The impact of ethical leadership on employee engagement within a South African public higher education institution

  • Received September 4, 2019;
    Accepted November 29, 2019;
    Published December 25, 2019
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  • Article Info
    Volume 17 2019, Issue #4, pp. 314-324
  • Cited by
    2 articles

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License

Ethical leadership has become a fundamental building block amongst the corporate organizations globally. However, minimal research evidence was found from a higher education institution (HEI) perspective, including the evidence from a South African higher education setting. Due to the lack of research linking the ethical leadership`s style and employee`s engagement (EE) at higher education institutions, it becomes important to find out if ethical leadership can positively promote the EE, which, in turn, can promote various other benefits at the institutions. Therefore, this study aims to examine this from the perspective of ethical leadership style and its impact on the EE. This study focused on a large HEI (Higher Education institution) based in KwaZulu-Natal (South Africa). Quantitative data collection employed the probability sampling targeting 420 employees. Questionnaires were used as data collection tools and obtained a response rate of 312 (74%). The results show that the average mean value for EE (M = 2.87) was weak in comparison to the measurement standard of 3.00, which implied a lack of EE between leadership and employees. In addition, the results indicate that ethical leadership can positively influence the EE (M = 4.27), thus, indicating the need for more ethical leadership at this institution. Furthermore, the current lack of employee`s engagement by leaders that do not exhibit the ethical leadership style can result in employees` disengagement at the institution.

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    • Table 1. Constructs measured by the University employee engagement study
    • Table 2. Employee’s engagement
    • Table 3. Components of leadership dimension concepts