An uncertainty management perspective on the antecedents of leader self-serving behavior

Mayowa T. Babalola, Yuanmei Qu, Moazzam Ali, Chandra Shekhar Rao Pathki, Muhammad Usman, Michael Muchiri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Leader self-serving behavior has been associated with a range of adverse outcomes in the workplace. However, much remains to be explored about why and when such leader behavior emerges in organizations. This research develops and tests a theoretical framework that delineates the emotional and cognitive states that give rise to leader self-serving behavior. Specifically, we draw on uncertainty management theory to theorize that job insecurity heightens leaders' anxiety and self-serving cognitions that subsequently trigger leader self-serving behavior. We further argue that the overall justice of an organization effectively mitigates the indirect relationship between a leader's sense of job insecurity and leader self-serving behavior via leader anxiety and self-serving cognitions. Results from a three-wave field study involving 481 leader–follower dyads provide support for our hypothesized model. We discuss the implications of our findings for leadership theory and practice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1164-1182
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Organizational Behavior
Volume44
Issue number8
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2023
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • anxiety
  • leader job insecurity
  • leader self-serving behavior
  • overall justice
  • self-serving cognitions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • General Psychology
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management

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