PhD Research Student (LUBS)
PhD Title: Context is Everything!: comparing the LMX for knowledge workers and their managers across three professional sectors
This thesis is exploring the quality of relationships between managers and their employees; in this case Knowledge Workers, in order to identify which elements of that relationship are likely to influence the quality of those relations and levels of trust.I anticipate suggesting that whilst similar elements of workplace relationships are likely to work with trust and LMX, in all professional situations, the actual influence on this mechanism will vary from one professional or institutional context to another.
I will offer a conceptual framework of how Trust and LMX interact, where the higher the levels of trust, the greater the opportunities for social exchange and therefore the better quality those relationships are likely to be.This is important, not just for organisational outcomes such as job satisfaction, job performance, reduced turnover intentions and greater organisational Citizenship Behaviours, but also because work-place experiences are also improved where LMX is of good quality and strong trust exists between managers and staff.
Knowledge workers have been chosen as the focus for this thesis as they potentially have more influence than other employees given their expert power amongst other influences. At the same time, managers use the quality of their LMXs, their own behaviours and additional organisational forces to retain and influence Knowledge Workers to achieve organisational outcomes.Thus, this reciprocal, symbiotic relationship can afford the organisation and its members the environment in which to thrive and grow.
The LMX-Trust mechanism is mediated by a range of soft and hard causal influences such as Expert Power, Intention to Quit, (i.e. Hard forces on the employees part) and offering Autonomy, Engagement and Creative Opportunities (in other words, Soft influences on given by managers). The actual causal factors and their influence over any given knowledge worker or manager will depend on the context of that relationship and the environmental influences (labour market, product market, economic backdrop etc) within which they are operating.In this case, IT, Financial and Legal sectors will be compared, using a mixed methods approach, to establish which influences exert the greatest pressure on the LMX-Trust mechanism in each of the given professional contexts.
Thus, this thesis will attempt to capture the interplay of influencing factors on the power/dependency relations between knowledge workers and their managers and the relationship that they share whilst at the same time arguing that rather than looking for identical levels of influence as a single model, suitable for all workplaces, we should instead understand how and why these mechanisms shift within their institutional contexts.