An empirical study of the relationship between organizational climate and organizational citizenship behavior.

AuthorMaamari, Bassem E.

    In today's organizational world characterized by expectation of higher work productivity, it is not surprising that organizations are in need of employees who go beyond their call of duty and give job performances that exceed expectations, i.e. engage in organizational citizenship behavior. However, in order to encourage these desired outcomes, management should focus on certain environmental determinants that can influence and support such behaviors. One such factor is organization climate which is defined by Stringer (2002, p. 9) as "the collection and patterns of the environmental determinates of aroused motivation."

    Previous research has indicated that employees who work outside the organizational setting (e.g. salespeople) are less supervised and are therefore more physically, socially, and psychologically separated from the organization than those working within it (see, for example Dunkinsky et al., 1986). Thus, the researchers infer that bank employees who typically work within the organizational setting and are closely supervised are physically, socially, and psychologically less separated from the organization than those working outside it. Hence the ability of the organizational climate to influence this group's behavior becomes more essential. The present study examines the relationship between organizational climate and organizational citizenship behavior among bank employees in a non-western culture.


    There has been considerable interest in the concept of organizational citizenship behavior (OCB). Organ (1988, p. 4) defined it as "individual behavior that is discretionary, not directly or explicitly recognized by the formal reward system and that in the aggregate promotes the effective functioning of the organization." This definition has prompted much criticism. For example, researchers argued whether or not OCBs were discretionary in nature, and whether these behaviors lead directly or indirectly to rewards. Thus, Organ (1997, p. 95) suggested OCB be redefined as "performance that supports the social and psychological environment in which task performance takes place."

    Since then, other terms have emerged to describe this concept such as organizational spontaneity (Podsakoff et al., 2000), extra-role behavior (Van Dyne & LePine 1998), going the extra mile (Turnipseed & Rassuli, 2005), etc. Examples of such behaviors include "such gestures as constructive statements about the department, expression of personal interest in the work of others, suggestions for improvement and training new people, respect for the spirit as well as the letter of housekeeping rules, care for organizational property, and punctuality and attendance well beyond standard of enforceable levels" (Organ, 1990, p. 46). In sum, no matter the term used, it is agreed that employees who engage in such behavior do it on a voluntary basis without expecting compensation.

    Organ (1988) proposes that citizenship behavior can be exhibited in different ways: (a) altruism, defined as discretely helpful behavior toward someone who is experiencing an organizational problem, (b) conscientiousness, behavior that exceeds the minimum required of a person's expected role in the organization. These two differ in that altruism is more personal while contentiousness is aimed more at the entire organization like a group or department. (c) sportsmanship, which refers to an employee's tolerance such as withholding complaint in inconvenient situations or less than ideal organizational circumstances, (d) courtesy, which refers to preventative behavior that helps avoid problems, rather than dealing with existing problems, (e) civic virtue, behavior involving the employee's concern and participation in organizational matters, such as speaking up about organization related issues, attending meetings, and defending the organization's policies and practices when challenged by outsiders and finally (f) generalized compliance, doing things right for the sake of the organization or the system "good soldier" syndrome.

    Research on OCB has shown that it has an impact on organizational outcome and organizational effectiveness (Walz and Niehoff, 1996, Podsakoff et al., 1997, 2000). Its effect on effectiveness is mixed. Positively, it has been shown to foster a more open and trusting environment. As such, it promotes the efficient and effective functioning of an organization (see for example, Walz and Niehoff, 1996, Podsakoff et al., 1997, 2000). On the other hand, some have found it to have a negative impact such as in the form of reducing voice (Choi, 2007), reducing engagement in job prescriptions (Bolino et al., 2004), (see for example, Podsakoff and Mackenzie, 1994). These differences could be the result of other variables influencing OCBs.


    Litwin and Stringer (1968, p.1) viewed organizational climate as "a set of measurable properties of the work environment, perceived directly or indirectly by people who live and work in this environment and assumed to influence their motivation and behavior." Interest in the study of organizational climate was renewed in the early seventies (see for example Pritchard and Karasick, 1973; James and Jones, 1974; Schneider and Snyder, 1975) and still draws interest (see for example, Davidson, 2003; Chen et al., 2004; Wasko and Faraj, 2005;Giacomo and Carla, 2011; Vashidi et al., 2012). Organization Climate is theorized as a psychological tool for focusing on the individual and striving to understand the cognitive developments and behaviors (Davidson, 2003). Thus, it can be used as a management technique to understand how employees view their working environment.

    Organizational climate has positively been linked to many behavioral outcomes such as commitment and job satisfaction (Bhaesajsanguan, 2010; Castro and Martins, 2010), employee behaviors and outcomes (Ferris et al., 1998), leadership behaviors, job performance, productivity, and quality of work group interaction (El-Kassar & Messarra 2010; Laschinger, 2001; Goleman, 2000; Schnake, 1983; Pritchard and Karasick, 1973; Friedlander and Greenberg, 1971).

    The main organizational climates that have been identified (see for example Stringer, 2002; Litwin and Stringer, 1968) are: Structure (being well-organized and having clearly defined roles and responsibilities), responsibility (encouragement of individual judgment and discretion, whereby employees are made to feel that they are "their own boss"), risk (willingness to take chances on employees' ideas), reward (rewarding positive performance in that it outweighs punishment in the organization), warmth and support (warm relationships among employees supported by a relaxed and people-oriented atmosphere), conflict (avoiding...

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