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Deception Among Organizational Leaders: Impacts on Employee Perceptions of Supervisor Credibiliy, Power, and Trust

Kelley, Paisleigh
Committee Members: 
Dr. Michelle Violanti
May 2015


Deception is ubiquitous in day-to-day communication. While most deceptive acts are relatively minor in terms of interpersonal impact, lying in the workplace may result in negative organizational outcomes (Griffith et al., 2011). Moreover, business leaders who engage in deceptive communication may elicit similar behavior in their employees (Henrichs, 2007). The current study assesses how different deceptive messages spoken by organizational leaders (e.g., honest messages, messages that withhold information, and messages that distort information) impact employee perceptions of that leader’s credibility, power, and trustworthiness. The results of this study indicate that employees view business leaders as less credible and less trustworthy when they engage in deceptive communication, regardless of message type. Further, when managers engage in deceptive messaging, they are perceived as holding less referent power and are viewed as holding more coercive power. Legitimate power, expert power, and reward power were unaffected by deceptive messages. Implications for practice and recommendations for future research are discussed.