Leader–Member Exchange: Definitions

Literature Review

Literature Review for Leader–Member Exchange (LMX)

Definition of LMX

Leader–Member Exchange (LMX) has become a widely used concept in leadership studies, and practitioners also apply this idea in their day-to-day practice to ensure the effective performance of their teams. The LMX theory emerged in the 1970s when Dansereau and colleagues developed the vertical dyad linkage theory (Day & Miscenko, 2015), focusing on the relationships between leaders and their team members. The authors found that leaders tended to rely on employees who displayed enthusiasm, paying less attention to other members of the team. In the 1990s, the theory evolved into a framework concentrating on the way the leader–team member relationship affected organizational behavior, employee performance, empowerment, burnout, and turnover intention (Northouse, 2015). Within this theoretical paradigm, the concept of leadership-making developed. Graen and Uhl-Bien divided the process of making leaders into three stages: stranger, acquaintance, and mature partnership (Northouse, 2015). According to Northouse (2015), as the theory evolved, researchers concentrated on the way leaders can develop proper relationships to ensure high team performance.

LMX–Burnout Relationship

Scholars have acknowledged that relationships within teams exert a substantial effect on employee performance and burnout (Son, Kim, & Kim, 2014; Jiang, 2014). For example, Jiang (2014) noted that high LMX often results in high burnout, while low LMX leads to cynicism on the part of employees. The researcher concluded that the relationship between burnout and LMX is stronger if the leader is regarded as low in moral integrity (Jiang, 2014). Son et al. (2014) claimed that LMX has a mediating role in employee burnout and perceived interpersonal justice. In contrast to these studies, Huang and Simha (2017) found that work-related factors are more influential than organizational effects, including LMX. According to Huang and Simha (2017), employee cynicism cannot be addressed effectively with the help of LMX if job-related factors contribute to cynicism.

LMX–Turnover Intention Relationship

The link between turnover intention and LMX has also been researched in detail, and scholars have agreed that LMX tends to negatively correlate with employees’ intention to leave (Portoghese, Galletta, Battistelli, & Leiter, 2014; Kim & Mor Barak, 2015). Portoghese et al. (2014) claimed that LMX has a positive impact on employee performance and motivation as leaders have the power to create a favorable working environment. Kim and Mor Barak (2015) agreed and further claimed that LMX negatively correlates with turnover intention in an educational setting.

LMX–Organizational Citizenship Behavior (OCB) Relationship

Regarding LMX’s impact on organizational behavior, researchers have argued that this relationship is well-pronounced in many settings (Bowler, Paul, & Halbesleben, 2017; Van Knippenberg, Van Prooijen, & Sleebos, 2015; Matta, Scott, Koopman, & Conlon, 2015). Bowler et al. (2017), for example, stressed that LMX can have a dual effect on organizational citizenship behavior (OCB) as followers can be perceived as brownnosers, adversely affecting the work environment.

Although Matta et al. (2015) agreed that a relationship between OCB and LMX is apparent, they called for a more comprehensive approach, stressing that OCB should be considered in terms of the leader–employee dyad. The researchers found that OCB was negatively affected if leaders and their subordinates held different views on the quality of LMX. Matta et al. (2015) emphasized that OCB could be high even if the stakeholders saw LMX as low, indicating this agreement is more relevant than LMX quality. According to Matta et al. (2015), recent research has concentrated on the perception of leaders or attitudes of employees while the focus should be on the way both leaders and employees see LMX. Van Knippenberg et al. (2015) added that the link between LMX and OCB differs across cultures, and collectivism plays a moderating role in the relationship between OCB and perceived organizational support.

Literature Review of Person–Organization Fit (P–O Fit)

Definition of P–O Fit

Person–Organization Fit involves the work environment, organizational factors, and employees’ traits and goals (Ployhart, Hale, & Campion, 2014). This theory dates back to the beginning of the 20th century, when Parsons suggested a new theoretical framework focusing on needs–supplies and demands–abilities fit (Ployhart et al., 2014). In the 1950s, Murray came up with a needs–press paradigm, implying the concept of a press (organizational stimuli) that could harm or benefit employees. In the 1960s, researchers concentrated on job satisfaction as an important component of P–O Fit. In the 1990s, vocational choice, recruitment, and organizational culture became the central domains in research related to P–O Fit.

Studies on P–O Fit’s Roles in the LMX–Burnout Relationship

The impact of P–O Fit on burnout has been studied for decades (Kilroy, Flood, Bosak, & Chênevert, 2017; Shin & Oh, 2017). It is noteworthy that P–O Fit has often been researched in the context of LMX. It is also evident that P–O Fit has a strong effect on employee job satisfaction and burnout. When exploring banking-sector employees, Shin and Oh (2017) found that unmet expectations in addition to increased commitment contributed to employee burnout, indicating a negative correlation between P–O Fit and burnout. Kilroy et al. (2017) also contributed considerably to the knowledge base, revealing that while P–O Fit has a moderate effect on burnout, it is an influential factor in employees’ perception of burnout. In addition, Scherer, Allen, and Harp (2016) provided insights into the way P–O Fit influences volunteering and noted that P–O Fit negatively correlates with burnout.

Studies on P–O Fit’s Roles in the LMX–Turnover Intention Relationship

Researchers have agreed that the impact of P–O Fit on turnover is more pronounced than LMX’s influence on an employee’s decision to leave (Hamid & Yahya, 2016; Rurkkhum, 2018). For example, Rurkkhum (2018) compared the relationships between both P–O Fit and LMX with withdrawal intention among Thai employees involved in the public sector. Notably, the correlation between P–O Fit and withdrawal intention is more statistically significant compared to the relationship between LMX and desire to leave. Hamid and Yahya (2016) emphasized that individual factors have the strongest effect on employees’ turnover intention compared to other components of P–O Fit. Memon, Salleh, Baharom, Harun, and Iskandar (2014) noted that while P–O Fit negatively correlates with turnover intention, LMX can play a mediating role in this process.

Studies on P–O Fit’s Roles in the LMX–OCB Relationship

In terms of the effects of P–O Fit on OCB, such concepts as empowerment, commitment, and culture have been found to be central to employee performance (Afsar & Badir, 2016; Farzaneh, Farashah, & Kazemi, 2014). Farzaneh et al. (2014) argued that employee commitment plays a mediating role in the relationship between OCB and P–O Fit. Afsar and Badir (2016) also found a strong positive correlation between employees’ engagement, as well as commitment, and P–O Fit. Ruiz-Palomino and Martínez-Cañas (2014) concentrated on the ethical domain, stating that P–O Fit is a mediator in the relationship between OCB and ethical culture. The mentioned studies revealed various aspects of the link between LMX, P–O Fit, employee burnout, turnover intention, and organizational citizenship behavior. However, certain areas are still under-explored, and additional research is needed to investigate the roles of the traits of leaders and employees and the relationships among the components under consideration.


Afsar, B., & Badir, Y. F. (2016). Person–organization fit, perceived organizational support, and organizational citizenship behavior: The role of job embeddedness. Journal of Human Resources in Hospitality & Tourism, 15(3), 252-278. Web.

Bowler, W. M., Paul, J. B., & Halbesleben, J. R. (2017). LMX and attributions of organizational citizenship behavior motives: When is citizenship perceived as brownnosing? Journal of Business and Psychology, 1-14. Web.

Smith, D. (2016). Specifics of e-learning in studies. In Online learning: Proceedings of a conference (pp. 12-20). Canberra, Australia: Department of Education.

Day, D. V., & Miscenko, D. (2015). Leader-member exchange (LMX): Construct evolution, contributions, and future prospects for advancing leadership theory. In T. N. Bauer & B. Erdogan (Eds.), The Oxford handbook of leader-member exchange (pp. 9-28). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Farzaneh, F., Farashah, A. D., & Kazemi, M. (2014). The impact of person-job fit and person-organization fit on OCB: The mediating and moderating effects of organizational commitment and psychological empowerment. Personnel Review, 43(5), 672-691.

Hamid, S., & Yahya, K. (2016). Mediating role of work engagement on the relationship between person-job fit and employees’ retention: Evidence from semiconductor companies in northern region of Malaysia. International Review of Management and Marketing, 6(7S), 187-194.

Huang, C. S., & Simha, A. (2017). The mediating role of burnout in the relationships between perceived fit, leader–member exchange, psychological illness, and job performance. International Journal of Stress Management. Web.

Jiang, J. Y. (2014). Leader–member relationship and burnout: The moderating role of leader integrity. Management and Organization Review, 10(02), 223-247. Web.

Kilroy, S., Flood, P. C., Bosak, J., & Chênevert, D. (2017). Perceptions of high-involvement work practices, person-organization fit, and burnout: A time-lagged study of health care employees. Human Resource Management, 56(5), 821-835. Web.

Kim, A., & Mor Barak, M. E. (2015). The mediating roles of leader–member exchange and perceived organizational support in the role stress–turnover intention relationship among child welfare workers: A longitudinal analysis. Children and Youth Services Review, 52, 135-143. Web.

Matta, F. K., Scott, B. A., Koopman, J., & Conlon, D. E. (2015). Does seeing “eye to eye” affect work engagement and organizational citizenship behavior? A role theory perspective on LMX agreement. Academy of Management Journal, 58(6), 1686-1708. Web.

Memon, M. A., Salleh, R., Baharom, M. N. R., Harun, H., & Iskandar, B. S. (2014). Person-organization fit and turnover intention: The mediating role of employee engagement. Global Business and Management Research: An International Journal, 6(3), 205-209.

Northouse, P. G. (2015). Leadership: Theory and practice (7th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.

Ployhart, R. E., Hale, D., & Campion, M. C. (2014). Staffing within the social context. In B. Schneider & K. Barbera (Eds.), The Oxford handbook of organizational climate and culture (pp. 23-43). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Portoghese, I., Galletta, M., Battistelli, A., & Leiter, M. P. (2014). A multilevel investigation on nursing turnover intention: The cross-level role of leader-member exchange. Journal of Nursing Management, 23(6), 754-764. Web.

Ruiz-Palomino, P., & Martínez-Cañas, R. (2014). Ethical culture, ethical intent, and organizational citizenship behavior: The moderating and mediating role of person–organization fit. Journal of Business Ethics, 120(1), 95-108. Web.

Rurkkhum, S. (2018). The impact of person-organization fit and leader-member exchange on withdrawal behaviors in Thailand. Asia-Pacific Journal of Business Administration. Web.

Scherer, L. L., Allen, J. A., & Harp, E. R. (2016). Grin and bear it: An examination of volunteers’ fit with their organization, burnout and spirituality. Burnout Research, 3(1), 1-10. Web.

Shin, E. K., & Oh, S. J. (2017). Impact of unmet expectations on manager’s job burnout: Examination of the mediating role of overcommitment. The Journal of the Korea Contents Association, 17(1), 611-633. Web.

Son, S., Kim, D. Y., & Kim, M. (2014). How perceived interpersonal justice relates to job burnout and intention to leave: The role of leader-member exchange and cognition-based trust in leaders. Asian Journal of Social Psychology, 17(1), 12-24. Web.

Van Knippenberg, D., Van Prooijen, J. W., & Sleebos, E. (2015). Beyond social exchange: Collectivism’s moderating role in the relationship between perceived organizational support and organizational citizenship behaviour. European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology, 24(1), 152-160.

Cite this paper

Select style


BusinessEssay. (2022, January 13). Leader–Member Exchange: Definitions. Retrieved from https://business-essay.com/leadermember-exchange-definitions/


BusinessEssay. (2022, January 13). Leader–Member Exchange: Definitions. https://business-essay.com/leadermember-exchange-definitions/

Work Cited

"Leader–Member Exchange: Definitions." BusinessEssay, 13 Jan. 2022, business-essay.com/leadermember-exchange-definitions/.


BusinessEssay. (2022) 'Leader–Member Exchange: Definitions'. 13 January.


BusinessEssay. 2022. "Leader–Member Exchange: Definitions." January 13, 2022. https://business-essay.com/leadermember-exchange-definitions/.

1. BusinessEssay. "Leader–Member Exchange: Definitions." January 13, 2022. https://business-essay.com/leadermember-exchange-definitions/.


BusinessEssay. "Leader–Member Exchange: Definitions." January 13, 2022. https://business-essay.com/leadermember-exchange-definitions/.