Leader-member exchange meta-analysis

Topics: Effect size, Measurement, Meta-analysis Pages: 18 (5299 words) Published: April 25, 2014
Copyright 1997 by the American Psychological Association, Inc. 0021-9010/97/S3.00

Journal of Applied Psychology
1997, Vol. 82. No. 6, 827-844

Meta-Analytic Review of Leader-Member Exchange Theory:
Correlates and Construct Issues
Charlotte R. Gerstner and David V. Day
The Pennsylvania State University

The leader-member exchange (LMX) literature is reviewed using meta-analysis. Relationships between LMX and its correlates are examined, as are issues related to the LMX construct, including measurement and leader-member agreement. Results suggest significant relationships between LMX and job performance, satisfaction with supervision, overall satisfaction, commitment, role conflict, role clarity, member competence, and turnover intentions. The relationship between LMX and actual turnover was not significant. Leader and member LMX perceptions were only moderately related. Partial support was found for measurement instrument and perspective (i.e., leader vs. member) as moderators of the relationships between LMX and its correlates. Meta-analysis showed that the LMX7 (7-item LMX) measure has the soundest psychometric properties of all instruments and that LMX is congruent with numerous empirical relationships associated with transformational leadership.

since first proposed, this basic unit of analysis has remained unchanged.

Within the broad area of organizational leadership,
leader-member exchange (LMX) theory has evolved into
one of the more interesting and useful approaches for
studying hypothesized linkages between leadership processes and outcomes. First proposed by Graeri and colleagues (Dansereau, Cashman, & Graen, 1973; Dansereau, Graen, & Haga, 1975; Graen, 1976; Graen & Cashman, 1975), LMX is distinguished from other leadership theories by its focus on the dyadic relationship between

a leader and a member. Unlike traditional theories that
seek to explain leadership as a function of personal characteristics of the leader, features of the situation, or an interaction between the two, LMX is unique in its adoption of the dyadic relationship as the level of analysis. Although the theory has been modified and expanded

According to LMX, the quality of the relationship that
develops between a leader and a follower is predictive of
outcomes at the individual, group, and organizational levels of analysis. Dyadic relationship development is grounded in role and exchange theories (see Graen &
Uhl-Bien, 1995; Liden, Sparrowe, & Wayne, 1997; UhlBien, Graen, & Scandura, 1997, for more detailed discussions of the theoretical background and development of LMX). After more than 25 years of empirical research

and theoretical development, LMX continues to provide
an operable alternative to the traditional leadership approaches focused on leader traits and behaviors (e.g., Bass, 1990; Mintzberg, 1973; Stogdill, 1948).
Although researchers remain enthusiastic about LMX,
there is unresolved ambiguity about the nature of the construct, its measurement, and its relationships with other organizational variables. This ambiguity may be due in
part to the evolving nature of LMX theory. In a recent
review, Graen and Uhl-Bien (1995) classified the evolution of LMX theory into four stages: (a) work socialization and vertical dyad linkage where the focus was on the discovery of differentiated dyads (i.e., in-groups and outgroups), (b) LMX where the focus was on the relationship quality and its outcomes, (c) a prescriptive approach to dyadic partnership building, and (d) LMX as a systems-level perspective (i.e., moving beyond the dyad to group and network levels). The latter two stages are fairly

recent developments, and most of the work associated with
them is theoretical. The majority of empirical research

Charlotte R. Gerstner and David V. Day, Department of Psychology, The Pennsylvania State University. We gratefully acknowledge the contributions made by Dan
Brass, Jim Farr, John Mathieu, Janet Swim, and...

Citations: Index to identify articles that referenced either of the seminal LMX articles (i.e., Dansereau et al.,
1975; Graen & Cashman, 1975)
identified seven different versions of the LMX scales developed
by Graen and colleagues, two additional LMX measures (Liden & Maslyn, in press; Schriesheim et al., 1992), and several
modified versions of these scales. The LMX7 scale (Qraen,
Novak, & Sommerkamp, 1982) is by far the most frequently
research before the specific LMX scales were developed (e.g.,
Graen, Dansereau, Minami, & Cashman, 1973)
studies that used the Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire
(Bass, 1985) because these relationships are not consistently
dyadic in nature and have recently been reviewed by Lowe,
Kroeck, and Sivasubramaniam (1996)
sales in dollars (e.g., Graen, Novak, & Sommerkamp, 1982;
Tanner & Castleberry, 1990).
(1979).
Lirtzman(1970).
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