Understanding Organizational Citizenship Behaviors

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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...
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