Organizational Citizenship Behavior and Performance in a University Setting

By Skarlicki, Daniel P.; Latham, Gary P. | Revue Canadienne des Sciences de l'Administration, September 1995 | Go to article overview

Organizational Citizenship Behavior and Performance in a University Setting


Skarlicki, Daniel P., Latham, Gary P., Revue Canadienne des Sciences de l'Administration


A primary emphasis of human resource management (HRM) is to improve the effectiveness of an organization's human resources using the processes of selection, performance appraisal, and training (Latham & Fry, 1998). Historically, HRM research has focused on behaviours in the work place that have direct implications for enhancing the productivity of the individual and reducing costs to the organization. However, an exclusive emphasis on such direct linkages may fail to take into account the informal and discretionary individual behaviours that can benefit an organization (Katz, 1964). Moreover, management tools of formal organizations such as employment agreements, job descriptions, and organizational charts usually fail to cover all the contingencies and relationships that emerge in the course of one's work (Stewart, 1985).

The study of organizational citizenship behaviour (OCB) explores the nature of discretionary behaviours in the work place. OCB emphasizes the social context of the work environment in addition to the technical nature of the job. OCB has been defined in terms of prosocial behaviour (Brief & Motowidlo, 1986; Puffer, 1987), altruism (Rushton, 1980) and service orientation (Hogan, Hogan, & Busch, 1984). Organ (1988) defined OCB as individual behaviours in the work place that are discretionary and supportive of the collective interests of the organization. These behaviours usually are not accounted for nor monitored by the organization's reward system, but they provide the organization with the adaptation and innovation that is necessary for long-term survival and growth (Graham, 1986; Katz, 1964). Examples of OCB include acts of helpfulness, gestures of goodwill, and cooperation among organizational members, as well as among members and customers/clients.

Research on the dimensionality of OCB has generated conflicting results. Some researchers have identified as many as four (e.g., Karambayya, 1989) and five (e.g., Moorman, 1991) dimensions, including altruism (helping another person), general compliance (conscientiousness), courtesy (touching base with people before taking action), sportsmanship (tolerating impositions) and civic virtue (participating in organizational governance). These five dimensions, however, may not be applicable to all work settings. For example, MacKenzie, Podsakoff, and Fetter (1991), in a study of OCB among insurance agents, did not include the conscientiousness dimension because it was seen as not applying to the insurance sales context. Moreover, other studies (e.g., Organ & Lingl, 1992) that have used an instrument designed to tap five dimensions did not find support for the five-factor model. Williams (1988) argued that OCB would be better and more universally defined by two dimensions, namely, (1) OCB that benefits the organization in general (OCBO), such as volunteering to serve on committees, and (2) OCB that is directed primarily at individuals within the organization (OCBI), such as altruism and interpersonal helping. There appears to be emerging support for a two-factor model (e.g., McNeely & Meglino, 1992, Organ & Konovsky, 1989; Smith, Organ, & Near, 1983; Werner, 1994; Williams, 1988; Williams & Anderson, 1991). Hence, the two-factor structure of OCB warrants investigation.

OCB has been criticized for being neither well-defined nor well-measured (Organ, 1988). This may be due in part to the fact that what is considered OCB in one organization may not be considered OCB in another (Karambayya, 1989). Moreover, differences among organizations exist regarding tasks, norms, and other influences of climate and culture (Schneider, 1990). If this is true, HRM departments would, as Organ (1988) suggested, have to develop site-specific measures of OCB for their organization before they could consider the inclusion of OCB theories in their selection, training, and performance appraisal systems. Therefore, the question of whether OCB generalizes across organizations needs to be addressed. …

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