Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 106, Issue 2, pp 117–130 | Cite as

Organizational Citizenship Behavior and the Public Service Ethos: Whither the Organization?

  • Julie Rayner
  • Alan LawtonEmail author
  • Helen M. Williams


Public services worldwide have been subject to externally imposed reforms utilizing tools such as financial incentives and performance targets. The adverse impact of such reforms on a public service ethos has been claimed, but rarely demonstrated. Individuals within organizations work beyond their formal contracts of employment, described as Organizational Citizenship Behavior (OCB), to further organizational interests. Given New Public Management reform and the subsequent contextual changes in the way in which public sector organizations are managed and funded, the present study theorizes that OCB directed towards the organization may be ‘crowded-out’. This article tests the relationships between public service ethos and OCB and it presents empirical evidence from a study in England (n = 433) of the ability of each dimension of this ethos to predict OCB.


Organizational citizenship behavior Public service ethos New Public Management 



The authors wish to thank the anonymous reviewers of this article for their helpful suggestions. They would also like to thank Zeger van der Wal for his contribution to an early version of this paper.


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Business and EconomicsMonash UniversityChurchillAustralia
  2. 2.School of Business and EconomicsSwansea UniversitySwanseaUK

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