Corresponding Author

Brian Moore


Literature reviews are a significant tool for examining the breadth and depth of a selected body of literature. Although there are many types of literature reviews, ranging from narrative to meta-analysis, this article uses a descriptive review. Descriptive reviews are extremely useful for examining a body of literature, highlighting key areas of interest, particularly as it addresses a specific research question, or is directed toward a particular purpose. This article utilizes a descriptive review of ethical public leadership, both in civilian and military organizations, particularly focusing on two critical areas of interest: theme identification and issue development. Four key themes were identified: leadership trust, organizational environment, relationship between employee and workplace attitudes, and ethical competence. Our review elicited several key issues reflected in the ethical public leadership literature: leader behavior relationship, employee or follower behavior, education, development, and training, and organizational awareness. In addition, four corollary issues emerged: influence of military leadership behavior, geographic distribution of study populations, distinct array of leadership positions, and methodological diversity. Our primary conclusion is that ethical public leadership research, particularly focusing on our four key issue areas, is present in all public organizations, civilian or military, crosses organizational, cultural, and geographic boundaries, and utilizes multiple types of methodologies. In summary, while we recognize limitations to our review, and point out key areas for future research, we contend public leadership is and should continue to be a fertile and significant area for ethics research and development.