Relative Leader-Member Exchange and Social Identity: The Downside to High Status
Academy of Management Meeting Proceedings 2019
Due to resource constraints and preferences, the relationships that leaders have with their subordinates vary in quality. As a result, leaders often adopt an equity approach to invest the most resources in the star performers. Because the variance in relationship quality is recognized through social comparisons by workgroup members, relative leader-member exchange (RLMX) is an important factor in deciding to strengthen social identities with the group or organization the leader represents. To date, researchers have suggested that RLMX positively relates to social identity. However, by combining LMX and self-categorization theories into the social identity process, we hypothesize and find support for a nonlinear, asymptotic relationship between these variables. Across two studies, we replicate this nonlinear association, where RLMX was found to positively impact organizational identity as employee status increased from low to average RLMX, but not at high RLMX levels, supporting a lack of an effect for star performers. In the second study, we extend this finding to suggest how the nonlinear effect indirectly impacts work outcomes, with results supporting the OCB and job satisfaction outcomes, but not task performance.
Leader-subordinate relationship; Relative leader-member exchange; Relationship quality; Social identity; Organizational identity
Leadership Studies | Social and Behavioral Sciences
Haynie, J. J.,
Relative Leader-Member Exchange and Social Identity: The Downside to High Status.
Academy of Management Meeting Proceedings 2019, 2019(1),