The Cost of Being a Good Citizen

In practicing organizational citizenship behavior (OCB), employees go above and beyond the call of duty to better the organization. However, according to a new study in the Journal of Management, “what is good for the organization may not always be good for the employee.” Diane M. Bergeron of Case Western Reserve University, Abbie J. Shipp of Texas A&M University, Benson Rosen of the University of North Carolina, and Stacie A. Furst of the University of Cincinnati explore the issue in their article “Organizational Citizenship Behavior and Career Outcomes: The Cost of Being a Good Citizen,” published on October 26 in JOM. The abstract:

Existing research suggests that relationships among organizational citizenship behavior (OCB), task performance, and individual career outcomes are necessarily positive. The authors question this assumption and hypothesize that in organizations with outcome-based control systems, time spent on OCB comes at a cost to task performance. Building on this idea, the authors propose not only that time spent on task performance is more important than time spent on OCB in determining career outcomes (i.e., performance evaluation, salary increase, advancement speed, promotion) in an outcome-based control system but also that time spent on OCB may negatively impact career outcomes. Results based on archival data from 3,680 employees in a professional services firm lend some support for these ideas. Specifically, time spent on task performance was more important than OCB in determining all four career outcomes. Further, controlling for time spent on task performance, employees who spent more time on OCB had lower salary increases and advanced more slowly than employees who spent less time on OCB. These findings suggest that relationships between OCB and outcomes are more complex than originally thought and that boundary conditions may apply to conclusions drawn about the outcomes of OCB.

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This entry was posted in Organizational Citizenship, Performance and tagged , , , , by Cynthia Nalevanko, Senior Editor, SAGE Publishing. Bookmark the permalink.

About Cynthia Nalevanko, Senior Editor, SAGE Publishing

Founded in 1965, SAGE is the world’s leading independent academic and professional publisher. Known for our commitment to quality and innovation, SAGE has helped inform and educate a global community of scholars, practitioners, researchers, and students across a broad range of subject areas. With over 1500 employees globally from principal offices in Los Angeles, London, New Delhi, Singapore, Washington DC, and Melburne, our publishing program includes more than 1000 journals and over 900 books, reference works and databases a year in business, humanities, social sciences, science, technology and medicine. Believing passionately that engaged scholarship lies at the heart of any healthy society and that education is intrinsically valuable, SAGE aims to be the world’s leading independent academic and professional publisher. This means playing a creative role in society by disseminating teaching and research on a global scale, the cornerstones of which are good, long-term relationships, a focus on our markets, and an ability to combine quality and innovation. Leading authors, editors and societies should feel that SAGE is their natural home: we believe in meeting the range of their needs, and in publishing the best of their work. We are a growing company, and our financial success comes from thinking creatively about our markets and actively responding to the needs of our customers.

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