Skip to main content Accessibility help

Give and Take: Needed Updates to Social Exchange Theory

  • Helena D. Cooper-Thomas (a1) and Rachel L. Morrison (a1)


In their focal article, Chernyak-Hai and Rabenu (2018) argue that social exchange theory (SET) needs an update, and in this they are aligned with Cropanzano, Anthony, Daniels, and Hall's (2017) recent critical review of SET. Drawing on Chernyak-Hai and Rabenu's research, we explore two issues in more depth: first, that work relationships are becoming more complex than can be represented by simple dyadic reciprocity; and second, that the context of work is changing rapidly, with implications for workplace relationships. In exploring the ideas put forward by Chernyak-Hai and Rabenu, we draw on Cropanzano et al.’s two-dimensional model of social exchange, with the first dimension being desirable (positive) resources contrasted with undesirable (negative) ones, and the additional dimension being active (exhibit) behavior versus passive (withdraw) behavior. The first valence-oriented dimension fits clearly with the four foci of Chernyak-Hai and Rabenu's research, which cover both positive constructs, namely leader–member exchange (LMX), perceived organizational support and loyalty, and organizational citizenship behaviors (OCB), as well as negative constructs of perceived organizational politics and counterproductive work behaviors (CWB). The second, behavioral dimension proposed by Cropanzano et al. adds useful theoretical specificity that may address Chernyak-Hai and Rabenu's contention that SET needs updating to account for changes in how employees work and how organizations function.


Corresponding author

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Helena D. Cooper-Thomas, Auckland University of Technology, Management Department, 120 Mayoral Drive, Auckland 1142, New Zealand. E-mail:


Hide All
Appel-Meulenbroek, R., Groenen, P., & Janssen, I. (2011). An end-user's perspective on activity-based office concepts. Journal of Corporate Real Estate, 13 (2), 122135. doi: 10.1108/14630011111136830
Ashkanasy, N. M., Ayoko, O. B., & Jehn, K. A. (2014). Understanding the physical environment of work and employee behavior: An affective events perspective. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 35 (8), 11691184. doi: 10.1002/job.1973
Chernyak-Hai, L., & Rabenu, E. (2018). The new era workplace relationships: Is social exchange theory still relevant? Industrial and Organizational Psychology: Perspectives on Science and Practice, 11 (3), 456–481.
Chernyak-Hai, L., & Tziner, A. (2014). Relationships between counterproductive work behavior, perceived justice and climate, occupational status, and leader-member exchange. Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology, 30 (1), 112. doi: 10.5093/tr2014a1
Cooper-Thomas, H. D., & Wright, S. (2013). Person-environment misfit: The neglected role of social context. Journal of Managerial Psychology, 28 (1), 2137. doi: 10.1108/02683941311298841
Cropanzano, R., Anthony, E., Daniels, S., & Hall, A. (2017). Social exchange theory: A critical review with theoretical remedies. Academy of Management Annals, 11 (1), 138. doi: 10.5465/annals.2015.0099
Ding, S. (2008). Users’ privacy preferences in open plan offices. Facilities, 26 (9/10), 401417. doi: 10.1108/02632770810885751
Ferguson, M. (2012). You cannot leave it at the office: Spillover and crossover of coworker incivility. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 33 (4), 571588. doi: 10.1002/job.774
Flynn, F. J. (2005). Identity orientations and forms of social exchange in organizations. Academy of Management Review, 30 (4), 737750. doi: 10.2307/20159165
Hershcovis, M. S. (2011). “Incivility, social undermining, bullying . . . oh my!”: A call to reconcile constructs within workplace aggression research. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 32 (3), 499519. doi: 10.1002/job.689
Johns, G. (2006). The essential impact of context on organizational behavior. Academy of Management Review, 31 (2), 386408. doi: 10.5465/AMR.2006.20208687
Kammeyer-Mueller, J. D., Simon, L. S., & Rich, B. L. (2012). The psychic cost of doing wrong: Ethical conflict, divestiture socialization, and emotional exhaustion. Journal of Management, 38 (3), 784808. doi: 10.1177/0149206310381133
Kelliher, C., & /Anderson, D. (2008). For better or for worse? An analysis of how flexible working practices influence employees' perceptions of job quality. International Journal of Human Resource Management, 19 (3), 419431. doi: 10.1080/0958519080189550
Lyons, B. J., & Scott, B. A. 2012. Integrating social exchange and affective explanations for the receipt of help and harm: A social network approach. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 117, 6679. doi: 10.1016/j.obhdp.2011.10.002
Mackey, J. D., Frieder, R. E., Perrewé, P. L., Gallagher, V. C., & Brymer, R. A. (2015). Empowered employees as social deviants: The role of abusive supervision. Journal of Business and Psychology, 30 (1), 149162. doi: 10.1007/s10869-014-9345-x
Major, D. A., Kozlowski, S. W., Chao, G. T., & Gardner, P. D. (1995). A longitudinal investigation of newcomer expectations, early socialization outcomes, and the moderating effects of role development factors. Journal of Applied Psychology, 80 (3), 418431. doi: 10.1037/0021-9010.80.3.418
McCoy, J.M. (2005). Linking the physical work environment to creative context. Journal of Creative Behavior, 39, 169191. doi: 10.1002/j.2162-6057.2005.tb01257.x
McElroy, J. C., & Morrow, P. C. (2010). Employee reactions to office redesign: A naturally occurring quasi-field experiment in a multi-generational setting. Human Relations, 63 (5), 609636. doi: 10.1177/0018726709342932
Methot, J. R., Lepine, J. A., Podsakoff, N. P., & Christian, J. S. (2016). Are workplace friendships a mixed blessing? Exploring tradeoffs of multiplex relationships and their associations with job performance. Personnel Psychology, 69 (2), 311355. doi: 10.1111/peps.12109
Morrison, R. L., & Macky, K. A. (2017). The demands and resources arising from shared office spaces. Applied Ergonomics, 60, 103115. doi: 10.1016/j.apergo.2016.11.007
Yip, J. A., Schweitzer, M. E., & Nurmohamed, S. (2018). Trash-talking: Competitive incivility motivates rivalry, performance, and unethical behavior. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 144, 125144. doi: 10.1016/j.obhdp.2017.06.002


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed