School of Behavioral Sciences


Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology (PhD)


Rebecca Lindsey


leader-member exchange, LMX, job satisfaction, workplace attitudes, vertical dyad, conservation of resources, social exchange, LMX-7, MSQ-SF, role theory, organizational hierarchy, middle manager, management




Leader-member exchange (LMX) theory focuses on the quality of the relationship between a leader and member. LMX is associated with a number of positive member outcomes, but LMX research has largely neglected what, if any, positive benefits leaders attain from high quality relationships beyond better team performance. The purpose of this study was to apply the LMX theory to middle managers in organizations. Middle managers inherently balance the competing interests of multidirectional relationships, acting as both a leader and a member in the organizational hierarchy. This study explored how middle manager’s self-rating of LMX (relationship with their subordinates), leader-leader exchange (relationship with their direct supervisor), and the interaction of these variables predicted middle manager’s job satisfaction. This study also examined the prevalence of incongruent ratings of LMX and LLX and its impact on job satisfaction. This quantitative study surveyed middle managers of a private business in the southeastern United States, utilizing the LMX-7, SLMX-7, and the MSQ-Short Form. A combination of multiple regression, correlational, and ANOVA analyses were conducted. The study found that LLX was a significant predictor of middle manager job satisfaction, while LMX and the interaction of LMX and LLX were not. The results of this study have both theoretical and practical implications, as the impact of LMX was able to be examined from the leader and member perspectives simultaneously and from the same source. This provided alternative insights into how roles, resources and hierarchy all play pivotal roles in the outcomes of LMX.

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