Rt Ch 3: Vol XVII The Good Organizational Citizen: Collectivist or Individualist?
From the Book: The Refractive Thinker® Vol XVII: Managing a Cultural Workforce: The Impact of Global Employees


In today’s competitive labor market, global organizations strive to increase productivity and decrease costs. Growing the bottom line remains more challenging as organizations face declining global fertility rates coupled with the inexorable reality of replacing an aging workforce. The challenge of a shrinking labor pool led to a talent shortage (Economist, 2009), which in turn, placed pressure on organizations to maximize existing employees’ contributions (Cates, Mathis & Randle, 2010; Dávila, Celeste & Finkelstein, 2011; Hoffman, Blair, Meriac, & Woehr. 2007; Zhang, Liao, & Zhao., 2011).

Organizational citizenship behavior (OCB) is “performance that supports the social and psychological environment in which task performance takes place” (Organ, 1997, p. 95) and behavior that “lubricate[s] the social machinery of the organization” (Bateman & Organ, 1983, p. 588). It is behavior that helps organizations and individuals. Williams and Anderson (1991) organized OCB into two categories based on the target of the behavior: OCB directed towards benefitting the organization (OCBO) and OCB directed towards benefitting individuals (OCBI).

OCB positively impacts organizational effectiveness measures such as job satisfaction, improved productivity, increased efficiency, reduced costs, increased customer satisfaction, reduced absenteeism, happier, more enthusiastic employees, better quality work, and a positive impact on the organization’s profits.

This author (Curry, 2016) sought to determine whether two forms of individualism (vertical and horizontal) and two forms of collectivism (vertical and horizontal) could predict OCBO or OCBI. Vertical collectivism (VC) is a cultural pattern where individuals view themselves as part of an in-group, focus on in-group goals, and accept hierarchy and inequality while for horizontal collectivism (HC) individuals see themselves as members of an in-group of similar interdependent individuals who value equality (Singelis, Triandis, Bhawuk, & Gelfand, 1995). Vertical individualism (VI) is a cultural pattern where individuals see themselves as autonomous from the group, focus on achieving individual goals, are self-reliant, value competition and expect inequality while for horizontal individualism (HI) individuals view themselves as autonomous from the group, is self-reliant and value equality (Singelis et al.) Both forms of collectivism (VC and HC) and Vertical Individualism were significant predictors of OCB directed towards the individual (OCBI). Horizontal collectivism and vertical collectivism were significant predictors of a combined OCB scale, OCB-Total, since the original OCBO scale proved unreliable, but neither form of individualism was.
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