Author:Wulani, Fenika
Position:Leader-member exchange - Report


The organization as a workplace comprised of individual employees who work together to achieve certain goals. In the regular activities of the organization, individual employees must interact and complete the task together, either directly or indirectly, with their coworkers. Support from coworkers is important to create positive working conditions. However, in reality, coworkers' behaviors can worsen the working environment and result in some negative impacts for individual employees (Chiaburu & Harrison, 2008). Employees' perception towards coworkers' behavior can be influenced by employment situations. One of these situations is the quality of the relationship between superior and subordinates or Leader-Member Exchange (LMX).

The LMX theory explains how superiors use their power to develop different exchange relationships with their subordinates (Yukl, 1989). According to this theory, leaders will divide their subordinates as in-group (employees who have high quality LMX) and out-group (employees with low quality LMX). However, one can be a member of the in-group because he/she uses impression management behavior towards his/her supervisor (Engle & Lord, 1997). Employees with low LMX may use influential tactics on their supervisors for securing valuable resources. This is because they in comparison with employees of high LMX have less access to those resources, such as support from supervisor and careers (Epitropaki & Martin, 2013). Individuals may expect that their impression management tactics can make their supervisor like them and such attitude determines the quality of their LMX (Engle & Lord, 1997).

Maslyn & Uhl-Bien (2005) found that out-group members perceive the success of their coworkers' (i.e., the in-group members) impression management behavior more than they perceive their own. They perceive that their coworkers become in-group members because they use impression management behavior. This finding is interesting because employees do not perceive their own impression management behavior but that of their coworkers and these behaviors make them succeed. However, most of the previous studies that investigated the relationship between impression management and LMX focused more on the assessment of the relationship between individual employees and their superior. Those studies requested employees to report their own impression management as well as their LMX (Colella & Varma, 2001; Lian, Ferris & Brown, 2012), asked employees to assess their own impression management, while the quality of LMX was reported by their supervisor (Deluga & Perry, 1994; Carlson, Carlson & Ferguson, 2011); or requested employees to measure their own LMX but impression management was measured by the supervisor's rating (Weng & Chang, 2015). Koopman, Matta, Scott & Conlon (2015) examined the relationship between ingratiation and LMX, but they focused on how supervisors could maintain their high quality relationship with in-group members. Even though coworkers also have an important role in the relationship between supervisor-fellow employees and how individuals perceive their marketplace (Omilion-Hodges & Baker, 2013), there were very few research studies of LMX which focused on the relationship between fellow employees and their coworkers (Omilion-Hodges & Baker, 2013) or between LMX and impression management.

The previous studies focused more on investigating the positive consequences of being in-group members (Naseer, Raja, Syed, Donia & Darr, 2016). For example, in-group members will engage more in safety behavior (Zhou & Jiang, 2015), Organizational Citizenship Behavior (OCB) (Sun, Chow, Chiu & Pan, 2013) and creativity (Olsson, Hemlin & Pousette, 2012). These results are in line with the social exchange theory, i.e., if one party receives benefits from another party, he/she must reciprocate it with good things (Cropanzano & Mitchell, 2005). According to Zhou & Jiang (2015), in-group members who have obtained good things from their supervisors such as support, respect and trust, will feel obliged to respond with positive behavior. However, Lian et al. (2012) found that an employee with high LMX, who experienced abusive supervision, would be more engaged in interpersonal deviance. On the other hand Naseer et al. (2016) found that in-group members, who have a despotic leader, will engage less in Organizational Citizenship Behavior-Organization (OCBO), Organizational Citizenship Behavior-Individual (OCBI) and creativity. In addition, Naseer et al. (2016) also found that interactions between politics and LMX and a despotic leader result in negative work behavior, precisely for employees with high LMX. Moreover, supervisors who show their subordinates lack of trust and respect (Shu & Lazatkhan, 2017) and perform arbitrary behavior on a group of subordinates, such as abusive behavior (Lian et al., 2012; Xu, Loi & Lam, 2015) can be a model of negative behavior for a group of subordinates. One form of negative behavior among individual employees has been investigated in terms of interpersonal deviance (Bennett & Robinson, 2000). Therefore, it is possible that in-group members may engage in deviant behavior towards other people such as their coworkers. Despite this reality, there is a lack of studies that investigate the negative behavior of in-group members (Chiaburu & Harrison, 2008).

Summarizing the discussion, we find some important issues: first, whether employees with high-quality LMX will act negatively to their counterparts. Second, whether coworkers who are perceived to be successful in their impression management-those who have become in-group members-will try to maintain and strengthen the quality of their relationship with their supervisor by engaging in deviant behavior and third, whether the quality of fellow employees' LMX is important to differentiate the effect of coworkers' LMX on their deviant behavior against fellow employees. Although these issues are interesting, there have been very few studies that investigated the issue of coworkers' behavior, of those who became in-group members as a result of their impression management behavior-especially, as it are seen through the eyes of their fellow employees.

In this current study, we focused on the relationship among employees-i.e., what fellow employees perceive about their coworkers' behavior as well as their coworkers' LMX quality with their supervisor. Specifically, we looked into coworkers' impression management and their deviant behavior toward fellow employees as an antecedent and consequence of LMX. We argue that individuals who use impression management and become in-group members will try to maintain their position. It is possible that they will engage in deviant behavior directed to other employees, to make others look bad. Moreover, we argue that individuals who are in a high quality relationship position will engage in deviant behavior targeting individuals who are in a low quality relationship with the same superior. Contrary to Koopman et al. (2015) who focused on how supervisors maintain quality LMX, we propose that the high quality LMX condition of individual employees which was built by impression management tactics against their supervisor may have an impact on how the employees maintain the quality of their relationship. In contrast to previous studies, we asked the respondents to report their coworkers' impression management behavior, LMX and interpersonal deviance against them.

This current study investigated the effect of coworkers' impression management behavior, which is directed to the supervisor, on their LMX, impact of coworkers' LMX on their interpersonal deviance, which is directed to fellow employees and the moderating effect of fellow employees' LMX on the relationship between coworkers' LMX and their interpersonal deviance. Furthermore, we investigated whether coworkers with high quality LMX will engage in deviant behavior towards fellow employees with the same or different LMX quality. Respondents of this study were employees who work in a variety of service industries in Surabaya. Surabaya is one of the greatest trading cities in Indonesia. Indonesia is a country where society has a high cultural value of power distance (Hofstede, 2007). Impression management is considered as something normative within a specific cultural context such as in high power distance cultures (Zaidman & Drory, 2001). Specifically, the distinction of in-group and out-group and perception of organizational politics are more prevalent in countries with high power distance (Naseer et al., 2016). However, there were very few studies that discussed impression management behavior in such cultural situations (Zaidman & Drory, 2001; Xin, 2004; Ward & Ravlin, 2017).


Coworker's Impression Management Directed to the Supervisor and LMX Quality

Impressions management is defined as "the process by which individuals influences the impressions of others towards them" Rosenfeld, Giacalone & Riordan (1995); Kacmar, Carlson & Bratton (2004), by manipulating the information they impress (Kacmar et al., 2004). Impression management behavior arises when people want to create and maintain a specific identity (Zaidman & Drory, 2001), to change people's perceptions of them and to construct the appropriate behavior for a particular situation (Ward & Ravlin, 2017). To attain these objectives, individuals will demonstrate verbal and non-verbal behavior, so that they will be seen as more pleasant (Bozeman & Kacmar, 1997). As mentioned by Dorry & Zaidman (2007), individuals tend to use impression management behavior when they interact with other people who have higher status and power and valuable resources. Thus, individuals use impression management behavior by manipulating their identity in order to look nice to target resources. Moreover, impression management behavior can be done because of the influence of personal and...

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