Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 137, Issue 4, pp 649–662 | Cite as

Corporate Social Responsibility, Ethical Leadership, and Trust Propensity: A Multi-Experience Model of Perceived Ethical Climate

  • S. Duane Hansen
  • Benjamin B. Dunford
  • Bradley J. Alge
  • Christine L. Jackson


Existing research on the formation of employee ethical climate perceptions focuses mainly on organization characteristics as antecedents, and although other constructs have been considered, these constructs have typically been studied in isolation. Thus, our understanding of the context in which ethical climate perceptions develop is incomplete. To address this limitation, we build upon the work of Rupp (Organ Psychol Rev 1:72–94, 2011) to develop and test a multi-experience model of ethical climate which links aspects of the corporate social responsibility (CSR), ethics, justice, and trust literatures and helps to explain how employees’ ethical climate perceptions form. We argue that in forming ethical climate perceptions, employees consider the actions or characteristics of a complex web of actors. Specifically, we propose that employees look (1) outward at how communities are impacted by their organization’s actions (e.g., CSR), (2) upward to make inferences about the ethicality of leaders in their organizations (e.g., ethical leadership), and (3) inward at their own propensity to trust others as they form their perceptions. Using a multiple-wave field study (N = 201) conducted at a privately held US corporation, we find substantial evidence in support of our model.


Corporate social responsibility (CSR) Ethical leadership Ethical climate Trust propensity Trust Justice Fairness 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • S. Duane Hansen
    • 1
  • Benjamin B. Dunford
    • 2
  • Bradley J. Alge
    • 2
  • Christine L. Jackson
    • 2
  1. 1.John B. Goddard School of Business & EconomicsWeber State UniversityOgdenUSA
  2. 2.Krannert Graduate School of ManagementPurdue UniversityWest LafayetteUSA

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