INFLUENCE OF CONTEXTUAL PERFORMANCE AND LEADER-MEMBER EXCHANGE
(LMX) RELATIONSHIPS ON GROUP COHESION AND GROUP PERFORMANCE: A
University of Memphis
Fogelman College of Business & Economics
Memphis, TN 38152
James Van Scotter
University of Memphis
Fogelman College of Business & Economics
Memphis, TN 38152
This paper is submitted to the Organizational Behavior/Organization Theory track of the
Midwest Academy of Management Conference, 2002.
INFLUENCE OF CONTEXTUAL PERFORMANCE AND LEADER-MEMBER EXCHANGE
(LMX) RELATIONSHIPS ON GROUP COHESION AND GROUP PERFORMANCE: A
While the accumulation of LMX research over 30 years has broadened the understanding of the
nature of LMX and its relationship with other individual-level variables, little research attention
has been devoted to advance the understanding of the role of LMX in work group context (Graen
& Ulh-Bien, 1995). As an exploratory step to specify how different quality of LMX relationship
would lead to group performance through individuals’ performance, this paper proposes a LMX
model that incorporates several important outcome variables of LMX at multi-levels. In contrast
to the majority of LMX studies that suggest a simple relationship between LMX and
organizational effectiveness based on the positive relationship between LMX and individual task
performance, the proposed model suggests that the relationship is not so simple and the
development and maintenance of high quality of LMX relationship may not necessarily result in
better group performance. In this paper, it is argued that since the positive effect of LMX
relationship through subordinates’ contextual performance can unexpectedly be offset by
interpersonal group cohesion, supervisors need to pay attention to the enhancement of group
processes as well as the development of high quality of LMX relationships. It is also argued that
both subordinates’ personality and group cohesion can be used as means for enhancing
supervisors’ capability of managing work group more effectively.
Keywords: Leader-member exchange, contextual performance, group performance
This paper is submitted to the Organizational Behavior/Organization Theory Track of the
Midwest Academy of Management Conference, 2002.
Leader-member exchange (LMX) refers to the quality of the relationship between a leader
and a subordinate (Martin, Taylor, O'Reilly, & McLaurin, 1999). LMX theory and research has
long recognized that leaders develop better relationships with some subordinates than others
(Deluga, 1998; Dienesch & Liden, 1986; Graen & Uhl-Bien, 1995). From the beginning,
researchers have suggested that the quality of the LMX relationship is associated with
subordinates' performance as well as other important individual-level and organizational-level
outcomes (Dansereau, Cashman, & Graen, 1973; Dansereau, Graen, & Haga, 1975; Graen,
1976). More than 25 years of empirical research supports the expectation that LMX is positively
related to measures of individual performance (Duarte, Goodson & Klich, 1994; Dunegan,
Duchon, & Uhl-Bien, 1992; Gerstner & Day, 1997; Judge & Ferris, 1993; Mitchell, 1983;
Murphy & Ensher, 1999; Scandura, 1999; Scandura & Schriesheim, 1994; Schriesheim, Neider,
& Scandura, 1998; Vecchio & Gobdel, 1984; Wayne, Shore, & Liden, 1997).
In comparison, few studies have examined the relationship between LMX and
performance at the group or organizational level (Graen & Uhl-Bien, 1995). Research
investigating prosocial behavior (George & Brief, 1992), organizational citizenship behavior
(Smith, Organ, & Near, 1983) and social exchange (Wayne, Shore, & Liden, 1997) suggests that
the supervisory behaviors associated with LMX are likely to encourage subordinates to
reciprocate with interpersonally helpful, considerate, and cooperative behaviors. In general,
behaviors like these are expected to help maintain positive working relationships among group
members, facilitate effective coordination, increase group cohesion, and reduce or eliminate
barriers to task performance (Borman & Motowidlo, 1993; George & Brief, 1992; Podsakoff, et
al., 2000; Smith, et al., 1983). Unfortunately, bridging the gap between supervisor-subordinate
relationships at the individual level and group or organizational-level outcomes is complex
(Graen & Uhl-Bien, 1995).
The purpose of this paper is to propose an initial model of the relationships between
LMX and performance at the individual level, individual performance and group cohesion, and
cohesion and group performance (See Figure 1). This approach is based on the multi-
dimensional view of job performance described by Van Scotter and Motowidlo's (1996), which
includes job-specific task performance and two facets of contextual performance, job dedication,
and interpersonal facilitation. Job dedication behaviors demonstrate effort, persistence, initiative,
self-discipline and willingness to work hard and follow the rules. Job dedication is expected to
influence group performance by increasing the amount of effort individual employees exert on
their task assignments. Interpersonal facilitation consists of a group of helpful, considerate,
cooperative and interpersonally-oriented behaviors that contribute more to other members of the
work group than one's own task performance. Interpersonal facilitation is expected to influence
group performance indirectly by reducing intra-organizational friction, helping to maintain
positive working relationships, and improving coordination and communication within the work-
group. Both Interpersonal facilitation and job dedication are expected to contribute to group
cohesion and morale in a positive way. Individual differences in personality and leader-member
exchange (LMX) are expected to directly influence the contextual performance facets, but not
task performance. Ability, experience, and job knowledge are expected to directly influence task
performance, but not contextual performance.
Insert Figure 1 about here
Meantime, a supervisor – subordinate relationship may not necessarily be a leader –
member exchange relationship in some cases, such as cross-functional work teams that are
project-oriented (Uhl-Bien & Graen, 1992). However, because supervisors are likely to play a
role of a leader in most work group situation, and because LMX relationships are likely to follow
formal supervisor – subordinate relationship, we are going to use them interchangeably in this
LMX – Individual Performance
The purpose of this paper is to propose a model that explains how LMX affects group
performance and develop a set of hypotheses that can be tested in subsequent studies. The roots
of LMX theory may be found in two primary theories: role theory and social exchange theory
(Dienesch & Liden, 1986; Graen, 1976; Sparrowe & Liden, 1997). According to role theory,
work in the organizational context is accomplished through the development and exchange of
roles (Graen, 1976), more specifically through a series of exchanges of role episodes among
participants (Graen & Scandura, 1987). Social exchange theory attempts to explain why
organizational members try to initiate and continue relationships. It suggests that interpersonal
relationships revolve around the exchange of resources, rewards, and psychological and
emotional support (Sparrowe & Liden, 1997; Yukl, 1989). LMX theory suggests that "each party
must offer something the other party sees as valuable and each party must see the exchange as
reasonably equitable or fair" (Graen & Scandura, 1987). The content of exchanges between
leaders and members can vary greatly. For example, exchanges could consist of physical
resources, job-related information, personal advice or career guidance, emotional support, or
social support (Graen & Uhl-Bien, 1995). The greater the perceived value of the tangible and
intangible commodities exchanged, the higher the quality of the LMX relationship. With high
quality of LMX, dyad members are expected to experience a greater perception of reciprocal
contribution and affective attachment to their counterparts. Consequently, they are more likely to
develop a professional respect toward their counterparts and become more loyal to each other
(Dienesch & Liden, 1986; Liden & Masyln, 1998).
A growing body of literature has advocated expanding the job performance criterion
domain to include non-task performance elements of performance (Borman & Motowidlo, 1993).
Researchers have increasingly come to recognize the multi-dimensional nature of job
performance (Borman, 1991; Campbell, 1990). Papers describing contextual performance
(Borman & Motowidlo, 1993; Motowidlo & Van Scotter, 1994), prosocial behavior (Brief &
Motowildo, 1986), organizational citizenship behavior (Smith, Organ, & Near, 1983), and
organizational spontaneity (George & Brief, 1992) all suggest categories of volitional and
interpersonally-oriented performance that are different from job-specific task performance, but
are still expected to contribute to organizational effectiveness. Although various types of
typologies and taxonomies to incorporate those non-task activities have been suggested, there is
considerable agreement that the labels describe patterns of behavior that have much in common
(Borman & Motowidlo, 1993; Motowidlo, 2000; Organ, 1997; Podsakoff, et al., 2000; Van
Scotter & Motowidlo, 1996). For example, in their review of OCB literature, Podsakoff, et al.
(2000) concluded that the altruism facet of OCB is similar to Van Scotter and Motowidlo’s
(1996) contextual performance facet of interpersonal facilitation, while the OCB facets of
courtesy and conscientiousness are quite similar to the contextual performance facet of job
dedication. Coleman and Borman (2000) analyzed the questionnaire items of seven different
citizenship-like typologies and reported similar results. Since contextual performance subsumes
most of the behavioral patterns described by other labels (Organ, 1997; Van Scotter &
Motowidlo, 1996), all the citizenship-like behaviors will primarily be referred to contextual
performance throughout this paper. Not only has the construct validity of these dimensions been
supported by subsequent empirical studies (Conway, 1999; Van Scotter, 2000; Van Scotter,
Motowidlo, & Cross, 2000), but also they have been found to be associated with different
antecedents. For example, while task performance covaries with job experience, skills,
knowledge, and ability (Hunter & Hirsh, 1987; Van Scotter & Motowidlo, 1996), contextual
performance elements are associated with personality traits. More specifically, interpersonal
facilitation is associated with agreeableness, extroversion, and positive affectivity (Costa &
McCrae, 1989; Van Scotter & Motowidlo, 1996), and job dedication is related to
conscientiousness (Borman, Hanson, Oppler, Pulakos, & White, 1993) and goal orientation
(Malouff, Schutte, Bauer, Mantelli, Pierce, Cordova, & Reed, 1990).
Leader-Member Exchange (LMX)
A number of LMX studies have suggested that the quality of the LMX relationship
influences the level of the member's performance. The rationale for this suggestion is that
subordinates with higher LMX may perform better because of the added support, feedback,
resources, and opportunities provided to them (Feldman, 1986). Although this expectation is
reasonable, empirical results are mixed (Dienesch & Liden, 1986). While some studies (Graen,
Novak, & Sommerkamp, 1982; Scandura, 1999; Scandura & Schriesheim, 1994; Schriesheim, et
al., 1998; Wayne & Ferris, 1990; Wayne, et al., 1997) obtained evidence that supported this idea,
other studies (Vecchio, 1982; Vecchio & Gobdel, 1984) did not. For example, Vecchio (1982)
examined the relationship between LMX and the performance of 45 US Air Force enlisted
members on several training tasks, but found no significant difference between high- and low-
LMX quality groups in terms of two different performance measures: performance ratings or
objective scores of their task performance.
Gerstner and Day (1997) suggested that this type of inconsistency might be attributable to
the use of different operationalizations of performance. In their meta-analysis of LMX
performance relationships, they found that when individual performance was measured by
objective indicators, the correlation coefficient corrected for measurement errors and sampling
errors was relatively low (r=.11). In contrast, when performance ratings were used, the corrected
correlation coefficients were above .30. This suggests that performance ratings are somewhat
broader criteria than objective performance measurement, e.g., absences, production rates, sales,
and the like (Borman, 1991), and reflect both task performance elements and contextual
performance elements. These results are consistent with research showing that variance in
overall performance ratings is explained jointly by task performance ratings and contextual
performance ratings, and that both categories of performance account for nearly the same amount
of variance in overall performance ratings (Borman, White, & Dorsey, 1995; MacKenzie,
Podsakoff, & Fetter, 1991; Van Scotter & Motowidlo, 1996).
Propositions on LMX – Individual Performance
In the current model, higher quality LMX is proposed to lead to more interpersonal
facilitation and job dedication behaviors. The rationale for these propositions is based on social
exchange theory. As mentioned above, as the quality of LMX increases, members are expected
to experience a greater perception of reciprocal contribution and affective attachment to their
counterparts (Dienesch & Liden, 1986; Liden & Masyln, 1998). Consequently, they may feel
increasingly obligated to reciprocate the leader’s support (Wayne & Green, 1993). It is our
contention that reciprocation is likely to influence the quantity and quality of the member's
interpersonal and job dedication behaviors, but not his or her task performance behavior. Studies
examining the LMXOCB relationship appear to support this conjecture (Dansereau et al.,
1975; Deluga, 1998; Liden & Graen, 1980; Podsakoff, et al., 2000; Wayne & Green, 1993). For
example, Wayne and Green (1993) found that subordinates with high quality LMX engaged in
helping behaviors to a greater extent than those with low quality LMX. Podsakoff, et al.’s (2000)
meta-analysis also revealed that LMX is significantly be related to helping behaviors (r = .36, p
With relation to the direction from LMX relationship to the contextual performance
elements, it can be argued that the direction should be reversed, that is, more contextual
performance may lead to a higher quality LMX relationship. Although this expectation is not
unreasonable, the focus of our paper is on the linkage from LMX to performance. The
LMXperformance link is consistent with the view of the LMX relationship as a channel of
communication that contributes to task performance and subordinates' development.
Furthermore, the LMX literature suggests that the LMX relationship is the result of a series of
interactions between the two parties involved in the relationship that occur over time, and not
only the result of one party’s action (Dienesch & Liden, 1986; Graen & Scandura, 1987).
Patterns of performance behavior are developed in ways that are consistent with job
requirements, organizational expectations, and the prevailing culture and norms --not the other
way around (Graen & Scandura, 1987). Thus, simply exhibiting more interpersonal facilitation
and/or job dedication behaviors may not always result in higher quality of LMX relationship.
Task performance is primarily determined by the incumbent's knowledge, skills, abilities,
and task-related experience (Borman & Motowidlo, 1993, Hunter & Hirsh, 1987; Motowidlo &
Van Scotter, 1994). Two meta-analyses (Hunter & Hunter, 1984; Schmitt, Gooding, Noe, &
Kirsch, 1984) investigating the predictors of work sample performance also showed that these
factors are highly related to task performance. LMX is not expected to lead to better task
performance, which is defined as the proficiency in performing job-specific tasks. Because task
performance involves use of job-specific task skills, procedures, and knowledge, leader-member
exchange relationships are less likely to affect task performance than contextual performance.
On the other hand, LMX could affect a subordinate's task performance in a different way. People
who have a good relationship with their supervisor may have better access to needed resources
(Scandura & Schriesheim, 1994), and supervisors may give them task assignments that are better
suited to their abilities (Sparrowe & Liden, 1997). The task environments experienced by
incumbents in the same job and organization probably do not differ very much. Better resources
might reduce task difficulty, but at least some effort, persistence, etc., are still required. In
addition, Campbell’s (1990) performance model suggests that both task proficiency and
motivation contribute to task performance. More recently, Van Scotter and Motowidlo (1996)
argued that job dedication is “the motivational foundation for job performance that drives people
to act with the deliberate intention of promoting the organization’s best interests” (Van Scotter &
Motowidlo, 1996). Therefore, we take the position that the relationship between LMX and task
performance would not be direct in most cases. LMX would have an indirect effect on task
performance through job dedication in most cases and even when there is a direct relationship
between LMX and task performance job dedication would still influence task performance. One
empirical study by Deluga (1998) provides supporting evidence for this conjecture. In the study,
the quality of LMX was only marginally related to subordinates’ in-role behavior after other
covariates were controlled, while it was significantly related to subordinates’ OCB.
Proposition 1: As LMX quality increases interpersonal facilitation will increase in
Proposition 2: As LMX quality increases job dedication will increase in effectiveness.
Proposition 3: Job dedication will mediate the effect of LMX quality on task
Individual Performance – Group Performance
In the previous section, individual performance was conceptualized in terms of
interpersonal facilitation, job dedication, and task performance. The next question is, do these
elements directly affect group performance? While it is expected that task performance, which
involves proficiency in accomplishing prescribed tasks would directly affect group performance
(Borman & Motowidlo, 1993; Motowidlo & Van Scotter, 1994), the links between interpersonal
facilitation and job dedication and group performance are indirect. Interpersonal facilitation and
job dedication may contribute to group performance by enhancing coworkers’ task performance
or managers' productivity (Borman & Motowidlo, 1993; Podsakoff, Ahearne, & MacKenzie,
1997), freeing up resources so they can be used more productively, making groups’ performance
more stable, or increasing groups’ agility to adapt to changing environment (Podsakoff, et al.,
2000). The inconsistent pattern of the effects of helping behaviors on group performance
(Podsakoff, et al., 2000) and the inability of multidisciplinary work group members to covering
coworkers’ technical specialties (Uhl-Bien & Graen, 1992) suggest that it may be useful to
incorporate some mediators and/or moderators in discussing the relationship between individual
performance and group performance.
For this purpose, we selected two important group-level variables, group cohesion and
work group task type. Research results indicate that group cohesion is significantly related not
only to group performance (Bartkus, 1995; Klein & Mulvey, 1995; Shanley & Langfred, 1998)
but also to contextual performance (Podsakoff, et al., 2000) and the quality of LMX (Cogliser &
Schriesheim, 2000; Van Dyne, Cummings, & Parks, 1995). In case of work-group task type,
while Steiner (1972) suggested that it moderates the effect of individual task performance on
group performance (Steiner, 1972), some other workgroup researchers (e.g., Zaccaro & Lowe,
1988; Zaccaro & McCoy, 1988) showed that it also moderates the relationship between group
cohesion and group performance. In the next section, each of these variables will be briefly
discussed, and then some relevant propositions connecting these variables with other constructs
will be developed. The current model incorporates group cohesion as a mediator and work-group
task type as a moderator.
Group cohesion is one of the most extensively studied constructs in group literature
(Bettenhausen, 1991) primarily because of the belief that cohesive groups would serve as
important sources of affiliative need satisfaction for their members (Dobbins & Zaccaro, 1986;
Kerr & Jermier, 1978), lessen the debilitating effects of situational constraints on organizational
behavior (Evans, 1986), and eventually lead to better performance (Bartkus, 1995; Bartkus, et
al., 1997; Klein & Mulvey, 1995; Shanley & Langfred, 1998). While empirical evidence for this
belief is mixed (see Stogdill (1972) for detail), some researchers (Mudrack, 1989; Mullen &
Copper, 1994; Zaccaro, 1991) argued that the inconsistent evidence might be due to the different
yet unidimensional conceptualization of the group cohesion construct, and suggested that group
cohesion should be conceptualized as a multidimensional construct, as initially proposed by
Festinger (1950) and Back (1951). In his seminal study, Festinger (1950) defined group cohesion
as the resultant of all the forces acting on members to remain in the group. Similarly, Back
(1951) also maintained that individuals may want to belong to a group for various reasons, such
as attractiveness of group members, attractiveness of the group task.
Since this multidimensional perspective has been supported by a series of studies (e.g.,
Carron, 1982; Carron, Widmeyer, & Brawley, 1985; Gal & Manning, 1987; Tziner, 1982;
Yukelson, Weinberg, & Jackson, 1984), and because this perspective appears to be more
appropriate to explain what kind of role group cohesion may play in carrying the effect of LMX
quality on individual performance to group performance (Brawley, Carron, Widmeyer, 1988;
Carron, et al., 1985; Gross & Martin, 1952; Zaccaro, 1991), the current paper takes this
multidimensional perspective. With this perspective, the current model conceptualizes group
cohesion with two sub-dimensions, interpersonal cohesion and task cohesion, which have been
identified through and supported through a number of studies (e.g., Carron, et al., 1985;
Mudrack, 1989; Stokes, 1983; Yukelson, et al., 1984). While interpersonal cohesion is defined
as the degree of an attraction to the group because of satisfactory relationship and friendships
with other members of the group (Festinger, Schachter, & Back, 1950, Lott & Lott, 1965), task
cohesion is defined as the degree of an attraction to the group because of a liking for or
commitment to the group task (Hackman, 1976, Goodman, Ravlin, & Schminke, 1987).
Propositions on Contextual Performance – Group Cohesion
While some extant OCB studies seem to identify group cohesion as a situational
antecedent of contextual performance behaviors (e.g., Podsakoff, et al., 2000; Van Dyne, et al.,
1995), the current study sets group cohesion as a consequence of contextual performance
behaviors because of the following reasons. First, the latter direction would be more appropriate
than the former direction, when social cohesion is viewed as a continually changeable state
derived from the interplay of level of members’ involvement and type of involvement (Grubb,
1987). Second, the latter direction seems to be more consistent with the primary interest of the
current paper, which is to specify how different quality of LMX will affect the group
performance through individual performance. In fact, some OCB (Podsakoff, et al., 20000) and
group literature (Bettenhasusen, 1991; Harrison, Price, & Bell, 1998; Hazani, 1987; Roark &
Sharah, 1989) expect the direction from contextual performance to group cohesion. The
underlying rationale of this expectation is that with higher degree of contextual performance of
group members, group members are more likely to experience positive mood (George, 1991),
which in turn leads to higher group cohesion. Although some researchers conjectured that there
would be differentiated relationship between the contextual performance elements and group
cohesion dimensions (Podsakoff, et al., 1997, 2000), no previous study specified which kind of
contextual performance would lead to which type of group cohesion.
The current model proposes that while interpersonal facilitation behavior affects both
interpersonal cohesion and task cohesion, job dedication behavior affects only task cohesion.
Interpersonal facilitation behaviors involve helping, encouraging, and supportive behaviors (Van
Scotter & Motowidlo, 1996), and these behaviors can facilitate group members’ personal
understanding on each other by providing more communication opportunity (Podsakoff, et al.,
1997), and this increased opportunity may develop empathetic concern (Van Dyne, et al., 1995),
trust (Roark & Sharah, 1989), and caring, which may in turn result in higher degree of
interpersonal cohesion (Hazani, 1987). Also, some interpersonal facilitation behaviors, such as
helping coworkers to perform their task-oriented job activities, may help coworkers to ‘learn the
ropes’ and facilitate the dispersion of ‘best practice,’ (Podsakoff, et al., 2000). With this support,
some members who might not initially be clear about their roles in the workgroup could more
easily accept prescribed group performance role (Schriesheim, 1980) or develop their own roles,
and this role clarification or development process facilitated by individuals’ helping behaviors is
expected to increase group members’ overall commitment to group task (i.e., task cohesion)
In contrast to interpersonal facilitation behaviors, job dedication behaviors that
encompass such behaviors as working hard, taking initiative, and following rules to support
organizational objectives are expected to affect only task cohesion. As Podsakoff and his
colleagues (Podsakoff, et al., 1997, 2000) suggested, employees, who take initiatives and/or
follow rules, may help the coordination of effort among team members, thus help the group avoid
distractions from prescribed group task. Therefore, these behaviors are more likely to maintain
the degree to which group members commit to the group-task more constantly. Some self-
disciplinary behaviors, such as working hard and supporting organizational objectives, are also
expected to lead higher task group cohesion. Since those behaviors are systematically rewarded
by supervisors and/or organizations (Van Scotter, et al., 2000), the group members who exhibit
those behaviors can be a role model for other group members, and their behaviors are likely to set
the group norms and values in a way that the group’s overall task commitment is kept at a high
level. However, since these behaviors are highly oriented to individual task, they are unlikely to
affect the interpersonal group cohesion, which is primarily concerned with person-to-person
From the discussion to this point, the following propositions can be drawn out.
Proposition 4: As effectiveness in interpersonal facilitation increases, interpersonal group
cohesion will increase.
Proposition 5: As effectiveness in interpersonal facilitation increases task group cohesion
Proposition 6: As effectiveness in job dedication increases task group cohesion will
Propositions on Group Cohesion – Group Performance
Besides the issue of different yet unidimensional conceptualization of group cohesion,
there is another issue related to the relationship of group cohesion – group performance: the
temporal order of the relationship. Although most of group studies hypothesized that group
cohesion would affect group performance, some other researchers (Mullen & Copper, 1994;
Staw, 1975; Turner, Hogg, Turner, & Smith, 1984) found evidence supporting the opposite
direction. For example, Staw (1975) found that group who were told that their performance was
high rated themselves as more cohesive than groups who were told their performance was low,
even though the bogus performance feedback the groups received was completely unrelated to
actual group performance.
For the purposes of the current model, group cohesion is viewed as an antecedent of
group performance. The primary interest of the current study is actual group performance, not
group members’ perception of group performance or their post-hoc attribution of good group
performance (Staw, 1975). With relation to more specific relationship between the group
cohesion components and group performance, the current model proposes that interpersonal
cohesion and task cohesion may have different effects on group performance. That is, it is
expected that while higher task cohesion may have positive effect on group performance,
interpersonal cohesion may have negative effect on group performance. In case of task cohesion,
its relationship with group performance is intuitively obvious. High task cohesion, which may
result from shared commitment to the group task, is likely to increase group members’
willingness and effort on the group task (Hackman, 1976; Hackman & Morris, 1975). This
increased effort is more likely to lead better group performance (Mudrack, 1989; Mullen &
Copper, 1994; Zaccaro, 1991).
Unlike the relationship of task cohesion – performance, the relationship between
interpersonal cohesion and group performance is somewhat complicated. Although early group
cohesion studies suggested that interpersonal group cohesion is likely to increase group
performance because of the well-planned task activities that may be resulted from increased
group communication among group members (Lott & Lott, 1961), attraction to group members
(interpersonal cohesion), by itself, does not necessarily lead to well-planned task activities,
because group members’ concerns may vary along a continuum that ranges from ‘complete
concern with task performance’ to ‘complete concern with sociability’ (Steiner, 1972, p.6).
Rather, the increased communication and interaction directed away from group task may inhibit
the group performance (Davis, 1969; Hackman, 1976). Klein & Mulvey (1995) reported that
group cohesion did not increase group performance, unless the group goal is related to group
task. Also, Bartkus’ (1995) study found that highly cohesive groups performed better than less
cohesive group, when leaders exhibited strong task initiation behaviors. Finally, Zaccaro and
Lowe (1988) found that interpersonal cohesion was positively related to interaction frequency (r
= .30, p .01), which was in turn negatively related to group performance (r = -.37, p .01).
This evidence implies that interpersonal cohesion can be detrimental to group performance, if it
was not properly directed toward group tasks by some means, such as norms and standards
(Nieva, Fleishman, & Rieck, 1985). Therefore,
Proposition 7: Increases in task cohesion will lead to higher group performance.
Proposition 8: Increases in interpersonal cohesion will lead to lower group performance.
Workgroup Task Type as A Moderator
Several researchers (Podsakoff, et al., 2000; Steiner, 1972; Thompson, 1967; Uhl-Bien &
Graen, 1992; Zaccaro & Lowe, 1988; Zaccaro & McCoy, 1988) posited that task type moderates
the relationship between individual performance and group performance. For example,
Thompson (1967) expected that workgroup communication and coordination among group
members would be more critical when the group tasks are based on what he called long-linked
technologies. This expectation seems to be applied even to managerial group tasks. Uhl-Bien &
Graen (1992) suggested that multidisciplinary (e.g., task-force team) managerial team members,
in contrast to the members of single discipline work groups, may not be able to cover the work of
other team members, because they do not have the technical backgrounds in all discipline areas,
which are represented on the cross-functional team.
Steiner’s (1972) typology of group tasks seems to be useful in examining the moderating
effect of group task type. He classified group tasks into three different categories: additive,
disjunctive, and conjunctive. Additive tasks are highly divisible into minimal units and easily
transferred from one person to another. With additive tasks, group performance depends on each
member’s input, combined in a simple summative fashion. Disjunctive tasks are those that
cannot be dividable to sub-units. Consequently, only one member, who is presumably the best
member, should and/or can do the entire task. The product of this type of task is actually an
individual product yet sanctioned by the group. For example, the performance of a high school
in a nationwide math competition will be determined by the performance of a student who
represents the school. Conjunctive tasks are similar to additive tasks in that they can be divisible
into minimum units. However, conjunctive tasks involve a ‘bottleneck task’. Thus, with
conjunctive tasks, group performance depends on the performance of the member working on the
As implied in the typology, the effect of individual task performance on group
performance would vary, depending on the task type. For illustration purpose, imagine a three-
member group of which members are X, Y, and Z, and assume that the initial individual task
performance of the members was 10 respectively at time 1. Again, assume that their individual
task performances are increased because of increased job dedication behaviors, for example, to
15, 13, and 12 respectively. If the group task were additive, then the increase in group
performance would be the same as the sum of the increased individual performance (i.e., 10).
However, if the group task were disjunctive, then the group performance increase (i.e, 5) is less
than the sum of the increased individual performance (i.e., 10). Again, if the task were
conjunctive, then group performance would be increased only by 2. From this illustration, it is
likely that while the relationship between individual task performance and group performance is
not restricted under additive group task at all, it would be weakened to some extent under
disjunctive group task and highly restricted under conjunctive type of group task.
Group task type is also expected to moderate the relationship between group cohesion and
group performance. As discussed earlier, interpersonal group cohesion may reduce group
performance through increased group interaction that is not directed toward group tasks. Since
additive group task requires the least level of group interaction and maximum individual exertion
on the task (Steiner, 1972), higher task cohesion will lead to higher group performance, while
higher interpersonal cohesion will lead to lower group performance, as proposed in the
proposition 7 and 8.
However, the strengths of these relationships may be different with disjunctive and
conjunctive task type. Under disjunctive and conjunctive task situation, successful group
performance requires not only group members’ task commitment and willingness to contribute
(task cohesion) but also group members’ acceptance of superior solution to the exclusion of the
all others (Steiner, 1972, p.25-28). This group members’ acceptance can be accomplished
through increased group interaction and communication (Hackman & Morris, 1975). Therefore,
it is more likely that the negative effect of interpersonal cohesion on group performance would
decrease to some extent. Two empirical studies by Zaccaro & Lowe (1988) and Zaccaro &
McCoy (1988) appear to provide indirect support for this conjecture. While Zaccaro & McCoy
(1988) reported that group performance was significantly high only when both interpersonal
cohesion and task cohesion were high under disjunctive task situation, Zaccaro & Lowe (1988)
found that with additive group task type, only task cohesion, not interpersonal cohesion, had
positive effect on group performance. Based on the reasoning to this point, following
propositions can be added:
Proposition 9a: The strength of the relationship between individual task performance and
group performance will be weaker under a disjunctive task situation than under an additive task
Proposition 9b: The strength of the relationship between individual task performance and
group performance will be weakest under a conjunctive task situation in comparison to other
types of task situation.
Proposition 10: The negative effect of interpersonal cohesion on group performance will
be lower under disjunctive and conjunctive task situations than under an additive group task
While the accumulation of LMX research over 30 years has broadened the understanding
of the relationship of LMX with other individual-level variables, little research attention has been
devoted to advance the understanding of the role of LMX in work group context (Cogliser &
Schriesheim, 2000; Graen & Ulh-Bien, 1995).
The goal of this paper was to propose a model showing how LMX would influence group
performance through individuals’ performance. Drawing on the literatures of LMX, contextual
performance/OCB, group cohesion, group performance, this paper proposes, first, that although
high quality LMX relationship may lead subordinates to exhibit more contextual performance
behaviors to reciprocate leaders’ support and to maintain a good relationship. Second, while
LMX is not expected to lead better individual task performance directly, increased job dedication
behaviors due to high LMX relationship are expected to do so. Third, increased interpersonal
facilitation behaviors resulted from high LMX relationship are expected to increase both
interpersonal group cohesion and task group cohesion, while increased job dedication would
increase only task group cohesion. Fourth, group task type would moderate the effect of
individual task performance on group performance. Finally, interpersonal group cohesion is
expected to have negative effect on group performance, whereas task group cohesion is expected
to have positive effect on group performance, and the effect sizes would be subject to group task
Although these propositions are based on relevant theories and empirical studies, they
should be subject to and supported by rigorous empirical tests. Several suggestions for testing of
the current model may be worthwhile. First, since the current model involves both individual-
and group-level variables, a researcher needs to employ a statistical technique for conducting
cross-level analyses. While various approaches for analyzing cross-level data have been
suggested, hierarchical linear modeling analysis (Bryk & Raudenbush, 1992) may provide a
researcher with several benefits over other approaches. By using this analysis, a researcher not
only can simultaneously estimate two models: one modeling relationships at individual level and
a second modeling how these relationships at individual levels vary at group level, but also he or
she can examine if individuals within a particular group may be more similar to one another than
individuals in other groups and, therefore, may not provide independent observations (Hoffman,
1997). Second, we believe that supervisors’ performance ratings should be utilized to measure
individual performance elements in the context of the current model. If individual performance
elements are measured by using peer ratings or self-ratings, then the effect sizes of the
relationships between those elements and group cohesion and group performance can be
confound with the effect of common method variance (see Crampton & Wagner, 1994), when the
scores of the group cohesion and group performance are obtained through the aggregation of
individual scores. In addition, objective indices, such as absences, production rates, sales, and
disciplinary cases, may not be appropriate for measuring contextual performance elements,
because they are known to be deficient in that they provide data pertinent to only a portion of
task performance and/or contaminated in that some of the indices are determined in part by
factors beyond the employees’ control (Borman, 1991), while contextual performance is
individuals’ discretionary behavior and less quantifiable. Finally, although LMX can be
measured either from supervisors’ or from subordinates’ perspective (Scandura & Schriesheim,
1994), we believe that subordinates’ perception on the LMX relationships would be more
appropriate than supervisors’ in the context of the current model, in part because the construct is
hypothesized to lead to individual performance, and in part because the measurement of LMX
from supervisors’ perspective may entail the issue of common method variance when the
individual performance elements are measured by using supervisors’ performance ratings.
Given that these propositions are supported by empirical evidence, the current model has
several theoretical and practical implications. First, while the majority of LMX literature have
suggested a simple relationship between LMX and organizational effectiveness based on the
positive relationship between LMX and individual performance, the current model suggests that
the positive effect of LMX can unexpectedly be offset by interpersonal group cohesion, which
can be detrimental to group performance, if it is not appropriately directed toward group tasks.
What this means is that even if a supervisor devoted his or her valuable resources to develop and
maintain a good quality of LMX relationship with his or her subordinates, it would not be enough
to bring better group performance. Supervisors also need to pay attention to the enhancement of
group processes as well as the development of high quality of LMX relationships (Cogliser &
Second, the propositions related to contextual performance elements and group cohesions
would, if supported, render additional evidence supporting the validity of the sub-components of
contextual performance (interpersonal facilitation and job dedication) and group cohesion
(interpersonal cohesion and task cohesion). While the multidimensionality of these constructs
have been supported by some studies, the empirical evidence from the studies has been limited to
one level: either individual level or group level. Since the propositions presented in the current
model involve variables at both levels, empirical evidence supporting the propositions will
provide another evidence for the multidimensionality of the constructs.
Finally, as mentioned at the beginning of this paper, while LMX theory suggests that a
supervisor develops differentiated relationships with different subordinates because of limited
resources (e.g., time, effort, and emotional resources), group cohesion literature suggests that
group cohesion can be an important source of performance feedback and provide behavioral
standards based on group norms (Hackman, 1992). The current model that expects a positive
relationship between LMX and group cohesion implies that group cohesion may enhance a
supervisor’s capability for managing workgroups by allowing him or her to leverage their limited
This paper attempts to develop a LMX model that incorporates both individual level
variables and group level variables to specify how different quality of LMX relationship affects
the workgroup performance through individuals’ performance. By incorporating variables at
multi-levels, some heretofore unexplored but important propositions have been presented as an
exploratory step in broadening that literature. Although the current model has included only few
variables for reasons of parsimony, it is obviously desirable to develop a more comprehensive
model incorporating even more variables, which may provide different insights about the
relationships among LMX, individual performance, and group performance. Future research
efforts and theoretical conjecture are required to develop more comprehensive and broader
models. It is believed that the current model may facilitate the broadening of theory and
ultimately research and practice in this area.
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Individual Performance Dimensions
Group Cohesion Dimensions
A LMX Model in Work Group Context