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How ethical leadership stimulates academics’ retention in universities: The mediating role of job-related affective well-being

journal contribution
posted on 01.05.2019, 00:00 authored by S Ahmad, SM Fazal-E-Hasan, Ahmad KaleemAhmad Kaleem
Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to investigate the relationship between ethical leadership and academics’ retention in universities. It draws on the conservation of resources theory to deepen the understanding of a process underlying this relationship whereby academics are more likely to stay in universities through the practice of ethical leadership. Specifically, it advances academics’ job-related affective well-being as a potential mediating mechanism, fostered by ethical leadership, which lowers their intention to leave. Design/methodology/approach: This study is conducted through a cross-sectional survey of 303 academics in Australian universities. Univariate, bivariate and multivariate analysis procedures are deployed to analyse academics’ data. The research hypotheses are tested through a bootstrapped regression analysis of academics’ perceived ethical leadership, affective well-being and intention to leave. Findings: The findings lend support to the hypothesised relations, indicating a significant role of ethical leadership on enhanced intentions of academics to stay in universities by directly conserving their job-related affective well-being. Research limitations/implications: This paper contributes to knowledge of the relationship between ethical leadership and academics’ retention by identifying job-related affective well-being as an underlying mechanism in the university sector. Practical implications: This paper has practical implications for higher educational institutes seeking to retain their academic staff. Its findings show that the practice of ethical leadership in universities matters, because it lowers academics’ intentions to leave by nurturing their well-being at work. Originality/value: This is the first study to examine the impact of ethical leadership on academics’ well-being and intentions to leave in the context of universities in Australia. It is one of the first studies to explore the mediating role of affective well-being in the ethical leadership and leadership and intention to leave relationship. © 2018, Emerald Publishing Limited.






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Emerald Publishing, UK

Peer Reviewed


Open Access


External Author Affiliations

University of New England

Era Eligible



International Journal of Educational Management