Achieving communication goals in superior-subordinate relationships: The multi-functionality of upward maintenance tactics

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

107 Scopus citations

Abstract

Maintenance of the supervisory relationship is arguably the most important of the communication objectives pursued by subordinates. Maintenance communication creates the context in which other goal-oriented messages are constructed by the subordinate and evaluated by the supervisor. In this study, an inductive procedure was used to identify upward maintenance tactics reportedly used by subordinates. Subsequent factor analysis using a sample of 518 working adults yielded four maintenance tactic types: Personal, Contractual, Regulative, and Direct. Supervisory relationship quality influenced reported tactic use: Subordinates participating in leadership exchanges (Dansereau, Graen, & Haga, 1975) scored higher on the Personal, Contractual, and Directness factors. Subordinates in supervisory exchanges scored higher on the Regulative factor. Results are interpreted as evidence that in high quality supervisory relationships, upward maintenance tactics may be multi-functional, simultaneously preserving relational stability and the capacity for negotiation and change. The results both confirm and extend previous research on leader-member exchange by specifying how subordinate communication contributes to exchange quality.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)289-306
Number of pages18
JournalCommunication Monographs
Volume58
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - 1991
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Communication

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