Innovative Work Behaviors: Role of Employee Engagement & Organizational Citizenship Behaviors.

AuthorAmah, Okechukwu Ethelbert

Innovative work behavior (IWB) is crucial in constantly changing business environments. Hence, the study utilized the broaden-andbuild theory and explored the relationships among employee engagement (EE), two dimensions of organizational citizenship behavior (OCB), and IWB, a gap identified in past studies. The study utilized 450 participants drawn from 3 sectors of the Nigerian economy. Results show that EE is positively related to the two dimensions of OCB, and IWB. The two dimensions of OCB partially mediated the relationship between EE and IWB. The study established EE as a critical variable in enhancing OCB and achieving high IWB in employees, and also recommended that organizations will benefit from investments made to build the level of employee engagement.

Innovative Work Behavior

In a constantly changing business environment, employees who are innovative respond to situations rapidly (Afsar et al., 2018). Hence, the necessity to explore what will encourage employees to exhibit innovative work behaviors during and outside crisis periods for the benefit of organizations (Akturan & Cekmeceliodlu, 2016; Caniels & Rietzschel, 2015; Barnhill & Smith, 2018; Gerke et al., 2017). Innovative work behavior includes activities that move ideas from generation to realization (Nair & Gopal, 2011). Past studies have determined the antecedents of IWB (Aryee et al., 2012; Cai et al., 2019; Herrman & Felfe, 2013; Jensen, 2000; Kharakiah et al., 2019; Ren & Zhang, 2015; Yildiz et al., 2017). Recently, Lee et al. (2019) identified that under certain conditions, dissatisfied employee can be creative. Despite the number of past studies, there is still a gap in fully understanding the antecedents of IWB (Aryee et al., 2012; Yildiz et al., 2017).

Innovative work behaviors are products of individual capacity and intentional behaviors (West & Farr, 1989). Hence, individual characteristics and activities will form a major determinant of the antecedents of IWB. For example, Scott and Bruce (1994) established that IWB is at the intersection of the individual, leader, work group and organizational context. The current study viewed employee engagement and organizational citizenship behavior (OCB) as individual characteristics which are intentional and should be antecedents of IWB. Researchers, consultants and popular press have stated that engaged employees go the extra mile, enact extra-role (organizational citizenship behavior) and proactive activities, and adopt creative methods of working (Abraham, 2012; Fay & Sonnentag, 2011). These comments point to the possibility of potential relationships among employee engagement, OCB, and IWB (Kim & Park, 2017; van Zyl et al., 2019). Past studies have explored different sections of these relationships.

Past Studies

Studies that explored the relationship between OCB and innovative behaviors have produced inconsistent results. For example, Suwant et al. (2018) failed to establish a relationship between one-dimensional OCB and innovative behavior, while Naqshbandi et al. (2016) found that one-dimensional OCB predicted innovative work behavior. Podsakoff and MacKenzie (1997) did extensive review of the effect of OCB on organizational performance, and concluded that more research is needed to establish how OCB relates to innovation and other variables. The relationship between employee engagement and organizational citizenship behaviors has also been identified by past studies (Babcock-Robinson & Strickland, 2010; Rich et al., 2010; Pillai et al., 1999; Organ & Ryne, 1995; Saks, 2006; Shantz et al., 2013). These studies utilized one-dimensional OCB. Aryee et al. (2012) found that EE related to IWB and that the relationship was moderated by leadermember exchange. The study recommended that future studies should include OCB as possible linkage between EE and IWB to test the postulations of Podsakoff, Whiting, Podsakoff and Blume (2009) and Walumbwa, Cropanzano and Hartnell (2009). There is therefore shortage of empirical research which establish the relationships among employee engagement, innovative work behavior and one-dimensional OCB (Shin & Zhou, 2003; Ryan & Deci, 2000; McEwen, 2011). Furthermore, the author did not find any study that explored how employee engagement and multidimensional OCB directed to individual (OCBI), and to organization (OCBO) relate to IWB in the same model.

The Present Study

Hence, there are three research gaps filled by this study. The first determined the relationships among EE, two dimensions of OCB, and IWB. The second explored the differential effects EE may have on OCBI and OCBO (Harper, 2015). The third determined if OCBI and OCBO are differentially related to IWB. Filling these gaps will give more accurate picture of the contributions of engaged employees to individual and organizational productivity, and also provide better information on how to evaluate and reward engaged employees (Podsakoff et al., 2009).

The current research makes some contributions to literature in employee engagement, OCB and innovative work behavior. Firstly, this is the only study known to the author that established the relationships among EE, OCBI, OCBO, and IWB. Past attempts to establish the relationship between one-dimensional OCB and IWB gave inconsistent results, and the anticipated positive relationship between EE and IWB required further explanation. The current study formalized these relationships using two dimensions of OCB. Secondly, it established EE as a critical variable in enhancing employees' citizenship behaviors and innovative behaviors. Thirdly, it established OCBI and OCBO as partial mediators of the relationship between EE and IWB. Past studies have explored the mediating role of one-dimensional OCB in the relationship between other variables and IWB (Suwanti et al., 2018), but the author is not aware of any study that has explored the mediating role of multi-dimensional OCB on the relationship between EE and IWB. Fourthly, it showed that EE has similar relationships with OCBI and OCBO, while the relationships OCBI and OCBO have with IWB differ statistically. This addressed the recommendations of Harper (2015) and Podsakoff et al. (2009).

The Broaden-and-Build Theory

Prior to the development of this theory, it is believed that all emotions elicit predetermined action tendencies (Jager & Russeler, 2016). For example, fear is linked to flight. However, with time the hypothesis of predetermined action tendencies failed when applied to positive emotions. Hence, the broaden-and-build theory was postulated to explain reactions in positive emotion (Fedrickson & Branigan, 2005). The theory postulates that positive emotions broaden attention and thought action process. This promotes the discovery of novel and creative ideas and social bonds, and builds resources which can be used in future actions. The theory rests on the premise that individuals with positive emotions are open to more attention; they see more possibilities and more ways of doing things, and are more creative. This is because creativity is premised on the ability to see and concentrate on diverse possible ways of doing things. The broaden action enables people to see other possible actions such as engaging in social conversation and building social bonds (Fredrickson & Branigan, 2015). Generally, those who are experiencing positive emotions actively engage with their environments and participate fully in activities in their environment (Fredrickson & Branigan, 2005). Those with positive emotions discard automatic responses and instead seek for creative, flexible, and unpredictable new ways of thinking and acting (Fredrickson, 2004). The broaden action leads to the acquisition of physical, intellectual, psychological and social resources. The broaden-and-build theory has been tested successfully in laboratory experiments (Fredrickson & Branigan, 2005; Lin et al., 2014), and in field studies (Isen & Daubman, 1984; Isen et al., 1985). Employee engagement is associated with positive emotion since positive emotion drives EE (Hazelton, 2014). Hence, broaden-and-build theory can explain the relationships among EE, OCB, and IWB.

Organizational Citizenship Behavior (OCB)

Organizational citizenship behaviors are discretionary behaviors which exceed stipulated job requirements. OCB is also referred to as extra-role behavior to separate it from in-role behaviors which are normally part of the job description. OCB is important to organizations because it enhances coworker and organizational productivity; it frees resources which can be used in other production areas, and it improves an organization's ability to adapt to changes (Podsakoff et al., 2009). Hence, organizations which rely on only in-role performance cannot compete in a constantly changing business environment and can be described as a fragile social system (Katz, 1964). Since the introduction of OCB in organizational behavior research, it has been conceptualized in many ways by past researchers (Bolino et al., 2004; Boorman & Motowidlo, 1993; Organ, 1997; Organ & Paine, 1999; Podsakoff et al., 2000). Williams and Anderson (1991) crystallized all the dimensions of OCB into two dimensions representing OCB directed to the organization (OCBO), and OCB directed to individuals (OCBI). Even at this, the nature of OCB has remained controversial with authors advocating for different dimensions. For example, Williams and Anderson (1991) and Moorman and Blakely (1995) advocated for two factor structures, while DiPaola and Tschannen-Moran (2001) established a unique factor. Another unresolved issue is whether OCBI and OCBO have similar or different relationships with antecedents and outcomes (LePine et al., 2002; Harper, 2015; Podsakoff et al., 2009). The authors recommended that future studies should establish if OCBI and OCBO have similar or differential relationships with antecedents and outcomes.

Job attitudes have been found to be antecedents...

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