!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Strict//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-strict.dtd"> Streamline Training & Documentation: Organizational Citizenship Behaviors

Friday, February 27, 2009

Organizational Citizenship Behaviors

The concept of organizational citizenship behavior (OCB) is given considerable attention in the applied psychology literature though, as far as I know, it is never mentioned in articles on training. This is not to say that the behaviors in question get no attention in training specialists' discussions of skills that employers and employees should cultivate. Rather, the training literature places no specific focus on the OCB concept, defined by its originator, Dennis Organ, as
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. By discretionary, we mean that the behavior is not an enforceable requirement of the role or the job description, that is, the clearly specifiable terms of the person's employment contract with the organization; the behavior is rather a matter of personal choice, such that its omission is not generally understood as punishable.1
In a review of the OCB literature published in 2000, Philip Podsakoff, Scott MacKenzie, Julie Beth Paine, and Daniel Bachrach identify seven dimensions of OCB:2
  • Helping behavior — voluntarily helping others with, or preventing the occurrence of, work-related problems.

  • Sportsmanship — refraining from complaining when inconvenienced by others, maintaining a positive attitude even when things to not go as one wants, not taking offense when others do not follow one's suggestions, being willing to sacrifice one personal interest for the good of the work group, and not taking rejection of one's ideas personally.

  • Organizational loyalty — promoting the organization to outsiders, protecting and defending it against external threats, and remaining committed to it even under adverse conditions.

  • Organizational compliance — adherence to the organization's rules, regulations, and procedures even when no one observes or monitors compliance.

  • Individual initiative — engaging in task-related behaviors at a level that is so far beyond minimally required or generally expected levels that it takes on a voluntary flavor. This includes voluntary acts of creativity and innovation designed to improve one's task or the organization's performance, persisting with extra enthusiasm and effort to accomplish one's job, volunteering to take on extra responsibilities, and encouraging others to do the same.

  • Civic virtue — willingness to participate actively in organization governance (e.g., engage in policy debates), to monitor its environment for threats and opportunities, and to look out for its best interests, even at considerable personal cost.

  • Self development — voluntarily taking steps to improve one's knowledge and skills.
The research on OCB tries to identify antecedents — conditions, such as effective leadership, that promote the behaviors — and consequences, such as improved organizational performance. What particularly interests me, and what I'll be watching for, is the outcome of research concerning the degree to which organizations seek to incorporate OCBs in the performance management objectives and success criteria that they set for employees — in effect, setting expectations for a certain minimal level of "good citizenship." In other words, I'm interested in seeing the degree to which organizations seek to shift some OCB from voluntary and vaguely rewarded, to expected and explicitly rewarded.

1 Dennis W. Organ, Organizational Citizenship Behavior: The Good Soldier Syndrome (Lexington Books, 1988), p. 4. Organ is Professor Emeritus of Management at the Kelley School of Business, Indiana University.

2 Philip M. Podsakoff, Scott B. MacKenzie, Julie Beth Paine, and Daniel B. Bachrach, "Organizational Citizenship Behaviors: A Critical Review of the Theoretical and Empirical Literature and Suggestions for Future Research," Journal of Management, Vol. 26, No. 3 (2000), pp. 513-563. Podsakoff is a Professor of Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management, and holder of the John F. Mee Chair of Management, at the Kelley School of Business, Indiana University. Mackenzie is Professor of Marketing and holder of the Neal Gilliat Chair at the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University. Paine is (was?) a doctoral student at the Kelley School of Business. Bachrach is an associate professor of management at the Culverhouse College of Commerce of the University of Alabama.


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