Remus Ilies on the Quality of Leader-Follower Relationships

Fast Moving Front Commentary, November 2011

Remus Ilies

Article: Leader-member exchange and citizenship behaviors: A meta-analysis


Authors: Ilies, R;Nahrgang, JD;Morgeson, FP
Journal: J APPL PSYCHOL, 92 (1): 269-277, JAN 2007
Addresses: Michigan State Univ, Eli Broad Grad Sch Management, Dept Management, N475 N Business Complex, E Lansing, MI 48824 USA.
Michigan State Univ, Eli Broad Grad Sch Management, Dept Management, E Lansing, MI 48824 USA.

Remus Ilies talks with ScienceWatch.com and answers a few questions about this month's Fast Moving Fronts paper in the field of Psychiatry/Psychology.


SW: Why do you think your paper is highly cited?

I believe this paper is highly cited for at least three reasons. First, it quantitatively summarizes research on two highly important topics: The quality of the relationship between leaders and followers and organizational citizenship behaviors. The nature of leader-follower relationships and the performance of organizational citizenship have both been identified as critical aspects of the organizational environment, and we were able to provide strong evidence attesting to their importance.

Second, it both summarizes a body of literature and presents convincing evidence supporting the view that interpersonal citizenship behaviors (e.g., helping others at work) are distinct from impersonal citizenship behaviors (e.g., showing loyalty to one's employer) and treating these as such can advance the understanding of what influences employees behavior at work.

Third, the results presented in the paper also underline the importance of employees' (personal) relationships with their supervisors for both employees and organizations.

SW: Does it describe a new discovery, methodology, or synthesis of knowledge?

The paper presents a study conducted using moderated meta-analysis that synthesizes the knowledge about leader-member exchanges and organizational citizenship behaviors and advances theory on the topic of social relationships at work and social exchanges between employees and their employer or representatives. As such, it is a synthesis of existing research.

"The implications of my broader research program are that employers and policymakers should pay particular attention to how employment fulfills individuals' interpersonal (social) needs and to the ways in which work, with its demands, experiences, and interactions, influences not only employees' productivity, but also their happiness and well-being."

SW: Would you summarize the significance of your paper in layman's terms?

The results of this paper show that interpersonal relationships at work (specifically those with supervisors) are important determinants of employee work behavior, particularly when examining those behaviors that are not formally rewarded in organizations—such as helping others or engaging in altruistic acts at work—yet are enhancing organizational functioning and performance. This suggests that organizations and managers pay close attention to the kinds of leader-follower relationships that are present in the organizational environment.

SW: How did you become involved in this research, and how would you describe the particular challenges, setbacks, and successes that you've encountered along the way?

The inspiration for this research came from reading journal articles on the antecedents of citizenship behavior and becoming interested whether interpersonal and impersonal citizenship behaviors are indistinguishable, as some previous cumulative research has suggested, or whether these types of behaviors were distinct, as it turned out that our research has found. Then, of course, the initial ideas evolved after discussions with my co-authors for this paper, Jennifer Nahrgang and Frederick Morgeson.

The major challenge with this research was to convince our peers (journal editor and reviewers) about the theoretical contribution (i.e., beyond the empirical results) of this research, but this is often an issue when one publishes in Organizational Behavior or Applied Psychology journals.

SW: Where do you see your research leading in the future?

I plan to continue conducting research on interpersonal relationships at work and the implications of interpersonal factors (e.g., how work fulfills employees social expectations, but also interpersonal conflict with coworkers, feelings of injustice, etc.) on employees' work behavior and also on their job satisfaction, happiness, and broader well-being. This focus on interpersonal work experiences and demands complements my other research stream that examines intrapersonal (or impersonal) job demands such as workload, time pressure, etc., on similar behavioral and well-being outcomes.

SW: Do you foresee any social or political implications for your research?

The implications of my broader research program are that employers and policymakers should pay particular attention to how employment fulfills individuals' interpersonal (social) needs and to the ways in which work, with its demands, experiences, and interactions, influences not only employees' productivity, but also their happiness and well-being.End

Remus Ilies
Professor of Management
Department of Management and Organisation
National University of Singapore
Singapore

KEYWORDS: LEADERSHIP, META-ANALYSIS, ORGANIZATIONAL CITIZENSHIP BEHAVIOR, PERCEIVED ORGANIZATIONAL SUPPORT, TRANSFORMATIONAL LEADERSHIP, SOCIAL EXCHANGE, JOB SATISFACTION, MEDIATING ROLE, PERFORMANCE, QUALITY, MODEL, WORK.

 
 

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