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Leader-Member Exchange and Innovative Work Behaviour Essay (Article)

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Updated: Jun 7th, 2022

The purpose of the research was to investigate how leader-member exchange (LMX) and the employee motivation to learn mediated by self-efficacy affect innovative work behaviour (IWB). Thus, LMX and learning orientation predict staff IWB since they influence actions to advance personal skills and abilities through information exchange about market needs and the development of new solutions (Atitumpong & Badir, 2018). The nature of the research is causal because it attempts to establish the cause-effect relationships between both LMX and employee learning orientation and IWB. Four hypotheses are tested to determine the correlation between the variables. The theoretical framework is based on the concepts of the leader-member exchange theory. IWB entails idea generation and commercialisation (as creative product solutions and work methods); hence, it is an organisational asset. High-quality LMX fosters IWB by ensuring quality relationships, leadership support and employee empowerment and motivation. Learning orientation promotes customer relationships and employee self-efficacy (Atitumpong & Badir, 2018). The self-confidence acquired contributes to IWB. In conclusion, the findings of the study indicate that LMX and learning orientation of employees mediated by self-efficacy have a positive correlation with IWB.

Methods & Empirics

Research Method

The study utilised a survey research method. The approach has three distinctive characteristics. First, it gives a quantitative description of certain aspects of the target population, which may include multivariate relationships (Sovacool et al., 2018). Thus, survey research was appropriate for studying the correlation between LMX and learning orientation (LO) on one hand and IWB on the other. Second, the method is subjective since data is obtained from persons. Third, survey research utilises a representative sample of a group to generalise the findings to that population. Atitumpong and Badir (2018) sampled employees and managers from the Thai manufacturing sector. Thus, their results can be used to infer the effect of LMX on IWB in similar populations. Before undertaking survey research, a model predicting the multivariate relationships must be constructed. It is then tested against the data collected. The study utilised a hierarchical linear model (HLM) in hypothesis testing. HLM corrects for the possibility of observations being non-independent because employees work following their supervisor’s directions (Atitumpong &Badir 2018). A three-step regression analysis confirmed the relationships between variables.

Data Collection and Sampling Technique

The prime mode of data collection employed in this study was a survey. The instrument was designed to collect the views of employees and their managers on LMX, LO and self-efficacy. The data collection process involved two steps. First, initial surveys were distributed to 494 employees who recorded their views on all items measured. The researchers received 362 responses that were included in the final analysis. Second, rating surveys were circulated among 146 supervisors who assessed employees’ IWB (Atitumpong &Badir 2018). The measuring instrument was the survey tool. Employee responses were rated on a five-point Likert scale for all the items measured. This instrument also captured data on gender, age, education and job tenure. A rating survey was used to measure employee IWB. The target population was the staff working in the Thai manufacturing sector. The sampling technique is not stated but it appears the employees were conveniently sampled. Out of 494 surveys sent out to staff, only 363 contained valid responses. The supervisors returned 337 instruments after each assessed three employees. The sampling frame is lacking, making it difficult to assess how well the sample represents the population.

Goodness of Measures & Analysis

The researchers used validated scales to measure the variables of LMX, LO and employee self-efficacy. The LMX tool is a reliable instrument for evaluating the quality of working relationships between supervisors and subordinates in organisational settings (Estel et al., 2019). Measurement is based on the self-reported rating of respect, confidence and obligation on a 7-item scale. The validity of the IWB instrument used has also been corroborated through research. It measures an employee’s propensity to generate, execute and champion innovative ideas in the workplace. The other two scales used in this research to evaluate creative self-efficacy and learning orientation have been administered on a representative sample before, indicating that they are reliable and valid measurements. The researchers also computed scale reliabilities and discriminant validity for the measures. Data analysis tools included descriptive statistics for the demographic dataset and correlations between the variables. Regression analysis was performed to determine the mediating effects of self-efficacy. However, the specific software used is not indicated.

Critical Review

The article empirically tests the combined effects of LMX and LO on employee IWB mediated by self-efficacy. Overall, the research designed was good. Construct validity was ensured by using validated scales for all the measures (Hair et al., 2019). The researchers also computed discriminant validity, demonstrating that the factors (LMX, LO and IWB) are unrelated. The use of the LMX theory to interpret multivariate relationships and develop four hypotheses enhanced the credibility of the findings. However, I feel that the research methods were not rigorous enough, giving room for possible bias. The participants were drawn from the Thai manufacturing sector but the number of firms involved is not clear. Thus, it is difficult to tell the extent to which the sample was representative of the population for external validity considerations. A stratified random sampling approach could have eliminated potential researcher bias.

The LMX area has involved considerable research. In my view, the most significant contribution of the article to the LMX field is the finding that self-efficacy mediates the relationship between LMX and IWB. The learning orientation of employees is also an understudied concept. Related research in the area has examined other factors that mediate this relationship other than employee self-efficacy. Haase et al. (2018) found that thriving at work, the perceived value of a task and role interdependence are moderating factors in self-efficacy-creative performance relationship. However, the article did not examine how the leadership style or the work environment influences the LMX outcomes. Li et al. (2020) found that entrepreneurial leaders promote IWB through the moderating effects of self-efficacy. Further, a nurturing work environment is associated with high IWB and innovative outputs (Awang et al., 2019). These studies demonstrate that LMX influences multiple work-related attitudes that were not explored in the article. Including all these variables would have ensured a more comprehensive study whose findings could be generalised to many settings.


Atitumpong, A., & Badir, Y. F. (2018). Leader-member exchange, learning orientation, and innovative work behaviour. Journal of Workplace Learning, 30(1), 32-47. Web.

Awang, A. H., Sapie, N. M., Hussain, M. Y., Ishak, S., & Yusof, R. M. (2019). Nurturing innovative employees: Effects of organisational learning and work environment. Economic Research, 32(1), 1152-1168. Web.

Estel, V., Schulte, E., Spurk, D., & Kauffeld, S. (2019). LMX differentiation is good for some and bad for others: A multilevel analysis of effects of LMX differentiation in innovation teams. Cogent Psychology, 6(1), 1-17. Web.

Haase, J., Hoff, E. V., Hanel, P. H. P., & Innes-Ker, Å. (2018). A meta-analysis of the relation between creative self-efficacy and different creativity measurements. Creativity Research Journal, 30(1), 1–16. Web.

Hair, J. F., Gabriel, L. D. S., da Silva, D., & Braga, J. S. (2019). Development and validation of attitudes measurement scales: Fundamental and practical aspects. RAUSP Management Journal, 54(4), 490-507. Web.

Li, C., Makhdoom, H., & Asim, S. (2020). Impact of entrepreneurial leadership on innovative work behavior: Examining mediation and moderation mechanisms. Psychology Research and Behavior Management, 13, 105-118. Web.

Sovacool, B. K., Axsen, J., & Sorrell, S. (2018). Promoting novelty, rigor, and style in energy social science: Towards codes of practice for appropriate methods and research design. Energy Research & Social Science, 45, 12-42. Web.

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