Diversity in leadership: race in leader-member exchanges

Brandon Randolph-Seng, Claudia C. Cogliser, Angela F. Randolph, Terri A. Scandura, Carliss D. Miller, Rachelle Smith-Genthôs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


The workforce is becoming increasingly diverse and yet leadership research has lagged behind this trend. In particular, theory links leader-member exchange (LMX) to the development of racially diverse leaders (e.g. Scandura and Lankau, 1996). Yet, there remains a need for empirical evaluation of this premise. The paper aims to discuss these issues. Design/methodology/approach: – In this paper, results of two studies of the effects of leader-member diversity on the LMX dimensions of professional respect, affect, loyalty, and contributions were examined. In the first study, supervisor-subordinate dyads in an applied work setting were examined, while in the second study a laboratory study was used. Findings: – Results in Study 1 indicated that cross-race and minority dyads reported different LMX attributes of professional respect, affect, loyalty and contributions compared with dyads where both members were of the racial majority. In Study 2, racial compositions of dyads was not associated with reported differences in LMX relationships, but was associated with differences in task performance. Originality/value: – This research provides the first systematic examination of the influence of racial diversity on LMX in a leader-follower dyad. As such, this work provides an important reference point in which future research on LMX and diversity can build. Such efforts will help future organizational leaders better navigate the increasingly diverse workplace.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)750-773
Number of pages24
JournalLeadership and Organization Development Journal
Issue number6
StatePublished - Aug 1 2016


  • Leader-follower relationships
  • Leader-member exchange
  • Racial diversity
  • Relational demography
  • Socially situated cognition
  • Task performance


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