Beyond leader–member exchange (LMX) differentiation: An indigenous approach to leader–member relationship differentiationby Ying Chen, Enhai Yu, Jooyeon Son

The Leadership Quarterly


The significance of leader–member relationships in the workplace has been well established in the literature (Dulebohn, etween business and dWayne (1997, p. 48) ces, information, and/ and Uhl-Bien (1995) onship as opposed to

The Leadership Quarterly xxx (2013) xxx–xxx

LEAQUA-00962; No of Pages 17

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The Leadership Quarterlycommitment, job performance, and organizational citizenship behaviors (OCBs).

House and Aditya (1997) noted that LMX theory reflects the U.S. cultural preference for a separation b personal relationships; therefore, it focuses implicitly on working relationships. Indeed, Liden, Sparrowe, an defined LMX as “a working relationship that is characterized by the physical or mental effort, material resour or emotional support exchanged between the leader and the member.” In a well-cited review article, Graen stressed that leader–member exchange relationships are “based on the characteristics of a working relatiBommer, Liden, Brouer, & Ferris, 2012; Gerstner & Day, 1997; Graen & Uhl-Bien, 1995). The majority of this research has been conducted within the framework of the leader–member exchange (LMX) theory. Rather than assuming that leaders develop relationships of equal qualitywith individualmembers, the LMX theory suggests that leadersmay formdifferentiated relationships with their followers. Meta-analyses (Dulebohn et al., 2012; Gerstner & Day, 1997; Ilies, Nahrgang, &Morgeson, 2007) of LMX have demonstrated that LMX quality is related to certain work attitudes and behaviors such as job satisfaction, organizational1. Introductiona personal or friendship relationship” (p. 23 personal relationships with their member

Hendron, & Oldroyd, 2009; Law, Wong, Wa ☆ We are grateful to Editor Kevin Lowe and three thank Professor Aparna Joshi for her feedback on th ⁎ Corresponding author. Tel.: +1 217 244 4096; f

E-mail addresses: (Y. Chen) 1048-9843/$ – see front matter © 2013 Elsevier Inc. A

Please cite this article as: Chen, Y., et al., B leader–member relationship differentiationLMX differentiation

Leader–member guanxi

Leader–member guanxi differentiationdifferentiation, demonstrating that LMG differentiation, in general, is detrimental to employees' work attitudes and their intentions to stay in an organization. On the contrary, interestinglyKeywords:

LMXexamines leader–member relationship differentiation from an indigenous, leader–member guanxi (LMG) perspective. Using a sample of 60 groups and 228 employees, we examined the dual effects of LMG differentiation on employee job satisfaction, organizational commitment, turnover intention, and co-worker helping behavior after controlling for LMX, LMX median, and LMX differentiation. The results of this study supported the proposed dual effects of LMG enough, LMG differentiation can accentuate the positive relationship between LMG and job satisfaction, organizational commitment, and co-worker helping behaviors. © 2013 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.Received in revised form 17 December 2013

Accepted 18 December 2013

Available online xxxx

Handling editor: Kevin LoweBeyond leader–member exchange (LMX) differentiation:

An indigenous approach to leader–member relationship differentiation☆

Ying Chen a,⁎, Enhai Yu b, Jooyeon Son a a School of Labor and Employment Relations, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 504 East Armory Avenue, Champaign, IL 61820, USA b School of Economics and Management, North China Electric Power University, Beijing, China a r t i c l e i n f o a b s t r a c t

Article history:

Received 4 April 2013

The existing literature has established that leaders differentiate among their followers; however, the focus has long been on the Western leader–member exchange (LMX) theory. This paper j ourna l homepage: www.e lsev ie r .com/ locate / leaqua7); however, research has demonstrated that leaders can develop both working and s (Berman, West, & Richter, 2002; Boyd & Taylor, 1998; Burris, Rodgers, Mannix, ng, & Wang, 2000; Zorn, 1995). anonymous reviewers for their insightful comments and suggestions throughout the review process. We e earlier version of this work. ax: +1 217 244 9290. , (E. Yu), (J. Son). ll rights reserved. eyond leader–member exchange (LMX) differentiation: An indigenous approach to , The Leadership Quarterly (2013), 2 Y. Chen et al. / The Leadership Quarterly xxx (2013) xxx–xxxThe Western LMX approach focuses on working relationships, whereas the indigenous Chinese leader member guanxi (LMG) construct focuses on personal relationships between leaders and members. The LMG can be developed through after-hours leader–member socialization, the exchange of gifts, family visits during holidays and other social activities (Law et al., 2000). This study defines LMG as a personal relationship between the supervisor and the subordinate that is characterized by personal life inclusion, affective attachment, and deference to supervisor (Chen, Friedman, Yu, Fang, & Lu, 2009).

Although both LMX and LMG refer to supervisor–subordinate relationships and substantial findings with respect to LMX have been replicated in Chinese contexts (e.g., Hui, Law, & Chen, 1999; Wang, Law, Hackett, Wang, & Chen, 2005), recent studies have demonstrated that LMG and LMX are related but distinct constructs. LMG can explain additional variance in various organizational outcomes in Chinese contexts (Chen et al., 2009; Law et al., 2000). For example, studies among Chinese respondents have found that LMG, after consideration of LMX, is positively related to organizational commitment, procedural justice perceptions (Chen et al., 2009), constructive controversy with managers (Chen & Tjosvold, 2007), promotion, and bonuses (Law et al., 2000).

The research into both LMX and LMG has focused historically on a dyadic level of analysis. Such dyadic-level studies typically treat the dyadic LMX or LMG in isolation without considering the possibility that a high- or low-level quality of leader–member relationships with respect to either work or personal situations may coexist within the same work group. Recently, the LMX research has moved from the dyadic level toward consideration of the influence of a combination of different levels of LMX that employees may have with the leaders of a work group. The degree of the within-group variation of the different quality levels of