Leader self-definition and leader self-serving behavior.

D Rus, Daan van Knippenberg, B Wisse

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

51 Citations (Scopus)


The present research investigated the relationship between leader self-definition processes and leader self-serving behaviors. We hypothesized that self-definition as a leader interacts with social reference information (descriptive and injunctive) in predicting leader self-serving actions. Six studies (i.e., two laboratory experiments, two scenario experiments, and two cross-sectional surveys) showed that self-definition as a leader affected the extent to which leader resource self-allocations were informed by descriptive information (i.e., other leaders' self-allocations) and injunctive information (i.e., effective leadership beliefs). Leaders self-defining more strongly as leaders relied more on other leaders' self-allocations and on effective leadership beliefs when allocating resources to the self than those self-defining less strongly as leaders. The data suggest that leaders are more likely to use social reference information when their self-definition is deeply embedded in those references.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)509-529
Number of pages21
JournalThe Leadership Quarterly
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2010


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