The Role of Feedback Quality and Organizational Cynicism for Affective Commitment Through Leader-Member Exchange

M Audenaert, B Van der Heijden, T Rombaut, T Van Thielen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Affective commitment is crucial for employees to guarantee that they adhere to organizational interests and goals, but not self-evident for street-level bureaucrats who have a great deal of discretionary freedom in doing their work. Street-level bureaucrats can deviate from organizational goals during the execution of custom-fit solutions, and particularly so when they are cynical toward their organization. To increase affective commitment among street-level bureaucrats, leaders may play an important role by providing qualitative feedback and having a high-quality leader–member exchange relationship with their team members. We examined the cross-level interaction of leaders’ feedback quality and police officers’ organizational cynicism in relation with affective commitment through Leader–Member eXchange (LMX). Building on theorizing on human resource (HR) attributions and on the assumption in social exchange theory that individuals engage in different reciprocation efforts, we expected that police officers who are more cynical toward their organization would be hesitant to reciprocate with more commitment to their organization when their leader’s feedback quality is low. Our findings in a sample of 266 police officers nested in 71 teams supported this expectation. Hence, this study contributes to a better understanding of how to foster the affective commitment of employees who have discretion in their work. Feedback quality appears to be crucial, both for LMX and affective commitment, and this particularly for police officers who are more cynical about their organization.

Original languageEnglish
Article number0734371X20923010
Pages (from-to)593-615
Number of pages23
JournalReview of Public Personnel Administration
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2021


  • Affective commitment
  • Feedback quality
  • LMX
  • Organizational cynicism
  • Police officers
  • Street-level bureaucrats
  • street-level bureaucrats
  • affective commitment
  • organizational cynicism
  • police officers
  • feedback quality


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