Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Dr. Roni Reiter-Palmon


The construct of Leader-Member Exchange (LMX) - which emphasizes the quality of the relationship within supervisor-subordinate dyads - has received much empirical support over the last 25 years. Although high LMX relationships have generally been construed as universally positive in the scientific literature, some recent evidence suggests that: (a) all employees may not have an equal opportunity to develop high LMX relationships with their superiors, and (b) some high LMX employees may actually perform below the level o f their low LMX counterparts. In order to address both the positive and negative aspects o f LMX, the present thesis proposed and tested the Developmental Processing Model of LMX. Building on the seminal work of Dienesch and Liden (1986), this model makes an important distinction between automatic vs. conscious-based leader-member relationship development processes. Where automaticbased LMX development is conceptualized to occur rapidly based on supervisorsubordinate similarity/dissimilarity, conscious-based relationships develop more slowly based on a work-related behavior/attribution cycle. As a means of discriminating automatic from conscious-based relationship development processing, the Relationship Development over Time (RDT) scale was developed. The psychometric properties of this instrument were tested in Study 1, which consisted of 187 undergraduate participants who were employed at least part-time. Hypothesis testing occurred in Study 2, which utilized 83 sales representative and their respective managers as well as 70 back office insurance employees and their supervisors. The results o f both Study 1 and 2 determined that the RDT scale: (a) possesses high internal consistency reliability, (b) appears to be measuring a single underlying latent variable, and (c) shows evidence of construct validity. In Study 2, automatic-based relationship processing was found to be associated with higher LMX, OCBs, perceived leader-member similarity, and increased supervisory ratings of employee performance (and vice versa). Conversely, conscious-based relationships were linked with higher objectively measured performance, reduced perceptions of organizational justice, and increased employee intentions to leave. The implications of these findings to Dienesch and Liden’s developmental model, as well as the model proposed herein, are discussed.


A Thesis Presented to the Department of Psychology and the Faculty of the Graduate College University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree Master of Arts University of Nebraska at Omaha. Copyright 2001, Thomas Michael Hepperlen

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