ISSN 1671-3710
CN 11-4766/R

Advances in Psychological Science ›› 2021, Vol. 29 ›› Issue (12): 2105-2118.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1042.2021.02105

• Conceptual Framework • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Exploring the trajectories of organizational citizenship behavior and its mechanism from the organizational socialization perspective

ZHANG Liangting1, WANG Bin2, FU Jingtao1   

  1. 1Management School of Hainan University, Haikou 570228, China;
    2School of Management, Shanghai University, Shanghai 200444, China
  • Received:2021-01-14 Online:2021-12-15 Published:2021-10-26

Abstract: The highly competitive and uncertain external environment requires higher levels of organizational flexibility and adaptability. Organizations and scholars have paied more attention than ever to employee organizational citizenship behavior (OCB) because OCB can lead to series of desirable employee and organizational outcomes, such as improved viability, competitiveness, and performance. Although scholars have exerted considerable efforts to investigate OCB, the dominant approach in the existing literature is to frame OCB as a relatively stable variable and examine its antecedents and outcomes through a static perspective. This static approach can explain the reason why some employees are more proactive than others at a certain point in time, but it’s hard to explain why OCB may change over time. In other words, there is a omission of the dynamic understanding of OCB in the existing literature. Limited research with a dynamic perspective has adopted two research methods. The first method is the cross-lagged research design. Researchers usually use the antecedent at T1 to predict the changes of OCB at T2 or use the OCB at T1 to predict the outcomes at T2. Although the changes in OCB have been identified, these studies fail to explain why OCB may change over time. In another research stream using repeated measurement design, researchers usually use the experience sampling method to explore the effects of transitory mood, affect, justice, and exhaustion that cause individuals to alter the frequency of their OCB over a short period. These studies have showed that OCB is dynamics at within-individual level in minutes, days, and weeks. However, despite the great advances of the experience sampling method used in the OCB literature, this approach measures OCB at daily level and predicts the within-individual variation of OCB in a short period. In contrast, using a relatively long time framework to study the dynamic of OCB may be critical for understanding the stable trend of OCB because in relatively long periods OCB will show less fluctuation.
Employees who have sufficient work experience tend to develop relatively stable and satisfactory patterns to accommodate their jobs and organization. In other words, from a long-term perspective, most employees in the organization have an equilibrium level of their behaviors so that it could be reasonable to do the static or momentary studies without considering its trajectories. This assumption is only applied to those who have sufficient work experience, while those who just entering an organization (newcomer) or experiencing lateral moves or are promoted (job changer) will experience a socialization process.. In the socialization process that emphasizing employees acquire knowledge about and adjust to their new tasks or surroundings, employees may show the fluctuation of their behaviors because they experience shocks that constantly affect their behaviors. Thus, we mainly focus on employees’ OCB trajectories from an organizational socialization perspective. Additionally, employees will participate in some types of OCB more often than others, thus we need to differentiate OCB dimensions when exploring OCB trajectories. In the current study, we mainly focus on two dimensions of OCB at work: affiliative behaviors and challenging behaviors. That is because employees are more sensitive to risks in the socialization process. Thus, it’s reasonable to treat affiliative behavior and challenging behavior differently in their progression. Moreover, this research intends to explore the underlying mechanisms and boundary conditions of the OCB’s trajectory through combining it with AMO (ability-motivation-opportunity) theory. From the theoretical perspective, framework proposed in this study will contribute to a comprehensive understanding of dynamic changes in OCB in the workplace. In terms of practical implications, the current study will enable us to understand how to achieve sustained high levels of OCBs, and help both employees and organizations to benefit from the organizational socialization process.

Key words: organizational citizenship behavior, dynamic, organizational socialization, mechanism

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