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Putting Exchange Back into Leader-Member Exchange (LMX): An Empirical Assessment of a Social Exchange (LMSX) Scale and an Investigation of Personality as an Antecedent




Bernerth, Jeremy

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In the early 1970s, researchers began investigating a new approach to the study of leadership within organizations. In contrast to traditional theories of leadership, this new approach proposed the study of leaders and members should be on a one-on-one or dyadic basis. As empirical research grew in support of this new method of investigation, researchers began referring to this dyadic interaction as leader-member exchange (LMX). Over the past 30 plus years, LMX has gained significant attention in the eyes of both academics and practitioners alike. Building on this research, this study addressed two significant weaknesses in the existing literature: (a) problems with LMX scale measurement, and (b) unknown antecedents to LMX formation. Specifically, previous scales provided little evidence of psychometrically sound properties. Likewise, investigators used a handful of scales to measure LMX, many of which seem to have failed to address any type of exchange process. To address this issue, this study developed a psychometrically sound LMX scale that captures the exchange process between leaders and members. Additionally, despite the volumes of empirical investigations into the results effects of LMX, there remains only scant attention devoted to potential antecedents of this phenomenon. To address this issue, this study investigated the role of the Big Five personality traits and perceptions of LMX. In addition to looking at the role of member and leader personality on LMX, the moderating effects of leader personality on the relationship between employee personality and LMX was also investigated. Collectively, the participation of over 300 individuals, in three separate studies, helped to close these gaps in current LMX knowledge.