Leader-member exchange, work engagement, and job performance

Kimberley Breevaart, Arnold B. Bakker, Evangelia Demerouti, Machteld Van Den Heuvel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

191 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose - The purpose of this paper is to examine the process through which leader-member exchange (LMX) is related to followers’ job performance. Integrating the literature on LMX theory and resource theories, the authors hypothesized that the positive relationship between LMX and employee job performance is sequentially mediated by job resources (autonomy, developmental opportunities, and social support) and employee work engagement. Design/methodology/approach - In total, 847 Dutch police officers filled out an online questionnaire. Multilevel structural equation modeling was used to test the hypothesized relationships and to account for the nesting of employees in teams. Findings - Employees in high-quality LMX relationships work in a more resourceful work environment (i.e. report more developmental opportunities and social support, but not more autonomy). This resourceful work environment, in turn, facilitates work engagement and job performance. Research limitations/implications - Because of the research design, it is difficult to draw conclusions about causality. Future research may test the newly proposed relationship using a longitudinal or daily diary design. Practical implications - This study emphasizes the value of high-LMX relationships for building a resourceful environment. In turn, this resourceful environment has important implications for employees’ work engagement and job performance. Originality/value - This study examines LMX as a more distal predictor of employee job performance and examines a sequential underlying mechanism to explain this relationship. Furthermore, this paper explicitly examined job resources as a mediator in the relationship between LMX and employee job performance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)754-770
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Managerial Psychology
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 14 Sept 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Employee engagement
  • Job demands-resources theory
  • Job resources
  • Leader-member exchange
  • Leadership

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Applied Psychology
  • Management Science and Operations Research
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management


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