Compulsory citizenship behavior: Theorizing some dark sides of the cood soldier syndrome in organizations

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The most prominent characteristic of good citizenship behavior is the willingness of individuals to invest effort and energy in their social environment beyond any formal requirement and with no expectation of formal rewards. When studied in the workplace, this behavior has been called Organizational Citizenship Behavior (OCR) and has become the subject of many works that have focused on the positive connotations of the "soldier syndrome".A majority of the 270 studies published in recent decades about OCB have pointed to the benefits and advantages of voluntary helping behaviors, pro-social behavior, altmism and extra-role behavior. In contrast with this view, the present paper suggests that OCB also has darker aspects, one of which is the exploitative and abusive tendency of supervisors and managements to impose so-called "voluntary" or "extra-role" activities via compulsory or coercive mechanisms in the workplace. The paper focuses on such exploitation and abusiveness and their potential impact on employees' performance. It is argued that frequently individuals engage in so-called OCBs not as a matter of free choice or good will, but as a result of considerable social pressure by powerful others, be they managers or other co-workers. It is suggested that such behaviors can be placed on a continuum of extra-role behaviors, but that they should also be recognized as a substantial deviation from the original meaning of OCB and thus should be examined and analyzed separately.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)77-93
Number of pages17
JournalJournal for the Theory of Social Behaviour
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Philosophy
  • General Psychology


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