The relationship between organizational performance and performance ratings of in-role and extra-role behaviors.

Author:Parayitam, Satyanarayana


Interest in organizational citizenship behaviors (OCBs) or extra-role behaviors has escalated since the publication of Organ and Bateman's (1983) seminal article. Subsequently, considerable research has examined antecedents of OCBs (George & Bettenhausen, 1990; Moorman, 1991; Munene, 1995; Organ & Konovsky, 1989; Podsakoff, Niehoff, MacKenzie & Williams, 1993; Smith, Organ & Near, 1983; Williams & Anderson, 1991; Podsakoff, MacKenzie, Paine & Bachrach, 2000; Shaw, Dinnen, Fang, & Vellella, 2009). While most of the research has addressed antecedents and consequences some researchers have attempted to link OCBs to performance under the assumption that OCBs are functional rather than dysfunctional. Some empirical evidence (Podsakoff, MacKenzie, Moorman & Fetter 1990; MacKenzie, Podsakoff, & Fetter, 1991; Sun, Aryee, & Law, 2007; Farh, Zhong & Organ, 2004) indicates that OCBs are related positively to performance. However, previous research has not examined the effect of organizational performance on performance ratings of in-role and citizenship behaviors. For example, how might the overall performance level of an organization affect how raters judge in-role and extra-role behaviors? If two employees have similar in-role and extra-role behaviors, will the organization's performance affect supervisor's ratings of the employees? Will organizational performance increase or decrease the effect of OCB's on performance ratings? These are the questions the present paper is trying to answer: that is to say, the aim of the paper is to examine the in-role and extra-role behaviors through the lens of organizational performance.


There is evidence that OCBs play a crucial role in promoting the effective functioning of the organization (Smith et al, 1983; Brief & Motowidlo, 1986; George & Bettenhausen 1990, Schnake, 1991, and Borman & Motowidlo 1993). OCBs are "behavior(s) of discretionary nature that are not part of the employee's formal role requirements, but nevertheless promote the effective functioning of the organization" (Organ, 1988: p.4). Five specific categories of these discretionary behaviors (some scholars prefer to call these extra-role behaviors) are: Altruism, Conscientiousness, Sportsmanship, Courtesy, and Civic Virtue. Based on this initial categorization scheme, researchers have sub-divided these OCBs into two categories viz., OCBOs (Organizational citizenship behaviors benefiting the organization) and OCBIs (citizenship behaviors benefiting specific individuals) (Williams & Anderson, 1991). Williams and Anderson (1991) demonstrated that raters distinguish between two types of OCBs as well as in-role behaviors (IRB). The present study focuses on IRBs and OCBs in performance ratings of employees. A simplified model is presented in the Figure 1.


Existing literature reveals that in addition to objective performance (i.e. in-role productivity) managers take extra-role contributions into account in their ratings of their employees (Avila, 1988; MacKenzie et al, 1991; Orr, Sackett, & Mercer, 1989; Werner, 1994). Since managers define performance more broadly than 'in-role' behavior, OCBs (both OCBOs and OCBIs) are expected to have an impact on performance ratings. Managers take into account extra-role behavior because they believe these behaviors promote organizational effectiveness by contributing to resource transformation, innovativeness, and adaptability (Organ, 1988).

H1a: Overall performance ratings will be significantly related to both in-role behaviors and citizenship behaviors.

Following Werner (1994), and Williams and Anderson (1991), this study separates organizational citizenship behaviors that benefit the organization in general (OCBO's) from those behaviors benefiting specific individuals (OCBI's). Williams and Anderson's (1991) factor analysis showed that raters can distinguish OCBO's, OCBI's, and IRB's from one another. It is likely that supervisors would pay more attention to OCBI's than OCBO's since the former have greater hedonic relevance (Jones & Davis, 1965) for them. Jones and Davis (1965) argue that when an outcome has a greater personal consequence for a person, their evaluations will be more strongly affected than for outcomes with less personal relevance. Thus, OCBI's should affect performance ratings to a greater extent than OCBO's.

H1b: Overall performance ratings will be more highly associated with citizenship behaviors benefiting individuals than to citizenship behaviors benefiting the organization.

How might performance of the organization affect performance ratings supervisors and managers give their employees? While there is no direct empirical research that suggests an answer, prospect theory (Kahneman & Tversky, 1979), attribution theory (Heider, 1958; Jones & Davis, 1965; Kelley, 1967), Meyer and Zucker's (1989) theory of declining organizations, and empirical findings from the appraisal literature provide some guidance. First, we contend that performance of the organization will affect a rater's frame of reference. Evidence from the decision-making literature suggests that decision-makers are affected by whether they are in a gain or loss situation (Huber, Neale & Northcraft, 1987; Kahneman & Tversky, 1979; Marshall, Mowen & Stone, 1995). If a manager's organization's performance is problematic, they may perceive and interpret information very differently than when organization performance is strong and positive. Indeed, in high performing organizations, managers have less need to seek and examine negative information and will tend to focus on positive behaviors. However, when the organization needs extra-role behaviors from its members, workers who fail to demonstrate suck behaviors are apt to be judged more harshly than those exhibiting such behaviors. Attribution research (Jones & de Charms, 1957; Lanzetta & Hannah, 1969) suggests that if causes of behavior are attributing to lack of effort rather than ability, raters tend to punish more harshly. We argue that OCB's can be a more visible and isomorphic indicator of worker motivation and effort than IRB's. Therefore, managers in poorly performing organizations are likely to give greater weight to OCB's than managers in high performing organizations.

Meyer and Zucker (1989) contend that employees in low-versus high performing organizations will be more...

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