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Role Definitions and Organizational Citizenship Behavior: The Importance of the Employee's

Perspective
Author(s): Elizabeth Wolfe Morrison
Source: The Academy of Management Journal, Vol. 37, No. 6 (Dec., 1994), pp. 1543-1567
Published by: Academy of Management
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? Academy of Management Journal
1994, Vol. 37, No. 6, 1543-1567.

ROLE DEFINITIONS AND ORGANIZATIONAL


CITIZENSHIP BEHAVIOR: THE IMPORTANCE OF
THE EMPLOYEE'S PERSPECTIVE
ELIZABETH WOLFE MORRISON
New York University

A survey of 317 clerical workers demonstrated that employees differed


in what they defined as in-role and extra-role behavior, that these dif-
ferences were related to commitment and social cues, and that employ-
ees were more likely to display organizational citizenship behavior
(OCB)if they defined the behavior as in-role rather than extra-role.
Results indicate that the boundary between in-role and extra-role be-
havior is not clearly defined and that OCBis a function of how broadly
employees define their job responsibilities. This study suggeststhe need
for a reconceptualization of OCB.

It is commonly accepted in the management literature that organizations


need employees who are willing to exceed their formal job requirements
(Barnard, 1938; Katz, 1964; Katz & Kahn, 1978). Exceeding job requirements,
commonly referred to as organizational citizenship behavior (OCB), has re-
ceived a great deal of recent research attention (see Organ [1990] for a re-
view). Despite the growing acceptance of the OCB construct, however, some
researchers have raised questions about how OCB is theoretically defined
and measured (George & Brief, 1993; Graham, 1988; McAllister, 1991; Van
Dyne, Cummings, & Parks, 1992). One important issue is whether there is a
clear enough conceptual boundary between OCB, or extra-role behavior, and
in-role behavior that they can be viewed as distinct constructs. This article
presents the argument that this boundary varies across employees. It then
identifies factors that explain where this boundary falls for a given em-
ployee, assesses how this affects the display of OCB, and addresses some of
the implications of this perspective for how OCB is conceptualized and
studied.
Much of the theoretical and empirical work on OCB creates the impres-
sion that the boundary between in-role and extra-role behavior is agreed
upon and clearly defined and that OCB is the same for all employees (e.g.,
Niehoff & Moorman, 1993; Organ, 1988; O'Reilly & Chatman, 1986; Podsa-
koff, MacKenzie, Moorman, & Fetter, 1990). Yet evidence from several
sources challenges this impression. Researchers investigating role making

I would like to thank Joseph Porac, R. Sean Morrison, Sandra Robinson, and two anony-
mous reviewers for their helpful comments on earlier drafts of this article.

1543

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1544 Academy of Management Journal December

(Graen, 1976), for example, have noted that roles in organizations are rarely
fixed and that role perceptions evolve as employees and supervisors nego-
tiate the scope of work activities. Further, Rousseau's (1989) work on psy-
chological contracts indicates that most employees have an understanding of
their employment obligation that differs substantially from their employers'
understanding. In addition, advocates of social information processing the-
ory (Salancik & Pfeffer, 1978) have proposed that jobs are cognitive construc-
tions created when employees (and employers) make sense of social and
behavioral cues. These streams of research all suggest that the boundary
between in-role and extra-role work behavior is ill-defined and subject to
multiple interpretations.
OCB research has tended to sidestep the potential ambiguity and sub-
jectivity of the OCB construct by adopting a single perspective with respect
to the boundary between in-role and extra-role behavior: that of supervisors
(e.g., Fahr, Podsakoff, & Organ, 1990; Moorman, 1991; Niehoff & Moorman,
1993; O'Reilly & Chatman, 1986; Organ & Konovsky, 1989; Podsakoff et al.,
1990; Smith, Organ, & Near, 1983; Witt, 1991). Thus, if supervisors see early
attendance as an extra-role behavior, an employee who comes to work earlier
than required is defined as engaging in OCB regardless of how the employee
sees this behavior. Relying solely on supervisory definitions of extra-role
behavior is problematic, however, when research attempts to explain good
citizenship by linking it to employee affect and cognition (e.g., Bateman &
Organ, 1983; Moorman, 1991; Organ, 1990; Organ & Konovsky, 1989; Smith
et al., 1983; Witt, 1991). In this article, I argue that such an approach requires
understanding how employees define their job responsibilities, since an
important factor driving employees' behavior is whether they define a given
activity as in-role or extra-role. For example, if an employee defines helping
co-workers as an in-role behavior, he or she will conceptualize the behavior
very differently than an extra-role behavior and will perceive a different set
of incentives surrounding the helping behavior. In terms of understanding
OCB, therefore, it makes a difference whether an employee helps a co-
worker because he or she wishes to engage in extra effort on behalf of the
organization, or alternatively, because he or she simply sees the behavior as
part of his or her job. In sum, if researchers wish to understand "the moti-
vational basis of organizational citizenship behavior" (Organ, 1990: 43), they
must first understand how job incumbents conceptualize their responsibil-
ities and whether they define given behaviors as in-role or as extra-role.

UNDERSTANDING EMPLOYEE ROLE DEFINITIONS


The present research is based upon two premises. The first is that em-
ployees holding the same formal job differ in how broadly they define that
job, or in terms of where they draw the line between in-role and extra-role
behavior. I refer to this dimension here as perceived job breadth. The greater
an employee's perceived job breadth, the more activities he or she defines as
in-role. One employee, for example, might define a job very narrowly and see
most behaviors that are typically assumed to be citizenship behavior, such as

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1994 Morrison 1545

helping co-workers and not taking excessive time off, as falling outside of
what is expected. Another employee, however, might define the same job
very broadly and thus see many traditional OCBs as part of the job. Research
on both role making (Graen, 1976) and social information processing (Salan-
cik & Pfeffer, 1978) support this argument, suggesting that jobs are socially
constructed rather than objectively defined. Research on category formation
also supports the argument. Rosch (1978) proposed that cognitive categories
have ill-defined boundaries. If an employee's view of his or her job can be
considered a cognitive category, it can be concluded that both the construct
of in-role behavior ("my job") and the construct of extra-role behavior ("be-
yond my job") are somewhat fuzzy.
The above premise suggests not only that behaviors will be seen differ-
ently across employees, but that they will also be seen differently by em-
ployees and their supervisors. If perceived job requirements are in part cog-
nitive constructions, subject to a variety of social cues, a given behavior may
be classified as in-role by an employee and extra-role by that employee's
supervisor, or vice versa. The result is that employees and their supervisors
will differ in how broadly they define the employees' responsibilities. This
divergence has important implications not only for how OCB is conceptually
defined but also for how researchers empirically assess extra-role behav-
ior-from the perspective of supervisors or from that of subordinates.
Hypothesis 1: Employees and their supervisors will differ
in whether they define various behaviors as in-role or
extra-role and will consequently differ in how broadly
they define the employees' job responsibilities.
The second premise underlying this research is that if an employee
defines a behavior as in-role, he or she is more likely to perform it than if he
or she defines it as extra-role. A critical difference between an in-role and an
extra-role behavior is the extent to which others reward the behavior and
impose sanctions if it is absent (Organ, 1988, 1990). Both in-role and extra-
role behaviors may be intrinsically rewarding. However, in-role behavior is
more likely to be linked to extrinsic rewards and sanctions, both formal and
informal (Katz, 1964; Organ, 1988; Puffer, 1987). Activities defined as OCB
should be perceived as relatively independent of extrinsic rewards since, by
definition, OCB is behavior that is not organizationally rewarded (Organ,
1988). On the average, therefore, the motivation for in-role behavior should
be greater than the motivation for extra-role behavior (Katz, 1964; Organ,
1988; Puffer, 1987). Indeed, much of the interest in OCB derives from the
very fact that the incentives for extra-role activities are weaker than the
incentives for in-role activities. The research strategy has been to specify
behaviors that most organizations define as extra-role and to posit a special
class of motivators to explain their occurrence (e.g., Moorman, 1991; Organ
& Konovsky, 1989; Smith et al., 1983).
The premise that an employee will be more likely to perform an activity
if it is defined as in-role rather than extra-role implies that an important
determinant of supervisory ratings of so-called OCB will be how broadly

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1546 Academy of Management Journal December

employees define their job responsibilities. If employees are more likely to


perform in-role behaviors than extra-role behaviors, it follows that the more
so-called citizenship behaviors that an employee defines as in-role, the more
OCB he or she will tend to display. This inference has important theoretical
implications. It means that what others perceive as OCB may reflect, in part,
how broadly employees define their work responsibilities. Further, it im-
plies that individuals rated as good citizens by their supervisors may simply
be doing what they feel is part of their jobs rather than purposefully engaging
in extra-role behavior. This set of ideas is clearly at odds with how research-
ers have typically conceptualized OCB (cf. Organ, 1988).
Hypothesis 2: The more broadly employees define their
job responsibilities, the more they will display behavior
commonly assumed to be OCB.
The argument that employees differ in what they define as in-role, as
opposed to extra-role, raises the question of what accounts for these differ-
ences. I propose that a variety of cognitive, motivational, and situational
factors influence how broadly employees define their jobs, and by implica-
tion, the frequency with which they engage in behaviors that others may see
as OCB. The four that are focused on here are satisfaction, commitment,
tenure, and social cues.
Indirect evidence suggests that job satisfaction may influence how in-
dividuals organize cognitive information in their memories. In a set of stud-
ies, Isen and Daubman (1984) found that positive mood or affect causes
individuals to engage in broader categorization. Relative to control subjects,
subjects in a good mood were more likely to define marginal exemplars of a
category as being within that category. Thus, they tended to see a given
category of objects or activities as more inclusive. Murray, Sujan, Hirt, and
Sujan (1990) found the relationship between affect and categorization to be
somewhat more complex than this, yet still found that individuals experi-
encing positive moods tended to be more inclusive categorizers. Although
job satisfaction is clearly not the same as mood, both have important affec-
tive components (Brief & Roberson, 1989; George & Brief, 1992; Watson &
Slack, 1993). Thus, it is reasonable to predict that job satisfaction might
influence how employees cognitively define their jobs. Satisfaction may
broaden the boundaries around the construct "my job" in such a way that
individuals define more citizenship behaviors as in-role.
Hypothesis 3: The more satisfied employees are with their
jobs, the more broadly they will define their job respon-
sibilities, and the more so-called organizational citizen-
ship behaviors (OCBs) they will define as in-role.
Another likely determinant of how broadly employees define their jobs
is affective commitment, which is defined as emotional attachment to an
organization. High affective commitment means that an employee perceives
his or her employment as based on a relational exchange. In contrast to the
obligations of a transactional exchange, which are clearly and narrowly

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1994 Morrison 1547

specified, obligations in a relational exchange are broad and open-ended


(MacNeil, 1985). Thus, if employees experience high affective commitment,
they will tend to define their job obligations in a broad and flexible manner,
indicating high perceived job breadth. This argument is very different from
what is traditionally argued with respect to the OCB-commitment relation-
ship. Rather than arguing that commitment leads employees to exceed their
job requirements, I propose that commitment changes how they define those
requirements.
Hypothesis 4: The higher the level of affective commit-
ment employees experience, the more broadly they will
define their job responsibilities, and the more so-called
OCBs they will define as in-role.
Another type of commitment an employee can experience is normative
commitment. Normative commitment refers to a sense of loyalty to an organ-
ization and is based on internalized beliefs that loyalty is important (Allen
& Meyer, 1990). Such commitment is also likely to affect how employees
define their job responsibilities. Researchers have found that employees
with a strong internalized sense of loyalty are more likely than others to
engage in organizationally functional activities such as reporting unethical
behavior (Prestholdt, Lane, & Mathews, 1987; Schwartz & Tessler, 1972).
Wiener (1982: 421) proposed that this result occurs because loyal employees
see engaging in these organizationally desirable activities as "the 'right' and
moral thing to do." Drawing on this idea, I propose that employees with a
strong sense of normative commitment feel personally responsible for the
types of discretionary behaviors that are typically used as indexes of OCB.
Hypothesis 5: The higher the level of normative commit-
ment employees experience, the more broadly they will
define their job responsibilities, and the more so-called
OCBs they will define as in-role.
A fourth factor predicted to influence the perceived boundary between
in-role and extra-role behavior is job tenure. There are several reasons for
expecting that perceived job breadth will increase with tenure. First, em-
ployees' feelings of obligation may increase over time as the level of trust and
commitment between themselves and their employers increases (Blau,
1964). Second, employees may come to define more activities as in-role over
time as they try to achieve more variety in their work. Third, as employees
gain in tenure, they become more knowledgeable and adept with respect to
their job activities, and this increase may affect how they cognitively define
those activities. It has been found, for example, that experience or expertise
with a particular task affects how an individual cognitively represents that
task (Chi, Glaser, & Farr, 1988). Compared to novices, those with experience
and expertise tend to see individual task activities as more related and tend
to organize those activities into broader categories. Since employees with
longer tenure are likely to have experience and expertise with respect to
their job activities, they are likely to have more extensive cognitive struc-

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1548 Academy of Management Journal December

tures concerning their jobs and thus are likely to define their job responsi-
bilities more broadly.
Hypothesis 6: Job tenure will have a positive effect on
how broadly employees define their job responsibilities in
such a way that longer tenure will be associated with
more so-called OCBs being defined as in-role.
Whereas satisfaction, commitment, and tenure are likely to affect the
number of behaviors employees define as in-role, these variables do not
determine which behaviors will be defined as in-role. Such categorizations
will depend in part on cues from others. The literature on social information
processing suggests that cues from co-workers have a powerful effect on
individuals' perceptions and cognitions with respect to their jobs (cf. Thom-
as & Griffin, 1983). There is also evidence that social cues have a strong effect
on beliefs about responsibility. Trevino and Victor (1992), for example,
found that individuals feel more responsible for reporting unethical behav-
ior, and are more likely to do so, when such reporting is supported by group
norms. Thus, I expected cues from co-workers to affect perceptions of re-
sponsibility with respect to the activities typically assumed to be citizenship
behaviors. That is, employees will come to define their job responsibilities
in a manner consistent with the cues that they receive from others. There-
fore, to the extent that two or more employees are exposed to similar cues
from others, they will come to define in-role and extra-role behaviors simi-
larly (cf. Burt, 1978). An indication of the extent to which employees are
exposed to similar social cues is structural equivalence, defined as the extent
to which actors in a social network interact with the same subset of others
(Knoke & Kuklinski, 1982). I propose, therefore, that employees will define
their job roles similarly to the extent that the employees are structurally
equivalent.
Hypothesis 7: To the extent that employees are structur-
ally equivalent, they will define their job responsibilities
similarly.
Social cues are provided not only by co-workers, but also by supervi-
sors. Supervisors provide both information about formal job responsibilities
and subtle cues about the informal responsibilities that employees should
consider to be parts of their jobs. This process is ongoing, and these cues are
likely to have an important effect on how employees themselves define those
behaviors (Graen, 1976). To the extent an employee interacts with his or her
supervisor, therefore, the employee's definition of his or her job will be
similar to the supervisor's definition of that job.
Hypothesis 8: The more frequently an employee interacts
with his or her supervisor, the more similarly the em-
ployee and supervisor will define the employee's job re-
sponsibilities.

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1994 Morrison 1549

METHODS

Respondents and Procedures


Participants in this study were daytime clerical employees at a large
urban medical center. Department directors sent their employees to one of
22 meetings in which these employees completed questionnaires. Of the 512
clerical employees in the hospital, 317 (62%) participated. Nonrespondents
included no-shows and night-shift employees (N = 82) and employees from
areas the directors were unable or unwilling to leave vacant (N = 113).
Seventy-one percent of the respondents were women, and their average age
was 38.8 years (s.d. = 10.9). Ninety-two percent of the respondents held a
high school degree, and 22.6 percent had one or more years of college credit,
a technical or business school degree, or an associate's or bachelor's degree.
Respondents had been employed at the medical center for an average of 9.4
years (s.d. = 7.7) and had held their current jobs for an average of 5.4 years
(s.d. = 5.3). Average annual salary was $23,500 (s.d. = $3,384). There were
no significant demographic differences between employees who responded
and those who did not.
No members of the hospital administration were present at the meeting,
which I conducted, and respondents were assured that their individual re-
sponses would remain confidential. I explained to the employees that they
had been assigned identification numbers solely for the purpose of matching
data and that no one but me would know which questionnaires belonged to
whom. They were assured that their participation and responses would in
no way affect their employment, that their participation was voluntary, and
that they could leave if they did not wish to be part of the study. Only one
person chose to do so.
After the last group of clerical employees was surveyed, the employees'
direct supervisors completed surveys. The content of these surveys is de-
scribed below. The medical center's human resources department provided
the following demographic information: age, gender, education level, date of
hiring, job tenure, salary, and job code.
Assessment of Job Definitions

The employee questionnaire listed 40 activities. Employees were asked


to classify each activity into one of the following two categories: (1) "You see
this as an expected part of your job" and (2) "You see this as somewhat above
and beyond what is expected for your job." The former corresponded to an
in-role classification, and the latter corresponded to an extra-role classifica-
tion. Employees indicated their responses by checking one of two boxes.
Pretesting suggested that employees were able to provide more valid re-
sponses when presented with a dichotomous response format rather than a
continuous scale. Respondents received the instruction "We are not inter-
ested in whether you perform these activities. Rather, we are interested in

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1550 Academy of Management Journal December

whether you yourself see them as part of your job" and were given examples
to clarify this point.
Thirty of the 40 behaviors were taken from existing measures of OCB
(Podsakoff et al., 1990; Smith et al., 1983). These items have been used in
most OCB studies to date (Fahr et al., 1990; Moorman, 1991; Neihoff &
Moorman, 1993; O'Reilly & Chatman, 1986; Podsakoff et al., 1990; Smith et
al., 1983; Witt, 1991), where they have been assumed to describe extra-role
behaviors. The 30 items reflected the five dimensions of OCB Organ (1988)
identified and defined as follows: Altruism consists of behaviors that help a
specific other person. Conscientiousness consists of behaviors that go "well
beyond the minimum requirement" in the areas of attendance, obeying
rules, taking breaks, and so forth (Podsakoff et al., 1990: 115). Civic virtue
consists of behaviors reflecting responsible participation in, involvement
with, and concern about the life of the employing organization. Sportsman-
ship is willingness to tolerate less than ideal circumstances without com-
plaining-refraining from activities such as "complaining, petty griev-
ances" (Organ, 1988: 11). Finally, courtesy consists of behaviors aimed at
preventing work-related problems with others.
In converting the items from measures of OCB to measures of job defi-
nitions, I made some minor changes. First, items reflecting undesirable be-
haviors (those that are reverse-coded in other OCB studies) were worded in
the reverse since it did not make sense to ask whether dysfunctional behav-
iors were an expected part of a job. For example, I changed "spending time
on personal telephone conversations" (Smith et al., 1983) to "not spending
time on personal telephone conversations." In addition, on the basis of pilot
work with three employee focus groups of approximately eight persons each,
items that were seen as vague or value-laden were either eliminated or made
more specific or neutral to minimize social desirability bias. For example,
"being conscientious" was changed to "doing the highest quality work pos-
sible, even when something less would be acceptable." The focus groups
also suggested that some of the behaviors were regarded as in-role by most
employees. I therefore reworded these items to allow for a more stringent test
of the main arguments underlying this study. For example, "being punctual"
was changed to "being punctual every day, regardless of weather, traffic,
etc." in order to better capture the spirit of OCB. This change was consistent
with Organ's contention that "regular attendance is an obvious, contractual
obligation ... [yet] no one can deny that there are instances in which atten-
dance is discretionary, and over long periods of time one can note patterns
of attendance well beyond that which would constitute the minimum or
satisfactory level" (1988: 9).
Because this study was designed to highlight problems with how OCB is
typically conceptualized and operationally defined, it was important to stick
as closely as possible to how OCB is usually measured. However, it was also
important that the study capture behaviors that might be unique to the par-
ticular setting. The focus groups discussed above were used to identify such
behaviors. I defined each of the five OCB dimensions and asked participants

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1994 Morrison 1551

to provide examples of how employees at the medical center might display


that type of behavior. The participants identified ten such activities. These
activities were discussed to assure agreement and were pretested to assure
that they were equally relevant across departments.
The respondents held a variety of different job titles and worked in
several different departments. There was a strong basis for concluding, how-
ever, that these differences would not have any systematic bearing on how
individuals classified the 40 job behaviors. The respondents all held clerical
positions, and none had supervisory duties. Thus, there was minimal vari-
ation in formal responsibility. Although there were activities that systemat-
ically differed across departments and jobs, such as filing, data entry, and
answering the phone, I concluded that the behaviors assessed in this study
(e.g., helping others, not wasting time, keeping up with changes, and so
forth) were not among these. Discussions with employees in the focus
groups, discussions with the director of human resources, and a review of
the written job descriptions supported this conclusion.
Satisfaction and Commitment
In addition to assessing job definitions, the employee questionnaires
assessed job satisfaction and affective and normative commitment. Satisfac-
tion was measured with a four-item scale designed by Quinn and Staines
(1979). Affective and normative commitment were assessed with eight-item
scales designed by Allen and Meyer (1990).
Assessment of Social Interactions
For two separate subsets of respondents, the questionnaires also as-
sessed patterns of social interaction. Respondents within the hospital ser-
vices division, which included areas such as admitting, laboratories, and
medical records (N = 140), and the financial division, which included areas
such as accounts payable, patient accounts, and payroll (N = 143), were
given a list of all clerical employees within their respective divisions and
were asked to place a check next to the names of all individuals with whom
they "worked closely or discussed work-related issues during a typical week
at work." This method of assessing interaction patterns is commonly used in
research on social networks (e.g., Brass & Burkhardt, 1993; Ibarra, 1993).
Given the large number of respondents, it was not possible to obtain network
data for all 512 clerical employees together. Fatigue becomes a significant
problem with this type of data collection when the social network begins to
exceed 150 or so individuals (Knoke & Kuklinski, 1982). In addition, includ-
ing all 512 employees in one network would have exceeded the computa-
tional capacities of the network analysis program used (UCINET IV; Borgatti,
Everett, & Freeman, 1992).
For each dyad of respondents, there were two measures of social inter-
action: employee A's report of whether he or she interacted with employee
B, and employee B's report of whether he or she interacted with employee A.
To assess the reliability of the interaction data, I computed a reciprocation

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1552 Academy of Management Journal December

rate for each of the two divisions, reflecting the percentage of dyads for
which there was agreement. Reciprocation rates were 89.5 percent for the
financial division and 96.4 percent for the hospital services division. The
high level of agreement can be attributed to the fact that employees inter-
acted with a relatively small number of other employees (x = 12.44, s.d. =
9.26), generally people within their own departments.
Supervisor Data
Sixty-eight supervisors provided data. They first indicated whether
each of the 40 job activities was in-role or extra-role for their clerical em-
ployees. They then completed an evaluation form for each subordinate of
theirs included in the study. The average number of subordinates rated by
each supervisor was 3.86 (s.d. = 3.36). The evaluation form asked the su-
pervisors to indicate, on a five-point scale, how characteristic each of the 40
behaviors was for a focal employee (cf. Podsakoff et al., 1990; Smith et al.,
1983). It also asked them to indicate the number of hours per week that they
typically spent working closely with the focal employee.

RESULTS
Principal Components Analysis of Job Behaviors
A principal components analysis, with a varimax rotation, was per-
formed on the items indicating the extent to which employees displayed the
40 job behaviors. A six-factor solution emerged. There were items, however,
with moderately high loadings (>.40) on more than one factor, particularly
among the courtesy items. After eliminating items that did not load clearly
on a single factor, I conducted the analysis again. There were five factors
with eigenvalues greater than one, and the results of a scree test supported
a five-factor solution. The five factors were very clearly defined, with items
having a high loading (>.50) on their primary factor and a difference of at
least .20 between this loading and the next highest loading. The factors were
highly interpretable, and except for the lack of a courtesy factor, the results
corresponded fairly well to the results reported by Podsakoff and colleagues
(1990). The first factor was defined by eight items and reflected altruism; the
second factor was defined by six items and reflected conscientiousness; the
third factor was defined by three items and reflected sportsmanship; and the
fourth and fifth factors were defined by three items each and represented
different aspects of civic virtue: participation in organizational functions
(involvement), and keeping informed about organizational events and
changes (keeping up).
Table 1 gives results of the principal components analysis. On the basis
of these results, I averaged items to create five OCB subscales. The correla-
tions among these scales were comparable to or lower than those reported in
other OCB studies (MacKenzie, Podsakoff, & Fetter, 1991; Moorman, 1991;
Niehoff & Moorman, 1993; Podsakoff et al., 1990). The factor analysis results
were also used to form five measures of job breadth, which I computed for

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1994 Morrison 1553

TABLE 1
Results of Principal Components Analysis
Factor Loadingsa
Items 1 2 3 4 5
1. Covering for absent co-workers .79 .11 .07 .09 .15
2. Helping others with workloads .79 .16 .06 .13 -.01
3. Helping orient new people .78 .10 -.01 .28 -.01
4. Helping others who have been absent .76 .19 .13 .14 .26
5. Helping others with problems .70 .28 .04 .18 .27
6. Volunteering to do things .68 .29 .13 .17 .25
7. Helping people outside department .63 .10 .09 .21 .23
8. Helping patients and visitors .63 -.03 .03 .01 .21
9. Beginning one's shift on time .24 .83 -.06 .16 .08
10. Being punctual every day .21 .79 -.05 .14 .06
11. Not spending time on personal calls .00 .69 .36 -.16 .08
12. Not engaging in non-work-related talk .16 .65 .32 -.06 .17
13. Coming to work early if needed .27 .63 .10 .23 .07
14. Not taking excess time off -.04 .50 .30 .10 .29
15. Not finding fault with Medical Center .03 .09 .82 .05 .06
16. Not complaining about things .08 .15 .81 .00 .02
17. Not blowing problems out of proportion .15 .09 .78 .11 -.04
18. Attending voluntary functions .19 .12 .02 .85 .13
19. Attending voluntary meetings .17 .11 .12 .79 .15
20. Helping organize get-togethers .31 .01 .02 .63 .21
21. Keeping up with changes .33 .20 .01 .28 .75
22. Reading announcements .28 .17 .03 .38 .74
23. Assessing what is best for Medical Center .33 .14 .02 .05 .67
Eigenvalue 8.27 2.74 1.62 1.52 1.04
Percentage of variance explained 36.0 11.9 7.1 6.6 4.5
a Boldface indicates factor
loadings greater than .50. The associated items were averaged to
create each of the five subscales.

each of the five OCB dimensions by summing the number of behaviors that
an employee indicated as being part of his or her job and then dividing by the
total number of behaviors for that dimension.
Table 2 gives descriptive statistics, reliability coefficients, and correla-
tions for the scales. The reliability coefficient for the sportsmanship job
definition scale was quite low ((x = .40). Thus, the scale was not used to test
the hypotheses. Although the reliability coefficients for the conscientious-
ness and keeping up scales were marginal, it should be pointed out that the
job definition items were dichotomously scored and had limited variance.
Both of these factors may have restricted the interitem correlations.
Because the job definition scales were newly constructed and relatively
novel in format, it was necessary to demonstrate (1) that employees were in
fact reporting how they saw their job responsibilities rather than how they
felt they should see their job responsibilities, and (2) that employees were
not simply reporting their behavior. There is evidence for both contentions.
First, as will be discussed below, many behaviors that supervisors defined as

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TABLE 2
Correlations and Descriptive Statisticsa
Variables Means s.d. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

1. Altruism job
breadth 0.65 0.28 .77
2. Conscientious
job breadth 0.78 0.23 .32** .60
3. Sportsmanship
job breadth 0.69 0.29 .23** .42** .40
4. Involvement
job breadth 0.43 0.37 .44** .27** .17** .70
5. Keeping up job
breadth 0.80 0.29 .28** .22** .33** .27** .64
6. Altruism
behavior 3.59 0.92 .40** .20** .20** .33** .09 .90
7. Conscientious
behavior 3.52 1.01 .22** .35** .14* .20** .10 .47** .83
8. Sportsmanship
behavior 3.86 1.04 .10 .16** .18** .07 .16** .24** .37** .78
9. Involvement
behavior 2.63 1.12 .14** .21** .13* .41** .12* .52** .27** .15* .77
10. Keeping up
behavior 3.42 1.03 .16** .23** .22** .20** .31** .64** .41** .16** .54** .84
11. Job satisfaction 3.76 1.02 .19** .20** .19** .16** .17** .16** .19** .15** .14* .23** .80
12. Affective com-
mitment 4.38 1.21 .27** .29** .30** .21** .23** .23** .26** .27** .22** .24** .53**
13. Normative
commitment 4.04 1.31 .20** .19** .15** .22** .09 .24** .17** .08 .16** .20** .32**
14. Job tenure .17** .25** .11* .15** .17** .14* .28** .24** .09 .20** .54**
15. Age .15** .19** .16** .05 .13** .18** .27** .01 .09 .22** .19**
16. Female gender .16** .16** .05 .16** .04 .05 -.00 -.06 .09 .03 .09
17. Salary .08 .13* .16** -.01 .09 .09 .05 .02 .12* .10 .16**

a Entries on the diagonal are Cronbach's alphas.


* p < .05
** p < .01

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1994 Morrison 1555

in-role were defined by employees as extra-role. This discrepancy suggests


that employees were not classifying behaviors as in-role merely because they
felt that this was the correct or appropriate response. Second, in a pilot study
conducted on a different group of clerical employees (N = 60), the average
interitem correlation between employee job definitions and self-reports of
behavior was much lower than would be expected if employees were failing
to distinguish between these two (r = .28).
Assessment of Differences as a Function of Department, Job Title,
and Supervisor
Although I did not expect systematic differences in responses as a func-
tion of department or job title, I tested for this possibility before proceeding
with any analyses. I first selected six diverse departments that had at least 20
respondents each; the departments were admitting, medical records, labs,
accounts payable, inpatient accounting, and communications. I performed a
multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) to determine whether scores
on the job definition scales systematically differed across these departments.
There was no multivariate effect (Hotelling's F25,647 = .899, n.s.; Hotelling,
1931), and there were no univariate effects. I then checked for differences
associated with job title by selecting six different titles (clerk, senior clerk,
representative, secretary, senior secretary, project assistant) and performing
a second MANOVA. Together, the six job titles captured over 70 percent of
the respondents. In this case, the multivariate F was significant at p < .05
(Hotelling's F25 927 = 1.56), although the univariate tests indicated a signif-
icant effect for only one of the five scales, conscientiousness F5,191 = 2.39,
p < .05). A Newman-Keuls test (Kirk, 1968) indicated that this difference
arose because secretaries had broader job definitions for conscientiousness
than did clerks (p < .05). Across all six departments, all six job titles, and all
four job definition scales, this was the only significant difference. To follow
up on this finding, I performed a chi-square analysis on each of the items to
see whether it was classified differently across job titles. The chi-square was
significant for only one behavior ("not spending time in non-work-related
conversation"). Among clerks, 39 percent considered this behavior to be
in-role, whereas over 70 percent of employees with other job titles classified
it as in-role.
Finally, I assessed whether there were differences in individuals' ratings
of behavior as a function of supervisor. There were 12 supervisors who rated
7 or more employees (the maximum number was 14). I selected the behavior
ratings for the employees of these supervisors and performed a MANOVA to
determine whether the ratings differed as a function of supervisor. There
were no univariate or multivariate effects for supervisor (Hotelling's F44,308
= .788, n.s.).
Differences in Job Definitions and Relationship to Behavior
A key premise of this study is that employees differ in how they define
specific job behaviors, and consequently, in how broadly they define their

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1556 Academy of Management Journal December

job responsibilities. Although this premise does not lend itself to a rigorous
statistical test, Table 3 illustrates that there was considerable disagreement
with respect to how employees defined their job behaviors (the table con-
tains the 20 behaviors used to form the four job definition scales). In fact, it
is interesting to note that there was variance not only across employees for
each behavior (on average, employees were split 35-65%), but also across

TABLE 3
Employees' Role Definitions and Correlations with Supervisors'
Role Definitions
Percent
Defining Employee-
Behavior Supervisor
Items as In-Role Correlationa
1. Covering for co-workers who are absent or on
break 78.2 -.03
2. Helping others who have heavy workloads 56.8 -.02
3. Helping orient new people even when not asked 56.5 .03
4. Helping others with work when they have been
absent 62.1 -.07
5. Giving time to help others with work-related
problems 65.9 .10
6. Volunteering to do things without being asked 60.6 .06
7. Helping people outside department when they
have problem 53.6 -.02
8. Helping patients and visitors if they need
assistance 75.7 - .08
9. Arriving early so you are ready to work when shift
begins 80.1 .05
10. Being punctual every day regardless of weather,
traffic, etc. 88.6 .09
11. Not spending time on personal telephone
conversations 79.5 -.05
12. Not spending time in non-work-related
conversation 68.1 -.15*
13. Coming to work early if needed 71.9 -.05
14. Not taking excess time off, even if you have extra
sick days 65.6 -.12
15. Attending voluntary functions that help the
Medical Center's image 35.3 .06
16. Attending voluntary meetings considered
important 54.6 - .01
17. Helping organize departmental get-togethers 31.9 .12
18. Keeping up with changes and developments in the
Medical Center 77.3 - .05
19. Reading and keeping up with organizational
announcements 83.9 -.05
20. Using judgment to assess what is best for the
Medical Center 70.7 .05
a Because the data were dichotomous, the correlations were
equal to phi.
* p < .05

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1994 Morrison 1557

behaviors. Agreement ranged from a low of 53 percent to a high of 88 per-


cent. It is also interesting to note that in most cases more employees defined
a given behavior as in-role than as extra-role.
Hypothesis 1 states that employees and supervisors will differ in how
they define employees' job responsibilities. I first tested this prediction at
the item level by correlating the employees' and supervisors' responses con-
cerning whether behaviors were in-role or extra-role. As Table 3 shows, only
1 of the 20 correlations was significant (p < .05), which is exactly what
would be expected by chance. These results provide strong evidence that
employee and supervisor job definitions differed. Not surprisingly, Hypoth-
esis 1 was also supported at the scale level. Correlations between employee
and supervisor scores were nonsignificant for three of the four job definition
subscales: conscientiousness (r = .11), involvement (r = .07), and keeping
up (r = .01). The correlation for altruism was .15 (p < .05).
The second key premise of this study was that employees will be more
apt to engage in a behavior if they define it as in-role than if they define it as
extra-role. This idea was tested with t-tests. Because the tests were
nonorthogonal, I used the Bonferroni procedure (Kirk, 1968) to adjust the
critical t-value. As seen in Table 4, for 17 of the 20 behaviors (85%), em-
ployees with an in-role definition engaged in the behavior significantly more
(p < .001) than employees with an extra-role definition.
Antecedents and Outcomes of Perceived Job Breadth
Hypotheses 3-6 predict that satisfaction, affective and normative com-
mitment, and tenure will predict how broadly employees define their job
roles. As the correlations in Table 2 show, satisfaction, affective commit-
ment, and tenure correlated positively with all four job definition subscales,
and normative commitment correlated positively with all but the keeping up
scale. To allow for the joint effects of the independent variables, I performed
regression analyses. I regressed each of the four job breadth scales on the four
independent variables, which were entered simultaneously along with three
control variables: age, gender, and salary. As Table 5 reports, affective com-
mitment had a positive relationship with all four dimensions of job breadth,
whereas satisfaction predicted keeping up and conscientiousness, normative
commitment predicted involvement, and tenure was negatively related to
keeping up. It is also interesting to note that older employees and women
had greater perceived job breadth. The regression results provide strong
support for Hypothesis 4 and partial support for Hypotheses 3 and 5. Hy-
pothesis 6, which predicts a positive relationship between perceived job
breadth and tenure, was not supported.
Hypotheses 3-6 suggest that job definitions may mediate the often ob-
served effect of satisfaction and commitment on OCB. To test this idea, and
to assess whether job breadth predicts behavior (Hypothesis 2), I first re-
gressed each of the four behavior scales on satisfaction, affective commit-
ment, normative commitment, tenure, and the three control variables (age,
gender, salary) and then added the appropriate job breadth scale to the

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1558 Academy of Management Journal December

TABLE 4
Differences in Behavior as a Function of Role Definitions
Mean Mean
Behavior Behavior
When When
Defined Defined
Items In-Role Extra-Role ta
1. Covering for co-workers who are absent or on
break 4.14 3.20 6.50***
2. Helping others who have heavy workloads 3.99 3.49 4.55***
3. Helping orient new people even when not asked 3.73 3.02 5.43***
4. Helping others with work when they have been
absent 4.15 3.25 7.61**
5. Giving time to help others with work-related
problems 4.13 3.59 5.05*
6. Volunteering to do things without being asked 4.29 3.70 5.38***
7. Helping people outside department when they
have problem 3.91 2.92 8.06***
8. Helping patients and visitors if they need
assistance 4.50 3.96 4.73***
9. Arriving early so you are ready to work when shift
begins 4.35 3.43 6.78***
10. Being punctual every day regardless of weather,
traffic, etc. 4.27 4.00 1.87
11. Not spending time on personal telephone
conversations 3.84 3.63 1.79
12. Not spending time in non-work-related
conversation 3.70 3.55 1.51
13. Coming to work early if needed 4.38 3.36 7.57***
14. Not taking excess time off, even if you have extra
sick days 4.35 3.63 7.25***
15. Attending voluntary functions that help the
Medical Center's image 3.17 2.28 6.63***
16. Attending voluntary meetings considered
important 3.12 2.32 6.31***
17. Helping organize departmental get-togethers 3.82 2.65 7.43***
18. Keeping up with changes and developments in the
Medical Center 4.10 3.34 5.58***
19. Reading and keeping up with organizational
announcements 4.26 3.49 4.87***
20. Using judgment to assess what is best for the
Medical Center 3.85 3.21 4.74***
a For difference between
employees defining behavior as in-role and those defining it as
extra-role.
*** p < .001, with Bonferroni adjustment.

equation. In all cases, job breadth had a significant effect and explained a
significant amount of additional variance (see Table 6). These results pro-
vide strong support for Hypothesis 2.
There is also evidence that job breadth mediates the relationship be-
tween affective commitment and OCB. Testing for mediation required con-

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1994 Morrison 1559

TABLE 5
Results of Regression Analyses for Employees' Role Definitionsa
Variables Altruism Conscientiousness Involvement Keeping Up
Satisfaction .06 .11* .06 .15*
Affective commitment .20** .15* .11* .17*
Normative commitment .06 .05 .16* -.04
Tenure -.02 -.10 -.03 -.22**
Age .04 .20** - .09 .15*
Female gender .11* .13* .17** -.05
Salary .00 .02 - .05 .10
R2 .11 .15 .11 .11
F 5.14*** 7.25*** 4.76*** 5.05***
a Entries are standardized
regression coefficients.
p < .05
**p < .01
** p < .001

sidering the results of three separate regression equations: the regression of


the mediator on the independent variable, the regression of the dependent
variable on the independent variable, and the regression of the dependent
variable on both the independent variable and the mediator. There would be
evidence of mediation if the independent variable affected the mediator in
the first equation, if the independent variable affected the dependent vari-
able in the second equation, if the mediator affected the dependent variable
in the third equation, and if the effect of the independent variable was less
in the third equation than in the second (Baron & Kenny, 1986). As the
results in Tables 5 and 6 show, each of these conditions was met with respect
to the relationship between affective commitment and the four OCB scales.
For altruism, conscientiousness, and keeping up, the mediation was com-
plete, with affective commitment not having a significant effect once the job
breadth measure was added to the equation. For involvement, the relation-
ship between affective commitment and behavior was only partly mediated.
The relationship was weaker with job definitions in the equation, but still
significant. It is also interesting to note that satisfaction had a direct effect on
both conscientiousness and keeping up.
Social Interaction Effects

Hypothesis 7 predicts that employees will define their job responsibil-


ities similarly to the extent that they are structurally equivalent. This idea
was tested separately for the hospital services and financial divisions since
social interactions were assessed separately for these two groups. The social
network data collection yielded a binary matrix (1 = interaction, 0 = no
interaction) in which each row was a social interaction profile for a given
employee (indicating all those employees with whom the focal employee
typically interacted). I tested the hypothesis by creating a matrix of struc-
tural equivalence from this social interaction data, a matrix of job definition

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TABLE 6
Results of Hierarchical Regression Analyses for Behavior
Altruism Conscientiousness Involveme
Variables 1 2 1 2 1
Satisfaction .06 .04 .20** .18** .01 -
Affective commitment .13* .03 .15* -.01 .21**
Normative commitment .10 .09 .12 .11 .04 -.
Tenure .11 .12 .01 .05 .03
Age -.01 -.02 .15* .15* -.08 -.
Female gender .04 -.01 .04 -.07 .06 -.
Salary .02 .02 -.07 -.09 .10
Job breadth .37*** .29***
R2 .08 .20 .15 .22 .07
F 3.76*** 9.35*** 7.79*** 10.88*** 3.35*** 9
AR2, step 2 .12 .07
F for AR2 44.62*** 27.62*** 50
a Entries are standardized
regression coefficients.
p < .05
** p < .01
*** p < .001

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1994 Morrison 1561

similarity, and then correlating these two matrixes using UCINET IV (Bor-
gatti et al., 1992). The structural equivalence matrix contained Euclidean
distance measures, reflecting the degree of profile similarity for pairs of
employees. The matrix of job definition similarity was created by comparing
each employee's vector of job definitions with all other employee vectors.
Because the job definition data were dichotomous, the similarity measures
reflected the proportion of matches, or the number of activities that the
parties defined in the same way, rather than correlations.
The procedure that correlated the two matrixes first computed the cor-
relation between corresponding cells of the two data matrixes and then
randomly permuted rows and columns and recomputed the correlation. The
second step was repeated 500 times to compute the proportion of times that
a random correlation was larger than or equal to the observed correlation.
For the hospital division, the observed correlation was .072 and the average
random correlation was .001. The proportion of random correlations that
were as large as .072 was only .002. This low proportion suggests a strong
relationship between the matrixes that is unlikely to have occurred by
chance (p < .01; Borgatti et al., 1992). For the financial division, the ob-
served correlation was .062, the average random correlation was -.006, and
the proportion of random correlations as large as .062 was only .026. This
pattern also suggests a relationship that is unlikely to have occurred by
chance (p < .05; Borgatti et al., 1992). Hypothesis 7 was thus supported.
Hypothesis 8 predicts that the more frequently an employee and a su-
pervisor interact, the more similarly they will define the employee's job
responsibilities. A measure of job definition similarity between employee
and supervisor was computed for each employee. This measure reflected the
proportion of behaviors that the pair defined similarly. The correlation be-
tween this measure and the number of hours per week that the supervisor
and employee typically interacted was significant (r = .14, p < .05), thus
supporting Hypothesis 8.
DISCUSSION
An important premise of this research was that organizational citizen-
ship behavior is not a clear-cut construct because the boundary between
in-role and extra-role behavior is ill-defined and varies from one employee
to the next and between employees and supervisors. The results were con-
sistent with this premise. The results also indicated that employees saw
many of the behaviors studied as in-role rather than extra-role, despite the
fact that prior research has assumed the behaviors to be extra-role (Fahr et
al., 1990; Moorman, 1991; Neihoff & Moorman, 1993; O'Reilly & Chatman,
1986; Organ & Konovsky, 1989; Podsakoff et al., 1990; Witt, 1991). This latter
finding is consistent with the arguments of George and Brief (1992) and
others (McAllister, 1991; Van Dyne et al., 1992) that certain dimensions of
OCB are more in-role than extra-role in nature. The results raise important
questions about how OCB is conceptualized and measured. The very impor-
tance of OCB has been tied to its being extra-role behavior and thus concep-

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1562 Academy of Management Journal December

tually and motivationally distinct from in-role behavior. The results of this
study demonstrate that the boundary between in-role and extra-role behav-
ior is not clear at all and that researchers might need to reconceptualize
extra-role behavior as something that varies across persons. The results also
suggest that before assessing extra-role behavior empirically, researchers
should consider whose perspective to adopt.
Another important contribution of this study is the finding that OCB is
a function of how employees define in-role and extra-role job behavior. This
finding is important for the understanding of OCB because it implies that
employees typically seen as good citizens may simply be doing what they
consider to be components of their jobs. Such behavior is very different from
employees' deciding to exceed what they perceive to be their jobs' require-
ments. Only the latter reflects citizenship behavior as discussed in the lit-
erature. Organ defined OCB as "contributions that participants choose to
proffer or withhold without regard to considerations of sanctions or formal
incentives" (1990: 46, emphasis added). Taken together, the results of this
study highlight the importance of researchers' understanding how people
define their job responsibilities if we are to fully and accurately understand
the phenomenon of OCB.
As hypothesized, variations in job definitions were predictable. Per-
ceived job breadth was positively related to satisfaction and to affective and
normative commitment and negatively related to tenure. The negative effect
for tenure was not predicted but, in retrospect, it is not surprising. New
employees may be highly uncertain about their responsibilities and there-
fore define them very broadly, preferring to err on the side of inclusiveness.
As they become socialized, however, and reduce their uncertainty, role def-
initions may narrow. The evolution of job definitions during the socializa-
tion process and throughout an employee's tenure would be an interesting
topic for future research.
The variable that had the strongest and most consistent effect on per-
ceived job breadth was affective commitment, with the results suggesting
that job definitions mediate the relationship that others have observed be-
tween commitment and OCB (e.g., O'Reilly & Chatman, 1986). It appears that
commitment causes employees to define their job responsibilities more
broadly and thus, committed employees are more likely to engage in what
others may see as OCB. This relationship is worthy of future research, as it
points to a very different interpretation for why employees perform acts of
citizenship.
Although there were variations in job definitions across employees,
these variations were not entirely random. Employees viewed their job re-
sponsibilities similarly to the extent that they held structurally equivalent
positions within the organization's social network, and employees and their
supervisors defined job responsibilities similarly to the extent that they in-
teracted. These results indicate that job definitions may be subject to social
construction. Employees may develop a sense of their job responsibilities
based in part on cues from others. This view is consistent with Graen's

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1994 Morrison 1563

(1976) work on role making and with Salancik and Pfeffer's (1978) work on
social information processing.
In sum, the perspective offered in this article challenges an implicit
assumption underlying most empirical studies of OCB, which is that job
roles are agreed upon and that there is a relatively clear boundary between
in-role and extra-role behavior (Bateman & Organ, 1983; Fahr et al., 1990;
Moorman, 1991; Neihoff & Moorman, 1993; Organ & Konovsky, 1989; Pod-
sakoff et al., 1990; Smith et al., 1983; Witt, 1991). The current results suggest
that researchers studying OCB need to consider how employees themselves
define their behavior. Doing so will allow for greater construct clarity and
will provide a clearer understanding of the meaning and determinants of
employee citizenship behavior.
The argument that OCB reflects employees' role conceptions may have
practical as well as theoretical implications. It is well recognized that organ-
izations reap important benefits from having employees who are willing to
go above and beyond required role behavior (Barnard, 1938; Katz, 1964).
There may be situations, however, in which it is desirable to have employees
conceptualize their jobs broadly so that they engage in certain organization-
ally functional behaviors without feeling that they are doing something ex-
tra. For example, when employees' helping others is critical to getting a job
done effectively, it might be problematic if supervisors have to depend on
employees' willingness to engage in extra-role behavior. In such situations,
managers might want to try to get employees to see helping others as in-role
in order to ensure more consistent performance. It might be valuable, there-
fore, for managers to understand the subtle social and psychological factors
that influence employees' perceptions of their job responsibilities. Indeed,
an important management function may be to reduce the perception "that's
not my job" with respect to activities that are critical but not formally en-
forced.
Limitations
Despite its contributions, this study has some limitations. Because the
data were cross-sectional, reverse causality cannot be ruled out. Reverse
causality is unlikely, however, to affect the relationship between behavior
and job breadth. As discussed, results from a pilot study showed an average
correlation of .28 between employee job definitions and self-reports of be-
havior. If reported job definitions were based on behavior (i.e., "I engage in
this behavior, therefore it must be part of my job"), this correlation would
probably be much higher. Reverse causality with respect to the relationship
between job breadth and employee attitudes is also an issue. The most likely
reason to expect that job breadth might affect attitudes is that employees who
perceive themselves as having greater responsibilities might be more satis-
fied and committed. If this were the case, however, employees should have
more favorable attitudes when their jobs are defined broadly by their super-
visors. This was not the case. Although these results do not rule out the
possibility of reverse causality they make such an explanation less plausible.

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1564 Academy of Management Journal December

Another limitation of this study is that both employee attitudes and job
definitions were assessed through self-reports, which creates the potential
for common method bias. It should be noted, however, that these measures
were assessed on very different types of scales. Satisfaction and commitment
were assessed on seven-point Likert scales, whereas job definitions were
assessed by having respondents check one of two boxes. The difference in
formats reduced the likelihood of common method bias. Nonetheless, given
that these data must be collected through self-reports, in the future they
should be collected at different times to lessen the potential for bias.
Future Research
This study raises a wide range of issues for future research. First, there
is a need for additional work on what leads employees to define their jobs
broadly. Perceived job breadth is likely to depend on individual factors,
such as values, attitudes, and experience, as well as on contextual factors,
such as the nature of the socialization process and task characteristics in a
given organization. A second direction for future research would be to iden-
tify additional factors that explain the extent of agreement in a particular
context about the boundary between in-role and extra-role behavior. One
factor that may affect this agreement is the clarity of formal job descriptions.
When job descriptions are very clear, consensus about job responsibilities is
likely to be higher than it will be when job descriptions are ambiguous.
A third direction for the future would be to determine more specifically
how employees conceptualize their various job behaviors. It is likely, for
example, that people see certain in-role behaviors as more central to their
jobs than others and see certain extra-role behaviors as more discretionary
than others. Indeed, one might imagine an employee's definition of his or her
job as a set of concentric circles. In the center are core in-role behaviors, and
in the outermost band are behaviors that are highly above and beyond ex-
pectations. For example, a professor might define research activities as more
central than teaching activities and see both of these as more central than
university service activities. Thus, helping a colleague on a research project
might be defined as more in-role (or less extra-role) than helping a colleague
with committee work. Whereas the present study distinguished between
behaviors seen as in-role and those seen as extra-role, a finer-grained anal-
ysis is needed to determine the centrality of different job behaviors.
Finally, it would be valuable for future research to address how con-
ceptions of the boundary between in-role and extra-role behavior vary across
different contexts. Empirical studies of OCB have tended to imply that the
same behaviors are extra-role across a wide range of organizational settings.
Researchers have used the same measurement instrument for health care
workers, manufacturing workers, bank employees, and university clerical
and administrative employees (e.g., Organ & Konovsky, 1989; Smith et al.,
1983; Witt, 1991). It is likely, however, that although employees in a wide
array of settings see certain behaviors as extra-role, perceptions of others are
more context-specific, such that they are seen as extra-role in some contexts

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1994 Morrison 1565

and in-role in others. Further, individuals' perceptions of what is in-role and


what is extra-role may vary over time. Research on how the definition of
in-role and extra-role behavior varies across contexts, situations, and time
will allow for a more precise and detailed understanding of organizational
citizenship behavior.

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Elizabeth Wolfe Morrison is an assistant professor of management and organizational


behavior at the Stern School of Business, New York University. She received her Ph.D.
degree in organizational behavior from Northwestern University. Her current research
interests include organizational citizenship behavior, proactive behaviors by organiza-
tional newcomers during socialization, feedback-seeking behavior, and psychological
contract violation.

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