Electronic Theses and Dissertations





Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Business Administration



Committee Chair

Peter Wright

Committee Member

Frances Fabian

Committee Member

Robert Wiggins

Committee Member

Yonghong Jade XU


Leader-member exchange (LMX) theory traditionally focuses on the characteristics and implications of low- and high-quality leadership exchange levels, to the exclusion of the middle-quality employees' leadership relationships. The limited research that has been conducted suggests that middle-quality employees can rival high-quality LMX employees in most organizational outcomes. The focus of this dissertation is to explore the theoretical and empirical potential of the middle-quality group's role in the LMX relationship developmental process. We argue, in this three-paper dissertation, that examining the middle-quality group can facilitate and enhance our comprehensionof how LMX relationships exist and evolve. In the first paper, we expand upon the traditional LMX theoretical framework and organize theory around the LMX developmental process, highlighting the ways in which implicit and belongingness theories may interact as integral components in that process. In addition, a typology that demonstrates the characteristics and dynamics of the middle-quality group is presented. Next, we introduce the concept LMX fluidity to support our conceptualization of how asubordinate's LMX quality status may shift between low-, middle-, and high-quality during the lifespan of the relationship. The purpose of the second paper is to disclose the potential for how research inclusive of the middle-quality group may enrich future investigationsof LMX. We present a brief history of the literature regarding the middle-quality LMX group, summarize existing empirical studies that isolated the middle-quality group's outcomes, discuss measurement challenges, and lastly, we identify opportunities for future theoretical and empirical research. In our last paper, we hypothesize that middle-quality subordinates would be less subjected to ostracism than low- and high-quality subordinates, in other words a curvilinear relationship between LMX quality and ostracism will exist. Employing a too-much-of-a-good-thing-effect (TMGT) methodological approach, our results illustrated a polynomial (S-shaped) effect existed between LMX quality and ostracism, therefore, supporting our hypothesis. Overall, this dissertation expands the current theoretical boundaries of the middle-quality LMX research stream.


Data is provided by the student.

Library Comment

dissertation or thesis originally submitted to the local University of Memphis Electronic Theses & dissertation (ETD) Repository.