Organizational Citizenship Behavior 1. Introduction In the last 20 years increasing attention has been drawn to the concept of Organizational Citizenship Behavior by academic researchers and, more recently, by managers. Organizational citizenship behaviors (OCBs) are employee behaviors that go beyond role requirements, not formally rewarded or punished by the organization, which in the “aggregate” facilitate organizational functioning and benefit the organization by improving efficiency (Organ in Schnake, 2003). Because working under changing circumstances becomes one of the main features of contemporary organizations (Lee et al. n Somech, 2004, p. 281) “organizations will necessarily become dependent on individuals who are willing to contribute to successful change regardless of formal job requirements”. This paper analyzes the concept of organizational citizenship behavior and seeks to determine in which ways it influences organizational performance and individual outcomes. Most of the research concerning OCB has focused on antecedents of the dimensions of OCB. Attempts to examine the consequences of OCB are more recent and relatively few (Bergeron, 2005; Podsakoff et al. , 2000).
The aim of the paper is to outline the importance of OCB for organizations and individuals and support Organ’s (in Schanke, 2003) suggestion that OCB impacts on organizational effectiveness and performance. Firstly, in this paper, the concept of OCB and its dimensions will be defined. Next, an analysis of the consequences of OCB on organizations’ effectiveness and personal outcomes will be conducted. Finally, based on the analysis mentioned above, solutions to the problem of motivating individuals to engage in OCBs will be suggested. 2. Definition and dimensions of OCB
Starting with Organ’s (in Ryan, 2002, p. 123) generally used definition of OCB: “OCB represents individual behavior that is discretionary, not directly or explicitly recognized by the formal reward system and that in the aggregate promotes the effective functioning of the organization”, OCB has been proposed as one way to expand the definition and measurement of employee performance. Although OCBs seem unimportant when viewed as isolated events, they have a large organizational impact when aggregated among individuals, organizational units and time frames (Ryan, 2002). Examples of xtra-role behaviors that constitute OCB are: helping co-workers that have been absent from work, persisting with extra effort when necessary to complete task successfully, supporting and defending organizational objectives (Borman, 2004). Because of the diverse conceptualizations concerning OCB as far as academic literature is concerned, defining OCB has been a widely discussed issue. For better analysis and understanding of the concept of OCB, in this study the broader conceptualization of OCB, which includes the traditional in-role job performance behaviors, will be used (Van Dyne, 1994).
After defining OCB as a concept the necessity of adequately describing its construct domains (dimensions) arises. Initially Organ (in Walz, 1996) theorized five distinct categories of OCBs: a) altruism- the act of helping a person with a work-related task, b) conscientiousness- the act of carrying out duties beyond the required level, c) courtesy- actions of communicating with individuals affected by one’s decision, d) sportsmanship- actions that are positive when people hold back from doing them and e) civic virtue- actions that represent responsible participation in or involvement with meetings.
Later on, Podaskoff et al. (2000) grouped the various forms of different behaviors in 7 categories according to the type of behavior: helping behaviors, sportsmanship, organizational loyalty, organizational compliance, individual initiative, civic virtue and self development. Another approach to classifying the types of OCBs is based on the target of OCB. According to these criteria, 2 broad categories of OCBs were defined: (1) OCBI, or behaviors that immediately benefit particular individuals; (2) OCBO, or behaviors that benefit the organization as a whole (Somech, 2004). 3.
Measurement and Antecedents of OCB In order to be able to examine and determine the influence of OCBs on the organizational efficiency and personal outcomes, it is very important to do a short literature review of the antecedents of OCB and its ways of measurement. OCB has generally been measured as a type of individual behavior or performance and the majority of empirical studies have used individual-level predictor variables, including job satisfaction, perceived equity or fairness, leadership, task scope, positive and negative affectivity and organizational commitment (Schnake & Dumler, 2003;
Konovsky & Organ, 1996). The OCB conception itself is a multi-level construct that is why many of the antecedents of OCB (e. g. leadership) may have effects at individual and group level. A study by Smith et al. (in Schnake & Dumler, 2003) measured leader supportiveness at individual level, but analyzed it at group level, and found group-level leader supportiveness to be positively related to an individual-level ‘Compliance’ dimension of OCB. Although leadership was measured and analyzed at individual level, potential group-level effects were ignored.
In the context of the OCB-antecedents relationship research Van Dyne (1994) proposes a model of OCB that presents 3 basic types of antecedents: personal factors (employee’s affective state of satisfaction with the job related dimensions); employee perceptions of situational factors in a workplace (perceptions of an organization’s values and perceptions of the motivating nature of the job) and positional factors (the individual’s membership or position in the organization).
Studies of OCB have consistently found positional factors (status) to be the single strongest predictors of the active manifestation of OCB because high status tends to increase both the motivation and the ability to be actively involved. Individuals that have high job levels generally have higher levels of organizational commitment than those at low levels (Van Dyne, 1994). OCBs are performed by individuals and that is why it is appropriate to seek to understand them as individually manifested acts.
However, some OCBs will be better understood when investigated in different contexts, such as the work group, the department, or the organization (Somech & Drach, 2004; Brief, 1986). One of the main studies which identify contextual categories of OCB antecedents was done by Podsakoff et al. (2000). They describe three main groups of antecedents: task characteristics (task feedback); organizational characteristics (organizational formalization, staff support) and leadership behaviors (transformational leadership).
Other group-level phenomena which may impact group-level OCB include group cohesiveness, group norms, organizational culture, unit heterogeneity and task interdependence (Schnake & Dumler, 2003). A multi-level study on OCB performed by Kidwell et al. (in Schanke & Dumler, 2003) concluded that group cohesiveness affected the amount of OCB displayed in work groups and the relationship between affective reactions to work and OCB. The area of individual processes (personality and attitudes) is a less examined area of OCB research.
According to Ryan (2002), little evidence was found for a relationship between personality and OCB. Conscientiousness was the only OCB dimension that showed strong relationship to OCB. On the other hand, Ryan’s (2002) research on OCB and work values demonstrates “that individual work values, as measured by PWE (Protestant work ethic), are positively related to the helping dimension of OCB; after controlling for the effects of organizational justice” (p. 130).
Another study on predicting OCB examined the role of job-involvement and underlined the fact that all five dimensions of OCB defined by Organ (in Walz, 1996) exhibited direct relationship (Altruism, Civic Virtue and Conscientiousness) or relationships moderated by sex (Courtesy and Sportsmanship) with job involvement (Diefendorff et al. , 2002). Cultural context is a factor that cannot be neglected when analyzing OCB and its consequences. Various beliefs, norms and values that make up organizational culture provide opportunities for OCB (Veiga et al. n Somech, 2004). According to Podsakoff et al. (2000) cultural context affects: 1) the forms of OCB observed in organizations; 2) the frequency of different dimensions of OCB; 3) the strengths of the relationship between OCB and its antecedents and consequences; and 4) the mechanism through which OCB influences organizational efficiency. One of the few studies in the area conducted by Farth et al. (in Podsakoff et al. , 2000) argued that traditionalism and modernity moderated the relationship between OCB and organizational justice.
Differences in mechanisms that contribute to engagement in OCB or influence other variables may exist. It is possible that in the US sportsmanship is valued because it saves time whereas in Japan it is valued because lack of it indicates that the individual is not willing to put the collective interest above his or her own interest. 4. OCB and organizational effectiveness Most of the research literature on OCB is focused on exploring the antecedents of OCB.
The interest in examining OCB, clearly, comes from the fact that these behaviors are believed to be critical to organizational functioning and understanding the factors that promote OCB help managers enhance organizational effectiveness. However only during the last decade studies have concentrated on exploring the relationship between OCB and organizational indicators of performance. Bolino (2001) in one of his studies analyzes the relationship between OCBs and the creation of social capital.
According to his research “OCBs assist the development of social capital within the firm which, in turn, produces higher levels of organizational performance” (p. B3). Different types of OCB contribute to the relational dimension of social capital: development of trust, norms, mutual obligations and expectations. Based on the antecedents of OCB examined in the previous chapter one can easily understand that there are many reasons to expect that high levels of OCB on the part of the organizations’ members will contribute to organizational effectiveness.
Such behaviors are expected to enhance productivity of co-workers or supervisors, help the organization attract and retain employees, increase the stability of performance of the organization as a whole and help coordinate activities, using the conscientiousness dimension (Borman, 2004), make for a more proficient use of existing resources (courtesy and altruism), enable superiors to devote more time to planning, scheduling, problem solving, and organizational analysis (Walz, 1996). One of the first relevant analyses to support the above speculations was conducted by Podsakoff et al. (2000).
This research summarizes the results of 4 studies that examine the relationship between OCB and organizational effectiveness. According to the article it seems that OCB in general can contribute to the effectiveness of the organizations through its effect on unit performance. However, it appears that some OCB dimensions may help (civic virtue and sportsmanship) and others may hinder (helping behaviors) organizational performance. Another important issue that has to be mentioned is the casual relationship of OCB and other variables. It is still unclear if such variables are antecedents or outcomes of OCB.
For example, individuals with higher level of satisfaction may engage in more OCB, or individuals who engage in more OCB are more satisfied with their job (Bolino, 2001). 5. OCB and individual outcomes While most of the studies related to OCB show that OCB contributes to organizational effectiveness (Podsakoff, 2000; Podsakoff & MacKenzie, 1994; Walz, 1996), very little has been written about the relationship between OCB and individual outcomes. It is not clear how OCB affects individual outcomes such as productivity and career advancement.
A few studies conducted at an individual level of analysis outlined a positive relationship between OCB and the outcomes of performance evaluation and rewards (Bergeron 2005). One of the few researches among faculty members in research universities conducted by Bergeron (2005) showed the negative relationship between OCB and individual level outcomes: productivity and career advancement. With a limited amount of work time, individuals face the difficulty of making choices between various activities and that is why spending time on OCB will probably lower productivity.
In the same framework, if individuals devote more time to OCB in relation to task behavior their career outcomes will decrease. Depending on the examined OCB dimension, the result is that OCB has both a negative and positive relationship to productivity and career advancement. According to the results of Bergeron’s (2005) study, the Advising dimension of OCB had significant negative relationship to promotion, while Research OCB dimension had positive relationship to promotion.
Advising and Teaching OCB were also negatively related to productivity while Professional Service OCB was positively related to productivity. 6. How to enhance OCB? In order to be able to answer this question managers should know the answer to the following dilemma: What are the processes through which group-level OCB materializes and why do some groups exhibit more OCB than others? (Shanke & Dumler, 2003). Studies indicate that high levels of OCB are associated with specific organizational characteristics that organizations can influence.
According to Bolino (2001), because organizations are more and more reliant on social capital, OCB is likely to be an important source of competitive advantage for companies competing in the new changing environment. That is why OCB behaviors are more likely to occur in organizations that have strong, cross-cutting networks of personal relationships. Somech & Drach (2004), examining the importance of organizational learning as related to OCB, support the notion that OCB can be improved by paying more attention to characteristics of organizational context.
Organizational learning develops an organizational system approach that enhances one’s tendency to expand one’s role by engaging in OCB. For OCB behaviors to be enhanced, organizations have to set group goals, have procedures and processes seem as fair, design intrinsically satisfying jobs, have leaders who engage themselves in OCBs and provide supportive environment (Podsakoff et al. , 2000, Gibson et al. , 2009). The organization’s performance is based on individual performance which is closely related to job characteristics.
Autonomy, feedback and meaningful work are motivating job characteristics that have to be promoted by organizations in order to enhance constructive behavior and engagement in OCBs (Walz, 1996). As already mentioned, leadership behaviors play a key role in determining and stimulating OCB. Although various behaviors influence OCBs through different mechanisms they all seem to enhance these behaviors. A supportive leader behavior will affect directly OCBs through reciprocity (help the leader).
Providing an appropriate model influences OCBs through social learning processes and contingent reward behavior (performance defined to include OCBs) and have a direct impact on the level of OCBs manifested within the organization (Podsakoff et al. , 2000; Gibson et al. , 2009). That is why these kinds of leadership behaviors have to be enhanced if the organization’s goal is to stimulate specific OCBs that will lead to improvement of its efficiency. Organizational culture defines the basic values of the organizational life by specifying behaviors important to the organization (Veiga et al. n Somech, 2004). Depending on the nature of the organizational culture promoted by the organization, different types of OCB should be stimulated in order to improve its efficiency. Some organizations value collaboration, so helping co-workers will be encouraged while other organizations value competition, in this case helping co-workers will be constrained (Somech, 2004). 7. Conclusions The purpose of this paper was to underline the importance of citizenship behavior in contemporary organizations.
By making a short analysis of OCB’s antecedents and consequences we concluded that OCB plays a key role in improving organizational performance in a changing business environment. A closer study on the performance domain of OCB shows that personality is a factor that in most cases tends to predict citizenship performance. This being said, one can understand that personality measurements should be used when selecting “good organizational citizens” (Borman, 2004). On the other hand, organizational variables are crucial when examining OCB.
Factors like a supportive boss, a pleasant and friendly working environment, group goal setting and organizational culture, all contribute to the enhancement of individual performance and employees engaging more in OCB. OCBs do not have only organizational level effects, but they also have an impact on individual outcomes like productivity and career advancement. According to the OCB dimension that is being evaluated in each case the impact can be positive or negative. Future research concerning OCB might also investigate the potential effects of differences in skills, like ability, experience, training and knowledge.
It is highly possible that manifestations of various OCB dimensions have different impacts on groups where employees are low in ability, training and knowledge than in groups where employees have high levels of experience, training or knowledge (Podsakoff et al. , 2000). More attention should be also paid to the different mechanisms through which organizational efficiency is enhanced. The problem here is to understand and explain which mechanisms underline the impacts of OCB on group and individual performance (Podsakoff et al. , 2000). That is why we suggest that further academic research should be conducted in this area.