Academic journal article Public Administration Quarterly

An Empirical Assessment of the Relationship between General Citizenship and Work Outcomes

Academic journal article Public Administration Quarterly

An Empirical Assessment of the Relationship between General Citizenship and Work Outcomes

Article excerpt


This article examined the relationship between general citizenship (e.g., political participation, community involvement, general altruism, and disillusionment with government) and two work outcomes (perceived performance and turnover intentions). Two alternative models were proposed in order to test whether the effect of citizenship behavior and orientations were direct or mediated by participation in decision-making. The respondents in the survey were 268 nursing personnel from public health organizations in Israel.

Path analysis using LISREL VIII showed that the direct model best fit the data. This model supports the notion that the resources acquired by involvement in the civic setting can contribute in the work setting. The findings also showed the complexity of the relationship between community involvement and work outcomes. This variable has a negative relationship with perceived performance but a positive one with participation in decision-making. The article concludes with several implications for the continuing examination of general citizenship in its relationship to behavior at work


The relationship between politics and the work setting has received little conceptual and empirical attention in the literature. However, continuing concern for understanding the origins and consequences of political participation and the growing interest in studying and developing democracy at work brought the topic into the 1990s (Sobel, 1993). Several writings in political theory advanced the expectation that political behavior relates to behavior at the workplace (Almond and Verba, 1963; Brady, Verba, and Schlozman, 1995; Inkeles, 1969; Pateman, 1970; Peterson, 1990; Sobel, 1993). These arguments basically hold that work and politics are in fact similar institutions and therefore experiences in one domain can spill over to the other one. Almond and Verba (1963) and Pateman (1990) argued that structures approximate politics and government more closely when they exist at the same time, process similar degrees of formality of authority or have similar criteria for authority positions.

The "closer" two social institutions are, the greater the likelihood of congruence between their authority structures. Congruence lies in the generally analogous formal authority patterns between institutional spheres. The more similar two experiences, the more likely a transference from one to the other (Sobel, 1993). The workplace lies close in time and in kind to the political sphere. Work occurs contemporaneously with politics, and both are formally structured. Roles in the political sphere can train occupants to perform workplace roles because experiences of self-direction or conformity in politics inculcate congruent values and orientations (Pateman, 1970; Almond and Verba, 1963).

Golembiewski (1989,1995) also proposed that work and politics are related domains, arguing that external citizenship (political behavior), internal (organizational) citizenship and administration constitute three interacting competencies that can affect each other. Elden's study (1981) provided empirical support for such a relationship, showing that indicators of work and indicators of citizenship behavior has a strong connection.

Brady, Verba, and Schlozman (1995) elaborated on how experiences in one domain can be transferred on. When people perform skill-acts in one institution they increase their ability so that they can engage in still more skill-acts relevant to the workplace. People use preexisting civic skills (education-based organizational and communications skills as well as innate skills) or develop them through their involvement in the institutions of adult life to perform skill-acts (planned meetings, making speeches, etc.) and such civic skills potentially are transferable to work.

In short, political participation is a learned social role acquired by practices in democratic skills. …

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