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Is the meaning of ethical leadership constant across cultures? A test of cross-cultural measurement invariance
journal contributionposted on 19.07.2021, 03:40 by Saima Ahmad, Syed Fazal-e-hasan, Ahmad KaleemAhmad Kaleem
Purpose: This paper empirically addresses the question of whether the meaning of ethical leadership is constant across cultures. Drawing on the implicit leadership theory (ILT), we examine whether people in Australia and Pakistan respond to perceived ethical leadership in a similar or different manner. By comparing employees' interpretation of the key attributes associated with ethical leadership, we advance construct-specific knowledge in cross-national contexts. Design/methodology/approach: Since meaningful cross-country comparisons of a research construct require an equivalent measurement of it, we examine the issue of cross-cultural measurement invariance of ethical leadership. Specifically, this study explores the configural, metric and scalar invariance of ethical leadership by obtaining data from matched international samples. Findings: The findings broadly support cross-cultural generalisability of the construct's meaning and cross-cultural transferability of the ethical leadership scale (ELS). They suggest that measures of ethical leadership constructs should be used in different cultures with caution because significant differences may exist at the item level. Originality/value: This study provides cross-cultural endorsement to the construal of ethical leadership by presenting evidence that supports convergence in the construct's meaning across Eastern and Western cultures. The study has enhanced the construct validity of ethical leadership through the use of the refined multiple-sample analytical approach. Previous studies have assumed that measures of ethical leadership are invariant across various contexts. However, this is the first study to employ a robust methodological technique (metric and path invariance) that demonstrates the significant difference between each item and path and generalises the validity of ethical leadership construct and its measures by using international samples.