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Relative Leader–Member Exchange Within Team Contexts: How and when Social Comparison Impacts Individual Effectiveness


  • A previous version of this paper was presented at the 2009 meeting of the Academy of Management. We acknowledge Kaifeng Jiang for his generous help with the data collection.

Jia Hu, Mendoza College of Business, University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN 46556;


A multilevel model was developed to examine how and when a focal individual's leader–member exchange (LMX) relative to the LMXs of coworkers within the team (relative LMX, or RLMX) influences individual in-role performance, organizational citizenship behavior (OCB), and job satisfaction. Results, based on a sample of 275 leader–member dyads within 35 teams of a beverage company, largely supported the hypotheses. Specifically, using multilevel polynomial regression analyses, the results showed that self-efficacy partially mediated the relationship between RLMX and in-role performance and job satisfaction, and fully mediated the relationship between RLMX and OCB. Furthermore, the results demonstrated that team identification attenuated RLMX's direct effect on self-efficacy, and indirect effects on in-role performance and OCB and team supportive behavior attenuated RLMX's direct effect on self-efficacy and indirect effect on in-role performance.