ISSN 0439-755X
CN 11-1911/B

Acta Psychologica Sinica ›› 2014, Vol. 46 ›› Issue (9): 1355-1377.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2014.01355

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Structure Models of Leader-Member Relationship (LMR) from the Perspectives of Cultural Differences between China and the West

REN Zhen1; YANG Anbo2; WANG Dengfeng3; LIN Ying1   

  1. (1 School of Leadership, China Executive Leadership Academy Pudong, Shanghai 201204, China) (2 School of Psychology and Cognitive Science, East China Normal University, Shanghai 200062, China) (3 Department of Psychology, Peking University, Beijing 100871, China)
  • Received:2013-04-05 Published:2014-09-25 Online:2014-09-25
  • Contact: REN Zhen, E-mail:


Leader-member relationship is a critical issue in Chinese organizations. Although the leader-member exchange (LMX) theory of leadership in the West has developed over 40 years, the concept and the structure of LMX are still controversial and seldom analyzed from the perspectives of cultural differences. Meanwhile, in China, indigenized studies about supervisor-subordinate guanxi (SSG) (or called leader-member guanxi, LMG) are often limited in non-work related social exchanges and seldom examine supervisor-subordinate work relationships. As a result, this research explored and validated the structure of Chinese indigenized leader-member relationship (LMR) from the perspectives of cultural differences between China and the West. Two empirical studies were presented in this dissertation: The first one was a qualitative study, in which comprehensive items about leader-member relationship were formed by three methods. These methods included interviews of 19 leaders, an open-ended questionnaire investigation of 284 subjects, and analysis of a literature about office politics. A primary structure model of LMR was therefore achieved by categorizing these items through three times, which contained seven dimensions from the perspectives of leaders and members respectively. In the second study, 391 leaders and 133 leader-member dyads completed a primary LMR scale based on the first study. Then a new 56-item scale and a dual-perspective model with two second-order factors and four first-order factors of indigenized LMR were generated by exploratory and confirmatory factor analysis. In this model, the dual perspectives meant both leaders and members’ perspectives, the two second-order factors referred to both positive and negative leader-member relationships, and the four first-order factors referred to consideration and support, control and faction, loyalty and contribution, conflict and opposition. These four factors of LMR were found to be able to significantly predict work outcomes (leaders’ task performance, members’ organizational citizenship behaviors, turnover intentions and affective commitment) and mental health indicators (burnout, mental well-being and work satisfaction). Moreover, the LMR scale was proved to have acceptable reliability and validity and predicted the indicators of mental health better than LMX-7. To conclude, with the characteristics of Chinese culture, the dual-perspective four-dimentional model of LMR made a break-through in the Western LMX theory and the Chinese SSG (LMG) models. Its theoretical contributions were as follows: (1) It transferred the research focus from LMX to LMR; (2) It extended the research scale from positive relationships to both positive and negative relationships; (3) Different to the Western studies in which leaders and members shared one LMX structure, it was found that different structures existed from the perspectives of leaders and members respectively; (4) It offered a framework of four factors of LMR with the characteristics of Chinese culture. Therefore, it is fair to say that the structure model of LMR and the LMR scale would provide theoretical evidence and a measure for the future research.

Key words: Leader-Member Relationship (LMR), Leader-Member Exchange (LMX), Guanxi, mental health, indigenization