Predicting Organizational Citizenship Behavior: Integrating the Functional and Role Identity Approaches

By Finkelstein, Marcia A.; Penner, Louis A. | Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal, January 1, 2004 | Go to article overview

Predicting Organizational Citizenship Behavior: Integrating the Functional and Role Identity Approaches


Finkelstein, Marcia A., Penner, Louis A., Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal


Motive and role identity, previously studied as predictors of volunteerism, were examined as correlates of another discretionary prosocial behavior, Organizational Citizenship Behavior (OCB). County employees (181 females, 62 males) completed questionnaires that measured frequency of OCB, motives for the behavior, and the degree to which the respondents had developed an organizational citizen identity. Motives concerned with the desire to help coworkers and/or the organization proved to be better predictors of OCB than those concerned with the desire for Impression Management. A citizen role identity also correlated with citizenship behavior but, contrary to expectation, mediated the relationship between OCB and motive only partly. The findings suggest that similar mechanisms are involved in sustaining both volunteerism and OCB.

Key words: prosocial behavior, role identity, motive, organizational citizenship behavior, functional analysis.

Early research on prosocial behavior focused on single acts of helping in emergencies. Recently, behavioral scientists have turned their attention to understanding the antecedents of sustained helping. Two forms of sustained prosocial actions have garnered much of this attention: Volunteering and Organizational Citizenship Behavior (OCB) (e.g., Borman & Penner, 2001; Borman, Penner, Allen, & Motowidlo, 2001; Grube & Piliavin, 2000; Penner, 2002; Snyder, Clary, & Stukas, 2000).

While the term volunteering is self-explanatory, a brief description of OCB may be helpful. Organizational Citizenship Behaviors (e.g., Organ, 1988) are workplace activities that exceed the formal job requirements and contribute to the effective functioning of the organization. OCB is also referred to as "contextual performance" or "prosocial organizational behavior" (e.g., Borman & Motowidlo, 1993,1997; Brief & Motowidlo, 1986) to emphasize the voluntary nature of the activity and to distinguish it from "task performance" or one's assigned duties. Most conceptualizations of OCB suggest that it comprises two major dimensions, distinguished by the intended target of the behavior (e.g., Organ & Ryan, 1995): OCBI or prosocial behaviors that are directed at specific individuals and/or groups within the organization and OCBO, behaviors that target the organization per se. Examples of each include assisting others with work-related problems (OCBI) and offering ideas to improve the functioning of the organization (OCBO).

Volunteering and OCB share many important attributes: both involve long-term, planned, and discretionary acts that occur in an organizational context and that benefit nonintimate others. However, whereas volunteering occurs among unpaid members of service organizations, OCB is also found among employees of for-profit organizations (Penner, Midili, & Kegelmeyer, 1997; Penner, 2002). Thus, it is not surprising that social psychologists typically study volunteerism while industrial/organizational psychologists typically study OCB. This has resulted in two somewhat separate theoretical and empirical literatures. The purpose of the present study was to begin an attempt to integrate the two literatures. We examined the ability of two theories initially developed to explain differences in volunteering to explain differences in OCB as well. The first of these is Snyder's functional approach to volunteering.

Snyder (e.g., Clary et al., 1998; Omoto & Snyder, 1995; Snyder, 1993) adopted a functional perspective, examining individual motivations for volunteering. Functional analysis derives from the principle that much of human behavior is motivated by certain goals and needs. For example, Allport (1937) proposed that two individuals with the same personality trait (e.g., honesty) might each manifest that trait for very different reasons (e.g., to help others vs. to maintain one's reputation). Therefore, identification of the function or need an activity serves for a person is necessary in order to understand why the person engages in that activity. …

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