Collegiality in Organizations: An Economic Approach to Organizational Citizenship Behavior

By Farmer, Amy; Kali, Raja | Economics & Sociology, April 1, 2016 | Go to article overview

Collegiality in Organizations: An Economic Approach to Organizational Citizenship Behavior


Farmer, Amy, Kali, Raja, Economics & Sociology


(ProQuest: ... denotes formulae omitted.)

Introduction

Every factory, office, or bureau depends daily on a myriad of acts of helpfulness, gestures of goodwill, courtesy, conscientiousness, and other instances of what can be called organizational citizenship behavior (OCB). The study of OCB has produced a rich literature in management, with a large body of empirical work showing that OCB enhances organizational performance measured in various ways, such as the quantity and quality of output, team effectiveness, operating efficiency, and customer satisfaction (Podsakoffet al., 1997; Bergeron, 2007). But because citizenship behavior goes beyond formal role requirements and is difficult to measure, it is not easily governed by formal incentive schemes. One solution to the question of how to induce appropriate OCB is through corporate culture. Corporate culture solves the problem by specifying broad, tacitly understood rules - "the way we do things around here" - for appropriate actions under unspecified contingencies (Camerer and Vepsalainen, 1988).

In this paper we focus on a specific subset of OCB that we refer to as collegiality and present a model of collegiality in an organization. The management literature broadly classifies OCB into the categories of helping behavior, sportsmanship, and civic virtue (Podsakoffand MacKenzie, 1997). Our notion of collegiality corresponds to helping behavior, elaborated by Podsakoffand MacKenzie as "Picking up the slack for others who are absent, or who have heavy workloads". The model provides an interpretation of corporate culture. Since imbibing the corporate culture of an organization takes time and effort, it is costly to join a collegial organization and reap the benefits of mutual insurance that it provides. As a result, individuals of distinct types sort into organizations with different costs of learning the corporate culture. Differences in learning costs across organizations can be interpreted as differences associated with the "thickness" or "strength" of corporate culture (Camerer and Vepsalainen, 1988; O'Reilly and Chatman, 1996). The model thus yields positive correlation between corporate culture and collegiality. Some organizations will have strong culture and high collegiality while others have weak culture and low collegiality. Since high collegiality in our model is associated with high mutual insurance, our model also explains the observed correlation between the strength of corporate culture and the reliability of firm performance (Sorensen, 2002).

Our model is inspired by real world evidence regarding corporate culture. For example, there are examples of organizations which go to considerable lengths to create a "differentiated" culture that is impressed upon new recruits (Coleman, 2013). Such norms are composed of the distinct vision, values, practices, and narratives that define the firm. McKinsey & Company, for example, has a clearly articulated set of values that are prominently communicated to all employees and involve the way that firm vows to serve clients, treat colleagues, and uphold professional standards. McKinsey's articulation of its values includes "sustaining and caring for team members," which comes close to the notion of collegiality we use here.

The notion that some firms have "strong" culture and others have "weak" corporate culture is well-backed by detailed studies such as Flamholtz and Randle (2011). They note that companies differ in the extent to which they are effective in defining, communicating, and managing their culture. Companies where there is a clearly defined culture, where time is invested in communicating and reinforcing this culture, and where all employees are behaving in ways consistent with this culture are defined as having a strong culture. A strong culture is one that people clearly understand and can articulate. A weak culture is one that employees have difficulty defining, understanding, or explaining. …

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