Nationality diversity and leader–Member exchange at multiple levels of analysis: Test of a cross-level model

Shaun Pichler*, Beth Livingston, Andrew Yu, Arup Varma, Pawan Budhwar, Arti Shukla

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: The diversity literature has yet to investigate relationships between diversity and leader–member exchanges (LMX) at multiple levels of analysis. The purpose of this paper is to test a multilevel model of nationality diversity and LMX. In doing so, the authors investigate the role of surface- and deep-level diversity as related to leader–member exchange differentiation (LMXD) and relative LMX (RLMX), and hence to subordinate job performance. Design/methodology/approach: The authors test a multilevel model of diversity and LMX using multisource survey data from subordinates nesting within supervisors. The authors do so in a context where diversity in nationality is pervasive and plays a key role in LMXs, i.e., a multinational organization in Dubai. The authors tested the cross-level moderated model using MPlus. Findings: The results suggest surface-level similarity is more important to RLMX than deep-level similarity. The relationship between surface-level similarity and RLMX is moderated by workgroup nationality diversity. When workgroups are more diverse, there is a positive relationship between dyadic nationality similarity and RLMX; when workgroups are less diverse, similarity in nationality matters less. Moreover, LMXD at the workgroup level moderates the relationship between RLMX and performance at the individual level. Originality/value: This study is one of very few to examine both diversity and LMX at multiple levels of analysis. This is the first study to test the workgroup diversity as a cross-level moderator of the relationship between deep-level similarity and LMX. The results challenge the prevailing notion that that deep-level similarity is more strongly related to LMX than surface-level diversity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)20-39
Number of pages20
JournalEquality, Diversity and Inclusion
Issue number1
Early online date31 Jan 2019
Publication statusPublished - 11 Feb 2019


  • Diversity
  • Ethnic minorities
  • Leader
  • member exchange
  • member exchange differentiation
  • National cultures
  • Relative leader
  • Social identity theory


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