The Influence of Ethical and Transformational Leadership on Employee Creativity in Malaysia's Private Higher Education Institutions: The Mediating Role of Organizational Citizenship Behaviour

Anantha Raj A. Arokiasamy, Greeni Maheshwari, Khanh-Linh Nguyen
Interdisciplinary Journal of Information, Knowledge, and Management  •  Volume 17  •  2022  •  pp. 001-033

This paper aimed to examine the influence of ethical and transformational leadership on employee creativity in Malaysia’s private higher education institutions (PHEIs) and the mediating role of organizational citizenship behavior.

To ensure their survival and success in today’s market, organizations need people who are creative and driven. Previous studies have demonstrated the importance of ethical leadership in fostering employee innovation and good corporate responsibility. Research on ethical leadership and transformational leadership, in particular, has played a significant role in elucidating the role of leadership in relation to organizational citizenship behavior (OCB). In this study, we have focused on ethical and transformational leadership as an antecedent for enhancing employee creativity. Despite an increase in leadership research, little is known about the underlying mechanisms that link ethical leadership and transformational leadership to OCB. Because it sheds light on factors other than ethical leadership and transformational leadership that influence employees’ extra-role activity, this research is relevant theoretically. OCB may have a mediating function between ethical leadership and transformational leadership style and employee creativity because it is associated with the greatest outcomes, but empirical research has yet to prove this. So, one of the study’s goals is to add to the hypotheses about how ethical leadership style and transformational leadership affect employee creativity by using an important mediating variable – OCB.

This study adopted a quantitative approach based on a cross-sectional survey and descriptive design to gather the data in a specific period. A convenient sampling approach was used to gauge 275 employees from Malaysia’s PHEIs. To test the hypotheses and obtain a conclusion, the acquired data was analyzed using the partial least square technique (PLS-SEM).

The study contributes to leadership literature by advancing OCB as a mediating factor that accounts for the link between ethical and transformational leadership and employee creativity in the higher education sector.

According to the research, OCB has a substantial influence on the creativity of employees. Furthermore, ethical leadership boosted OCB and boosted employee creativity, according to the research. OCB and employee creativity have both been demonstrated to benefit greatly from transformational leadership. Further research revealed that OCB is a mediating factor in the link between leadership styles and creative thinking among employees.

Higher education institutions should focus on developing leaders who value transparency and self-awareness in their interactions with followers and who demonstrate an inner moral perspective in addition to balanced information processing to ensure positive outcomes at the individual and organizational levels. Higher education institutions should place a priority on hiring leaders that exhibit ethical and transformational traits to raise awareness of these leadership styles among employees.

The new study also adds significantly to the body of knowledge by examining the relationship between ethical and transformational leadership and the creativity of the workforce. It aimed to identify the relationship between transformational leadership style and individual creativity in higher education by examining the mediating influence of OCB.

Higher education institutions should devise strategies for developing ethical and transformative leaders who will assist boost OCB and creativity within their workforce. Students and faculty in higher education can benefit from these leadership methods by learning to think in more diverse ways and by developing thought processes that lead to a larger pool of innovative ideas and solutions. As a consequence, employees who show creative behavior may be effectively managed by leaders who utilize ethical and transformational leadership styles and motivate them to show OCB that allow them to solve creative problems creatively.

A mixed-methods approach should be used in future research, and this should be done in public institutions in developing and developed nations to put the findings to use and generalize them even further. Future research will be able to examine other mediators to learn more about how and why ethical and transformational leadership styles affect PHEI employees’ creativity.

ethical leadership, transformational leadership, employee creativity, private higher education institutions, Malaysia, organizational citizenship behavior
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