The missing link? Implications of internal, external, and relational attribution combinations for leader–member exchange, relationship work, self-work, and conflict

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5 Scopus citations

Abstract

Attributions are causal explanations made by individuals in response to important, novel, and/or unexpected events. Numerous attribution theories have examined how people use information to make attributions and how attributions impact an individual's subsequent emotions and outcomes. However, this research has only recently considered the implications of dyadic-level attributions (i.e., relational attributions), particularly in the context of leader–follower relationships in organizations. Therefore, the purpose of this theoretical paper is threefold. First, we integrate research on attributional biases into the research on relational attributions. Second, we integrate and extend attribution theory to consider the implications of convergent and divergent internal, external-person, external-situational, and relational attributions for leader–member exchange (LMX) quality, relationship work, self-work, and conflict. Third, we make the implicit ranking of attribution combinations and the resultant levels of relationship work explicit. In doing so, we contribute to attribution theory and research by proposing how attribution combinations produce positive and negative outcomes that are both intrapersonal and interpersonal. Further, we contribute to the LMX literature by explicating how leader–follower attribution combinations influence relationship quality.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)554-569
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Organizational Behavior
Volume40
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2019

Keywords

  • attribution theory
  • conflict
  • leader–member exchange (LMX)
  • relational attributions
  • relationship work

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