On SAGE Insight: The impact of leader‒member exchange on follower performance in light of the larger social network

From Human Relations

This article examines the influence of leader‒member exchange on follower job performance in light of the larger social networks in which followers are embedded. Testing multilevel models with data that were gathered using questionnaires from a sample of 240 nurses and 20 supervisors working at four Dutch hospitals revealed that a positive relationship exists between leader‒member exchange and follower job performance when follower workflow network centrality and/or follower friendship network centrality are high but not when they are both low. For followers, a good relationship with their leader is important, but its value depends on their relationships with colleagues.

Based on social exchange theory, leader–member exchange (LMX) theory originally focused solely on the dyadic exchange relationship between a leader and a follower. The central premise of LMX theory is that leaders form relationships of varying quality with their various followers, consequently impacting follower outcomes, such as follower job performance.

The results of this study are encouraging, and it will be interesting to further explore how the social context in which leader–member dyads are embedded might determine the impact of LMX on outcomes. Furthermore, it is hoped that this study will inspire organizations and researchers to consider how different social relationships intertwine in impacting employee outcomes.


Abstract

Relationships with leaders do not happen in isolation from the relationships one has with one’s peers. Therefore, we examine the influence of leader‒member exchange on follower job performance in light of the larger social networks in which followers are embedded. Testing multilevel models with data that were gathered using questionnaires from a sample of 240 nurses and 20 supervisors working at four Dutch hospitals revealed that a positive relationship exists between leader‒member exchange and follower job performance when follower workflow network centrality and/or follower friendship network centrality are high but not when they are both low. The results of this study show how the different follower relationships with the supervisor and colleagues intertwine in explaining follower job performance and suggest that the larger network in which followers are embedded within their work teams is important for explaining variations in the results regarding the relationship between leader‒member exchange and follower job performance. Our study indicates that leaders should have an eye for the network position of their followers when developing high quality leader‒member 111 1important, but its value depends on their relationships with colleagues.

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Article details
The impact of leader‒member exchange on follower performance in light of the larger social network
Gerdien Regt, Eric Molleman, Hendrik Johan van de Brake
First Published November 23, 2018 Research Article
DOI: 10.1177/0018726718806351
From Human Relations


     
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