Academic journal article Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal

When Is a Good Citizen Valued More? Organizational Citizenship Behavior and Performance Evaluation

Academic journal article Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal

When Is a Good Citizen Valued More? Organizational Citizenship Behavior and Performance Evaluation

Article excerpt

Past researchers have questioned why it is a common finding that employee organizational citizenship behaviors (OCB) affect supervisors' ratings of employee performance (see e.g., Bachrach, Powell, Bendoly, & Richey, 2006; Borman, White, & Dorsey, 1995; Podsakoff, Whiting, Podsakoff, & Blume, 2009), despite the fact that formal organizational reward systems rarely measure OCB (Organ, Podsakoff, & MacKenzie, 2006). Although scholars have suggested many potential explanations for the relationship between OCB and performance evaluations, the exact mechanism has yet to be identified (see Organ et al., 2006; Whiting, 2007).

One of the most compelling explanations for the OCB-performance rating relationship is the theory of OCB distinctiveness (DeNisi, Cafferty, & Meglino, 1984; Ilies, Nahrgang, & Morgeson, 2007; Organ et al., 2006). That is, OCB are seen as unique and different employee behaviors; thus, they are noticeable and influence employee performance ratings. In line with this explanation, it is assumed that there are few employees displaying OCB because they are discretionary actions that are not required in the job description. Further, it is assumed that distinctive employee behaviors, such as OCB, can be easily encoded in the supervisor's memory and easily retrieved during the performance rating process (Organ et al., 2006; Podsakoff, MacKenzie, & Hui, 1993).

Although the theory of OCB distinctiveness provides a persuasive explanation for the OCB-performance rating relationship, it has some limitations. First, it does not consider the possibility that the rater's attention to OCB can vary. Although OCB is distinctive and attracts the rater's attention, the strength of attentional capture may depend on the rater's readiness to detect these behaviors. Second, it assumes that all types of employee OCB have similar levels of distinctiveness in the eyes of the supervisor. Given that there are many different types of OCB (Organ et al., 2006; Podsakoff et al., 1993), the distinctiveness of OCB may vary depending on both type and context. For example, if the performance of a group is poor, the supervisor will be motivated to enhance this. In such a situation, employee OCB that is perceived as increasing the group's effectiveness will capture more attention from the supervisor than will OCB that do not seem to help the group directly.

In this study, we addressed these two issues by applying the concept of bottom-up and top-down attentional capture to examine the effect of the supervisor's performance goal on employee performance evaluations. Our central thesis is that the influence of employee OCB on performance ratings will vary depending on how focused the supervisor's attention is on employee OCB. We further maintain that how much attention the supervisor pays to employee OCB will be determined by the combination of top-down and bottom-up distinctiveness of employee OCB, and that the supervisor's performance goal will shape the strength of the former.

Literature Review

The Influence of OCB on Performance Ratings

Organ (1988) defined OCB as "individual behavior that is discretionary, not directly or explicitly recognized by the formal reward system" (p. 4). According to Organ (1988), OCB comprises the following five dimensions: conscientiousness, civic virtue, altruism, courtesy, and sportsmanship. Conscientiousness refers to behavior that goes well beyond the minimum role requirements of the organization. Individuals with high civic virtue take an active role in responsibly promoting the success of the organization. As an example, people with high civic virtue typically attend meetings that are not mandatory. Altruism refers to discretionary behavior aimed at helping others perform organizationally relevant tasks. Courtesy relates to displaying polite behavior and good manners to prevent interpersonal work-related problems with others Sportsmanship refers to the willingness of an employee to tolerate uncomfortable circumstances (Podsakoff, MacKenzie, Moorman, & Fetter, 1990). …

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