Academic journal article Journal of Applied Management and Entrepreneurship

Examining the Relationship between Leader-Member Exchange and Subordinate Outcomes: The Mediating Effects of Role Clarity. A Study from an Arabic Cultural Context

Academic journal article Journal of Applied Management and Entrepreneurship

Examining the Relationship between Leader-Member Exchange and Subordinate Outcomes: The Mediating Effects of Role Clarity. A Study from an Arabic Cultural Context

Article excerpt

Introduction

The relationship that a leader has with individual followers is an important factor in the leadership process. The quality of the supervisor-subordinate exchange relationship is vital to employee attitudes and behaviors (Schyns and Day, 2010; Schyns, Maslyn, and Veldhoven, 2012). The quality of the relationship between supervisors and subordinates has often been studied via LMX theory (e.g. Carson and Carson, 2002; Erdogan and Enders, 2007; Harris, Harris, and Eplion, 2007; Janssen and Van Yperen, 2004; Lee, 2005; Liang, Ling, and Hsieh, 2007; Levy and Hall, 2006; Mardanov, Sterrett, and Baker, 2007) LMX can be defined as the interpersonal relationship between a subordinate and his or her leader (Lee, 2000). Previous research has shown that successful interaction between leaders and their followers are central to the overall functioning of a company (Graen and Uhl-Bien, 1995). Similarly, previous studies also reported that high quality LMX have been found to have a large impact on employee performance, organizational commitment, and job satisfaction (e.g. Gerstner and Day, 1997; Graen and Uhl-Bien, 1995; Vatanen, 2003).

Previous studies tested the theory of LMX and reported inconsistent results. For example, Dunegan, Uhl-Bien; and Duchon (2002) reported that the relationship between LMX and turnover has been weak and unstable. Similarly, studies investigated the relationship between LMX and subordinate performance have not produced consistent positive results (Dunegan, UhlBien; and Duchon, 2002). This study focuses on these inconsistencies. The study objective is to help clarify the LMX-work outcomes relationship by assessing how that relationship may be influenced by some potential mediators. Specifically, the study will examine role clarity to determine if it mediates the relationship between LMX and job satisfactions, organizational commitment, and turnover intentions.

In addition, it should be noted that LMX theory has mainly been applied in a Western setting (Vatanen, 2003). A few studies have examined the relationship between LMX and work outcomes in a non- Western culture. For example, Wakabayashi and Graen (1984) examined the LMX framework in Japan; Hui, Law, and Chen (1999), who tested LMX theory in China; and finally Pillai, Scandura, and Williams (1999) who applied LMX theory in India, Jordan and Saudi Arabia. This use of LMX theory in a non- Western context provides some support for the assumption that LMX theory is useful for the study of leader-follower relations within the UAE. Demonstration of the applicability of the LMX framework to an intercultural UAE context would increase the external validity of the framework as well as enable its expansion (Vatanen, 2003).

Based on the above, this study attempts to narrow this gap by empirically testing the degree to which high quality LMX develops higher job satisfaction and organizational commitment and lower turnover intentions in the UAE. In addition, this study is to examine the mediating role of role clarity for the relationship between LMX and work outcomes for the first time in the Middle Eastern context. The present study extends earlier research by attempting to address the generalizability of a Western theoretical framework of LMX in a non- Western context of the UAE.

Leader-Member Exchange (LMX) Theory

Traditional leadership theories focused on explaining leadership as a function of the personal characteristics of the leader, the features of the situation, or an interaction between the leader and the group (Gerstner and Day, 1997; Lee, 2000). These previous theories of leadership had often made an assumption that leaders treat all subordinates the same and that is called Average Leadership Style (ALS) (e.g. Harris, 2004). Dansereau, Graen, and Haga (1975) proposed that leader-member relationships are heterogeneous. The relationship between a leader and a member contained within a work unit are different, and that each leader-member relationship is a unique interpersonal relationship within an organizational structure (Harris, 2004). …

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