When breaking the rule becomes necessary: The impact of leader–member exchange quality on nurses pro‐social rule‐breaking

Muhammad Irshad, Jos Bartels*, Mehwish Majeed, Sajid Bashir

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Aim: Despite the literature on nursing leadership, the research on the quality of exchange relationship between nursing leaders and nurses is in its initial stages. Also, the underlying mechanism that exists between leader–member exchange and employee outcomes warrants further inquiry. This study aimed to fill these gaps by investigating the role of leader–member exchange relationships and organizational identification in nurses' intentional violation of hospital regulations to promote their patients' welfare, also called pro-social rule-breaking. In contrast to a vast number of previous studies, we argue that pro-social rule-breaking can be positive for organizations. Therefore, nurses should be given margin and autonomy to break hospital rules when needed by establishing a high-quality exchange relationship with the supervisor. Design: A quantitative study was conducted on nurses working in hospitals in Pakistan by utilizing a non-probability convenience sampling technique. Method: Data from nurses and their colleagues (n = 224) were collected at three-time points between June 2019 and August 2019 through questionnaires. Results: The results proved that nurses' possessing a high-quality exchange relationship with their supervisor feels a higher level of identification with their organization. In turn, they are more likely to engage in pro-social rule-breaking as a form of constructive deviance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2289-2303
Number of pages15
JournalNursing Open
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2022

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Nursing(all)

User-Defined Keywords

  • leader–member exchange
  • nurses
  • organizational identification
  • pro-social rule-breaking


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