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Sustainability 2019, 11(8), 2245;

Sustainable Ethical Leadership and Employee Outcomes in the Hotel Industry in Cameroon
Faculty of Tourism, Eastern Mediterranean University, Gazimagusa, North Cyprus, P.O. Box 99628, via Mersin 10, Turkey
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 22 February 2019 / Accepted: 3 April 2019 / Published: 15 April 2019


Lack of sustainability in ethical behavior is one of the principal reasons for unsustainable outcomes. The present study observes how sustainability in ethical leadership affects employee outcomes like trust, effective commitments, and organizational deviance. Ethical behavior and decisions of leaders will continue to be a source of concern in organizations where deviant actions are carried out by employees. The perception of bad ethics becomes a threat to the success of the organization. This study examines the impact of ethical leadership (EL) on trust (TR), affective commitment (AC), and deviance behavior of employees in the hotel industry. Using convenience sampling and a cross-sectional research method, the study made use of 150 questionnaires to get the perceptions of the respondents about the constructs. Data were obtained from employees of hotels in Cameroon. Confirmatory factor analysis, path analysis, and correlation analysis were conducted to assess the primary outcomes and to test the causality between each set of variables. The results showed that ethical leadership encourages employees to build trust in their leaders. Employees become effectively committed to their jobs and, thus, find no reason to engage in deviance actions. Furthermore, the results also confirm that trust feelings towards the leader by the employees positively influence affective commitment, hence, prevent deviance actions. Therefore, effectively committed employees do not engage in organizational deviance behaviors (OD). In light of these results, practical implications and recommendations are provided for decision-makers and future researchers.
sustainable ethical leadership; trust in a leader; employee affective commitment; organizational deviance

1. Introduction

Nowadays, organizations face an environment where the demands of consumers are changing and ever-increasing. Contemporary business settings require higher performance standards for employees due to globalization and technological developments [1]. Interactive communication amid individual employees and their leaders, whose conducts are perceived as ethically right, will endorse sustainable relationships with them and their leaders. The ethical conducts on the part of leaders can lead to sustainable management at the macro level [2]. Therefore, the efforts and competencies of employees need to be directed by fair and exemplary leaders. Leaders have to be dynamic in leading. Good leaders express duality by acting differently, but positively, in different situations to express their competencies and maintain the success of organizations. Organizations which face the problems of leadership [3] are affected negatively. Researchers have paid great attention to supporting the role of leadership in encouraging employees’ resourcefulness and commitment to their jobs [4]. For a successful working environment, leaders should have an ethical work behavior. Under these conditions, the employees are more likely to build and sustain trust (TR), become committed to their jobs, and avoid deviance behaviors. Workplace deviance was defined as an intended action in contrast to important standards of the organization [5]. Organizational deviant actions have become a growing issue in current years. Many research works on organizational deviance (OD) have been grounded in interactive relation, but the dimension of personal–organizational relationships has been lacking in researches as a whole and in hotels in Cameroon in particular. This can be one of the main contributions of the present study. Many deviant activities are connected to the structure of the organization, e.g., stealing, sexual persecution, absenteeism, disruptions, workplace intimidation, dishonesty, and taking long breaks [6]. This, in turn, threatens the safety of the organization and its affiliates.
Ethics is somewhat connected to the leadership behavior of managers. Though researchers, practitioners, and public representatives have considered it in the past, only recently the paradigm and conforming measure of ethical leadership (EL) had been established. EL plays a very vital role in enhancing employee attitudes and behavior in the workplace [7]. Even with the ongoing studies regarding the mechanisms that relate EL to employee outcomes, authors [8,9] still highly support the necessity for added exploration regarding this construct. Future research on the scope of sustainable conduct in EL is very important because it explains in what circumstances EL is valuable to the organization and prominent to the employee behavior. Sustaining the ethical conduct of leaders will lead to the perception of respectable management by the employees. In this way, their efforts can be directed to good organizational behavior, thus, they can sustain the life of the organization. This study contributes to the literature on EL with respect to the situations in which it affects employees’ conducts. Here, the knowledge of EL is extended by investigating and exploring the social exchange theory [10] which has been a principal background in managerial performance [11], predominantly as described in references [12,13]. Past literature has argued that an exchange of quality relationships with ethical leaders should negatively affect the engagement in deviant behaviors. Therefore, EL will favor the decrease of employees’ deviant behaviors through a surge in affective commitment (AC), which portrays healthy social associations and relationships in the organization [14]. Supervisors’ actions are, to some extent, understood by the employees as intended actions that portray the rules of the organization. A handful of studies have investigated important factors that affect organizational performance, like the one that investigated performance and governance in family business using Fuzzy set Logic [15]. Good leadership also improves organizational performance when employees become committed to their specific tasks. Studies have also investigated efficiency, productivity, such as the relationship of leader–member exchange, mobbing, and employee turnover [16] in Turkey. Mobbing was found to be negatively affected by the leader–member exchange. This good relationship between leaders and members will prevent deviance by employees. The results can be extended to Cameroon. Many previous studies have recognized relations between EL and employee well-being in China [17], but not much has been said about the mechanism through which leaders influence the health and welfare of their employees. Therefore, the purpose of this research was to determine the effects of sustainable EL on TR, AC, and OD, the effects of TR on AC and OD, and finally, the effects of AC on OD in Cameroon.
Cameroon’s service sector is divided according to different names of activities like trade, catering, hotels, telecommunications. Between 2007 and 2011, for example, the tertiary segment was seen as the foremost driver of development. The standing of tourism in the financial expansion of nation-states has been undoubtedly recognized by the enhancement in statistics and the improvement of satellite accounts. This can result from the growing interest in management besides the advertising and promotion of hotels that make up the most important part of tourism [18]. Hiring the employees that are more committed will increase the sector size. This will positively affect the economy. Past studies investigated and found a positive relationship between firm size and number of employees, [19]. The tourism industry in general and the hotel industry, in particular, support the growth of the economy [19]. Thus, this study throws more light onto the hotel industry in Cameroon, as the success of this industry will improve the economy of the country. For the hotel industry to affect the economy of the country, it must be productive [20] at the individual level, so the joint impact of individual establishments will be felt by the state’s economy.
So far, very little has been said about the hotel industry. In the past, in Cameroon, the tourism sector in general and the hotel sector, in particular, received very little attention, and many beautiful sites that can be developed as tourist attractions were abandoned and neglected. Lately, some attention has been directed to issues concerning these sectors, but there is still a deficiency in their development, organization, and promotion. A handful of studies have been carried out in the service sector in Cameroon, a few in the hotel sector [18,21]. The service sector is one of the fastest growing sectors in business. This is why its importance in the growth of businesses and firms [22] is noteworthy. The hotel business is part of the service sector, and the employees render services to their clients. So far, no studies have examined ethical leadership in the hotel industry in Cameroon. This study will add up to the literature by examining a comprehensive model of ethical leadership, trust, affective commitment, and organizational deviance in four-star hotels in Douala and Yaoundé, Cameroon.

2. Literature Review and Hypotheses

The study adopted the Conservation of Resources (COR) and the Social Exchange Theory (SET) to develop relationships between the constructs. The first theory used for this study is the COR theory, which claims that employees attain, uphold, and preserve some properties they need to go about their organizational tasks. The theory also clarifies the process of employees’ ability to cope with workplace stress. The COR theory admits four different types of resources: (a) object, such as physical advantages invested by individuals, (b) social support, such as employees’ better conditions, (c) employees’ individual features such as the skills they possess, and finally (d) energy resources, such as money and knowledge [23]. The second theory considered is the SET [10] that recognizes a very strong and positive stimulus of EL on the behavior of subordinates, which is articulated in strong organizational commitment. SET, which replicates the ideas in a mutual or two-way relationship, is a powerful theoretical paradigm for understanding reciprocal or resources exchanging behaviors [24]. EL is “the sit-in of normatively proper behavior that can be seen in their [leaders’] personal actions and their relationships with other leaders and followers, and the promotion of such conduct to followers through mutual communication, corroboration, and decision-making” [7]. This definition recommends the leaders to set the example for others and overcome all temptations that may occur along their path. A real leader will lead his/her organization on the basis of integrity and values. The limited existing research on the origins of ethical leadership suggests that the ethical leaders display the same level of leadership to all subordinates [8], thus, the subordinates learn appropriate behavior by observing others’ role modeling. Ethical leaders are actually authentic, upright, just, and principled in decision-making. They sincerely care and are concerned for their subordinates and are ethical in their expertise and private life. Leaders have an obligation to apply justice because of their authentic power [25]. Leaders are expected to direct the supporters to situations that will lead to changes. They should pay attention to the beliefs of their employees, their management, and the community livelihood. According to the employees, the leaders have an obligation to produce an encouraging and favorable work atmosphere. This atmosphere will nurture the employees to change and cultivate capabilities when they encounter challenging situations [26,27].
Past papers posited employees’ perceptions of their interactions with their leaders as having a significant impact on their attitudes and behaviors, such as satisfaction, intentions to quit their job, and their performance in their jobs [28]. Ethical conduct can be seen as a key philosophy based on trustworthiness, being truthful and fair, and having concern for others. Here, a leader engages in behaviors that benefit others and abstains from behaviors that can cause harm to others [29]. Proper ethical codes and ethics training do not always lead to success, unless the ethical actions and behavior of the top managers are in accordance with what they teach. A good leader is characterized by righteousness and corresponding goals, and he or she is enthusiastic to hold on to these goals even in tough or problematic times. Good leaders care strongly about certain ideas that deserve strong concern and is a person of prudence.
For executives to show their proficiency, they need to establish a trust relationship with their assistants. Trust is psychological. It expresses the intention to admit vulnerability according to positive expectations of intents or behaviors from another individual [30]. It is a very important factor in the acceptance of obligations and information from the supervisor. Trust in a relationship grows when supervisors are open to employees’ input and willing to share control. If employees trust their leaders, perceive their leader’s honesty, reliability, and equity, and then they will be highly committed and ready to perform when necessary. Besides, the support that comes from the relationship with the supervisor affects overall trust levels more than the support from the organization that is perceived by the employees. In a high-quality relationship, the personnel understand leaders to be emotionally supportive, trustworthy, and reliable [31]. Employees respond to trust by supporting in meeting important business goals [32]. When employees perceive a lack of trust on the part of their supervisors, they disrespect the orders on the basis that their words are unreliable. Thus, for supervisors to optimize their employees’ efficiency in respecting duties, they need to gain trust in them, so that they will become committed.
Affective commitment is a personal attitude towards the organization [33]. It goes with strong confidence in accepting the organization’s goals, the willingness to exert considerable efforts for the sake of the organization, and a strong desire to maintain membership in the organization. The tendency for workers to stay loyal to an employer is based on their emotional attachment. The employees that bond emotionally to their organization are seen as dedicated and loyal employees. Emotionally committed employees that have a high sense of belonging that make them more involved in the organization’s activities, strictly follow goals and have the desire to remain in their organizations. Employees who exhibit AC strongly identify with the company and its objectives and might not welcome propositions to leave the current company, even if they are influenced by a better financial reward by another company. Meyer and Allen’s model proposed that affective organizational commitment includes three conceptually and empirically distinct dimensions, labeled as affective, continuance, and normative commitment [34,35]. Employees with a strong AC support the organization out of their own willingness. Those having strong continuance commitment stay because for them it is a requirement. Those with strong normative commitment stay because they see it as a responsibility. Affective commitment is a highly consistent and binding construct capable of determining an employee’s emotional attachment to, and empathy with, an organization [36]. Obligations include ‘behavior terms’ that designate the actions that the commitment suggests [37].
Organizational deviance can be defined as cautious (or intended) desire to cause harm to an organization. Organizational deviant behavior can manifest as delay or extreme and unnecessary absenteeism that cause employees to withdraw tangibly and emotionally from the organization. OD is a form of deviance action when employees discover that their leaders are abusive and fail in their role to give them the necessary support they need [38]. The deviant behavior is not always based on the satisfaction level for the job. Organizational deviant behaviors can be very aggressive and unproductive to the success and profitability of the organization. Supervisors who engage in skeptical behaviors or act unmannerly cause employees to produce less and engage in fewer organizational citizenship behaviors [39]. This can be expressed in deviance behaviors. If an employee perceives that a supervisor gives improper information or assigns tasks that will not be of any advantage to the company, they may take extra defenses and/or be unwilling to perform well when working, and this behavior could result in slower task completion. All of these outcomes prevent organizations from pursuing sustainable development.

3. The Research Model and Hypotheses Development

The following discussion explains the arguments and reasoning of the hypothesized effects in the proposed research model.

3.1. Relationship between EL and TR in a Supervisor

Trust is very essential when it comes to determining personal and organizational efficacy [40]. The impact of the moral standards of seniors on assistants overshadows that of peers [41] because workers seem to be more comfortable to display allegiance and devotion when in agreement with their bosses’ ethical decisions. Truthfulness and veracity are exclusively imperative in the development of trust building [42]. EL performances of supervisors will increase trainees’ TR in those leaders according to their words [43]. These encouraging behaviors of leaders create commitment in the assistants to follow by trusting their supervisor [12]. Prior research offers supportive experimental confirmation that EL can stimulate employees’ trust in their supervisor [7].
Though SET gives a very convincing clarification on why employees are compelled to reciprocate ethical leadership behaviors, there is an indication that employees only occasionally reciprocate ethical treatments by their leaders [44]). This study was carried out in the United States. They concluded that the strength of this reciprocity might depend on other political perceptions. Therefore, our study will examine how the effect of EL will affect employee behavioral outcomes, in our case, TR, AC, and OD. Thus, we posit that:
Hypothesis 1.
EL is positively related to TR in the supervisor.

3.2. Relationship between TR, AC, and OD

Both commitment and trust are necessary to produce outcomes that promote efficiency and reduce inefficiency [45]. Committed employees can also develop the capability of creating innovative minds and lives [46]. When commitment and trust are implemented in the service, they will lead to the development and growth of the business. This innovative act of employees can be influenced by the perception of ethics in the leadership. Employees’ trust in supervisors due to their ethical conducts will lead to a highly committed employee team. In relationship management literature, commitment is indistinguishably linked to trust. Employees who perceive trust in their supervisors will be very committed to the organization and will hardly engage in deviant acts; thus, their commitment will completely cancel out deviant behaviors.
Hypothesis 2.
TR in the supervisor is positively related to AC.
Hypothesis 3.
TR in the supervisor is negatively related to OD.

3.3. Relationship between AC and OD

The give-and-take principle in the SET designates that favorable actions by one side would lead to a kind response by the other side in bilateral relationships [11]. This is the case of the present study in the leader–employee relationship. This high level of employee commitment to the organization will lead to a low or even no deviant actions of the employees, thus:
Hypothesis 4.
AC is negatively related to OD.

3.4. Relationship between EL and AC

Sustainable EL perceived by the employees can render them more committed to their job. Furthermore, sustainable commitment can lead to hotel productivity that may affect economic and social sustainability [47]. The relationships between EL and AC have been already established [48,49]. Workers make an over-generalization about the views concerning the action of their supervisors or bosses. One of the most important ways an organization can choose to augment employee commitment is to maintain strong ethical leaders. This is because employees see them as agents behind the support of the well-being of the organization, thus we posit:
Hypothesis 5.
EL is positively related to AC to the organization.

3.5. Relationship between EL and OD

Very few researchers have examined how EL affects deviant behaviors in the organization, the paths, and the moderators of the EL–OD relationship. Employee frustration can be discharged in many ways. Employees can react to an unethical behavior directly in a similar manner; employees’ deviant acts can be limited because of their powerlessness in the organization as compared to their supervisors or bosses. Hence, deviant behavior is usually intended towards the organization, in ways like faking receipts or interpersonal aggression toward others in the organization [50]. An indirect striking back toward the organization of a deviant behavior often seems a safer choice when subordinates are not satisfied with the conducts of their leaders [51,52]. Traditionally, the literature has identified organizational deviance because of perceived leaders’ low ethical conduct. Thus, we expect that a follower of ethically upright leaders will not engage in deviant behaviors.
Hypothesis 6.
EL is negatively related to OD.
The constructed hypotheses between the study variables are illustrated in the proposed research model (Figure 1) that is given below.

4. Research Methodology

4.1. Population and Sampling

The sample population consisted of frontline employees of four four-star hotels in Yaoundé, the capital city and four-star hotels in Douala, the economic capital city of Cameroon. Yaoundé and Douala have more than 40 hotels, each with at least five four-star hotels. This study examined Mont Febe Hotel, Djeuga Palace Hotel, Hotel La Falaise, and Villa Marco Hotel in Yaoundé and Akwa Palace Hotel, Particular Destiny Suits, Hotel Sawa, and Pullman Douala Rabingha in Douala. These two regions were chosen because they are the major urban areas in the country with a population of 3.4 billion (Yaoundé) and 3.7 billion (Douala) and a high number of hotels and attract many tourists [53].
The sample size of 30 respondents from the above-stated hotels was used to conduct a pilot study. The reason for this pre-survey was to be very sure that the questionnaires were well organized and understood by the respondents during the filling process and to test the scales for reliability, before the main survey. Before starting the pilot study and the main survey, the researchers explained to the managers and employees the aim and use of the research and assured the anonymity and confidentiality of the responses [54]. The sampling method implemented for this study was a convenience sampling. The participants responded individually as they all had personal opinions. The participants were guaranteed the anonymity of their results, as the results would be used only for research purposes and not for any form of sabotage. It was not necessary for them to mention who their leaders were. They were informed that the researchers were just interested in the leadership perceptions of employees and not in regard to a particular leader. The questionnaires were self-administered to the different hotels’ employees directly by the researchers or indirectly through their managers. A total of 170 questionnaires were circulated to different hotels alongside coded envelopes. This was to make sure the researchers returned the questionnaire to the particular respondent in case of incomplete filling. After collection of the questionnaires, they were put into closed envelopes for decreasing or minimizing the risk of common bias [55].
This research adopted a conclusive and quantitative research technique where data were collected and statistically analyzed [56,57]. A cross-sectional design methodology was also used in the study that involved the collection of data from the population sample for a particular period. Primary data used for this research were collected from respondents who were employees of the hotels under study, with the use of questionnaires adopted from past researches.

4.2. Measurement Scales

The questionnaire used for this research was divided into five parts: ethical leadership, trust in the supervisor, affective commitment, organizational deviance, and demographic information of the respondents. EL was measured using 10 items adopted from reference [7]. For example, one of the items for EL was: “My supervisor listens to what employees have to say”. For measuring trust, five items were adopted from reference [58]. Affective commitment was measured using six items, including three reversed items, developed by reference [59], and an organizational deviance 12-item scale adopted from reference [50] (e.g., “This person has taken property from work without permission”). All items (see Appendix A) were rated on a five-point Likert scale from 1 (strongly disagree) to 5 (strongly agree). In order to avoid the response bias, the items under the same scale were not labeled. The data were analyzed using correlation, regression analysis, factor analysis, and path analysis.
The entire questionnaire was designed initially in English. However, the survey was carried out in Cameroon, which is a country with two main official languages, English and French. Therefore, the questionnaire was written in English, translated to French, and back-translated [60] to English by a native speaker to make sure the sense of the questions did not change in the course of translation. Though Yaoundé and Douala are located in the French part of the country, many English speakers have migrated to this side in search of jobs and a better life, so most of them cannot really express themselves in French.
To reduce the problem of common method variance bias, data were collected at two different times [55]. On the basis of the method in reference [55], at Time 1, questionnaire consisted of the questions regarding demographics and ethical leadership items; at Time 2 questionnaire consisted in measuring trust, effective commitment, and deviance.

5. Results

At Time I, 170 questionnaires were distributed. The number of questionnaires retrieved after Time I collection was 160. At time II, 160 questionnaires were distributed to the same respondents, and 155 were retrieved. A period of two weeks separated the questionnaire submissions. In the end, just 150 questionnaires were used for data analysis because five of them were incomplete, obtaining a response rate of 88.24%. Before retrieving the questionnaires, the researchers ensured that they were completely filled. Any uncompleted questionnaire was given back to the respondent to complete. Some of the managers were very helpful. The researchers even had the opportunity to meet some of the staff one-to-one in some of the hotels in which the researchers had close friends or relatives as workers. For this reason, the researchers had to sacrifice time and effort to make sure that there were no missing data.

Demographic Characteristics of the Respondents

The demographic statistics for the respondents are displayed in Table 1. These results show that, out of the 150 employees, 70 (46.7%) were male, and 80 (53.3%) were female. More than 50% of the participants were single 122 (81.3), and just a few 28 (18.7%) were married. No cases of divorce were reported in the results. More than half of the number of respondents 90 (60%) were above 28 years of age; 140 (93.3%) of them had at least a university degree. Very few 10 (6.7%) were high-school certificate holders. As far as organizational tenor is concerned, 88 (58.7%) of the respondents had between 1 to 5 years of experience, 40 (26.6%) had worked from 6 to 10 years, and 10 (6.7%) had 11–15 years of job experience in a hotel.
The constructs of the proposed research model were assessed by Confirmatory Factor Analysis (CFA). Furthermore, we also assessed the reliability and validity of the constructs. We assessed the reliability using Cronbach’s alpha and composite reliability (CR). Then, we assessed the convergent validity and discriminant validity by utilizing the Average Variance Extracted (AVE) technique [61,62]. Furthermore, the correlations between the research model variables were calculated, and the results are presented in Table 2.
The results of CFA shown in Table 3 reveal that there was a strong proof of convergent validity for all the measure items. All loadings showed great significance, as they all exceeded 0.5. on the basis of the claims of reference [63], the cut-off point for AVE should be 0.5 and above. To deal with the issue of and affirm the absence of common method bias, Harman’s single factor test [64] was run through unrotated exploratory factor analysis. In this method, all items are forced to load under one factor. The results revealed that the factor explained less than 50% of the total variance, that was 32.8% in the case of the present study. Therefore, it was confirmed that common method bias was not an issue [55]. The present results for AVE ranged from 0.55 to 0.83. Constructs of composite reliability ranged between 0.88 and 0.96, with all values above a reference point of 0.70, as stated by reference [63], and, therefore, the constructs showed discriminate validity. Besides, we attained substantial standardized factor loadings for indicators that loaded above the threshold. The investigation provided indications of convergent validity. As a result, since all reliability values for all variables were high above the threshold of 0.70, the convergent validity realized all conditions, as no AVE was below 0.5.
The proposed hypotheses were tested with the path analysis, and the results are presented in Table 4.
H1 was accepted, asserting a positive effect of ethical leadership on trust (b = 0.230, p < 0.01). The second hypotheses (H2) measured the positive effect of trust on affective commitment. The analysis revealed significant results (b = 0.394, p < 0.01), and consequently H2 was accepted. H3 assessed the significant negative effect of trust on organizational deviance. H4 posited that affective commitment negatively affects deviance behavior of employees. The fifth hypothesis (H5) assessed the positive impact of EL on AC, and, finally, hypothesis 6 measured the effect of EL on deviant behavior. The results of the H3–H6 showed significance, with the following beta values at 99% confidence interval: H3 (b = −0.399, p < 0.01), H4 (b = −0.364, p < 0.01), H5 (b = 0.321, p < 0.01), and H6 (b = −0.346, p < 0.01).

6. Discussion

The present research aimed to examine the effects of EL on trust, affective commitment, and OD, that is, hypotheses H1, H5, and H6, respectively. Furthermore, it aimed to test the impact of TR on AC and OD (H2 and H3, respectively), and, finally, the effect of AC on OD (H4). Many studies have reiterated on the standings and reputations of EL [65]. This study concluded that EL is positively related to job satisfaction and the organizational AC of their middle managers. However, the topic has received very little systematic scholarly attention [66]. The reduction of unethical or deviant behavior has long been a topic of interest for hospitality industry organizations [67].
The number of female respondents was higher than the number of male respondents. Women are more submissive and reliable than men when it comes to working in hotels in Cameroon [68]. The number of married respondents was very low. In Cameroon, most people have a very narrow knowledge and a great misconception about the hotel business. People believe that those who work in hotels, especially women, are open to sexual harassment and promiscuity. They believe that most of the employees have inappropriate relationships with their bosses and coworkers [68]. For this reason, it is almost impossible for a married couple to allow their partners to work in a hotel because of the fear of marital problems. Most married people do not even think of looking for jobs in hotels because of this misconception. There is no special treatment for employees based on their marital status. A married employee can do the same job as a single employee.
To determine the causality (cause–effect) of each set of relationships in this study, correlation and path analysis were run. These results, as illustrated in Table 2 and Table 4 and Figure 2, indicated the cause–effect relationships and their respective path coefficients. The relationships were EL–TR, TR–AC, TR–OD, AC–OD, EL–AC, and EL–OD. Their correlation coefficients were, respectively, 0.23 **, 0.39 **, −0.40 **, −0.36 **, 0.32 **, and −0.35 **.
On the basis of the path analysis results, the first hypothesis, H1, tested the relationship between EL and TR. The positive impact of EL on TR indicates that an increase in EL will lead to an increase in employees TR. The result of this relationship is in line with past studies [12,69]. Employees who actually experience ethical behavior in their leaders will tend to increase their level of trust. For this reason, they will have no intention to engage in deviance actions and behaviors. The second hypothesis, H2, tested the relationship between TR and AC. When employees trust their leaders, they show their gratitude by becoming committed to their jobs. With a high TR level amongst executives and co-workers in the working environment, employees are motived, remain in the organization, and commit to it. They build positive intentions and expectations [70]. That is to say, the more they trust their leaders, the more they take their tasks with greater seriousness. The third hypothesis, H3, tested the relationship between TR and OD. Our results of the trust–deviance relationship are concordant with those of a previous study [6]. As proposed by the COR theory, EL discourages employee’s deviant behavior, thus boosting employees’ trust in leaders and minimizing employees’ unethical actions. Employees’ commitment to the organization is fundamental to prevent employees’ deviant behavior. The fourth hypothesis, H4, tested the relationship between AC and OD. According to the findings of this study, affective commitment has a significant negative effect on organizational deviance. This is to say an increase in affective commitment will strongly discourage deviant actions. These results are in line with reference [71], who disputed that deviant acts among colleagues can be constrained by penalties. Hotel employees who have decided to be committed to their jobs and who also have trust in their leaders will not act contrary to the rules that lead to positive outcomes for the hotels. The relationship between EL and AC was hypothesized as H5. The results of this study also confirmed that EL was significantly related to AC to the organization. Commitment to an organization can be highly based on the attitude of the leader towards his or her subordinates. This result is concordant with those of past studies [72] that EL has a positive and a significant impact on AC. H6 tested the relationship between EL and OD. We found that EL has a negative impact on OD. That is to say, an increase in EL will lead to a decrease in employee OD. This finding is in line with those of preceding research [69], which concluded that the perception of good leadership by the employees would surely prevent them from showing deviance behaviors or actions.
On the basis of prior research [6], employees recognize that their bosses are an inspiration for them; following positive leader–member interactions, employees form an ethical opinion toward these leaders and the organization. This research contributes to the EL literature by recognizing two important intellectual mechanisms, which are trust and affective commitment, which prevent employee’s workplace deviance actions. Furthermore, EL may remarkably discourage employee deviant behavior. More so, EL encourages employees to perform their task. By doing so, the employees will develop critical cognitive resources, including trusting their bosses. Consequently, they will be motivated to express their own opinions about the organization and the expected behavior of the ethical leader; thereby, they will become very committed and avoid workplace deviance behaviors.

7. Conclusions and Implications

This study examined six hypotheses as discussed above. H1, H2, H3, H5, and H6 were all proposed as positive and significant, while H4 was negative and significant as posited. The results give support to all stated hypotheses. We can conclude that, for the above eight hotels considered in this study, their leaders express ethics in their leadership. This perception of ethics in leadership by the employees influence and motivate their TR, their commitment to their tasks, and avoidance of deviance behaviors.
Sustaining good conducts in leadership has become an evolving leadership style. This has a rewards and considerable implication to enhancing the reputation of hotels, maintaining the sustainable development of hotels, other enterprises, and society in general [3].
Scholars and experts in organizations try to promote the diffusion of EL. They further try to understand the reasons why some leaders do not behave ethically with their assistants. This study’s findings showed that EL, which can also be seen as an expression of a style of leadership [73], can greatly encourage steps that lead to positive changes in an organization as a result of employees being more committed and involved in their tasks. According to reference [74] that investigated the Lewin’s model for change development from the ethnographic point of view, a good leadership style can influence the employees’ willingness to change and to be effectively committed, which will influence organizational change and development. According to the current investigation, when employees perceive that leaders display ethical behaviors, they also display trustworthy actions, which are characterized by a high level of commitment in their job, and, as such, steer away from deviant behaviors. Past studies [75] investigated and concluded that the perception of authentic leadership gives less tolerance to uncivil behavior in the workplace in Jordan. We can extend this conclusion to Africa, as this study found that when employees see their leader as authentic and ethical, they might perceive their workplace to be less tolerant to uncivil behaviors [75]. Therefore, with trust and commitment, they will avoid uncivil and deviant actions.
As affirmed by the findings of this study, a sustainable EL positively affects TR and AC but, on the other hand, negatively affects OD. Furthermore, employees’ TR positively affects AC and negatively affects OD. Finally yet importantly, AC negatively affects OD.
Hotel and organization efficiency and productivity [17] can be influenced by employees’ behaviors. TR, AC, and OD can be considered as outcomes of perceived sustainable EL. Furthermore, when employees are comfortable with their job and surrounding conditions, they become committed and productive. When employees are committed, they become more productive, and this will further influence the productivity of a business in general [20]; thus, beneficiaries and clients will perceive a good treatment.
On the basis of the results and the discussion, we can conclude that the employees’ attitudes and behaviors toward an organization in which they work are highly based on the actions and comportment of their leaders. Employees who perceive trust and fair treatment will show affective commitment to the organization. Those that perceive a lack of trust and unfair treatment will have no choice but to lose trust and display deviance behaviors. In our results, no case of lack of TR in leaders was observed.

7.1. Theoretical and Managerial Implications

This study tested the effect of EL on employees’ outcomes, i.e., TR, AC, and OD. The results highlighted that the managers should develop trustworthy leadership skills that will be accompanied by lower workplace deviance, as this is crucial in gaining a competitive advantage in international and worldwide markets [76]. According to SET, leaders are supposed to be an example for their followers. Managers should show ethical behaviors that will motivate employees to be committed to their individual and collective workplace. This act of ethics by leaders will also discourage employees from engaging in deviant behaviors. The role of sustainable ethical behavior in leadership should be significantly emphasized for the development of hotels. The managers’ and leader’s ethical behavior and their senses of responsibility have a great impact on employees’ attitudes and practices. Managers should invest in measures that will nurture trust and promote effective intellectual contacts in the workplace, thereby discouraging deviant employee actions. They should be perfect role models for their followers, so to build trust in them and motivate them to follow their ways, rules, and regulations. They should fairly treat their employees, so that the employees do not feel cheated or discriminated. They should also pay more attention to the goals and vision of their work by making sure that their actions lead to their commitments.

7.2. Limitations and Future Research Directions

The study adopted a cross-sectional design where data were collected from a group of respondents only once; hence, the explanations of interconnection are based on an indication of co-variation and personal self-reliance in the suggested or hypothesized connections. Longitudinal research is recommended for future studies to determine the causal links. This research was carried out during the rainy season, when access to hotels was difficult because of traffic, rain, and other disturbances. Thus, getting to these hotels was a major issue because of traffic, long distances, and bad roads. Future researches are recommended in the heart of the dry season, when movement is easy. This research was carried out only in hotels in Cameroon. Future researches in other regions will serve for broadening and generalizing our results. Notwithstanding the potential limitations of this work, the study still contributes to research in ethical leadership, OD, and AC. This research made use of affective commitment that has been widely used and popular. Future researches can provide beneficial contributions by including other variables, such as work engagement, job embeddedness, high-performance work practices, job stress, or innovative behavior.

Author Contributions

M.E.M.T.M. contributed to visioning, conception and design of study, collection of data, data analysis and interpretation, drafting the article. A.O. contributed to the revising the manuscript critically, critical revision of the article, implementing the corrections, visioning, and general supervision.


This research received no external funding.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Appendix A. English Survey Items

Ethical Leadership (10 items) from Brown, Treviño, and Harrison (2005).
Ethical leaders conduct personal life in an ethical manner.
Define success not just by results but also by the way it explains one’s attitude it is obtained.
Listen to what employees have to say.
Discipline employees who violate ethical standards.
Make fair and balance decisions.
Can be trusted.
Discusses business ethics or values with employees.
Set an example on how to do things the right way in terms of ethics.
Have the best interest of employees in mind.
When making decisions, they ask what the right thing to do is.
Trust (5 items) from Anand, Chhajed, and Delfin (2012).
Trust the information supplied to me by the Leadership Team.
The Leadership Team has my best interests at heart.
The Leadership Team responds well to my concerns.
The Leadership Team treats me with respect.
The Leadership Team knows about the problems I face.
Organizational Deviance (12 items) from Bennet and Robinson 2000.
Took property from work without permission.
Spent too much time fantasizing or daydreaming instead of working.
Falsified a receipt to get reimbursed for more money than they spent on business expenses.
Taken an additional or a longer break than is acceptable at their workplace.
Came in late to work without permission.
Called in sick when they were not.
Neglected to follow their boss’s instructions.
Intentionally worked slower than they could have worked.
Discussed confidential company information with an unauthorized person.
Left work early without permission.
Left their work for someone else to finish.
Used an illegal drug or consumed alcohol on the job.
Affective Commitment (6 items) from Meyer, Allen, & Smith, 1993.
I would be very happy to spend the rest of my career with this organization.
I really feel as if this organization’s problems are my own.
I do not feel a strong sense of “belonging” to my organization (R).
I do not feel “emotionally attached” to this organization (R).
I do not feel like “part of the family” at my organization (R).
This organization has a great deal of personal meaning for me.
Scale: 1 = strongly disagree 5 = strongly agree. For Reversed items, 1 = 5 and 5 = 1

Appendix B. French Survey Items

Leadership éthique
Les leaders éthiques mènent leur vie personnelle de manière éthique.
Définir le succès non seulement par les résultats mais aussi par la manière dont il explique l’attitude obtenue.
Écoutez ce que les employés ont à dire.
Les employés disciplinaires qui violent les normes éthiques.
Prendre des décisions justes et équilibrées.
Peut être fait confiance.
Discute de l’éthique des affaires ou des valeurs avec les employés.
Donner l’exemple sur la manière de faire les choses de la bonne façon en termes d’éthique.
Ayez à l’esprit le meilleur intérêt des employés.
Lorsqu’ils prennent des décisions, ils demandent quelle est la bonne chose à faire.
La Confiance
Je fais confiance aux informations qui m’ont été fournies par l’équipe de direction.
L’équipe de direction a à coeur mes intérêts.
L’équipe de direction répond bien à mes préoccupations.
L’équipe de direction me traite avec respect.
L’équipe de direction connaît les problèmes auxquels je suis confronté.
Déviance organisationnelle
Pris une propriété du travail sans permission.
Passé trop de temps à rêver ou rêver au lieu de travailler.
Falsifié un reçu pour se faire rembourser plus que ce qu’ils ont dépensé en dépenses professionnelles.
Pris une pause supplémentaire ou une pause plus longue que celle acceptable sur leur lieu de travail.
Je suis arrivé en retard pour travailler sans permission.
Appelés malades quand ils n’étaient pas.
Négligé de suivre les instructions de son patron.
Intentionnellement travaillé plus lentement que prévu.
Discuté d’informations confidentielles sur l’entreprise avec une personne non autorisée.
Quitté le travail tôt sans permission.
Laissé leur travail pour que quelqu’un d’autre finesse.
Utilisé une drogue illégale ou consommé de l’alcool au travail.
l’engagement affectif
Je serais très heureux de passer le reste de ma carrière avec cette organisation.
Je sens vraiment que les problèmes de cette organisation sont les miens.
Je ne ressens pas un fort sentiment d’appartenance à mon organisation. (R)
Je ne me sens pas “émotionnellement attaché” à cette organisation. (R)
Je ne me sens pas comme “faisant partie de la famille” dans mon organisation. (R)
Cette organisation a beaucoup de signification personnelle pour moi.
Scale 1 = fortement en désaccord 5 = Tout à fait d’accord.


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Figure 1. Research model and hypotheses.
Figure 1. Research model and hypotheses.
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Figure 2. Results of the hypotheses’ tests.
Figure 2. Results of the hypotheses’ tests.
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Table 1. Demographic profile of the respondents.
Table 1. Demographic profile of the respondents.
FrequencyPercentValid PercentCumulative Percent
Marital Status
High school106.76.76.7
Post Grad0.00.00.0100.0
Less than 1 year128.08.08.0
Hotels in Douala8456.056.056.0
Hotels in Yaoundé6644.044.0100
Table 2. Latent variable correlation matrix.
Table 2. Latent variable correlation matrix.
OD−0.43 **1.00
TR0.22 **−0.27 ** 1.00
AC0.41 **−0.26 **0.47 **1.00
Notes: EL: ethical leadership; OD: organizational deviance; TR: organizational trust; AC: affective commitment. ** All correlations showed significance at the p < 0.01 level for two-tailed test.
Table 3. Confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) results.
Table 3. Confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) results.
Table 4. Path coefficients.
Table 4. Path coefficients.
Casual PathStandardized EstimatesT StatisticsSupported
H1 EL > TR0.2302.3870 **YES
H5 EL > AC0.3215.0738 **YES
H6 EL > OD−0.3465.4073 **YES
H3 TR > OD−0.3994.6660 **YES
H2 TR > AC0.3944.7588 **YES
H4 AC > OD−0.3644.7823 **YES
EL = ethical leadership; TR = trust; AC = affective commitment; OD = organizational deviance; ** All correlations showed significance at the p < 0.01 level for two-tailed test.

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