Do relationships matter? Investigating the link between supervisor and subordinate dedication and cynicism via the quality of leader–member exchange

Liisa Mäkelä, Jussi Tanskanen, Helen De Cieri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Drawing on leader–member exchange and conservation of resources theories, we investigate the role of the quality of leader–member exchange in the relationships between supervisors’ and subordinates’ cynicism and dedication. Survey responses were collected from 104 supervisors and 971 subordinates nested within 104 work-units in five organizations in Finland. A multilevel structural equation model and cross-level mediation were utilized to test the hypotheses. The results show that the quality of leader–member exchange mediates the association between supervisor cynicism and subordinate cynicism and dedication. However, supervisor dedication does not appear to have an influence on leader–member exchange or subordinate cynicism and dedication. The findings related to the influence of supervisor cynicism on the cynicism and dedication of subordinates point toward the value of management interventions that directly address supervisor psychological well-being. Practical interventions might include training for supervisors and employees to enhance relationship-building skills, team-building activities, and leadership development. This empirical study is novel in its focus on how a supervisor’s cynicism and dedication may affect their relationships at work and how this, in turn, may have an effect on their subordinates.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)76-90
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Leadership and Organizational Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • conservation of resources theory
  • leader–member exchange
  • leadership
  • supervisor/subordinate relations

Cite this