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Journal of Occupational Psychology (1991), 64, 239-252 1991 The British Psychological Society

Printed in Great Britain


The relationship of subordinate upward influencing behaviour, satisfaction and perceived superior effectiveness with leadermember exchanges
Ronald J. Deluga*
Department of Social Sciences, Bryant College, lliO Douglas Pike, Smithfield, Rl 02917-1284, USA

J. T. Perry
Department of Management, Bryant College

The purpose of this study was to investigate how reported subordinate upward influencing behaviour varies with perceived quality of leader-member exchanges (LMX). Subordinate upward influence effectiveness, satisfaction with the superior and superior effectiveness were also of interest. It was predicted that higher quality LMX would be positively associated with the use of bargaining, reason and friendliness (Hypothesis 1), and negatively related to the use of higher authority, coalition and assertiveness (Hypothesis 2) upward influence strategies. It was further predicted that higher quality LMX would be associated with upward subordinate influence effectiveness (Hypothesis 3), subordinate satisfaction with the superior and superior effectiveness (Hypothesis A). Three hundred and seventy-six subjects (average age = 33.58 years) completed several measures assessing the target variables. Hierarchical multiple regression confirmed Hypotheses 2, 3 and 4. Hypothesis 1 was not supported. These findings are discussed in terms of superiorsubordinate influencing dynamics and the advantages of higher quality LMX.

The leader-member exchange (LMX) role-making model of leadership (Cashman, Dansereau, Graen & Haga, 1976; Dienesch & Liden, 1986; Graen & Cashman, 1975; Graen & Scandura, 1987; Graen, Cashman, Ginsburg & Schiemann, 1977) focuses on a superior's vertical dyadic relationship with subordinates. The LMX model suggests that nearly all superiors form varying social exchange relationships with different subordinates. These swiftly developing and generally stable relationships can range from higher to lower quality LMX (Graen & Cashman, 1975; Liden & Graen, 1980). Higher quality LMX describes a special superiorsubordinate bond characterized by interpersonal attraction (Dansereau, Graen & Haga, 1975; Graen & Cashman, 1975; Tjosvold, 1984), mutual influence (Yukl, 1989), support and trust (Liden & Graen, 1980). As a consequence, both the superior and subordinate obtain formal and informal
* Requests for reprints.


RonaldJ. Deluga andf. T. Perry

rewards. For instance, superiors gain loyal and hard-working subordinates who are committed to task goals (Dansereau et al., 1975; Liden & Graen, 1980; Yukl, 1989). In return, higher quality LMX subordinates acquire a large percentage of tangible benefits, are privy to otherwise confidential information and receive support in career development (Yukl, 1989). On the other hand, lower quality LMX relationships are characterized by the use of formal organizational authority and a comparatively low level of mutual influence. These relationships exhibit low trust, support and rewards. Lower quality LMX subordinates receive conventional benefits while superiors obtain adequate subordinate performance (Graen & Cashman, 1975; Yukl, 1989). In short, much research has described the nature of LMX relationships between superiors and subordinates. The strength of these vertical dyadic relationships can predict organizationally important outcomes (Graen & Scandura, 1987). Yet just how LMX develop, as well as the implications of LMX establishment for superior effectiveness, have been identified as an overlooked area of research (Dienesch & Liden, 1986; Liden & Mitchell, 1989; Yukl, 1989). LMX development The quality of LMX is formed in different ways (Duchon, Green & Taber, 1986; Graen & Cashman, 1975). One obvious line of research has examined the contribution ofthe level of subordinate performance (Dansereau et al., 1975; Graen & Cashman, 1975; Kim & Organ, 1982). For example, Scandura, Graen & Novak (1986) observed that the quality of LMX and subordinate performance played moderating roles in influencing managerial decisions. Other studies (e.g. Graen, Novak & Sommerkamp, 1982; Scanduta & Graen, 1984) have found productivity increases due to improved LMX. Nevertheless, the importance of subordinate performance to the establishment of LMX remains in doubt (Dienesch & Liden, 1986; Duchon et al., 1986). Because higher quality LMX are characterized by leaderfollower mutual influence (Yukl, 1989), an examination of subordinate upward influencing might perhaps give further insight into the development of LMX.
Subordinate upward influencing behaviour

Subordinate upward influencing activity, defined as an attempt by the subordinate to secure a desired behaviour from the superior, has been portrayed as common in nearly all organizations (Allen & Porter, 1983). Yates (1985) argued that an understanding of how leaders and subordinates influence one another is the key to effective leadership. Thus, subordinate influencing behaviour would seem likely to exert an impact on LMX. In this regard, Kipnis & Schmidt (1982) described how subordinates influence their superiors through the use of six strategies: reason, bargaining, friendliness, assertiveness, higher authority and coalition. First, reason, the most widely used strategy, is an influence tactic whereby the subordinate uses facts and data to support the development of a logical argument. Second, bargaining involves social norms of reciprocity, i.e. the obligation to return favours and benefits. The subordinate's goal with these two strategies is to gain both personal

Leader-member exchanges 241 and organizational benefits (Kipnis & Schmidt, 1982). Third, friendliness incorporates the use of ingratiation, flattery and the creation of goodwill. Friendliness is frequently used when the goal is to obtain personal benefits and, due to a weak power base, when the subordinate has few alternative influencing tactics (Kipnis & Schmidt, 1982). The fourth strategy, assertiveness, includes the use of a direct and forcefql approach as well as the expression of strong emotion. Higher authority concerns gaining support from higher levels in the organization to reinforce requests. Finally, coalition is the mobilization of other people in the group ('power in numbers') to back up requests. These latter three strategies are invoked for both personal and/or organizational gain. However, their probably abrasive nature may invite personally and organizationally damaging retaliation (Kipnis & Schmidt, 1982). In summary, higher quality LMX subordinates receive rpore benefits, higher status and exert greater influence than lower quality LMX subordinates. In exchange, superiors obtain hard-working subordinates who are dedicated to workgroup objectives. Moreover, little seems to be known about the formation of LMX and the significance of LMX development for superior effectiveness (Dienesch & Liden, 1986; Yukl, 1989). It is suggested here that subordinate upward influencing behaviour could be linked with the achievement of higher quality LMX. Further, the nature of the six upward influence strategies implies that their utilization and reported effectiveness would vary according to the quality of LMX. The use of some strategies might be associated with higher quality LMX, whereas other strategies could be closely linked to lower quality LMX. For instance, loyal higher quality LMX subordinates would seem likely to use reasoning rather than coalition when dealing with a trusted superior. Taking these points into account, several research questions can be raised. For example, which subordinate upward influence tactics are associated with higher quality LMX? Will higher quality LMX be associated with upward influence success and perceived superior effectiveness? Purpose and hypotheses The purpose of this investigation was to examine how reported subordinate upward influencing behaviour varies with the quality of LMX. Also of interest was the extent to which higher quality LMX subordinates might be associated with reported upward influence success and organizationally important outcomes, that is, subordinate satisfaction with the superior as well as perceived superior effectiveness. Because higher quality LMX relationships are characterized by activity towards explicit and implicit mutual goals (Dienesch & Liden, 1986), higher quality LMX subordinates may use those upward influencing strategies frequently employed to obtain personal and organizational objectives, i.e. bargaining and reason (Kipnis & Schmidt. 1982). Similarly, the link between interpersonal attractiveness and higher quality LMX appears to contribute to a pleasant and sensitive upward influence approach (friendliness). Liden & Mitchell (1989) also argued that ingratiation may have an impact on the LMX process. It was therefore predicted that: Hypothesis 1. Higher quality LMX as perceived by subordinates would be positively associated with the use of bargaining, reasoning and friendliness upward influence strategies.


RonaldJ. Deluga andj. T. Perry confrontations with a superior (assertiveness), authority), and using social pressure from cosuperior (coalition), are contrary to the essence i.e. loyalty, trust, and mutual support. It was

Conversely, engaging in face-to-face 'going over the boss's head' (higher workers to gain compliance from the of higher quality LMX relationships, therefore predicted that:

Hypothesis 2. Higher quality LMX as perceived by subordinates would be negatively associated with the use of assertiveness, higher authority and coalition upward influence strategies. Because subordinate higher quality LMX has been characterized as enjoying a reciprocity of influence with the superior (Yuki, 1989), it was further predicted that: Hypothesis 3. Higher quality LMX as perceived by subordinates would be positively associated with upward influence effectiveness. Finally, because higher quality LMX subordinates have been linked with elevated levels of mutual trust, loyalty, task commitment and interpersonal attraction (e.g. Dansereau et al., 1975) as well as important organizational outcomes (Graen & Scandura, 1987) it was predicted that: Hypothesis 4. Higher quality LMX as perceived by subordinates would be positively related to subordinate satisfaction with the superior and superior effectiveness. Method

Data were gathered from 166 men and 202 women. Gender was not reported by eight ofthe respondents. The 376 subjects (95.5 per cent white, 2.7 per cent non-white, 1.9 per cent unspecified) were graduate or continuing education students at a small business college located in the New England region of the United States. The average age of subjects was 33.58 years. Over 95 per cent ofthe subjects reported employment either as upper level managers (11.1 per cent), professional employees (24.1 per cent), middle level managers (26.8 per cent), entry level professionals (20.8 per cent), clerical workers (7.6 per cent), tradesmen (1.6 per cent), technicians (3.3 per cent) or maintenance workers (0.5 per cent). Fewer than 5 per cent of the subjects were fulltime students or reported their employment as 'other'. The average age of superiors to whom the subjects reported, as estimated by each subject, was 41.26 years. Subjects reported working with their superiors (71.8 per cent males, 26.3 per cent females, 1.9 per cent unspecified) for an average of 3.42 years and within the organization for 6.51 years.

Leadermember exchanges. The quality of LMX was assessed by the 17-item Leader-Member Exchange Scale-17 (LMX-17; Graen & Scandura, 1985). Response selections varied from 'rarely' (1) to 'very often' (5). Total scores are used to identify higher quality (high scores) and lower quality (low scores) LMX.

Leader-member exchanges


Subordinate influencing. Strategies used by subordinates to influence their supervisors were measured by Form M of the Profiles of Organizational Influence Strategies (POIS-M; Kipnis & Schmidt, 1982). The three forms ofthe POIS (C, M and S) may be the most widely known scales for examining superior-subordinate influencing behaviour and its use is becoming increasingly apparent in the research literature (Schriesheim & Hinkin, 1990)- For example, Hinkin & Schriesheim (1989) used a modified version of Form S to show several relationships between subordinate attributions of a superior's power and subordinate perceptions of a superior's influencing activities. The 27-item POIS-M assesses hpw frequently the respondent reports using each of six behavioural strategies directed as a first attempt and, when encountering resistance, as a second attempt towards influencing their superior. Ratings are made using 1 ('never') to 5 ('always') Likert-type scales. The strategies assessed by the POIS-M include: 1. Friendliness (six items) involves the use of ingratiation and flattery to create a favourable impression (alpha estimate = .77). 2. Bargaining (five items) involves the exchange of benefits and favours (alpha estimate = .79). 3. Reason (four items) is the use of data and facts as well as the avoidance of emotion to support the development of a rational argument (alpha estimate = .86). 4. Assertiveness (six items) includes the use of demands and the expression of strong emotion (alpha estimate = .80). 5. Higher authority (four items) is the cultivation ofthe backing of those in higher organizational levels to support requests (alpha estimate = .85). 6. Coalition (two items) is the development of alliances with other organizational members ('power in numbers') to back up requests (alpha estimate = .78). Satisfaction With My Supervisor Scale. Subordinates completed the Satisfaction With My Supervisor Scale (SWMSS) developed by Scarpello & Vandenberg (1987). The SWMSS assesses technical, human relations and supervisory skills. Using a 1 5 Likert-type scale, the 18-item instrument asks the subordinate to indicate the degree to which they are 'very satisfied' (5) or 'very dissatisfied' (1) with the way their supervisor behaves as indicated by the item. A sample item was: 'The way my supervisor helps me get the job done' (alpha estimate = .95). Effectiveness measures. Three items assessed subject perceptions concerning their superior's effectiveness (alpha estimate = .85; Bass, 1985). Responses ranged from 'extremely effective' (A, scored 4) to 'not effective' (E, scored 0). Finally, in order to measure subordinate influence success, an additional item asked, 'How effective are you in influencing your manager?' Responses ranged from 'Frequently, if not always' (A, scored 4) to 'not at all' (E, scored 0). Individual characteristics. Subjects indicated their gender, age, race, organizational level, number of years working in the organization and number of years working with their current superior, as well as the gender, estimated age and organizational level of that superior.


RonaldJ. Deluga andJ. T. Perry

Data collection. Over a two-week period, data were confidentially collected during class time. Instructors distributed the questionnaires containing the above-mentioned instruments and biodata. Subjects then placed their completed questionnaire in a large brown envelope circulated around the classroom. Envelopes were subsequently returned to a central office location by the instructor. Results Prior to analysing the data, three preparatory steps were taken. First, because the LMX-17 is a relatively new and untested instrument, a principal components factor analysis with varimax rotation was performed. The analysis yielded three factors retained by the mineigen criterion (i.e. eigenvalues >1.00). Factor 1 (eigenvalue = 7.42) accounted for the. major proportion of variance, 44 per cent, while factors 2 (eigenvalue = 1.38) and 3 (eigenvalue = 1.56) explained 8 and 7 per cent ofthe variance respectively. Because a follow-up scree test (Cattell, 1965) suggested a singlefactor solution while, at the same time, factors 2 and 3 did not meet the 10 per cent criterion of substantive importance (Kim & Mueller, 1978), only factor 1 was further analysed; those LMX17 items loading above .60 on factor 1 and below .35 on factors 2 and 3 were considered significant and retained. The procedure resulted in the retention of six items from the original LMX17 scale. For the purposes ofthis study, the six items (alpha estimate = .85) were termed LMX6 and were used in all subsequent analyses. The LMX6 items included: 1. 'Do you know where you stand ... do you usually know how satisfied he/she was with what you do?' 2. 'How well does your superior understand your job problems and needs?' 3. 'How well does your superior recognize your potential?' 4. Regardless of how much formal authority your superior has built into his/her position, what are the chances that he/she would use that power to help you solve problems in your work?' 5. 'Again, regardless of the amount of formal authority, what are the chances that your superior would "bail you out" at his/her expense?' 6. 'How would you characterize your working relationship with your superior? Second, to enhance measurement in interpersonal influence investigations using the POISM, Schriesheim & Hinkin (1990) conducted factor analyses of the instrument across several samples. Although their findings generally supported the dimensionality of the subscales, they concluded that the POIS-M could be improved by the deletion of 10 items found to exhibit weak loadings. Therefore, the relevant items were deleted from the Friendliness (two). Bargaining (two). Reason (one), Assertiveness (four) and Higher Authority (one) subscales. The resulting 17-item instrument was termed the POIS-M(R) and was used in all subsequent analyses. In sum, these two procedures helped improve the psychometric properties of two key instruments in the study (LMX-17 and POIS-M), thereby strengthening confidence in their measurement ability. The descriptive statistics for the LMX6, the POIS-M(R) and the remaining instruments used in the study are shown in Table 1.

Leadermember exchanges
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RonaldJ. Deluga andj. T. Perry

Lastly, a limitation of the study with regard to the potential influence of same method source variance needs to be addressed: because the data were reported by the same respondents at the same time, the findings might be artificially inflated due to the respondents' need to maintain cognitive consistency (Avolio, Bass & Yammarino, 1988). Thus, to assess the potential impact of same method source variance, Harman's one-factor analytic procedure was used. As argued by Podsakoff & Organ (1986), the emergence of a single or one general factor from a factor analysis is thought to reveal the majority of the covariance between the variables of interest, indicating a spurious relationship. However, caution is needed when interpreting the findings since the procedure becomes more liberal as additional variables are included in the model (Podsakoff & Organ, 1986). Accordingly, the LMX-6, POIS-M(R) (first and second attempts combined) and the three outcome variables were entered into a principal components factor analysis. The results revealed the retention of three factors by the mineigen criterion, representing 32, 22 and 10 per cent of the variance. Although not conclusive, the results using Harman's method do suggest an absence of substantial same method source variance. Because of these results and the strength of the observed relationships, it was concluded that same method source variance did not pose a serious threat to evaluation of the findings of the study (Poksakoff & Organ, 1986). The data were then analysed in the following manner. The first and second subordinate upward influence attempts [POIS-M(R)} for each approach were combined to form six strategies including bargaining, friendliness, assertiveness, coalition, higher authority and reason. Hierarchical multiple regression analyses were subsequently used to test the four hypotheses of the study. The hierarchical multiple regression procedure reveals the increase in the dependent variable variance accounted for by the addition of an independent variable, beyond what has been accounted for by previously entered independent or exogenous variables (Cohen & Cohen, 1975). The first hierarchical multiple regression analysis evaluated Hypothesis 1, where it was predicted that higher quality LMX would be positively associated with the use of reason, bargaining and friendliness upward influencing strategies. This analysis also examined Hypothesis 2, where it was predicted that higher quality LMX would be negatively linked with the use of assertiveness, higher authority and coalition. To examine the variance accounted for by exogenous variables, two regression models were constructed. The first model featured gender, age and organizational level of the subject (subordinate) and superior, as well as years with the superior and years with the organization as exogenous (regressor) variables, and the six strategies of the POISM(R) as the response variables. The second model was identical to the first with the addition of the LMX6 as the last entered regressor variable. Accordingly, to determine the increase in variance accounted for by the addition of the LMX6, the dependent variable variance accounted for by the first model (Rf) was subtracted from the dependent variable variance accounted for by the second model (Rf). The results of the first hierarchical multiple regression analysis are shown in Table 2. Contrary to Hypothesis 1, higher quality LMX were significantly but inversely related to bargaining (Rj - Rj = .02, p < .01; beta = -.15, p < .01) and unrelated to friend-

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Leadermember exchanges


liness {Rl - Rj = 0, p > .05; beta = - . 0 1 , p > .05) and reason IRj - Rl = .01, p > .05; beta = .07, p > .05). On the other hand. Hypothesis 2 was supported, as higher authority (Rl - R^ = .09, p < .001; beta = -.51, p < .001), assertiveness {Rl - Rl = .01, p < .10; beta = -.15, p < .05) and coalition (Rj - Rl = .02, p < .05; beta = -.15, p < .01) were significantly and negatively associated with higher quality LMX. Finally, a non-hypothesized relationship emerged in both regression models as subordinate age was consistently and negatively related to the use of all six upward influence strategies. A second hierarchical multiple regression analysis was employed to test Hypothesis 3, predicting a positive higher quality LMX and perceived upward influencing effectiveness relationship, as well as Hypothesis 4 where it was predicted that higher quality LMX would be positively linked with subordinate satisfaction as measured by the SWMSS and perceived superior effectiveness. The second hierarchical multiple regression analysis also involved the construction of two models. In the first model, reported upward influence effectiveness, SWMSS and perceived superior effectiveness served as response variables, while the same eight exogenous variables used in the first hierarchical multiple regression analysis acted as regressor variables. Once again, the second model was identified to the first model with the addition ofthe LMX-6 as the last entered regressor variable. The results, as depicted in Table 3, reveal that Hypotheses 3 and 4 were strongly supported. Specifically, upward influencing effectiveness {Rl - Rl = .10,p< .001; beta = .32,^ < .001), the SWMSS (Rl - Rf = .62,p < .001; beta = .81, p< .001) and perceived superior effectiveness {Rj - Rl = .41 ,p < .001; beta = .66, p < .001) were significantly linked with higher quality LMX.

Discussion and implications

The findings did not support Hypothesis 1 where it was predicted that higher quality LMX would be positively linked with the use of bargaining, reason and friendliness. Hypothesis 2 was clearly supported: higher quality LMX were significantly and inversely associated with the use of assertiveness, coalition and higher authority. Subordinate age also emerged as negatively related to the six influence strategies. Finally, higher quality LMX were significantly associated with the subordinate upward influence success, subordinate satisfaction and superior effectiveness measures (Hypotheses 3 and 4). As such, additional discussion ofthe findings appears warranted.
Subordinate upward influencing behaviour

Hypothesis 1 was not supported by these results. One possible explanation is that the use of friendliness and bargaining may be a function of the subordinate's comparable power. For example, it may be more likely to employ friendliness when the higher quality LMX subordinate's power base is weak (Kipnis & Schmidt, 1982). Similarly, the significant inverse relationship between bargaining and higher quality LMX (in other words, a positive bargaining and lower quality LMX relationship) may reflect the comparatively diminished levels of trust seen in lower quality LMX. The quid pro quo could serve as a control mechanism keeping both superiors and subordinate power aspirations in check. For instance, superiors and subordinates may not


RonaldJ. Deluga andJ. T. Perry

agree to overtime work until task requirements are clearly specified and compensation is explicitly assured. Future LMX studies investigating the exercise and impact of bargaining and friendliness relative to the subordinate's bargaining strength will help to clarify issues. With regard to reason, the quality of LMX relationships may not be reflected in subordinates' varying use of reason: that is, subordinates of both higher and lower quality LMX may employ reason to influence their superiors. Support for this notion comes from two sources. First, Kipnis & Schmidt (1982) indicated that reason is the strategy most widely used to infiuence superiors. Second, in this study, reason was the only strategy found to be significantly associated with upward infiuence effectiveness (Table 1: r = .29, p < .001). Apparently, reason is a potentially successful upward influence tactic for all subordinates, while alternative upward influence strategies, such as those revealed by the Hypothesis 2 findings, may be more useful for differentiating the quality of LMX. Hypothesis 2 was supported as higher quality LMX subordinates reported a strong aversion to utilizing higher authority, coalition and assertiveness when infiuencing their superior. These findings are not surprising and may reveal the trusting nature of higher quality LMX subordinate-superior relationships. For instance, higher authority involves 'going over the boss's head', an infiuence tactic that is contrary to the very nature of higher quality LMX. Consequently, use of this strategy, as well as the mobilization of co-workers (coalition) or forceful and emotional tactics (assertiveness), would surely undermine any trust and perhaps destroy the relationship. Finally, the non-hypothesized relationships between subordinate age and the six upward infiuencing strategies suggest that older subordinates are less likely to try to infiuence their superiors than younger subordinates. Perhaps older subordinates are content with their careers and, as a consequence, have a reduced desire or need to infiuence their superiors. Future research will help clarify the role of subordinate age in upward infiuencing.
Satisfaction and effectiveness

Hypothesis 3 was confirmed as higher quality LMX subordinates described an exchange relationship delineated by a perceived effectiveness in infiuencing their superior. It appears that higher quality LMX subordinates and superiors exchange not only, for example, commitment for rewards, but also the capacity to infiuence one another. The gains for organizational functioning seem apparent as several studies have shown that stable, reciprocal superiorsubordinate infiuencing patterns constitute the most effective organizations (Bachman, Smith & Slesinger, 1966; Deluga, 1988; Smieh & Tannenbaum, 1963). With these studies in mind, Yukl (1989) described how superiors can facilitate infiuence reciprocity by encouraging subordinate participation. For example, organization policies and procedures can be developed to limit misuse of power by superiors as well as to encourage subordinate input in making decisions (Yukl, 1989). With regard to Hypothesis 4, the data supported the advantages of higher LMX for both superiors and subordinates. Higher quality LMX subordinates are clearly more satisfied. At the same time, as reported by higher quality LMX subordinates, superiors

Leader-member exchanges


gain the perception of effectiveness of their leadership abilities. In this respect, these findings replicate earlier LMX research (e.g. Vecchio & Gobdel, 1984). The effects of a mutually beneficial relationship seem evident. As described by LMX theory, superiors will benefit from subordinates who are committed to task goals, competent (Liden & Graen, 1980), personally loyal (Dansereau et al., 1975), and whose actions are consistent with the superiors' expectations (Graen & Cashman, 1975). In exchange, subordinates will receive desirable fornial and informal rewards including swift promotions (Wakabayashi & Green, 1984), pay increases, assignment to developmental tasks with high organizational visibility, and the superior's personal advocacy (Yukl, 1989). Overall, the results of the hierarchical multiple regression analyses indicated that higher quality LMX were positively associated with the use of subordinate satisfaction, perceived superior effectiveness and upward influence success, as well as negatively linked with the use of bargaining, assertiveness, coalition and higher authority upward influence strategies. Friendliness and reason were not found to be related to the quality of LMX. Future research can build on these findings by examining the causal direction of LMX establishment as it relates to subordinate upward influencing activity. Furthermore, some strategies might be used during the nascent stages of LMX development, whereas other strategies are employed in more mature relationships.

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