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Creating organizational citizens : a quasi-experimental and qualitative examination of supervisor- and peer-based role interventions


Organisational Behaviour

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Research suggests that supervisors and peers can help employees make sense of what is important or expected from them at work and, thereby, shape their behaviors. In this dissertation, I examine how employees’ organizational citizenship behaviors (OCB), such as helping and voice, are differentially affected by these two sources of influence over time. In particular, I compare the relative and joint effectiveness of two field interventions to enhance OCB: (a) a role clarification intervention in which supervisors are trained to set expectations for OCB for their employees and encourage them to engage in OCB and (b) a norm establishment intervention in which peers are trained to set expectations for each other and encourage each other to perform OCB. I utilize a mixed methods approach involving a quasi-field experiment to test for changes in OCB and qualitative data to explore the theoretical mechanisms over the course of three months in a large food processing plant. I find that role clarification interventions alone have immediate positive effects on OCB, whereas norm establishment interventions alone take a longer period of time to increase OCB. In addition, in the condition where both interventions were combined, norm establishment interventions weaken the effects of role clarification earlier on; however, at later stages in time, this pattern reverses as norm establishment enhances the effects of role clarification on OCB. Through these findings, I highlight how (a) organizations seeking quick increases in citizenship might be better off focusing on supervisors as sources of influence; (b) organizations need to persist with peer-focused interventions to see positive gains; and (c) despite initial hurdles with peer-focused interventions, over time, they can lead to the highest increases in OCB when combined with supervisor-focused interventions.

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