Procedural Justice, Mood, and Prosocial Personality Influence on Organizational Citizenship Behavior

By Wright, Chris W.; Sablynski, Chris J. | North American Journal of Psychology, June 2008 | Go to article overview

Procedural Justice, Mood, and Prosocial Personality Influence on Organizational Citizenship Behavior


Wright, Chris W., Sablynski, Chris J., North American Journal of Psychology


The present study was designed to clarify the influence of two commonly cited antecedents to organizational citizenship behavior: procedural justice and mood. One hundred twelve undergraduate psychology majors participated in a laboratory experiment in which same-gender pairs of participants engaged in a competitive task. Procedural justice and mood were experimentally manipulated, and all participants were subsequently given the opportunity to engage in an extra-role behavior. Results showed a significant, causal relationship between procedural justice and extra-role behavior, but mood did not make a difference. The degree to which prosocial personality affects citizenship behaviors was also explored.

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In today's competitive global economy, organizations benefit from employees who voluntarily engage in work behaviors that go beyond formal performance requirements and expectations. When employees perform extra-role tasks that help co-workers, supervisors, and the organization to achieve results, organizations benefit in the form of improvements in productivity and overall performance. The acknowledgement of the importance of prosocial behavior in organizations can be traced to Barnard (1938), who wrote that individuals must display a "willingness ... to contribute efforts to the cooperative system" (p.83). Katz (1964) and Katz and Kahn (1966) further explored the behavioral requirements necessary for organizational functioning as "innovative and spontaneous activity" that are directed toward achievement of organizational objectives, but that go beyond role requirements. Organ (1977) was the first to suggest that such behavior, commonly referred to as Organizational Citizenship Behavior (OCB), be included in appraisals of performance.

Since its initial formulation, there have been numerous definitions and frameworks of OCB. Research conducted by Smith, Organ, and Near (1983) suggested a two-dimensional construct comprised of altruism, which represented helping behavior aimed at specific persons, and generalized compliance, which involved an interpersonal conscientiousness wherein an individual acts for the sake of the system rather than for specific individuals. Follow-up research expanded this taxonomy from two to five dimensions (Organ, 1988). Others have suggested the construct be more broadly formulated as prosocial organizational behavior (Brief & Motowidlo, 1986) or extra-role behavior (Van Dyne, Cummings, & McLean-Parks, 1995). In a recent review of the literature, Organ, Podsakoff, and MacKenzie (2006) acknowledged that, no matter how they are defined, all frameworks of OCB describe behaviors that a) do not represent routine job functions, b) contribute in some way to organizational functioning, and c) are discretionary.

In addition to the literature attempting to define OCB, considerable research attention has been given to antecedents of citizenship (Moorman & Byrne, 2005; Organ, et al., 2006). The majority of these studies, however, have used cross-sectional survey designs that do not allow for causal inferences to be drawn from the results. The purpose of this study is to examine the causal impact of three antecedents of OCBs: procedural justice, mood and prosocial personality in a laboratory setting.

Research utilizing the overall construct of justice as an antecedent to organizational citizenship arose from equity and exchange theory, with prosocial organizational behaviors seen as controllable means for an individual to adjust the terms of a working relationship. Organ (1977, 1988) posited that when employees feel they are being treated unfairly, they restore equity by curtailing extra-role/citizenship type behaviors. On the other hand, when employees are treated fairly they reciprocate this treatment with discretionary behavior. Thus, the employee views the relationship with the organization as one of social exchange. If it was indeed the case, then measures of fairness should be related to extra-role behaviors. …

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