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Moderating and Mediating Variables Physical distance

The most comprehensive yet conceptual academic work on different forms of distance was published by Antonakis and Atwater in 2002. The present study adapts suggestions by the researchers, understanding physical distance as how far geographically leader and follower are located from each other at work. As it represents a major element in this study, particular attention is paid to the accuracy of specifying physical distance. For this reason, leaders and followers were asked to state the location of their permanent office (country and city) while linear physical distance would then be calculated using online software. An additional question asked followers whether they were located in the same office as or in a different office from their leaders.

Relationship quality

Debates are still ongoing with regard to fundamental questions, such as whether LMX is unidimensional or multidimensional. Dienesch and Liden (1986, p. 624) declare LMX to be multidimensional, with facets of perceived contribution, loyalty, and affect. As the unidimensional construct however results in high coefficient alphas between .80 and .90, Graen and Uhl-Bien (1995) admit that LMX might be a multidimensional construct with high degrees of correlations among dimensions, making it possible to be measured using one factor only. The authors themselves draw the conclusion that leader-member exchange constitutes three dimensions: respect, trust, and obligation where the development of a relationship between parties is based on work relationship and not on personal friendship.

In their review paper Graen and Uhl-Bien (1995, p. 237) recommend the usage of the LMX-7 with answer options on a five-point response scale. Similar suggestions are made in a review published recently by Erdogan and Bauer (2014, p. 409). The researchers come to the conclusion that the seven-item scale LMX-7 by Graen and Uhl-Bien (1995) is the most appropriate instrument currently existing to measure the degree of relationship quality between leaders and subordinates. This measure is used for the underlying study assessing relationship quality from subordinates’ perspectives. Table 7 outlines sample items of the LMX-7 formulated for follower ratings. The German translation was adapted from Schyns (2002, p. 245).

Table 7. Sample Items of the LMX-7

Sample Items

Response options

Do you know where you stand with your leader and do you usually know how satisfied your leader is with what you do?








How well does your leader understand your job problems and needs?

Not a bit

A little

A fair amount

Quite a bit

A great deal

How well does your leader recognize your potential?

Not at all

A little




Source: Graen and Uhl-Bien (1995, p. 237)

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