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Pers Soc Psychol Bull. 2005 Jul;31(7):991-1004.

Effective leadership in salient groups: revisiting leader-member exchange theory from the perspective of the social identity theory of leadership.

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  • 1School of Psychology, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia.


Two studies compared leader-member exchange (LMX) theory and the social identity theory of leadership. Study 1 surveyed 439 employees of organizations in Wales, measuring work group salience, leader-member relations, and perceived leadership effectiveness. Study 2 surveyed 128 members of organizations in India, measuring identification not salience and also individualism/collectivism. Both studies provided good support for social identity predictions. Depersonalized leader-member relations were associated with greater leadership effectiveness among high-than low-salient groups (Study 1) and among high than low identifiers (Study 2). Personalized leadership effectiveness was less affected by salience (Study 1) and unaffected by identification (Study 2). Low-salience groups preferred personalized leadership more than did high-salience groups (Study 1). Low identifiers showed no preference but high identifiers preferred depersonalized leadership (Study 2). In Study 2, collectivists did not prefer depersonalized as opposed to personalized leadership, whereas individualists did, probably because collectivists focus more on the relational self.

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