Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to examine whether leader-member exchange (LMX) and perceived organizational support (POS) have interactive effects on affective commitment to the organization. The utility of Social Exchange Theory for explaining workplace attitudes and behaviors in non-Western settings has been questioned. Another objective is to test the hypotheses, which are based on Social Exchange Theory, within a Chinese context. Design/methodology/approach – Cross-sectional, self-report data on LMX, POS and affective commitment were obtained from 428 full-time employees in China. In-role performance ratings were provided by immediate supervisors. Findings – LMX and POS have synergistic effects on affective commitment. Affective commitment mediates both the relationship between LMX and in-role performance and the relationship between POS and in-role performance. Research limitations/implications – The limitations include using a cross-sectional, self-report design for LMX, POS and affective commitment, and only sampling employees in organizations in China. The findings support an explanation of workplace attitudes and behaviors in a non-Western setting based on social exchange. The effects of a proximate source of social exchange (i.e. LMX) on affective commitment depend on the level of a remote source of social exchange (i.e. POS), and vice versa. Practical implications – Organizations need to improve the quality of their leader-follower relationships and support their members. Organizations need to increase affective commitment because it appears to drive in-role performance. Originality/value – The authors show that LMX and POS from the same source (i.e. followers) may have interactive effects on affective organizational commitment as well as that social exchange may explain workplace attitudes and behaviors in China.
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