakefield, K. (2005). The effect of perceived ethical climate on the search for sales force excellence. Journal of Personal Selling and Management, 24(3), 199–214.Google Scholar
  74. Wimbush, J. C., & Shepard, J. M. (1994). Towards an understanding of ethical climate: Its relationship to ethical behavior and supervisory influence. Journal of Business Ethics, 13(8), 637–647.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Logistics and Maritime Studies, Faculty of BusinessThe Hong Kong Polytechnic UniversityKowloonHong Kong

Personalised recommendations