Leader Ethical Errors: How Contextual Factors And Attributions Impact Subordinate Perceptions

Open Access
Kundro, Timothy Glyn
Area of Honors:
Bachelor of Science
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Samuel Todd Hunter, Thesis Supervisor
  • Richard Alan Carlson, Honors Advisor
  • leadership
  • mistake
  • error
  • action
  • subordinate
Leaders, although unintentionally, often make errors. While research has begun to explore the effect that both relational and task errors have on subordinate perceptions, we investigated the unique effect of a third type of error, or ethical errors. This study investigated how the type of ethical error (action vs. inaction) and the target of the error affects subordinate perceptions of the leader. We found that ethical errors that stemmed from a leaders direct action were more severe than those that stemmed from inaction. Furthermore, in our exploratory analyses, we found that the reported “most frustrating” aspects of the error, as well as the perceived ability for the participant to act differently if they were in the leader’s place, varied depending on who was the target of the ethical error. Theoretical contributions and practical implications are discussed.