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Supervisor behavior and character: A simulation study of employee helpfulness

  • Clare Francis (a1), David Hollingworth (a1) and Sean Valentine (a1)


Supervisor character and behavior are key components of an organization's ethical fabric that should play a role in employee helping behavior. However, research has not fully distinguished how these factors are interrelated. The current study explores these relationships by developing a deeper understanding of ethical language in organizations via thick ethical concepts found in simulation software, supported by affect control theory. Software formulae in these simulations were developed via empirical research conducted over several decades. Simulations provided predictions of employee helpfulness in response to encounters with supervisors of varying ethical characters, enacting a variety of behaviors. The likely impact of supervisor character on employee helpfulness is more substantial than the impact of supervisor behavior. New insights emerged related to underlying complexities of ethical languages, such as the role of cultural meanings of language terms. These outcomes, as well as the associated implications, research limitations, and suggestions for future research, are discussed.


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