Antecedents of “Citizenship” Behaviors

Empirical research has focused on four major categories of antecedents: individual (or employee) characteristics, task characteristics, organizational characteristics, and leadership behaviors. The earliest research in this area (cf. Bateman & Organ, 1983; Organ, 1988; Smith et al., 1983) concentrated primarily on employee attitudes, dispositions, and leader supportiveness. Subsequent research in the leadership area (cf. Podsakoff et al., 1996b; Podsakoff et al., 1990) expanded the domain of leadership behaviors to include various forms of transformational and transactional leadership behaviors. The effects of task and organizational characteristics are found primarily in the substitutes for leadership literature (cf. Podsakoff & MacKenzie, 1995; Podsakoff et al., 1996b; Podsakoff, MacKenzie & Bommer, 1996a; Podsakoff, Niehoff, MacKenzie & Williams, 1993).

Antecedents of "Citizenship" Behaviors

Early research efforts on employee characteristics (cf. Bateman & Organ, 1983; O’Reilly & Chatman, 1986; Smith et al., 1983) focused on two main causes of OCBs. The first of these is a general affective “morale” factor, which Organ and Ryan (1995) view as underlying employee satisfaction, organizational commitment, perceptions of fairness, and perceptions of leader supportiveness. As shown in Table 2, these variables have been the most frequently investigated antecedents of OCB, and all of them have significant relationships with citizenship behaviors of roughly comparable strength (ranging from .23 to .31). Thus, those variables comprising employee “morale” do appear to be important determinants of citizenship behaviors. These findings raise the question of whether there are other variables that comprise employee morale (e.g., trust, more specific forms of satisfaction, etc.) whose effects may also be important to examine. In addition to “morale,” Organ and Ryan (1995: 794) argue that various dispositional factors, such as agreeableness, conscientiousness, positive affectivity, and negative affectivity, “predispose people to certain orientations vis-a-vis coworkers and managers. And those orientations might well increase the likelihood of receiving treatment that they would recognize as satisfying, supportive, fair, and worthy of commitment.” Thus, these dispositional variables could be seen as indirect contributors of OCBs, rather than direct causes. An examination of Table 2 indicates that, of the dispositional variables examined in previous research, conscientiousness, agreeableness, and positive affectivity have the strongest effects.

Conscientiousness and agreeableness are related significantly to both altruism and generalized compliance; and positive affectivity is related positively to altruism. However, the available evidence suggests that a substantial proportion (if not all) of these relationships may be due to commo n method variance (cf. Podsakoff & Organ, 1986). For example, Organ and Ryan (1995) found that although the correlation between conscientiousness and altruism was significant (r = .22) when all available data were included, this relationship became non-significant (r = .04) when studies with self-rated OCBs were excluded from the analysis. Similarly, the correlation between positive affectivity and altruism dropped from .15 (significant) to .08 (non-significant) when this bias was controlled. The same really cannot be said for the relationship between conscientiousness and generalized compliance. Indeed, although this relationship was weaker when common method variance was controlled for, it was still significant.


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