Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Dissertation


Moore School of Business

First Advisor

David M Sluss

Second Advisor

M Audrey Korsgaard


Relational identities are the 'nature of one's role-relationship' and refer to 'how role occupants enact their respective roles vis-à-vis each other' based on both role-based and person-based identities (Sluss & Ashforth, 2007: 11). Relational identities are an important element of supervisor-subordinate relationships because they shape how individuals define themselves, interpret expectations, and the amount of attention, time, and energy they devote towards fulfilling those expectations (cf. Dutton & Ragins, 2007; Grant & Hofmann, 2011). I contribute to the extant literature by informing our understanding with regard to how subordinates negotiate self-verifying and self-enhancing relational identities. I also examine why relational identities are negotiated and why the negotiation of a relational identity is important. I find that the subordinate's efforts to modify the relational identity (i.e. relational identity negotiation) leads to key intrapersonal outcomes (i.e. relational identification and willingness to forgive the supervisor), relational exchange quality outcomes (i.e. subordinate-perceived leader-member exchange and supervisor-perceived leader-member exchange), and behavioral outcomes (i.e. interpersonal citizenship behaviors and in-role performance). In finding a positive association between relational identity negotiation and these key outcomes, I place subordinates as key actors in shaping the positive evolution of supervisor-subordinate relationships (see Stets & Burke, 2003; Stryker & Statham, 1985)--thereby empowering subordinates to persuasively shape their relational context by acting rather than being acted upon (Grant & Hofmann, 2011; Wrzesniewski & Dutton, 2001).