To read this content please select one of the options below:

Multiple pathways linking leader-member exchange to work effort

Xinxin Lu (Renmin University of China, Beijing, China)
Jian-Min (James) Sun (Department of Management and International Business, University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand) (School of Labor and Human Resources, Renmin University of China, Beijing, China)

Journal of Managerial Psychology

ISSN: 0268-3946

Article publication date: 8 May 2017




The purpose of this paper is to validate, distinguish, and integrate the multiple mechanisms linking leader-member exchange (LMX) to employee work effort. Taking a multi-foci perspective, the authors propose that organization-based self-esteem (OBSE), supervisory support, and organizational identification each explain unique variance in the LMX-work effort relationship.


The data were collected using a two-wave survey among 184 employees from a wide variety of professions, industries, and organizations. Multiple mediation tests and path analysis were conducted to examine the hypotheses.


The results suggested that when entered simultaneously, OBSE, supervisory support, and organizational identification each explained unique variance in the relationship between LMX at Time 1 and work effort at Time 2.

Research limitations/implications

The research shows that leaders stimulate employee work effort via multiple foci. The mediating mechanisms of these foci are distinct and unique. It implies that researchers need to take the multiple foci of leadership into account when studying LMX.


Previous studies generally treat LMX as a dyadic construct; the study is among the first to reveal the multiple foci in LMX. By simultaneously examining mechanisms of the individual-, dyad-, and collective-foci, the research substantiates the unique effect of the three mechanisms, and integrates theories in LMX research. Moreover, the research in the Chinese context further validates the effectiveness of LMX in non-western culture, and provides contextual implications.



Lu, X. and Sun, J.-M.(J). (2017), "Multiple pathways linking leader-member exchange to work effort", Journal of Managerial Psychology, Vol. 32 No. 4, pp. 270-283.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

Related articles