Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Dirk D. Steiner


The purpose of the present study was to specify more fully the sequence of events by which leader-member relationships are formed. A model of leader-member exchange (LMX) development originally proposed by Dienesch and Liden (1986) was expanded with findings from role theory, attribution theory, and equity theory, and a set of hypotheses was derived for testing. One hundred forty-two subordinates and their respective supervisors (n = 53) from four divisions of a large manufacturing organization provided data for the study. Questionnaires and cover letters assuring anonymity were distributed to subjects, and completed questionnaires were returned directly to the researcher by mail. While support was found for isolated portions of the model, in general there was little evidence to suggest that LMX relationships develop as hypothesized in the present study. One promising outcome, however, was the finding that member perceptions of fairness are positively related to LMX quality. This finding provides some validation for the proposition that equity beliefs have important implications for leader-member relationships and suggests that equity concepts should be included in future considerations of LMX development. A second outcome of the present study was that a considerable degree of overlap was found to exist between the LMX dimensions, suggesting that LMX may be better conceptualized as a unidimensional construct instead of the multidimensional construct hypothesized by Dienesch and Liden. Alternative explanations for the findings were discussed, as were directions for future research.