Skip to main content
Kent Academic Repository

Unethical leadership: Review, synthesis and directions for future research

Hassan, Sharfa, Kaur, Puneet, Muchiri, Michael, Ogbonnaya, Chidiebere, Dhir, Amandeep (2022) Unethical leadership: Review, synthesis and directions for future research. Journal of Business Ethics, . ISSN 0167-4544. E-ISSN 1573-0697. (doi:10.1007/s10551-022-05081-6) (KAR id:93453)

PDF Author's Accepted Manuscript
Language: English

Restricted to Repository staff only
Contact us about this Publication
[thumbnail of Unethical leadership.pdf]
XML Word Processing Document (DOCX) Author's Accepted Manuscript
Language: English

Restricted to Repository staff only
Contact us about this Publication
[thumbnail of JBE_Unethical Manuscript_R2.docx]
PDF Publisher pdf
Language: English

Download this file
[thumbnail of Hassan2022_Article_UnethicalLeadershipReviewSynth.pdf]
Request a format suitable for use with assistive technology e.g. a screenreader
Official URL:


The academic literature on unethical leadership is witnessing an upward trend, perhaps given the magnitude of unethical conduct in organisations, which is manifested in increasing corporate fraud and scandals in the contemporary business landscape. Despite a recent increase, scholarly interest in this area has, by and large, remained scant due to the proliferation of concepts that are often and mistakenly considered interchangeable. Nevertheless, scholarly investigation in this field of inquiry has picked up the pace, which warrants a critical appraisal of the extant research on unethical leadership. To this end, the current study systematically reviews the existing body of work on unethical leadership and offers a robust and multi-level understanding of the academic developments in this field. We organised the studies according to various themes focused on antecedents, outcomes and boundary conditions. In addition, we advance a multi-level conceptualisation of unethical leadership, which incorporates macro, meso and micro theoretical perspectives and thus provide a nuanced understanding of this phenomenon. The study also explicates knowledge gaps in the literature and highlights research gaps that could broaden the horizon of unethical leadership research. On the basis of these knowledge gaps, we develop potential research models that are well-grounded in theory and capture the genesis of unethical leadership under our multilevel framework. Scholars and practitioners will find this study useful in understanding the occurrence, consequences and potential strategies to circumvent the negative effects of unethical leadership.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1007/s10551-022-05081-6
Uncontrolled keywords: Unethical leadership; systematic literature review; multi-level analysis, group-level factors; individual-level factors; organisational-level factors
Subjects: H Social Sciences
Divisions: Divisions > Kent Business School - Division > Department of Leadership and Management
Depositing User: Chidi Ogbonnaya
Date Deposited: 03 Mar 2022 15:53 UTC
Last Modified: 04 Jul 2023 11:29 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

University of Kent Author Information

Ogbonnaya, Chidiebere.

Creator's ORCID:
CReDIT Contributor Roles:
  • Depositors only (login required):

Total unique views for this document in KAR since July 2020. For more details click on the image.