Understanding Organizational Citizenship Behaviors

Joshua Harris Althea Johns Organizational Behavior October 21, 2012 Understanding Organizational Citizenship Behaviors Citizenship, most don’t normally associate this term with an organization like a business. Many would think of the word citizenship in terms of the country that you may live in. Some may even think of it more broadly then that. As in we are all citizens of this planet. But what is the opposite? Are there smaller citizenship classifications, and are they as important? Particularly, what about citizenship at your place of employment? What does organizational citizenship behavior mean to a company?
Can it affect things like job satisfaction, efficiency, productivity, and customer satisfaction? Research suggests that there is a “moderately positive correlation” between job function and organizational citizenship behavior. [ (Kinicki) ] This paper will examine real examples of OCB, explain how organizations can influence OCB, and which pitfalls to watch out for. (Kinicki) Organ defined organizational citizenship behaviors 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. ” (Organ) Literature in this subject has been almost non-existent prior the early 1980’s, but has increased in popularity ever since. Its these “discretionary” behaviors that according to Brooker, “Our esprit de corps is the core of our success. That’s the most difficult thing for a competitor to imitate.

They can buy all the physical things. The thing you can’t buy is dedication, devotion, and loyalty. ” (Brooker) Its this loyalty that convinced Herb Kelleher, from Booker’s article tiled “Can anyone replace Herb? “ to argue “that employee citizenship is the single biggest reason for the company’s success. ” However this was hard to prove with hard evidence until late 1990’s. (Brooker) In Bolino and Turnley’s 2003 article “Going the Extra Mile: Cultivating and managing Employee Citizenship Behavior” which appeared in Academy of Management Executive, they describe factors that can promote good OCB.
It is the authors’ opinion that the most important being job satisfaction. (Turnley) Bolino & Turnley conclude from their analyst of several studies, that if an employee is happy, they will provide a positive organizational citizenship behavior. The article also covered other factors such as trust, job interest and involvement, organizational support, and Employee Characteristics. It is with these factors that researches use to try to come up with predictors. Perhaps one of the best predictors happens in what Bolino and Turnley calls the “recruitment & selection” process. Turnley)They provide three main ways in which human resource managers can help achieve this. The first is to look for causes that applicants are committed to. For examples, college graduates that have a lot of extra curricular activities or a professional with volunteer services. Another predictor in determining positive OCB would be to provide situational questions to the interviewee. (Turnley)This is one tool that Smucker’s uses to gage their employee’s. The last tool the article provides is personality trait questions.
This is somewhat similar to situational interviews, but they are geared to the person and not a specific situation. The next natural step in influencing organizational citizenship behavior is during training. It is during training that an organization may have the best chance at eliciting citizenship behaviors. However, Bolino & Turnley, describe how this is usually the opposite of what organizations do, due to their emphasis on individual achievements. One way an organization can help influence positive OCB is to sponsor training programs that focus on cooperation and taking initiative.
But probably the best would be to develop a training program that is used to improve relationships among coworkers and/or supervisors and subordinates. Bolino’s article gave an example of this at Southwest Airlines when works were cross-trained on other positions. This allowed employees to gain experience in other area, but also appreciate and help out when they could. Also a study showed that supervisors that have had training in organizational justice principles also benefit from higher levels of OCB. In the last direct way organizations can influence OCB is in compensation.
Bolino’s article concluded that employees are more likely to engage in behaviors that are rewarded. An example of this is Asada, the British subsidiary of Wal-Mart, gives awards to employees who go “above and beyond”. CitiGroup does something similar. It is called “Galaxy of Thanks”. Employees can thank other employees for going above and beyond. If an employee reaches so many, that employee gets special recognition by the company and can win rewards. (Young) Bolino’s article also pointed to group or organizational level compensation fosters positive OCB. But, there can be many pitfalls for compensating for OCB.
Some more informal ways of promoting positive OCB would include developing a culture in the organization that is conducive for positive OCB. Having managers and supervisors living by the same standard and by having an organization act in a deserving way. As you can tell there are many ways that organizations can influence their potential positive organizational citizenship behavior. But, there are some pitfalls to be aware of. While there are potentially several pitfalls, all seem easily manageable. Bolino places pitfalls in three categories: Impression Management, Costs, and Escalating.
Impression Management, is noted in another article by Bolino as, “Several organizational behavior scholars have noted that individuals may engage in organizational citizenship behaviors not because they are concerned about the organization’s welfare but because such activities may cause others (especially their supervisors) to look favorably upon them” (Bolino) The pitfall here comes when rewarding this type of “Impression Management” behavior, which can put a strain on morale. (Turnley)Managers should watch for this type of motivation during citizenship assessments and be sure not to reward this type of behavior.
If this behavior is rewarded the costs could certainly outweigh any potential gains. Another potential downside to positive OCB happens when employees become lax on their main job functions. Many don’t think helping another co-worker could potentially be a downfall, but that is exactly what Sprint, Xerox, and Ford found out in a Wall Street Journal study. Employees would help co-workers with computer issues and it was estimated to have cost the companies upwards of $15,000 per computer. It is thought that hiring more support personal would have been significantly less expensive, and with better quality of support. Bulkeley)The last area of pitfalls is a concept of Escalating Citizenship. You can think of this concept like inflation. Today a dollar will buy you much less than fifty or so years ago and escalating citizenship is something that manager must watch out for. If the bar for above and beyond is constantly moved higher and higher it can be catastrophic for an organization including high levels of job dissatisfaction, high turnover, and high stress. It is the author’s opinion that the evidence is overwhelming that positive organizational behavior can greatly influence or be the “single biggest reason for the company’s success”. Brooker)In this essay we have examined why organizational citizenship is important to an organization. We also took a look at what organizations can do to positively impact OCB. Finally we examined some downsides of OCB and provided some way managers can navigate around them. Organizational citizenship behavior can be a very good thing, when done correctly. Bibliography Bolino. “Citizenship and impression managment: Good soliders or good actors. ” Academy of Managment Review 24. 1 (n. d. ): 82-88. Brooker, K. “Can anyone replace Herb? ” 2000. Fourtune. 19 Oct 2012 <http://money. nn. com/magazines/fortune/fortune_archive/2000/04/17/278112/index. htm>. Bulkeley, W. M. “Study finds hidden costs of computing. ” The Wall Street Journal (1992). Kinicki, Angelo. Managment: a practical introduction 5E. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2011. Organ, D. W. Organizatioal citizenship behavior: The good soldier syndrome. Lexington: Lexington Books, n. d. Turnley. “Going The Extra Mile: Cultivating and managing employee citizenship behavior. ” Academy of Managment Executives 17. 3 (2003): 60-71. Young, Joseph P. Interview. Joshua Harris. 19 October 2012.

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