This study explores the characteristics of leadership in developing and managing ethics in public relations, based on in-depth interviews with 20 public relations executives in the United States. Systematic analysis of the interview data identified multiple dimensions of ethical leadership and ethical knowledge, and suggested that ethical leadership is grounded in personal rather than professional characteristics. Personal ethics, interpersonal behaviors, and articulation of ethical standards emerged as 3 salient characteristics of an ideal leader in facilitating knowledge transfer of ethics in public relations organizations. Ethical knowledge is implicit, intangible, personal, and often difficult to identify or articulate, posing a challenge for the transfer of knowledge through structured and formalized approaches. Theoretical implications and practical recommendations are discussed.
Journal of Public Relations Research, 23(1), 46-74