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Leadership styles and employees’ job-related attitudes: An empirical study on the mediating effects of reciprocity and trust


Reciprocity and trust are the basic principles of human social exchanges. Using a sample of 972 managers in China, we examined the relationship between transformational and transactional leadership styles and job-related attitudes of employees, as well as the mediating effects of both reciprocity and trust on the above relationship based on social exchange theory. The main findings of structural equation modeling analyses were shown as follows. Firstly, transformational leadership not only affects organizational trust and commitment directly, but also motivates organizational trust of employees through the mediation of generalized and balanced reciprocity indirectly, and thus enhances organizational commitment and stay intention of employees. Secondly, transactional leadership indirectly affects organizational trust and commitment of employees through the mediation of reciprocity. Thirdly, generalized reciprocity has direct effects on organizational commitment of employees, whereas balanced reciprocity exerts its influences through affecting organizational trust of employees. Managerial suggestions are provided.


互惠和信任是社会交换的普适准则。 基于社会交换理论, 以中国各企业972位맜理人员为样本, 研究领导风格与员工工作态度之间的关系, 以及组织与员工间的互惠和员工的组织信任在其中的中介作用。 最后得出3点结论: (1) 变革型领导不仅直接对员工的组织信任和组织承诺产生作用, 而且通过组织对员工的广义和平衡互惠使员工产生对组织的信任, 从而提高员工的组织承诺和降低员工的离职意愿: (2) 事务型领导仅仅通过互惠对员工的组织信任和组织承诺产生作用: (3) 广义互惠直接影响员工的组织承诺, 平衡互惠通过组织信任影响员工的组织承诺。


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Correspondence to Jiwen Song.

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Translated from Zhongda Guanli Yanjiu 中大管理研究 (China Management Studies), 2007, (1): 13–45

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About this article


  • leadership styles
  • reciprocity
  • organizational trust
  • organizational commitment
  • quit intention


  • 领导风格
  • 互惠
  • 组织信任
  • 组织承诺
  • 离职意愿