In the Mood for an OCB

Topic: Citizenship Behaviors, Workplace Deviance
Publication: Academy of Management Journal (OCT 2009)
ArticleA within-person approach to work behavior and performance: Concurrent and lagged citizenship-counterproductivity associations, and dynamic relationships with affect and overall job performance.
Authors: R.S. Dalal, H. Lam, H.M. Weiss, E.R. Welch, C.L. Hulin
Reviewed By: Katie Bachman

If you aren’t already, sit down because I’m about to blow your mind. Here it comes: happy people act nice and unhappy people act mean, but not everyone is happy or unhappy all the time. Now, where’s my gold star? Sorry, I just get a little sarcastic when I read things in the literature that smack of kindergarten logic. Amazingly, most of the researchers who study this type of thing in organizations totally missed that lesson in school.

Organizational citizenship behaviors (OCBs; i.e., behaviors aimed at helping an organization and/or its workers) and counterproductive work behaviors (CWBs; i.e., behaviors aimed at hurting an organization and/or its employees) are two of the hottest topics in the literature right now.  Most of the research focuses on comparing multiple people on the dimensions, assuming that a person’s average level of work behavior is enough information. Well, no more of that!

A recent article in the Academy of Management Journal evaluated within-person effects (i.e. people evaluated against themselves rather than against others) for work behaviors. Affect (e.g., mood) was measured as an antecedent to OCBs and CWBs and, as usual, job performance came out the back end. The researchers found that affect predicted levels of work behaviors and that there was a lot of variability within individuals for both their OCB and CWB levels over time. CWB was particularly variable. Also, the behaviors were related but were not two ends of the same spectrum. In sum, mood determines workers’ positive and negative behaviors on the job, but the relationship isn’t one size fits all.

What does this mean for the twelve of us who don’t study work behaviors? It means that the previous research has a gaping hole in it, which this new work will start to fill. If we are looking at data between individuals, we aren’t getting the whole story about predicting behavior.

Dalal, R. S., Lam, H., Weiss, H. M., Welch, E. R., & Hulin, C. L. (2009). A within-person approach to work  behavior and performance: concurrent and lagged citizenship-counterproductivity associations, and  dynamic relationships with affect and overall job performance. Academy of Management Journal, 52, 1051  1066.