The idea that affect plays a key role in leader-member exchange (LMX) processes is not new, but it has become a subject of considerable research attention since the turn of the Millennium. This interest has, however, resulted in a multiplicity of views that have tended to obfuscate rather than clarify the affect-LMX nexus. To deal with this lack of clarity, we conducted a systematic integration of affect-LMX literature published in leading journals since 2000, including the role of personal affectivity, discrete affect, emotional intelligence, emotional labor, and affective climate. We structured our review using a multilevel framework of affect that encompasses five levels of analysis: (1) within-person, (2) between persons, (3) interpersonal, (4) team, and (5) organizational levels; as well as consideration of cross-level effects. We address in particular three fundamental issues that we argue may have hampered the development of the affect-LMX nexus in the literature: theoretical diversity, problems of data analysis, and measurement issues. We conclude by discussing opportunities for future research across the different levels and develop a set of research questions that we hope will help to promote research into the role of affect in LMX.
- Multilevel analysis