ISSN 0439-755X
CN 11-1911/B

Acta Psychologica Sinica ›› 2016, Vol. 48 ›› Issue (4): 385-397.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2016.00385

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Why employees help colleagues: A multilevel study on leader-member exchange and helping behavior

LIU Yun; LI Yanping; TU Yidong   

  1. (School of Economics and Management, Wuhan University, Wuhan 430072, China)
  • Received:2015-01-07 Published:2016-04-25 Online:2016-04-25
  • Contact: LI Yanping, E-mail: cn
  • Supported by:


Even though there were several studies explored the relationship between LMX and employee helping behavior, there were three theoretical gaps in the extant research. Based on social exchange theory, this study proposed a homologous multilevel model to explore how multilevel LMX influenced employee and team helping behavior through the interpersonal justice and interpersonal justice climate.

Data was collected from 274 supervisor–subordinate dyads in 56 teams. Confirmatory Factor Analysis (CFA) was conducted to examine the distinctiveness of the three variables. The Hierarchical Linear Models (HLM) was applied to examine the mediation at individual and cross level while the multiple linear regression was used to examine the mediation and moderation at group level. Sobel test was employed to calculate the indirect effect of mediations.

The results revealed that: (1) LMX was positively related to employee helping behavior; (2) LMX Mean was positively related to employee and team helping behavior; (3) interpersonal justice fully mediated the impact LMX and LMX Mean on employee helping behavior; (4) interpersonal justice climate fully mediated the influence LMX Mean on individual and team helping behavior; (5) LMXD negatively moderated the relationship between LMX and helping behavior, as well as the relationship between LMX Mean and team helping behavior such that the effects between them were stronger when LMXD was low rather than high.

This study extended our knowledge how LMX facilitates helping behavior from individual level to multilevel. Moreover, It also explored the multilevel social exchange process between LMX and helping behavior. In practice, managers should improve interpersonal interaction and develop high social exchange quality with members. Moreover, leaders should cultivate positive interpersonal justice climate in the team, furthermore, leaders also should reduce LMXD to avoid the negative consequences.

Key words: helping behavior, LMX, LMX Mean, interpersonal justice, interpersonal justice climate, LMXD

CLC Number: