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The Decision to Reciprocate OCB: An Examination of the Influence of Individual, Relationship, and Help Characteristics
Ehrhart, MarkKath, LisaShore, Lynn
x, 91 pages : illustrations
Organizational citizenship behaviors (OCBs) have been studied as an important aspect of performance in the workplace, in part, because they positively contribute to productivity. These behaviors are often identified as discretionary, and are generally less likely to be measured in terms of performance or rewarded in terms of promotions or monetary rewards. The most commonly studied form of OCB is helping behavior. Past research has examined individual characteristics and organizational variables predicting who is likely to perform helping behaviors; however, little research has examined variables predicting the reciprocation of helping behaviors in an organizational context, especially between two individual parties. This study is based on the idea that the decision to reciprocate helping behaviors is one that will vary based on social exchange theory. Furthermore, it specifically examines the characteristics of certain episodes and the actors involved that may substitute or enhance the effects of being in a social exchange relationship. Specifically, the present study explored the following moderators of the effects of social exchange on employees' decisions to reciprocate helping: (1) individual characteristics of the potential reciprocator (including conscientiousness, capability, and the belief in the norm of reciprocity), (2) individual characteristics of the target of reciprocation (including general helpfulness, likeability, and capability), (3) characteristics of the relationship between parties involved (the quality of the social exchange relationship and balance of the exchange relationship at the time of helping), and (4) characteristics of the help received (including the degree to which the help was helpful and the degree to which the help was difficult to perform). The sample for this study consisted of 346 employees recruited through the Amazon Mechanical Turk service (MTurk) and 217 student employees. Participants responded to a survey with measures of all of the variables of interest. Correlations, hierarchical multiple regression, and moderated multiple regression analyses were performed to test the hypotheses. The results showed strong support for a positive relationship between the quality of one's social exchange relationship with a coworker and the likeliness to reciprocate helping to that coworker. However, there was no evidence that the balance of one's social exchange relationship was related to helping reciprocation. Additionally, there was no evidence of moderation effects for the characteristics of the potential reciprocator, the target for reciprocation, or the help itself. Instead, some of the variables investigated functioned as direct predictors for helping reciprocation, beyond the effects of the quality of social exchange relationship, while some had no relationship to helping reciprocation at all. The strongest effects were found for conscientiousness of the potential reciprocator and the degree to which the potential reciprocator perceived the help he/she received as helpful. The characteristics of the target of reciprocation were not as important in one's decision to reciprocate helping. Although the moderation hypotheses were not supported, the findings for the direct effects on helping reciprocation contribute to the OCB and social exchange research in the context of employee-employee relationships. Practical implications and directions for future research are discussed.
Includes bibliographical references (pages 68-75).
Psychology with a concentration in Applied Psychology
Master of Science (M.S.) San Diego State University, 2013
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