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.

Leader self-definition, Leader self-serving behaviors, Leadership, Social comparisons, Social information processing,
ERIM Top-Core Articles
The Leadership Quarterly
Erasmus Research Institute of Management

Rus, D.C, van Knippenberg, D.L, & van Knippenberg, B. (2010). Leader self-definition and leader self-serving behavior. The Leadership Quarterly, 21(3), 509–529. doi:10.1016/j.leaqua.2010.03.013