Original Research

Ethical leadership in relation to employee commitment in a South African manufacturing company

Jeremy Mitonga-Monga, Masase E. Mokhethi, Busisiwe S. Keswa, Boitumelo S. Lekoma, Leona X. Mathebula, Lindiwe F. Mbatha
Acta Commercii | Vol 23, No 1 | a1046 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ac.v23i1.1046 | © 2023 Jeremy Mitonga-Monga, Masase E. Mokhethi, Busisiwe S. Keswa, Boitumelo S. Lekoma, Leona X. Mathebula, Lindiwe F. Mbatha | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 14 April 2022 | Published: 15 February 2023

About the author(s)

Jeremy Mitonga-Monga, Department of Industrial Psychology and People Management, College of Business Economics, University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg, South Africa
Masase E. Mokhethi, Department of Industrial Psychology and People Management, College of Business Economics, University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg, South Africa
Busisiwe S. Keswa, Department of Industrial Psychology and People Management, College of Business Economics, University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg, South Africa
Boitumelo S. Lekoma, Department of Industrial Psychology and People Management, College of Business Economics, University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg, South Africa
Leona X. Mathebula, Department of Industrial Psychology and People Management, College of Business Economics, University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg, South Africa
Lindiwe F. Mbatha, Department of Industrial Psychology and People Management, College of Business Economics, University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg, South Africa

Abstract

Orientation: Ethically questionable practices have given rise to a tremendous interest in studying leaders’ ethical behaviours, which have become a subject of interest for scholars and practitioners alike, and how they could affect employee loyalty positively.

Research purpose: The aim of this study was to explore the relationship between ethical leadership and organisational commitment in a South African steel industry.

Motivation for the study: Previous research on the influence of ethical leadership on employee commitment suggests that ethical leaders are those who inspire, motivate and foster an ethical culture that enhances the psychological connection and well-being of workers.

Research design, approach, and method: This research was quantitative and employed a cross-sectional approach. The measuring instruments were the Ethical Leaders Behaviour Questionnaire and the Organisational Commitment Scale. A convenience sample (N = 200) was drawn from among permanent employees at South African steel manufacturing company. Correlation and multiple regression analyses were conducted.

Main findings: The results indicate that the participants’ perceptions of ethical leadership related positively to the level that ethical leadership predicted organisational commitment.

Practical and managerial implications: The results of this study have interesting implications for management and human resource professionals, as they can use the information during leadership development training to promote and encourage ethical behaviour and psychological attachment among employees. The data might also be utilised to establish a culture of responsibility, which could increase employee dedication. Ethical leadership appeared as a crucial component of organisational commitment, which may result in reduced inclination to leave and absenteeism. The data might be used by management to enforce and encourage ethical behaviour, which could increase employee commitment.

Contribution or value-addition: The findings of this research will add to the body of knowledge about the relationship between ethical leadership and organisational commitment in the context of South African steel industry, while emphasising the practical implications for line managers and behavioural practitioners.


Keywords

affective commitment; continuous commitment; employee commitment; ethical leadership; normative commitment; South Africa.

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