Original Research

The relationship between hope and optimism, ethical leadership and person-organisation fit

Anton Grobler, Yvonne T. Joubert
South African Journal of Economic and Management Sciences | Vol 23, No 1 | a2872 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajems.v23i1.2872 | © 2020 Anton Grobler, Yvonne T. Joubert | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 07 November 2018 | Published: 04 May 2020

About the author(s)

Anton Grobler, Department of Leadership and Organisational Behaviour, Graduate School of Business Leadership, University of South Africa, Midrand, South Africa
Yvonne T. Joubert, Department of Human Resource Management, Faculty of the College of Economic and Management Sciences (CEMS), University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa


Background: Ethical leadership is viewed as a challenge globally, with person-organisation fit, as well as hope and optimism, being regarded as an essential element of employee well-being and, ultimately, productivity.

Aim: The aim of this study is to examine the relationship between the employees’ perceived ethical leadership in the organisation and the employees’ person-organisation fit, hope and optimism.

Setting: Employees of 30 organisations in South Africa were sampled and there were 1663 respondents.

Methods: A typical positivist methodology – based on an empirical approach, using a cross-sectional design and the quantitative analysis of the data obtained from the surveys – was utilised in this study.

Results: It was found that there is a strong, positive relationship between ethical leadership and hope and optimism (as a composite construct). It was further found that person-organisation fit mediates this relationship.

Conclusion: Recommendations were made to enhance hope and optimism from an institutional (including human resources) as well as leadership level. Recommendations were also made for further research.


Ethical leadership; Hope; Micro, meso, macro levels; Optimism; Person-organisation fit.


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