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Beyond relationship quality: The role of leader–member exchange importance in leader–follower dyads

Lee, Allan, Thomas, Geoff, Martin, Robin, Guillaume, Yves and Marstand, Anders F. (2019) Beyond relationship quality: The role of leader–member exchange importance in leader–follower dyads Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 92 (4). pp 736-763.

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In this paper, we introduce a novel construct, leader–member exchange (LMX) importance, which we position as a meta‐perception indicating whether followers view their LMX relationship as personally important or valuable to them. Based on social exchange theory, we examine the extent to which the obligation followers feel towards their leader depends jointly on the quality and the importance of the LMX relationship. We examine how LMX importance influences the process through which LMX quality affects employees’ level of organizational citizenship behaviour (OCB) by focusing on felt obligation (a measure of followers’ reciprocity obligation in the social exchange process) as a mediating variable. Across two studies, we found that high levels of both LMX quality and LMX importance interacted to engender a greater feeling of obligation in followers to repay the perceived favourable exchanges with their leader. Felt obligation predicted leader‐rated OCB, demonstrating support for our hypothesized moderated mediation model. However, psychological empowerment, when included alongside felt obligation (in Study 2), did not mediate the LMX‐OCB relationship. Overall, our findings extend the focus of LMX theory beyond the confines of LMX quality to incorporate the importance of the LMX relationship.

Item Type: Article
Divisions : Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences > Surrey Business School
Authors :
Lee, Allan
Martin, Robin
Guillaume, Yves
Marstand, Anders F.
Date : December 2019
DOI : 10.1111/joop.12262
Copyright Disclaimer : © 2019 The British Psychological Society
Uncontrolled Keywords : Felt obligation; Leader–member exchange; LMX importance; Organizational citizenship behaviour; Psychological empowerment
Depositing User : Clive Harris
Date Deposited : 28 Mar 2019 10:05
Last Modified : 03 Mar 2020 02:08

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