Influence of Organizational Structure on Organizational Citizenship Behavior.

AuthorAzam, Seemi


Organizational citizenship behavior has been the focus of organizational behavior researchers (Podsakoff, Mackenzie, Paine & Bachrach, 2000) since the past few decades. It has been the most extensively studied topic in organizational behavior research (Chahal & Mehta, 2011; Lievson & Anseel, 2004) owing to its importance and its implications on the organizations. These researchers also proposed that OCB could positively influence individual and organizational performance. By looking at such arguments, we come to know how important OCB is in the context of organization and its importance is poised to increase only in the future.

Organizational Citizenship Behaviors or OCB is commonly described as those behaviors which are not a part of an individual's job profile. Neither do their presence guarantee rewards nor their absence ensure punishment. However, overall they help to improve the overall performance of the organization.

The concept of OCB is not a new one. Hint of this concept can be found in the early works of Barnard (1938), who said that employees should be willing to contribute efforts to cooperative systems for achieving organizational goals. Scholars hold different views with respect to the dimensionality of OCB. However, one of the most popularly quoted set of dimensions is the one given by Organ (1988) who identified five dimensions belonging to OCB: Altruism, Courtesy, Civic Virtue, Conscientiousness and Sportsmanship.

The notion of organizational structure focuses on the differentiation of positions, formulations of rules and procedures and prescriptions of authority. It is the way jobs are divided, grouped and coordinated in an organization. Structure is a complex medium of control, which is continuously produced and recreated in interactions and yet, shapes that interaction. According to Hage and Aiken (1967), two important features of organizational structure are formalization and centralization. Hage and Aiken (1967) defined organizational formalization as the level to which an organization precisely spells out rules and procedures related to jobs in different situations. This aspect is also known as job codification. Rule observation refers to the extent to which an organization rigidly adheres to the rules and procedures. In other words, this construct measures how far employees are supervised in ensuring that they are not committing any offense against the company's rules and regulations (Hage & Aiken, 1967).

Centralization deals with the amount of power distributed among employees of various positions. This variable is measured in terms of hierarchy of authority and participation in decision making. According to Hage and Aiken (1967), hierarchy of authority examines whether or not employees rely upon their supervisors in decision making while participation in decision making identifies the level of employees' involvement in decisions on resource allocation and policy formation. Tata and Prasad (2004) categorized centralization into macro-level and micro-level whereby the former deals with employees' participation in decision making regarding policies and procedures at the organizational level and the latter is concerned with employees' involvement in decision making regarding their own tasks.

Adler and Borys (1996), on the other hand, conceptualized formalization into coercive and enabling. This is because they asserted that attitudinal and behavioral outcomes among employees are attributed to the type of formalization enforced in the organization. Hence, a conceptual understanding of this construct among top management is deemed crucial. Adler and Borys (1996) viewed that formalization can be effective depending upon the selection process, congruency of organizational goals, and type of industry in which an organization operates.

Bodewes (2002) provided three definitions of organizational formalization but he proposed that formalization is most accurately defined as "the extent to which documented standards are used to control social actors' behavior and outputs". Bodewes (2002) highlighted that most researchers overlook the comprehensive definition of formalization by not including the aspect of rule observation or segregating it into two dimensions.

Organizational structure can also be understood in terms of prevailing routines of the organization i.e. the ways, manner and means through which the organizational processes take place. Although not emphasized in the existing OCB literature, it appears that task characteristics are important determinants of citizenship behavior and deserve more attention in future research (Podsakoff et al, 2006).

Organizational Structure & OCB: the Relationship

The type of structure determines power distribution which then plays an important role in determining the behavior of individuals. The outcomes of organizational structure, namely formalization and centralization, have been examined in a number of studies. Better task performance is hardly achievable in organizations with highly formalized rules and centralized decision making (Organ et al., 2006). It is generally expected that as an organization becomes more structured and complex, it moves towards greater rigidity and inflexibility and hence, gives fewer chances to its employees to engage in extra role behaviors.

The negative influence of formalization and centralization on OCB has been reported in most empirical investigations. A study conducted by Nasurdin (2006) examined the influence of organizational structure (formalization and centralization) on job stress among salespersons in the stock broking industry of Malaysia. It was found that formalization had a positive influence on job stress because job that is bounded by inflexible rules and procedures allowed lesser autonomy and freedom for the incumbents on how to perform their tasks. This will most likely lead to job stress. It is evident that stress has negative influence on overall organizational effectiveness of which OCB is considered an indicator. Johari and Yahya (2009) proposed that organizational structure namely centralization and formalization has direct effect on employee task performance and organizational citizenship behavior.

Jain (2011) conducted a study in motorbike organizations of India in order to investigate how different dimensions of organization structure predict various forms of OCB in the particular work setting. Data was collected form a sample of 250 executives. Results of stepwise regression analysis revealed that among other dimensions, Centralization was found to be a negative predictor of OCB.

Formalized rules and procedures and centralized decision making also hinder employees from 'thinking outside the box' in performing tasks. Hence, employees do not put extra effort or take any initiative to improve the way their jobs are performed. In other words, highly formalized and centralized organization discourages employees from exerting more in achieving organizational goals (Organ et al., 2006). This is a clear hint that OCB may be negatively correlated with formalization and centralization.

Parker, Wall, and Cordery (2001) recommended that future job design studies should incorporate the influence of job characteristics on contextual performance (i.e., OCB). The degree to which the work done by employees in the organization is repetitive or monotonous, in other words, lack variety, also may have substantial influences on extra-role...

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT