Academic journal article Journal of Managerial Issues

Reciprocating Perceived Organizational Support through Citizenship Behaviors *

Academic journal article Journal of Managerial Issues

Reciprocating Perceived Organizational Support through Citizenship Behaviors *

Article excerpt

Organizational viability in complex, fast-changing, and turbulent economic times requires employees willing to exceed the roles and responsibilities defined by formal job descriptions (Jordan and Sevastos, 2003). Organizational citizenship behaviors (OCB) can improve organizational performance and adaptability in environments demanding complex, ambiguous, and team-oriented work (Organ et al., 2005). Organizational citizenship behaviors (OCB), defined as volitional extrarole behaviors not directly related to a specific task or job description, lead to improved customer and peer relationships, enhanced teamwork, operational flexibility, and competitiveness (Borman, 2004).

According to Organ et al. (2005), OCB are discretionary employee behaviors performed for the benefit of the organization or co-workers that exceed nominal job requirements and not formally recognized by the organization. Ryan queried, "why would an employee engage in work that enhances organizational performance, but is not necessarily recognized or rewarded by his or her employer" (2002: 123)? Ryan argued that personality characteristics, such as a Protestant work ethic, conscientiousness, or empathy explained OCB. Kidder and Parks (2001) contended that employee-defined roles and work-identity influenced OCB. However, Coyle-Shapiro, Kessler, and Purcell (2004) found that personality factors such as conscientiousness, positive or negative affectivity, or agreeableness failed to predict OCB. Job breadth explained only an additional 11% of the variation in OCB beyond that explained by perceptions of justice and organizational commitment (Coyle-Shapiro et al., 2004). Instead, the majority of researchers (Cardona et al., 2004; Coyle-Shapiro et al., 2004; Kaufman et al., 2001; Rhoades and Eisenberger, 2002) pose OCB as a form of social exchange for positive treatment received from the organization.

This study explores the nature of social exchange by assessing if employees report OCB as an intended method to reciprocate acts of POS and justice. The study adds to the body of research on OCB antecedents by investigating the mediating effects of POS on the relationships between three dimensions of organizational justice (procedural, distributive, and interactive), and employee self-reported intentions to enact OCB directed at the organization or peers. The research question posed: Do employees acknowledge an exchange relationship between organizational attributes, such as perceived organizational support (POS) or justice, and their intentions to enact OCB.

This article begins with the purpose and background for the study. The article then overviews the key constructs of organizational citizenship behaviors (OCB), perceived organizational support (POS), and three dimensions of organizational justice. Included is a discussion of issues associated with self-reported intentions to enact OCB. In the methods section, the article describes the sample, data collection procedure, and measurement instrument. Hypothesis testing and a review of results follow. The article closes with key findings, recommendations tot future research, and study limitations.


Social exchange occurs when a person, motivated by the returns those acts are anticipated to bring, voluntarily engages in acts beneficial to another (Blau, 1986). According to the norm of reciprocity, acts of helping are contingent on the expectation that the recipient will reciprocate with an act of helping in the future (Gouldner, 1960). Unlike contractual obligations, which demand repayment, social exchange creates unspecified reciprocal obligations enforced through cultural and normative standards of behaviors (Cropanzano and Mitchell, 2005). According to Organ and Konovsky (1989), employees perform OCB in anticipation that the organization will discharge its accrued obligations through increased employee rewards or other acts favorable to employees. In turn, organizations, with work environments advantageous to employees, create social and normative pressures on employees to reciprocate through behaviors valued by the organization (Eisenberger et al. …

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