The leader-member exchange theory has a special relevance for the understanding of communication issues in Sainsbury’s.  According to leader-member exchange theory, a supervisor may have a biased relationship with the subordinate in the group compared to an out of group member. This is due to the context of the relationship between them. A supervisor may show a more open behaviour and share more with a subordinate in his/her group rather than with a subordinate of a different group. Every subordinate and supervisor is set to have a different relationship.

Researchers attempted to find the antecedents of such a relationship. The research attempted to identify the casual factors that are responsible for difference in interaction levels between various pairs of supervisor and subordinate. These relationships are characterised by the perceptions and actions that shape up the relation based on their work environment. Each relationship is built up on a unique set of characteristics. The intimacy of the relationship of a pair is determined by the behaviours of the supervisor and the subordinate.

There are no specific behavioural attributes identified in perceiving the quality of relationship. Relational coordination has emerged to fill this gap. It provides scope for open thought characterised by features of shared knowledge and problem solving. When there is a scope for such open thought sharing process, the employee perceives that the manager is empathetic about the progress of employee in the organisation.