Explanation of Organizational Citizenship Behavior (OCB) With Examples

Explanation of Organizational Citizenship Behavior (OCB) With Examples

Organizational Citizenship Behavior (OCB) is a kind of behavior that contributes to an overall efficient atmosphere within the organization. The Workspirited article below provides a detailed explanation of organizational citizenship behavior (OCB) with examples.

Job satisfaction is the key
If your job offers you the creativity you desire and the satisfaction you have always wanted, you are more likely than others to understand the significance of organizational citizenship behavior.

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An organization does not function on perfect job delivery alone. There are other factors that contribute to the success of an organization. And this does not hold true only for corporate workplaces; when we talk about an organization, its umbrella includes educational institutes, consultancies, multinational companies, non-profit organizations, and many others. OCB is a concept that defines certain behavioral components, which stimulate inter-organizational communication and help improve the workplace environment. In the paragraphs to follow, you will learn about organizational citizenship behavior, its types, nature and antecedents, and its examples.

The Origin

  • The concept of organizational citizenship behavior is believed to have taken root more than four decades ago.
  • Back in the early 1960s, Daniel Katz identified that organizational behavior could influence the atmosphere in the organization.
  • More than a decade later, Dennis Organ worked around this concept and is considered as the father of OCB.
  • Ironically, his explanation has been panned by critics for the lack of explanation of the job duties in the employee profile.
  • Despite the criticism, the concept has generated some favorable and unfavorable results within the organization over the years.

The Theory Explained

  • Dennis Organ defines the dimensions of OCB in three points.
  • Point one, OCB includes voluntary characteristic traits―they are not a part of the job description.
  • Point two, this behavior may enhance, but is not required by the organization, and point three, OCB benefits the organization.
  • The nature of OCB is similar to other theories, prominent among them being contextual performance and extra-role behavior (ERB). The former, however, may be suitably rewarded, while the latter involves reporting of unethical activities within the organization, both of which are not included in OCB.
  • The antecedents of OCB, according to research, are believed to involve leader support, courteous disposition, job satisfaction, corporate behavior, inter-organizational justice, and the like.
  • The traits have been noted and analyzed to further the clarity of OCB so that newer dimensions can be introduced.
  • A number of previous dimensions can be combined as well, depending on the effect of the behavior on the organization.
  • Antecedents, like feedback, satisfaction, conscientiousness, positivity, adaptability, etc., are believed to have a strong connection with OCB; in effect, their implementation has had a positive effect on the organization.
  • These traits find their connection with the recently-established characteristic model of OCB.

Characteristics of OCB

There could be innumerable characteristics of OCB, but recent research studies have developed an optimized five-point model that comprises the following:


  • Civic virtue, as it is generally called, is one of the primary traits of OCB.
  • An employee who exhibits the behavior of civic virtue is generally the one who exhibits righteous behavior.
  • He may be punctual to work, sincere when attending meetings, follow the rules and regulations religiously, and be very particular about ethics.
  • Such employees display faith and loyalty, and are an asset to the organization.


  • Sportsman spirit is a trademark asset of a well-balanced individual. Not just in the workplace, but a sportive attitude is essential even in real life.
  • In a professional scenario, this requires an employee to be well-adjusted and calm.
  • It requires him to compromise on certain comforts and not make a mountain out of a molehill.
  • It is essential to accept failure; it is perfectly alright to make a few mistakes (not major ones, of course) and bear the brunt. It is important to be a sport about the same and not to repeat the mistake in future.
  • If colleagues are doing better, sportsmanship demands that an employee should feel happy about the same and make an effort to incorporate the same in his life.
  • At such times, it is the benefit of the organization that should be the priority. Yes, a competitive spirit is certainly essential for individual betterment, but it should be a healthy one at that.
  • On no account should this kind of behavior lead to envy or jealousy or discord in the organization.


  • Undoubtedly, this is a major factor that contributes to overall effectiveness.
  • In this case, perfection can also be attributed to conscientiousness, which requires that one go beyond the required limit to think of what would benefit the organization.
  • It also involves complying with the set rules and regulations, following procedures as required, and striving for perfection in every project.
  • One has to enforce values, like discipline, sincerity, cautiousness, clarity, etc., in the regular work schedule.

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  • A good employee must be courteous with people around him/her. Courtesy requires you to exhibit humanitarian values.
  • To begin with, you need to be polite in your mannerisms. Irrespective of whether you are a junior or a leader, you have to be polite on your part. A simple, ‘Thank you’, ‘Please’, or ‘You are welcome’ is not going to crush your pride.
  • Humility runs along the same lines. On no account should your ego come in the way of your work.
  • It is admirable if you have attained a level of achievement in your work. But do remember to have your feet firmly grounded; be modest and encourage others to reach that level of perfection. If you roam around with a balloon-like inflated ego, you will get nowhere.
  • Remember that if you are a leader now, you have been a simple trainee earlier. You need to respect your seniors and subordinates.

Social Conscience (Altruism)

  • Altruism is ideally one the first points to be addressed when discussing OCB.
  • This dimension mainly indicates the virtue of selflessness (which of course, is practically absent today).
  • It is important not to exhibit a selfish attitude at the workplace for the welfare and betterment of others.
  • It may sound dramatic and foolhardy, but a slight effort on your part to display a social conscience will lead to increased camaraderie within the workplace; consequently, it leads to increased productivity as well.

Motivational Basis of OCB

  • The motivational basis of organizational citizenship behavior (OCB) may be exhibited with the help of different models, based on the varying degrees of research. However, most of them incorporate the same foundation.
  • McClelland’s research suggests three basic dimensions that form the motivational basis for OCB. They are:


  • The motive of accomplishment is one of the main encouraging factors that results in OCB.
  • Accomplishment involves achieving corporate targets, success, completing the designated task before time, and working with deadlines.
  • The required traits here include perfection, conscientiousness, and work ethics.
  • In a nutshell, all the factors that result in the success of the organization are summarized under the umbrella of achievement, which forms one of the legs of motivational basis.

Higher Status

  • When an employee exceeds expectation, one of the motives is to achieve a higher status.
  • Status, in this case, means more power and liabilities.
  • As a student, you would have definitely tried to do something, like completing your assignments before time, turning in papers that have been written to perfection, etc., to impress your teacher.
  • At work, similar tasks are completed to create a favorable impression on the leader.
  • You may exceed your targets, help colleagues, suggest new ideas, etc., to create a positive impression.
  • This attitude works, and you are unofficially given more of authority. This allows you more leeway in the organization and provides you with certain voluntary benefits.
  • Doing so is perfectly alright as long as the work is being done on time and the rules are not violated.
  • It has to ensured that the power-hungry citizen does not take advantage of the vested power. Such citizens are generally shrewd and diplomatic, and the reason this motive is an essential part of OCB is because the talents of the citizen are being utilized completely, that is advantageous to the organization.

Professional Relationship Maintenance

  • This motive is one of the strongest contenders to exhibit OCB.
  • Camaraderie among colleagues and leaders and other staff in the workplace is very important―this is what creates a favorable work atmosphere that motivates employees to report to work everyday.
  • This motive incorporates the traits of perfection, altruism, trust, positivity, etc.
  • Personality characteristics play a major role in depicting affiliation. This attitude contributes to a fair, justified, helpful work environment that acts as the encouragement factor for employees; this in turn contributes to organizational effectiveness.


Intrinsic OCB

  • Intrinsic behavior comprises voluntary motivation, that is to say, it occurs automatically, due to the high inter-personal understanding within the organization.
  • Positive feedback and good revenue enforce a sense of belonging and unity among the staff.
  • This leads to efficient communication and understanding. It motivates the employees to improve and provide better output to the company as well.
  • It results in complete fulfillment of all organizational goals and promotes unity and strength in the organization.

Extrinsic OCB

  • In this case, the motivation comes from a higher source.
  • The leaders of the organization have to promote citizenship behavior to increase efficiency.
  • Employees must be enlightened about the traits of OCB and how they can influence the company.
  • Extrinsic OCB requires a good leader with a sharp vision.

The Benefits and Consequences of OCB

  • There is a tremendous impact of OCB on organizational performance.
  • OCB has its benefits that contribute to a positive growth in the organization.
  • Certain factors, however, could have a negative influence as well, if not implemented properly.

Employee Satisfaction

  • Increased respect and creativity leads to a favorable environment, and employees begin to enjoy arriving to work everyday.
  • Helpful colleagues and skilled leadership combine to improve effectiveness.
  • The scheduling of everyday activities takes place in a much more coordinated atmosphere.
  • This kind of environment leads to complete employee satisfaction and motivates them to give their best.

Job Appraisal

  • If a survey is to be carried out among employees as regards to how many of them would want a promotion and raise, the percentage would amount to more than 100% (ignore the hyperbole, just a lame attempt at humor on my part).
  • Good employee behavior and an adjusting, well-balanced atmosphere always leads to great results.
  • If you exhibit the virtues of altruism and perfection, you can be sure that your leader would be willing to give away and arm and a leg to retain you in the organization.
  • Promotions and raises may definitely be on the cards; even if they are not, you will have created an identity that others would be willing to follow.
  • Amicable behavior on your part might definitely lead to a reward allocation from the employer’s side.

Consistent Workforce

  • The latest research shows that OCB leads to a low employee turnover rate.
  • Employee turnover is a measure of how many employees have terminated their employment within a particular period.
  • A low percentage indicates that employees are indeed happy in the organization, while a high percentage indicates that the employees are dissatisfied with the organization.
  • A good work atmosphere encourages more employees to remain with the organization. In fact, one of the primary benefits of OCB is increased recruitment. This happens when existing employees are happy at work.
  • They discuss their work and office, and related details, at parties, social events, etc., and consequently, the organization’s good work environment comes to the fore.
  • Employees from other companies are encouraged to join your firm with a view to provide good service and accept good returns. Now, isn’t that a wonderful, mutual advantage?

Mundane Routine

  • While OCB has plenty of positives, a couple of traits induce a negative vibe as well.
  • Some organizations may refer to the virtue of conscientiousness and adopt a rigid work schedule.
  • It is absolutely essential to have a properly planned schedule; however, this may create a few stumbling blocks after a while.
  • A lack of freedom and creativity may significantly impact the employee’s work.
  • In fact, one of the antecedents of OCB, routine task scheduling, has been found to react negatively with the organization’s progress.

Inter-personal Conflicts

  • Sometimes, it may so happen that not all the employees in the organization may adhere to the set guidelines.
  • The sincere ones are always a part of the organization, and the employer is obviously willing to give them the extra attention they deserve.
  • This may create conflict among colleagues, which is absolutely unhealthy for the company.
  • While implementing OCB, the leader has to make sure that everyone follows the required rules and regulations.

The above paragraphs indicate the importance of OCB in the workplace. You don’t really have to spend even a penny for this, it is purely voluntary. But it promotes a sense of positivity and belonging. Its significance is exhibited in the results―increased productivity, improved environment, and excellent professional growth.


The following examples are widely influenced by the traits of OCB.

Colleague Assistance

  • Assist your friends and colleagues to accomplish their goals.
  • They might need help in completing the task at hand, or they may find difficulty in commencing a new task.
  • If you are done with your work, ensure that you spend some time with your colleague and help solve his/her problem.
  • It is not mandatory for you to act as the problem solver, but a mere gesture on your part to help will induce positivity in your colleague.
  • The next time he is in a mess, he will voluntarily turn to you for help and a good working relationship will be established. He will also be more than willing to help you out with your problems.

Accomplishing more than Required

  • Always make an effort to complete more than what is expected of you.
  • Let’s say, you work in an interior design company and are expected to submit 10 design templates every month. Do not stop at 10. Even though you may have achieved your target, it gives an impression of forcible work, i.e., your employer may assume that you have completed the target for the sake of it, and not because you like the job.
  • To ensure that this feeling does not persist. In the above case, you can make an effort to submit at least one extra template.
  • However, this is purely an individual choice. Do not go on a completion spree and compromise on product quality. Accomplish more while maintaining the expected standards.

Prevent Adverse Situations

  • As a sincere employee, you can take others’ problems into consideration as well.
  • In a corporate atmosphere, every department is given a particular set of tasks. However, you could travel that extra mile (if it is not considered an intrusion) to analyze the problems that other departments are facing and help them find solutions to the same.
  • If something in your experience states that a solution provided by someone may give rise to another problem, voice it out instead of being a mute spectator.
  • Make sure though, that your warning sounds like a suggestion and not an accusation.

Courteous Behavior

  • This might be a difficult one to follow, especially if the opponent gives you cold vibes.
  • All the same, politeness has never harmed anyone. Try and behave as courteously as possible.
  • Of course, that does not mean you have to put up what others hurl at you. But instead of making a big fuss, handle the issue with dignity.
  • You will notice the change in your colleague’s attitude and the spectators as well. When this reaches the higher management, not only will you be suitably appreciated, but this will act as a reminder to them as well, and they will be able to take the necessary measures.

Measurement of OCB

  • OCB is measured using various factors.
  • Some of these factors include job satisfaction, employee satisfaction, productivity, employee turnover, etc.
  • Scale is a term that is usually used to indicate the factors that were considered while measuring OCB.
  • To quote a very simple and basic example, consider the employees to have a scale of 20 items. These could include:
    1. Kind behavior towards colleagues
    2. Punctuality
    3. Escorting guests
    4. Target completion
    5. Quality of work

    . . . and so on.

  • Each of these items is written against a table that displays how many times the job has been done, for example, ‘once’, ‘twice’, ‘once a week’, ‘never’, etc.
  • Surveys are carried out, employee behavior is noted and analyzed, the chart is updated, and the level of OCB is measured.

The concept of OCB has received substantial appreciation as well as criticism. In the light of the competitive modern times, experts vouch that following the concept in the most optimized way possible would bring about a positive approach among colleagues, leading to increased effectiveness in the organization.

OCB is increased recruitment
Altruism at workplace
sincerity in office
Sportsmanship at workplace
experienced suggestion
Colleague Assistance

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