Antecedents of Organizational Citizenship Behavior Revisited: Public Personnel in the United States and in the Middle East

By Tang, Thomas Li-Ping; Ibrahim, Abdul Hamid Safwat | Public Personnel Management, Winter 1998 | Go to article overview

Antecedents of Organizational Citizenship Behavior Revisited: Public Personnel in the United States and in the Middle East


Tang, Thomas Li-Ping, Ibrahim, Abdul Hamid Safwat, Public Personnel Management


The antecedents of self-reported organizational citizenship behavior were examined in two samples of public personnel. Data for the first sample were collected from 155 workers in the Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation in the southeastern U.S. The second sample consisted of 378 police officers and military personnel in the Middle East (Egypt and Saudi Arabia). The results of separate step-wise multiple regression analyses showed that, for both samples, organization-based self-esteem (OBSE), need for achievement (n Ach), intrinsic job satisfaction, and low extrinsic job satisfaction were predictors of altruism, whereas low work-related stress and high organization-based self-esteem were related to compliance. The results are discussed in light of intrinsic motivation, dispositional variables, and cultural differences.

For the past several decades highly related constructs such as prosocial organizational behavior(1), extra-role behavior(2), and organizational citizenship behavior(3) have been investigated by organizational researchers. Recently, attention to organizational citizenship behavior (OCB) has increased.(4)

The purpose of this study is to examine and explore the antecedents of organizational citizenship behavior using demographic variables, dispositional variables, and work-related variables from two samples: workers in the United States and the Middle East. Organizational citizenship behavior and intrinsic motivation will be reviewed first, followed by rationale for the use of variables examined and hypotheses.

Organizational Citizenship Behavior

According to Organ,(5) OCB "represents individual behavior that is discretionary, not directly or explicitly recognized by the formal reward system, and in the aggregate promotes the efficient and effective functioning of the organization." Organ further states that these behaviors "lubricate the social machinery of the organization," "provide the flexibility needed to work through many unforeseen contingencies," and help employees in an organization "cope with the otherwise awesome condition of interdependence on each other."(6) The practical importance of OCB is that behaviors improve efficiency and effectiveness in both public and private organizations.

There are two distinct types of OCB: One is called Altruism, which emerges as "a class of helping behaviors aimed directly at specific persons."(7) The other is named Generalized Compliance (Conscientiousness), which is defined by "a more impersonal sort of conscientiousness, more of a "good soldier" or "good citizen" syndrome of doing things that are "right and proper" but for the sake of the system rather than for specific persons." These two factors were also identified in a sample of workers in Taiwan.(8) OCB holds great "promise for organizational behavior research"(9) and should be explored in other cultures.

Intrinsic Motivation

Intrinsic motivation, performing an activity for no reward except the enjoyment of the activity itself,(10) is operationally defined as the amount of time subjects spend working on the target task in the free-choice period,(11) how well the task is liked and willingness to participate in future experiments,(12) experimental enjoyment,(13) and voluntary behavior in an organization.(14) The notion of intrinsic motivation has the following characteristics: 1. People perform these activities at their own discretion, reflecting self-determination,(15) 2. people are "Origins" rather than "Pawns,"(16) and 3. no specific reward is related to these activities.

Research suggests that extrinsic reward may undermine intrinsic motivation on a task (i.e., the overjustification effect) and the lack of extrinsic reward may enhance intrinsic motivation (insufficient justification effect). For most people, "play" rather than "work" is highly related to intrinsic motivation.(17) Lepper and Greene(18) state that "turning play into work" may undermine intrinsic motivation. …

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