Ethical Leadership in a Malaysian Multinational

  • Sin Mun Chang

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


This thesis examines a trickle-down model of ethical leadership on lower-level line
manager voice behaviour and work engagement in a large Malaysian multinational
organisation. Seminal ethical leadership theory argued that higher-level management
ethical leadership are critical for setting the ethical tone at the top and influence
behaviour all the way to the lowest level. As such, proponents of this perspective
suggested that higher-level management ethical leader will convey the ethical value
in an organisation to inspire lower-level line manager behaviour via middle-level
management. However, only Mozumder (2018) and Schaubroeck et al (2012) have
tested the trickle-down model that incorporate three levels of management in a public
sector organisation. There hence remains opened question about the influence of
higher and middle management ethical leadership in private sector organisations. The
current study aims to resolve this apparent argument by systematically testing the
trickle-down model to explain the role of higher and middle management ethical
leadership in promoting lower-level line manager voice behaviour and work
engagement. This study draws on social learning theory and role theory and
investigate the mediating mechanism of lower-level line manager ethical leader role.
The results shown that the line manager ethical leader role is shaped by middle
management manager ethical leadership, in turn, affecting their voice behaviour. A
new boundary condition of moral identification is then presented to explain this
relationship and result shown that lower-level line manager with higher a moral
identification and ethical leader role will voice more to improve the organisation’s
process. In doing so, this thesis provides a new understanding of why lower-level line
manager will develop an ethical leader role in a new Malaysian multinational set-up.
Date of Award2020
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorJonathan Crawshaw (Supervisor), Pawan Budhwar (Supervisor) & Yves Guillaume (Supervisor)

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