Leading others to go beyond the call of duty: A dyadic study of servant leadership and psychological ethical climate

Sen Sendjaya, Nathan Eva, Mulyadi Robin, Lyfie Sugianto, Ivan ButarButar, Charmine Hartel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: Interest in servant leadership has grown exponentially over the past decade as evident in the surge of academic- and practitioner-oriented publications on the subject. While prior research has shown that servant leadership leads to citizenship behavior, no study has explored the ethical pathway as the underlying influence process despite the fact that servant leadership is an ethical approach to leadership. On the basis of social learning theory, the purpose of this paper is to examine psychological ethical climate as a key mediator between servant leadership and citizenship behavior. Design/methodology/approach: Survey data were collected from 123 leader–follower dyads from eight high-performing firms listed on the Indonesian Stock Exchange, and analyzed using multiple regression analysis. Findings: The results showed that the relationship between servant leadership and organizational citizenship behaviors (OCBs) (both for OCBI and OCBO) is mediated by psychological ethical climate. Practical implications: This study demonstrates the value of using a servant leadership approach in order to foster a psychological ethical climate and increase OCBs. As such, the authors highlight the importance of a systematic approach to develop servant leaders in organizations. Originality/value: This research contributes to the understanding of the ethical mechanism that explains the relationship between servant leadership and follower outcomes. Drawing on social learning theory, the findings show that servant leaders are ethical climate architects through their role modeling behaviors and interactions with followers.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)620-635
Number of pages16
JournalPersonnel Review
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 6 Feb 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Leadership
  • Organizational citizenship behaviour
  • Psychological ethical climate
  • Quantitative
  • Servant leadership


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