What is it about?

Incessant occurrences of character failure of people in leadership positions that have characterized organizations in recent years call for critical examination of leadership behaviors. The Social Learning Theory and Trickle-Down Model are some of the common approaches previously used to analyze ethical leadership behaviors. However, the challenges with how these models inspire ethical behaviors call for further examination of the issue. Using a multidisciplinary integrative literature review, we present Vroom’s Valence–Instrumentality–Expectancy (VIE) Model of Motivation as an alternative model for examining ethical leadership behaviors.

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Why is it important?

Efforts to identify models to examine Ethical Leadership Behaviors (ELBs) present a challenge to leadership and Human Resource Development professionals regarding the best approach to inspire and examine ELBs in organizations. We suggest the utilization of ideas from motivational theories to help inspire ELBs that go beyond simply observing others, code of ethics, or merely obeying rules. Compared with the other models examined in this study, the Social Learning Theory (SLT), the Trickle-Down Model, and the Moderated Mediation model, the Vroom’s Valence–Instrumentality–Expectancy (VIE) Model presents a more logical approach to inspiring ethical behavior.


Ethical Leadership Behavior is important to leadership and HRD scholars and professionals because leadership behaviors have been found to correlate highly with many expected positive outcomes of the activities that organizations are involved. Using the motivational approach to inspire ethical leadership will drive organizational members to internalize ethical behavior as a conviction rather than complying with a set rule.

Prof. Robert M Yawson, PhD
Quinnipiac University

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This page is a summary of: Valence–Instrumentality–Expectancy Model of Motivation as an Alternative Model for Examining Ethical Leadership Behaviors, SAGE Open, April 2021, SAGE Publications, DOI: 10.1177/21582440211021896.
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