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Determinants of Organizational Citizenship Behavior

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Published: Mon, 5 Dec 2016

Since its introduction in 1983, the concept of Organizational Citizenship Behavior (OCB) has received a great deal of research attention. With the widespread belief that organizational citizenship behaviors are critical to enhance organizational effectiveness (Podsakoff and MacKenzie, 1997), understanding the nature and determinants of OCB has been for long of immense interest to the organizational scholars.

The classical definition of OCB by Organ (1988) refers to “individual behavior that is discretionary, not directly recognized by the formal reward system and that in aggregate promotes the effective functioning of the organization” (Organ, 1988, p4). Every organization operates daily on numerous acts such as helpfulness, selflessness, and other instances that can be considered as citizenship behavior (Todd and Kent, 2006). The growing emphasis on team work and consultative activities has led to the increased need for individual initiative and cooperation making OCB imperative for the survival of the organizations (LePine et al, 2002). Previous empirical research findings support Organ’s position regarding the role of OCB in maximising employee as well as organizational performance (for e.g. Podsakoff and MacKenzie, 1994; Walz and Niehoff, 1996). Considering the significance of OCB, the next essential question that emerges is, what can the organizations do in order to increase these citizenship behaviors?

A plethora of research has been conducted to study the determinants of OCB. Previous research has mainly focused on four categories of antecedents namely: individual characteristics (e.g. personality, affect etc), task characteristics (task routinization, task feedback etc), organizational characteristics (staff support, organizational inflexibility etc) and leader behaviors (e.g. transformational leadership, transactional leadership etc) (Podsakoff et al, 2000). Although previous research has identified various antecedents of OCB, the relationship between certain variables and OCB have remained inconsistent across studies. Moreover most empirical researches on OCB have been conducted in the United States, using US employees as samples (Farh et al, 2004). The studies conducted in a non western context have been limited. Podsakoff et al (2000) opined the need for future research to examine the potential impact that cultural context might have on citizenship behaviors. According to Organ et al (2006), cultural context may influence how OCB is perceived and whether employees are inclined to demonstrate OCB.

The purpose of this study is to extend further the research on leader behaviors, task characteristics, organizational characteristics and individual characteristics as antecedents of OCB to a non western context. Owing to the lack of research on antecedents of OCB in non US context and the importance of identifying them in order to encourage OCB to better organization’s performance, the present study aims to explore the effect of determinants like instrumental leader behavior, supportive leader behavior, positive affect, negative affect, role overload and spatial distance on OCB in an Indian context. Previous researches, primarily conducted in the US, have empirically tested the effects of these variables on OCB. Investigating these past researches, the present study examining Indian employees, aims to explore if these findings hold true in a non western context. In attempting to do so, the present research also aims to study those variables that have failed to show a consistent relationship with OCB in the past.

SECTION 2: THEORIES AND HYPOTHESES

This section first discusses the meaning and the extant research on OCB and its dimension. Then theories on leadership, affect, role overload and spatial distance as antecedents of OCB are discussed, followed by the proposed hypotheses.

2.1 The OCB Construct

The concept of Organizational Citizenship Behavior can be traced back to the writings of Barnard (1938), who argued that the willingness of employees to put in cooperative efforts is vital for the effective realization of organizational goals. This argument was further supported by Katz (1964) who noted the importance of spontaneous and innovative behaviors that go beyond the formal role requirement but are indispensible for organizational effectiveness. Based on these insights, Bateman and Organ (1983) and Smith et al (1983) coined the term “Organizational Citizenship Behavior”. 

Organ (1988) defined OCB as voluntary behavior that goes beyond the formal job description and that increases the organizations effectiveness. Since its conception, OCB has been the target of extensive research. In subsequent studies, various related positive work behavior constructs such as pro-social behavior (Brief and Motowidlo, 1986), civic citizenship (Graham, 1991), organizational spontaneity (George and Brief, 1992), extra role behavior (Van Dyne et al, 1995) and contextual performance (Borman and Motowidlo, 1993) were proposed and examined. Of all the various constructs, Organ’s (1988) OCB construct is one of the most attended ones, which has encouraged several empirical researches (Jahangir et al, 2004). Although there have been various definitions for OCBs, from the beginning OCBs have been viewed as behaviors that are “relatively more likely to be discretionary and less likely to be formally rewarded in the organization” (Podsakoff et at, 2000, p549).

Despite the specifics of the various construct, scholars have always considered OCB to be comprising of several behavioral dimensions. In their meta-analysis Podsakoff et al 2000, noted that there are almost 30 different forms of citizenship behaviors that overlap with each other to a great extent. Although various dimensions of OCB have been developed, Organ’s (1988) five dimension framework has been subject to most empirical research. Podsakoff et al, 1990 provided sound measure of these dimensions and have used the construct for several outstanding empirical studies (Lepine et al, 2002). Organ (1997) redefined OCB as “performance that supports the social and psychological environment in which task performance takes place’’ (p. 95). However this broad definition has yet to receive adequate empirical support (Messer and White, 2006); hence the present study will adopt Organ’s (1988) original definition of OCB. Organ (1988)’s five dimension framework, that highlights five specific categories of citizenship behaviors, will be used to measure OCB in this study. The five dimensions are as follows (Podsakoff et al, 1990, Podsakoff, et al, 2000):-

a) Altruism- Refers to behaviors that have the effect of helping another person with work related task or problem. For e.g. helping a coworker catch up with back log of work

b) Courtesy– Refers to behaviors aimed at preventing work related problems from occurring.   For e.g. touching base with people before committing to actions that will affect them

c) Sportsmanship- Refers towillingness of employees to tolerate the inevitable inconveniences and impositions at work without complaining and filing grievances. For e.g. not complaining about trivial matters, maintaining a positive attitude even when things do not go their way.

d) Civic Virtue- Refers tobehaviors that indicate responsible participation in the political process of the organization. It represents a macro level interest in the organization as a whole.  For e.g. attending meetings, keeping abreast of organizations issues are instances of Civic Virtue.

e) Conscientiousness- Refers to behaviors that go well beyond the minimum role requirements of the organization in terms of attendance, punctuality etc.

Interest in OCB has expanded to a variety of different domains including human resource management, marketing, leadership and strategic management (Podsakoff et al, 2000). According to Wagner and Rush (2000), OCB’s have an accumulative positive effect on organizations functioning (as cited in Jahangir et al, 2004). Podsakoff and Mackenzie (1997, p138) opined that OCB may enhance the efficiency of an organization by increasing managerial and coworker productivity, by freeing up resources for more productive purposes, by increasing the organizations ability to attract and retain the best people, by reducing variability in organizations performance and by increasing the organizations ability to adapt to environmental changes. Previous studies have empirically tested the relationship between OCB and organizational effectiveness. In their study of pharmaceutical sales teams, Mackenzie et al (1996) found citizenship behaviors to be positively related to sales team effectiveness (as cited in Podsakoff and Mackenzie, 1997). Similar results were also found by Walz and Niehoff (1996) in their study on performance measure in limited menu restaurants and Podsakoff and Mackenzie (1994) in their study of insurance agents.

Owing to the positive effects of OCB on individual as well as organizational performance, the need to identify reliable predictors of OCB has always been of great interest to researchers. Recognizing variables that encourage employees to exhibit OCB is also of practical importance to managers, as they may increase organizational productivity by promoting OCB among their employees. For this purpose, various employee, task, organizational and leader characteristics have been identified as reliable antecedents of OCB through numerous studies. The earliest research on the antecedents on OCB focused primarily on employee dispositions and leader behaviors (Podsakoff et al, 2000). Leader behaviors are reliable predictors of OCB. Past research primarily conducted in the US, has shown supportive and instrumental leadership to be positively related to OCB. However studies have also revealed that cultural context influence leader effectiveness (House et al, 2004). Hence the present study aims to examine whether these relationships between leader behavior and OCB remain consistent in a non US context. Among dispositional variables, positive and negative affect as predictors of OCB have attracted considerable attention. According to Borman et al (2001) further research is needed to better understand the unique effect of positive mood on citizenship behaviors. Thus the present study aims to examine the unique effect of positive mood as well as the effect of negative mood on Organ’s five dimensions of OCB.

In their review Podsakoff et al 2000, noted that task characteristics are important predictors of OCB and future research must pay more attention on these variables. Although role overload has shown to have an effect on OCB it has not received adequate attention. Furthermore among organizational characteristics only group cohesiveness has shown to have a significant relationship with OCB. Previous research has failed to show a consistent relationship between spatial distance and OCB. Thus the present study will also examine the effects of role overload and spatial distance on OCB. It is also important to note that majority of the research on OCB has been conducted in the West, mainly the US (Khalid et al, 2009). Thus it is imperative to see if the relationship between these variables and OCB examined in the US remain consistent in a non US context.

The present study, therefore, aims to extend the existing OCB research to a non US context by examining the effect of leader behavior, affect, role overload and spatial distance on OCB, using a sample of 125 Indian employees from a large private sector company in India.

2.2 Proposed Determinants of OCB

Having highlighted the various antecedents of OCB and gaps in previous research, this section will investigate the extant theories in relation to leader behavior, affect, role overload and spatial distance, followed by the proposed hypotheses.

2.2.1 Leader Behavior

Leaders play an important role in influencing subordinates OCBs. Past research has focused on the effect of various aspect of leadership like transformational leadership (for e.g. Podsakoff et al, 1990), charismatic leadership (for e.g. Deluga, 1995), leader member exchange (for e.g. Wayne et al, 2002) on OCB. OCB is strongly related to both formal and informal leadership (Euwema et al, 2007). In their review Podsakoff et al (2000) noted that transformational leadership in particular has received considerable amount of attention. In this study we focus on two forms of leadership i.e. instrumental leadership and supportive leadership that fit within the path goal theory framework.

Path Goal Theory of leadership

The path goal theory of leadership is a dyadic theory of supervision, which primarily deals with task and person oriented supervisory behavior (House, 1996). The Expectancy theory of motivation on which the path goal theory rests assumes that people choose the level of effort they wish to put forth at work based on their evaluation that increased effort will lead to increased performance, which will in turn lead to increased levels of reward (Organ et al, 2006). Based on this perspective, the path goal theory asserts that “the motivational functions of the leader consist of increasing personal payoffs to subordinates for their goal attainment, and making the path to these payoffs easier to travel by clarifying it, reducing roadblocks and pitfalls, and increasing the opportunities for personal satisfaction en route.” (House, 1971, p 324). There are four leader behaviors that fit into the path goal theory framework: instrumental leader behavior, supportive leader behavior, participative leader behavior and achievement oriented leader behavior. Research literature has mainly focused on instrumental and supportive leader behaviors. Even though the relationship between these behaviors and OCB is not a part of the original path goal framework, many scholars have argued that these behaviors influence OCB (Organ et al, 2006). The present study makes use of the following definitions of instrumental and supportive leadership:-

Instrumental leader Behavior

According to House and Dessler (1974) instrumental leader behavior refers to behavior directed towards clarifying subordinates role expectations. House (1996) opined that instrumental leaders provide “psychological structure for subordinates by letting them know what they are expected to do, scheduling and coordinating work, giving specific guidance and clarifying rules and procedures” (p 326). An instrumental leader clarifies their subordinate’s path by telling them what is expected of them and how they must achieve it, thereby reducing uncertainty about their jobs.

Supportive leader behavior

Supportive leaders are friendly and approachable leaders who express concern for their subordinate’s personal well being. According to House (1971) supportive leaders are sensitive towards their team members needs. In their study House and Rizzo (1972) argue that supportive leaders reduce role conflict, stress and anxiety.

Previous research has shown instrumental leadership to reduce role ambiguity (Podsakoff et al, 1993). According to Organ et al (2006) subordinates view instrumental and supportive leader behaviors as helping behaviors, since they reduce uncertainty and look out for the welfare of the employees. Schnake et al (1995) argued that these leader behaviors influences subordinates OCB as they may feel compelled to reciprocate to these helping behaviors. This argument is consistent with Blau’s (1964) social exchange theory, under which one may assume that subordinates who are satisfied with their leaders will display OCB in exchange of their leader’s supportiveness. Previous studies have shown that employees reciprocate by exhibiting OCB when they receive favourable treatment from the leaders (Deckop et al, 2003). Another way in which instrumental and supportive leaders may influence subordinate’s OCBs is through social learning process (Podsakoff et al 2000). Leaders act as role models to subordinates (Smith et al, 1983), in their study Krebs (1970) found prosocial behaviors to be particularly influenced by role models. Thus subordinates who have instrumental and supportive leaders will emulate these leader behaviors while interacting with other (for e.g. they will help their coworkers, care about the welfare of their coworkers, demonstrate more tolerance) thereby leading to the display of various citizenship behaviors like altruism, sportsmanship and courtesy.

According to Organ et al (2006), subordinate may develop a liking for their instrumental and supportive leaders as they reduce role uncertainty and show concern for their well being. This liking would translate into subordinates helping their leader in ways that will in enhance their OCB. Subordinate may become more tolerant towards certain setbacks at work, they may give suggestions, avoid taking long break and so on, owing to their liking towards their leader, thereby displaying OCB. This argument is further strengthened by Katz (1960) research on functional role of attitudes, which states that individuals form positive attitudes towards things that reduce uncertainty and enhance stability.

Past studies mainly conducted in the US, have found both leader role clarification and supportive leader behaviors to have both a direct as well as indirect effect on subordinates OCB (Podsakoff et al, 1996, Smith et al, 1983). In their review Podsakoff et al (2000) noted that both instrumental and supportive leader behaviors have a positive effect on employee’s citizenship behaviors. However it is important to note that leader effectiveness is influenced by cultural context (House et al, 2004). The present study aims to identify the determinants of OCB in an Indian organization. Previous research has found that the authority relations in India are predominantly parental in nature (Kakar, 1971), where subordinates seek direction and support from their supervisors (Sinha, 1970). Hence by extending the existing research, this study aims to examine if the relationship between these leader behaviors and OCB hold true in an Iian context.

Hypothesis 1.1: Instrumental leader behavior will be positively related to OCB

Hypothesis 1.2: Supportive leader behavior will be positively related to OCB

2.2.2 Affect

Numerous studies have focused on examining the impact of positive affect and negative affect on OCB. According to Borman et al (2001) future research is needed to better understand the unique effect of positive mood on citizenship behavior. Furthermore previous research has shown an inconsistent relationship between negative mood and citizenship behaviors (Clark & Isen, 1982). Thus the present study aims to examine the effects of positive and negative moods on Organ’s five dimensions of OCB. Affect in the context of this study refers to the employee’s mood state over a limited period of time.

The term ‘Affect’ encompasses of both moods and emotions. Moods are “generalized feeling states that are not typically indentified with a particular stimulus and not sufficiently intense to interrupt ongoing thought process”, whereas emotion are “normally associated with specific events and are enough to disrupt the thought process” (Brief and Weiss 2002, p282). While moods tend to be long lasting, emotions are short lived (Frijda, 1993). Forgas and George (2001) noted that moods affect the way people think and do things within an organizational setting. It is thus important to examine the relationship between moods and OCB. The two factor structure model of mood i.e. positive affect (mood) and negative affect (mood) has received considerable support. Research has also testified positive and negative affect as independent constructs (Watson and Clark, 1997).

Positive Affect or Mood (PA)

Enthusiasm, joy, excitement, pride are some of the positive mood states that an employee experiences when in a positive mood. Employees in a positive mood tend to be energetic and enjoy life (Cropanzano et al, 1993). Positive moods make people view things in a positive light (Carlson et al, 1988); hence it can be argued that employees in a positive mood will look at the positive side of things and be more tolerant towards any inconveniences caused at work thereby exhibiting citizenship behavior of sportsmanship. According to Clark and Isen (1982) individuals in a positive mood are more willing to offer help as they view the opportunity to display OCB more favourably than others. Rosenhan et al’s (1974) argued that positive moods reduce the psychological distance between oneself and others, thereby making employees attracted to their co worker. According to Isen and Baron (1991) positive mood state also encourages co operation and reduces aggression among employees. Thus we may expect employees in a positive mood to display OCB as they are more likely to co operate and prevent problems with coworkers from occurring and thereby exhibit courtesy. Carlson et al (1988) suggested that individuals who experience positive moods will seek to maintain those affective states by helping other, as helping others in turn puts them in a good mood. Furthermore individuals in a positive mood are also likely to exhibit OCB in an attempt maintain a constructive work environment (Penner et al, 1997). George and Brief (1992) noted that positive mood is a determinant of helping behavior and interpersonal cooperation. Isen (1993) further opined that people who experience positive affect value helping others more than thinking about the cost involved in doing so.  Hence this study aims to examine if there exists a relationship between positive affect and OCB in the given context:-

Hypothesis 2.1 Positive Affect will be positively related to OCB

Negative Affect or Mood (NA)

Individuals in a negative mood feel negative affective states such as anxiety, fear and anger. People experiencing negative moods facilitate pessimistic tendencies, as their thoughts and perceptions are directed towards greater negativity owing to mood congruence (Raghunathan and Pham, 1999). Previous research has found that people in negative mood make “more critical” and “self deprecatory interpretation” of their own behavior (Forgas, 2002, p 10). Research conducted by Aderman and Berkowitz (1983) noted that concern about one’s own behavior makes people less likely to help others. People in negative moods also produce more avoidant and unfriendly behaviors thereby alienating their coworkers and managers (Forgas, 2002). Alienating coworkers further leads to negative interpersonal relationships which in turn make employees unwilling to help and co operate with others. Employees that experience negative mood states are also less likely to be tolerant towards any impediment at work and may complain about trivial matters at work. This can be supported by the argument that individuals in a negative mood are more sensitive to negative stimuli and react with greater intense emotions when experiencing negative job events (Brief and Weiss, 2002). Although Cialdini’s negative state relief model proposes that individual’s in negative mood are likely to help others, studies have shown that individuals in a negative mood to be less likely to help others (Thompson, Cowan, & Rosenhan, 1980).  Considering these factors it may be proposed that:-

Hypothesis 2.2 Negative Affect will negatively related to OCB

2.2.3 Role Overload

In their review Podsakoff et al, 2000 argued that role perceptions impact some of the organizational citizenship dimensions. Past research has mainly focused on the relationship between role ambiguity, role conflict and OCB. Role overload is another aspect of one’s job that may have an impact on OCB (Organ et al, 2006). Very few studies have examined the impact of role overload as an antecedent of OCB. Thus the present research will examine the effect of role overload as a determinant of OCB.

Role overload may be defined as “having too many role demands and too little time to fulfil them” (Coverman, 1989, p 967). An employee feels overloaded when he/she has too much to do in the time available (Kahn et al, 1964). Role overload influences the way employees feel about themselves and their jobs. Previous research has shown role overload to result in reduced job satisfaction, feelings of anger, anxiety and personal failure (Kirmeyer and Dougherty 1988). Thus employees that are high on role overload may be less likely to exhibit OCB. OCBs are behaviors that go beyond one’s formal job requirements, thus logically exhibiting OCBs are likely to require additional time and energy (Bolino and Turnley, 2005). However employees who are overloaded with work may simply not have the time or the energy to help others or display OCB’s. Employees that have high role overload may have deadlines as they have a lot of work to be do in the time available to them. These deadlines are visible to others such as their immediate supervisor in the organizations. Thus when employees are overloaded it is more likely that they channelize all their energy and time into meeting those deadlines that are visible to other than exhibit citizenship behaviors (Moore and Love, 2005). Jex and Thomas (2003) suggested that when employees have demanding workload, they are less likely to dedicate themselves to the concerns of others in their work group. Cohen (1980) also argued that increased work load decreases employees helping behavior. Considering these factors it may be proposed that employees with increased work load are less likely to exhibit OCB, owing to the reduced discretionary time available to them and reduced commitment towards their work group (Organ et al, 2006).

Hypothesis 3.1 Role Overload will be negatively related to OCB

2.2.4 Spatial Distance

Various features of the work environment may influence employee’s OCB. In their review Podsakoff et al, 2000 opined that the relationships between organizational characteristics and OCB have been rather varied.  Previous research has examined the effect of organizational characteristics on OCB through the substitutes of leadership model. Apart from group cohesiveness none of the other organizational characteristics within the substitute of leadership model have shown to have a consistent relationship with OCB. The present study primarily focus on the organizational characteristic of spatial distance and its impact on OCB.

Distance as defined by Leather (1978, p87) refers to a “relational concept, typically measured in terms of how far one individual is from the other”.  Napier and Ferris (1993) referred to the distance between the supervisor and subordinate in an organization as “Dyadic Distance”. According to them dyadic distance is “a multidimensional construct that describes the psychological, structural, and functional distance between a supervisor and a subordinate” (Napier and Ferris 1993, p326). They defined structural distance within an organization as the distance caused by physical structure (i.e. work space) as well as organizational structure (i.e. the degree of centralization) and by supervisor structure (i.e. task and social contact between the supervisor and subordinate). This research mainly focuses on spatial distance, an aspect of structural distance and its effects on OCB. Spatial distance refers to the working distance between the employee and the supervisor, in this context it encompasses the distance caused due the work space as well as the task contact between the supervisor and the subordinate.

The amount of interaction opportunities within a dyad may influence an employee’s motivation, ability and opportunity to display OCB (Organ et al, 2006). Ferris and Rowland (1985) argued that reduced interaction between supervisor and subordinate affect the agreement and understanding between them. Increased spatial distance between the supervisor and subordinate may lead to increased task uncertainty owing to infrequent interaction between them. Employees who are spatially distant from their supervisors may also perceive them to be less supportive, thereby making them less motivated to exhibit OCB. Bradner et al (2002) further argued that physical distance has an effect on the ability to influence and the likelihood to co-operate (cited in Lojeski et al, 2006).  In their study Liden and Graen (1980) argued that employees with high quality leader member exchange contribute beyond their formal job requirements than those employees with low quality leader member exchange. Thus increased spatial distance may lead to reduced display of OCB as previous researches have shown increased spatial distance to lead to lower quality leader member exchange (Dionne et al 2002, Napier and Ferris, 1993). In their research, Sundstorm (1986) found that decreased physical distance between the subordinate and supervisor leads to increased subordinate satisfaction. Research has shown that employees who are satisfied to with their jobs are more likely to displace OCBs (Organ and Ryan, 1995). Thus one may expect employee’s who are spatially distant from their supervisor to be less likely to exhibit OCB.

According to Fulk et al (1985) subordinates perception of their accessibility in terms of expressing their feeling to their supervisor determines their trust in the supervisor, thus increased spatial distance leads to low trust in the supervisor. Trust in supervisor has been found to have a positive impact to OCB (Aryee et al, 2002); as a result it may be argued that increased spatial distance may be negatively related to OCB. When the spatial distance between the superior and subordinate is high, the subordinates are less likely to be committed (Podsakoff et al, 1993) which would in turn lead to reduces OCB (Organ et al, 2006). In their study Podsakoff et al (1996) noted that spatial distance was negatively related to altruism even after controlling for other factors. Considering the above mentioned research findings it may be argued that:-

Hypothesis 4.1 Spatial Distance will be negatively related to OCB

SECTION 3: METHOD

3.1 Sample and Procedure

For this study, a standardised questionnaire was distributed across a large private sector company in India. In order to maintain confidentiality the organization will be referred to as Company X in this study. Company X is one of India’s largest private sector companies with an annual turnover of US$35.9 billion. The current global recessions has had a substantial effect on the Indian market. Management at Company X expressed concern about employee’s willingness to exhibit OCB due to the changes been undertaken within the organization owing to the current economic crisis. Although Company X is making efforts to ensure employees work in a secure and supportive environment, they expressed interest in knowing if management could take steps to enhance employee’s OCB.

200 questionnaires along with covering letters explaining the purpose of the study were distributed during the working hours with the permission of the HR department of the company. The questionnaire was administered across various departments to executives, managers, senior managers and general managers. The rationale for administering the survey across vario


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