Getting It Done and Getting It Right: Leader Disciplinary Reactions to Followers’ Moral Transgressions Are Determined by Construal Level Mindset

All normative leadership theories suggest that disciplining followers that transgress moral norms is a crucial leadership task. However, leaders sometimes yet fail to do so. Previous research has indicated that leaders may refrain from enacting discipline out of self-interest or from concern for the organization’s interest. We explore another option: leaders may simply be unwilling to enforce moral norms because of a negative attitude towards them. We argue and show that leaders that construe norms on relatively low (i.e. concrete) levels are likely to see norms as annoying obstacles, whereas leaders that construe moral norms on high (i.e. abstract) levels will have a more positive view of norms. In line with this, high construal level leaders are likely to be willing to enforce moral norms through discipline in response to follower moral transgressions. Low construal level leaders, in contrast, actively avoid doing so. We show this effect in different contexts and for different types of leader discipline.

Reference Information

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Method(s) Used in Paper

Behavior Identification Form

by Robin Vallacher and Daniel Wegner.
Published in "Journal of Personality and Social Psychology" in 1989.

APA-Format Citation

van Houwelingen, G., van Dijke, M., & De Cremer, D. (2015). Getting it done and getting it right: Leader disciplinary reactions to followers’ moral transgressions are determined by construal level mindset. The Leadership Quarterly, 26(5), 878-891.