Universiteit Leiden

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More ethical, more innovative?

Zeger van der Wal, Professor by special appointment Ien Dales Chair at Leiden University, and Mehmet Akif Demircioglu, Assistant Professor ar the Lee Kuan Yen School of Public Policy, researched the effects of ethical culture and ethical leadership on realized innovation.

Zeger van der Wal, Mehmet Akif Demircioglu
29 April 2020

Are ethical public organisations more likely to realize innovation? The public administration literature is ambiguous about this relationship, with evidence being largely anecdotal and focused mainly on the ethical implications of business‐like behaviour and positive deviance, rather than how ethical behaviour and culture may contribute to innovation. In this paper the effects of ethical culture and ethical leadership on reported realized innovation, using 2017 survey data from the Australia Public Service Commission (n = 80,316) are examined. The findings show that both ethical culture at the working group‐level and agency‐level as well as ethical leadership have significant positive associations with realized innovation in working groups. The findings are robust across agency, work location, job level, tenure, education, and gender and across different samples. The paper is concluded with theoretical and practical implications of our research findings.

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