Social Influence and Leader Perceptions: Multiplex Social Network Ties and Similarity in Leader–Member Exchange
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Leader–member exchange (LMX) theory focuses on the degree of emotional support and exchange of valued resources between supervisor and subordinate. LMX research is criticized for failing to consider the role of the social context in the development of subordinates’ perceptions of LMX. We explore whether employees have similar LMX perceptions to those of multiplex social network ties.
We conducted a social network study of 61 employees working in a computing and information technology company in the southeastern United States.
Our results suggest that employees tend to have LMX perceptions similar to those of high-trust advice ties who work for the same supervisor and different from high-trust friendship ties who work for the same supervisor. Employees’ LMX perceptions were unrelated to the LMX perceptions of high-trust friend and advice ties who worked for different supervisors.
Our study contributes to research seeking to understand the role that the social context plays in shaping employees’ LMX perceptions by demonstrating that social network ties are important to this process. It also contributes to research exploring social influence and social networks by offering a potential explanation for why friendship and advice ties are socially influential. From a practical perspective, our results will help managers to understand why employees’ may have LMX perceptions which are inconsistent with the favorability of treatment that they receive.
We respond to calls for research on the effects of context on organizational phenomena in general and LMX specifically.
KeywordsLeader–member exchange Social influence Social networks Trust
This research was supported by Summer Research Grant from the Department of Management at Clemson University awarded to Russell L. Purvis.
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