Change-Oriented Organizational Citizenship Behavior in Public Administration: The Power of Leadership and the Cost of Organizational Politics
Vigoda-Gadot, Eran, Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory
A growing challenge facing most public services in modern democracies is the quest for creativity, innovation, and change-oriented behaviors among employees. Doctrines of market-driven management developed in recent decades have placed this challenge at the forefront of the discipline's theoretical and empirical efforts. It has become clear that global governmental reforms (Terry 1998) can be successful only within a dynamic workplace and a proactive public sector. Studies on reforms in public administration stress this need even further (e.g., Pollitt and Bouckaert 2000). Such an organizational atmosphere that encourages public servants to go the extra mile in daily job routines may compensate for bureaucratic red tape, slow and unbendable procedures, and insensitivity and inflexibility in the provision of services (Vigoda-Gadot 2007b). Hence, improving the performance and achievements of governmental agencies depends upon reinventing old procedures and rocking the boat of conservative paradigms and conventional work practices. These new managerial dynamics are strongly influenced by the New Public Management (NPM) school of thought that emphasizes the rapidly changing nature of the markets and the need for public administration to emulate the models of the business world. For a number of years already, NPM has called for the transformation of the bureaucratic structures of public organizations into a more vibrant type of activity and creative configuration (Bernier and Hafsi 2007).
Hence, infusing new and creative managerial practices into public systems and in service of very demanding citizens must involve a comprehensive set of change-oriented behaviors among public personnel, across organizations and in various work environments (Saner 2001). These changes include advances in information technology, changes in the nature and preferences of the workplace, dealing with more critical citizens-as-clients and facing increased global competition (Borins 2001). One of the most significant elements that these changes entail is employing an increasingly large percentage of highly skilled and knowledge-based employees who are committed to disseminating change. These professional public servants are expected to have a greater say in how to organize and perform their tasks and to formulate new ideas (Saner 2001) that affect the actual services provided to citizens. The public managers are similarly expected to mobilize their workers to innovate and to make constructive changes at all levels of the organization (Chiun et al. 2006; Davis 2004).
In view of the strong dynamics pushing for change and reforms in public sector organizations, this study offers change-oriented organizational citizenship behavior (OCB) as a useful terminology for our discipline. Our major goals are two-fold: (1) to introduce the relatively new terminology of change-oriented OCB to scholars and professionals in public administration and (2) to examine the meaning of change-oriented OCB and its relationship with several potential variables such as leadership style, leader-member exchange (LMX), and perceptions of organizational politics (POPS). Our model draws on Bettencourt's (2004) path model and is firmly anchored in public sector management theory and the literature of organizational politics.
OCB AND CHANGE-ORIENTED OCB: ITS MEANING FOR PUBLIC AGENCIES
The change-oriented activities of public employees are a promising field of study. As these orientations are largely voluntary and spontaneous, they have much in common with the concepts of bureaucratic values, public service ethos, and motivation in public service (e.g., Pollit 1993; Bereton and Temple 1999; Perry et al. 2008). Public officers who are acutely aware of their duties contribute to a stronger relationship between policy makers and the citizenry. The major role of public servants is to translate governmental policies into practical actions and services to citizens. By so doing, they also reinforce the old social contract between rulers and the people.
The roots of change-oriented OCB are in the classical concept of OCB. A seminal work by Organ (1988) suggested that this behavior may be described as the good soldier syndrome in which employees perform over and above their formal work duties. During recent decades, OCB has become one of the most studied topics in management literature, incorporating an entire set of spontaneous activities that go beyond prescribed role requirements (Katz and Kahn 1966). OCB has been defined as individual behavior that promotes the goals of the organization by contributing to its social and psychological environment (Smith, Organ, and Near 1983; Organ 1988). Bettencourt (2004) further defined a unique domain of OCB activities as change-oriented OCB, describing innovative and creative actions by employees that are aimed at bringing about constructive change in the organization (Bettencourt 2004; Choi 2007; Morrison and Phelps 1999).
OCB expresses a form of extra-role behavior exhibited by employees in which they perform beyond their formal job requirements without expecting recognition in terms of either explicit or implicit rewards from supervisors. The presence of OCB is likely to promote a more positive social and working environment, enhancing the performance of a work unit and the core products of the organization (Chiun et al. 2006). Most studies on OCB describe it as a positive and constructive behavior worthy of encouragement by supervisors (Podsakoff and Mackenzie 1997; Smith et al. 1983) and very important for clients of the organization. Therefore, OCB may be extremely useful in the public sector because it contributes to improving public service, overcoming bureaucracy's ills and encouraging the performance of various work units and agencies. OCB is thus expected to contribute to the improved performance of service-oriented systems. OCB benefits public service by reinforcing the bureaucratic values of the good soldier syndrome, the willingness to serve other citizens, and strengthening the overall ethos of public service.
Studies on OCB have frequently distinguished between various internal dimensions of this phenomenon. For example, Organ (1988) suggested a taxonomy of five dimensions (altruism, courtesy, conscientiousness, civic virtue, and sportsmanship), whereas Williams and Anderson (1991) distinguished between two aspects of citizenship behaviors directed toward individuals and those directed toward the organization in general.
Later studies argued that although OCB activities are important, they are not sufficient for ensuring the continued viability of an organization. Therefore, an organization also needs employees who are willing to challenge the present state of operations to bring about constructive change (Bettencourt 2004; Morrison and Phelps 1999). This form of work performance is referred today as change-oriented OCB. Some early notions of change-oriented OCB can be traced back to a study by Van Dyne and Lepine (1998) who presented empirical support for an expanded, multidimensional conceptualization of extra-role behavior (helping and voice). They argued that helping is an affiliative-promotive behavior, whereas voice is an example of challenging promotive behavior that emphasizes the expression of constructive challenge intended to improve rather than merely criticize. Voice is making innovative suggestions for change and recommending modifications to standard procedures even when others disagree. Given that OCBs are generally regarded as extra-role behaviors, voice, a change-oriented form of extra-role behavior, can be related to change-oriented OCB.
Change-oriented OCB also means "taking charge" of one's environment, which entails voluntary and constructive efforts by individual employees to effect organizationally functional change with respect to how work is executed within the contexts of their jobs, work units, or organizations (Morrison and Phelps 1999). It has also been referred to as task revision in which individuals take action to correct a faulty procedure, inaccurate job description, or unrealistic role expectation (Staw and Boettger 1990). Finally, as change-oriented OCB is targeted at and intended to benefit the organization in general, some studies suggested that it should be considered a specific dimension of OCB directed toward the organization (Choi 2007).
Behaviors such as change-oriented OCB play a major role in public organizations. Recently, a growing number of studies have pointed to the importance of organizational commitment, public sector motivation (PSM), and psychological contracts to public organizations (e.g., Coggburn et al. 2010; Coyle-Shapiro and Kessler 2003). However, OCB and change-oriented OCB are hardly mentioned in public administration research and theory. A search of the literature revealed that with the exception of only a few studies (i.e., Koberg et al. 2005; Vigoda 2000), this phenomenon has not yet left an imprint on our discipline. This omission is extremely interesting as citizenship is a core terminology in political science and makes an original addition to the NPM jargon by emphasizing the role of the people in building effective governance. Citizenship is therefore a fundamental concept strongly related to modern public administration's goals and vision.
We believe that change-oriented OCB is a useful concept for public organizations and that it is clearly distinct from PSM. In fact, the two concepts are complementary rather than contradictory. In our view, change-oriented OCB deals with the innovative, informal aspect of behavior (Organ 1988, among others), whereas PSM (Perry 1996, 2000; Perry et al. 2008) is a more formal and not necessarily innovative dimension of contribution to one's work. Therefore, it is possible that change-oriented OCB may serve as an extension of the concept of motivation in public administration. Thus, change-oriented OCB seems worthy of exploration especially for its voice-related context and proactive and "out of the box" thinking that can promote healthy contacts between public officials and citizens (Perry et al. 2008). We believe that this possibility, in and of itself, is a well-grounded and sufficient justification for the encouragement of change-oriented OCB studies in public administration.
More specifically, the added value of good citizenship behavior and exceptional prosocial activities can result in greater efficiency, increased productivity, improved human relations in the work unit, lower levels of stress and burnout among public servants, and increased inclination toward team work and learning (Battaglio and Condrey 2009; Coggburn 2006; Coggburn et al. 2010). These positive effects can also spill over onto service recipients, increasing and improving the services offered to them, thereby leading to healthier relationships between the government and its citizens and ameliorating the image of state agencies in the eyes of citizens. The lack of extra-role activities, such as OCB and especially change-oriented OCB, in public organizations also has many negative implications that reach far beyond the immediate customer-provider contract. These negative attitudes may overflow into citizens' dissatisfaction with government, mistrust in public servants, and lead to misgivings about the legitimacy of government and the ability of the democratic-bureaucratic machinery to function for the public as it should (Chen and Brudney 2009).
CHANGE-ORIENTED OCB, THE POWER OF LEADERSHIP, AND THE COST OF POLITICS: MODEL AND HYPOTHESES
Following Bettencourt's (2004) model, we suggest an extended conceptualization of the antecedents to and characteristics of change-oriented OCB in the public sector. We focus on the relationships between change-oriented OCB and four major variables: transformational leadership, transactional leadership, LMX, and POPS.
Leadership and Change in the Public Sector
A growing debate about reforms in the public sector has simultaneously highlighted the role of leadership and its contribution to planned change. Public managers as professional leaders of governmental institutions are increasingly called on to engage in activities that rebuild organizational structures, improve processes, and create constructive cultures for both public servants and citizens. They are expected …
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Publication information: Article title: Change-Oriented Organizational Citizenship Behavior in Public Administration: The Power of Leadership and the Cost of Organizational Politics. Contributors: Vigoda-Gadot, Eran - Author. Journal title: Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory. Volume: 22. Issue: 3 Publication date: July 2012. Page number: 573+. © 1999 University of Kansas. COPYRIGHT 2012 Gale Group.