Supervisors' upward exchange relationships and subordinate outcomes: testing the multilevel mediation role of empowerment

Le Zhou, Mo Wang, Gilad Chen, Junqi Shi

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77 Citations (Scopus)


This study empirically examined the proposition that supervisors' exchange relationships with their own supervisors (i.e., leader-leader exchange, or LLX) are related to their subordinates' work-related outcomes through 3 mechanisms: (a) leaders modeling their LLX to develop and maintain their exchange relationships with their subordinates (i.e., leader-member exchange, or LMX), (b) motivating the team and its members, captured by team and individual empowerment, and (c) facilitating the relationships between LMX and individual outcomes. Analyses of multisource and lagged data from 104 team supervisors and 577 subordinates showed that LMX mediated the positive relationship of LLX on subordinates' individual empowerment. Furthermore, team empowerment and individual empowerment sequentially mediated the positive relationships between LLX and subordinates' job satisfaction and job performance. The authors also found that the indirect relationships of LMX with job satisfaction and job performance via individual empowerment were stronger when LLX was higher. Theoretical and practical implications of these findings are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)668-680
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Applied Psychology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Empowerment
  • LLX
  • LMX

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