Leader Deception

Jennifer A. Griffith, Shane Connelly, and Chase E. Thiel, all of the University of Oklahoma, published “Leader Deception Influences on Leader–Member Exchange and Subordinate Organizational Commitment” in the April 2011 issue of the Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies. Jennifer Griffith kindly shared her thoughts regarding the recent article.

Who is the target audience for this article?

Our hope is that this article appeals to both practitioners and academics.

What inspired you to be interested in this topic?

It seemed that corruption in organizations was becoming more prevalent or at least more widely discussed, specifically in the context of leaders deceiving their subordinates for financial gain. We considered that followers may be more likely to accept leader deception when the entire organization gained as a result or when deception is packaged in such a way as to suggest that everyone would benefit as a result.

Were there findings that were surprising to you?

That the beneficiary of rewards did not affect organizational commitment was very surprising to us. Given that LMX has been linked to organizational commitment, we were expecting that a similar pattern of interactive effects would be observed for both LMX and organizational commitment. However, these findings were interesting in that leader deception results in decreased organizational commitment regardless of who gains as a result of deception (the leader only or the entire organization).

How do you see this study influencing future research and/or practice?

This study somewhat serves as a cautionary tale. Leaders must engage in deception to some degree, and we agree that it is necessary in certain contexts. However, when deception is used simply as a tool to promote oneself, it is important to note that the long- term consequences can be detrimental to follower relationships with both the leader and the organization.

How does this study fit into your body of work/line of research?

Although this is our first look at deception in this manner, we have been involved in other leadership research and projects. We would be interested in continuing this line of research in the future with a more pointed leadership focus. As we discuss in the manuscript, there are multiple factors that may act as moderators or mediators, and we believe that those factors are the key to understanding how leader deception is interpreted by subordinates.

How did your paper change during the review process?

The model we originally proposed was not as clear about the nature of the interactive effect as we would have liked. The reviewers’ suggestions were very helpful in rethinking our model and considering expanding our theoretical considerations.

What, if anything, would you do differently if you could go back and do this study again?

I think the study would be improved if we had included moderator variables such as organizational climate and culture.

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