A Leader-Network Exchange Theory

Andre Soares, Miguel Pereira Lopes, Aldona Glińska-Neweś, Rosa Geremias

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
160 Downloads (Pure)



We propose an integrative model of how leaders (individual level) effectively relate to their social networks as a whole (network level). Additionally, we focus both on the leader constructs and the followers shared constructs about those networks.

Our conceptual paper uses the integration of literature from two main bodies of knowledge: individual and shared cognitions, fundamentally from psychology, and a structural perspective, mainly from sociology, organisational studies and social network analysis. We take a psycho-structural approach which allows the emergence of new perspectives on the study of leadership and more specifically on the study of relational leadership.

We propose a leader-network exchange (LNX) theory focussed on the behaviours and cognitions of leaders and followers as well as the relations between them.
Research limitations/implications

Our model represents a new perspective on leader–followers relationship by stressing the importance of both followers and leaders' cognitions. We highlight the importance of the relationships between followers on the creation of shared meaning about the leader.
Practical implications

Our model helps leaders and managers make sense of the cognitions and behaviours of their teams. By considering the teams characteristics, i.e. cognitions and network structure, it allows leaders to adopt the most appropriate behaviours for effective leadership. Leadership and management development programmes designed around our model will enhance the use of networking skills.

Contrary to the traditional view of LMX, our approach considers the social context of leaders and followers. It also adds a new layer of knowledge going beyond what members think of their leaders by considering the social networks of leaders and followers.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)995-1010
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Organizational Change Management
Issue number6
Early online date17 Nov 2020
Publication statusPublished - 17 Nov 2020

Bibliographical note

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  • LMX theory
  • Leadership
  • Social networks
  • LNX theory
  • Multi-level issues

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Management of Technology and Innovation
  • Decision Sciences(all)
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management
  • Strategy and Management


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