The role of affect, fairness, and social identification in vertical and lateral exchange relationships

Tse, Ho-Man Herman (2006). The role of affect, fairness, and social identification in vertical and lateral exchange relationships PhD Thesis, School of Business, The University of Queensland.

       
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Author Tse, Ho-Man Herman
Thesis Title The role of affect, fairness, and social identification in vertical and lateral exchange relationships
School, Centre or Institute School of Business
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2006
Thesis type PhD Thesis
Supervisor Ashkanash, N.
Dasborough, M.
Total pages 235
Collection year 2006
Language eng
Subjects L
350200 Business and Management
720403 Management
Abstract/Summary Considerable research attention has been devoted to understanding the implications of leader-member exchange (LMX) theory over the last thirty years (see Graen & Uhl-Bien, 1995, for a review). A review of research has suggested that LMX substantially influences employees' work attitudes and behaviours (e.g., see Gerstner & Day, 1997; Janssen & Van Yperen, 2004). Nonetheless, there is an important omission in LMX research; namely, how does LMX quality influence people outside of the dyadic relationships (Sias & Jablin, 1995)? Sparrowe and Liden (1997), Liden and Sparrowe (in press) and Oh, Chung and Labianca (2004) suggest that interpersonal exchange relationships between leaders, subordinates, and coworkers are interconnected to constitute a larger social system that operates in teams and organisations. Similarly, based on a systems perspective, Graen and Uhl-Bien (1995) call for more research to understand how LMX dyadic relationships influence employees' work attitudes, behaviours and perceptions in larger collectives of workgroups. This is because LMX quality is not only influenced by, but may also influence other exchange relationships within the larger system. Therefore, it is reasonable to expect that the characteristics of a dyadic relationship between a leader and a subordinate will also have implications for team member exchange (TMX), defined by Seers (1989) as the relationship quality between an individual and her or his team members (see also Sherony & Green, 2002; Sias, 1996; Sias & Jablin, 1995). In this thesis, therefore, my aim is to advance the research on interpersonal exchange relationships by addressing research questions that explore how vertical exchange relationships between supervisors and subordinates influence lateral exchange relationships among team members in organisations. Specifically, I have integrated social exchange theory (SET), social identity theory (SIT), emotional contagion theory (ECT), and climate research to develop and to test a multilevel model. At the individual level, I theorised that LMX quality influences individual team members' perceptions of TMX quality. I also hypothesised that social identification and affect act as cognitive and affective mechanisms that mediate the relationship between LMX quality and TMX quality. At the group level, I hypothesised that LMX differentiation fairness moderates the relationship between LMX quality and social identification, while affective climate moderates the relationship between individual team members' positive affect and TMX quality. In order to test the validity of my model, I adopted the post-positivist research position resting on a realist ontology (what is the nature of reality), an objective epistemology (the relationship between the knowledge and the inquirer), where both qualitative and quantitative methods were used to investigate the hypothesised relationships in three studies. Study 1 was an exploratory study intended to identify the nature of TMX and the role of emotions within the team member exchange relationships. Personal in-depth interviews and surveys were used to collect qualitative and quantitative data in this study. The sample for this study was 25 employees working in five different teams in a private health service provider and a medium-sized construction material company in Australia. The qualitative results revealed that a variety of exchanges occur within the team member relationships, including relationship-oriented and task-oriented exchanges. Team members also reported that they experienced both positive and negative emotions in response to their TMX relationships. The quantitative results further indicated that positive emotions, rather than negative emotions, were associated with effective TMX relationships. These results support the findings of past research on TMX and emotions in teams, suggesting TMX relationship was an important outcome variable. Based on these results, only positive affect was included in the model to be examined in the remainder of the studies. Study 2 used a quantitative cross-sectional design to examine the relationships between LMX quality, social identification, positive affect, and TMX quality at the individual level of the multilevel model. The sample for this study was 262 employees of an Australian bank and a national restaurant chain. A web-survey was developed and used to collect data from employees and structural equation modelling (SEM) was utilised to analyse the data. Results showed that LMX quality was positively related to social identification and TMX quality. Further, social identification was found to mediate the relationship between LMX quality and TMX quality, while positive affect mediated the relationship between social identification and TMX quality. These results are consistent with SET, SIT and ECT and support the individual-level relationships between the variables in the model. Study 3 was designed to test the group-level moderating effects of LMX differentiation fairness and affective climate on individual-level relationships between the variables. This study built on the results of Study 2 to evaluate the validity of the overall model. Manager-reported and self-reported questionnaires were used to collected data from 2 15 manager-employee matched dyads working in 36 teams for an Australian bank. Managers provided ratings on LMX quality for each of their subordinates within a team, while employees provided ratings on LMX differentiation fairness, affective climate, social identification, positive affect, and TMX quality. Hierarchical liner modelling (HLM) was used to analyse the multilevel data. Results confirmed that the individual-level relationship between individual team members' positive affect and TMX quality was moderated by group-level affective climate. Overall, findings from this research provide mostly supportive evidence for the hypothesised relationships in the model. The major findings demonstrate that employees enjoying high-quality LMX relationships tend to develop high-quality TMX relationships with their team members because they strongly identify with their teams, and that this identification induces positive emotions, which in turn enhances TMX quality. In addition, individual team members experiencing positive affect were found to be more likely to form high-quality TMX relationships with others when the affective climate in their teams is strong. To the best of my knowledge, this research is among the first to explore interpersonal exchange relationships in a larger social system in organisations by developing and testing a multilevel model. I have outlined the theoretical contributions of this research to SET, SIT, ECT, and climate research. In practical terms, this research increases our understanding of how managers use high-quality relationships with subordinates as a means of maximising individual and team effectiveness by demonstrating concern for subordinates' emotional well-being in the workplace.

 
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