Journal of Business and Psychology

, Volume 31, Issue 1, pp 23–32 | Cite as

Good Soldier or Good Actor? Supervisor Accuracy in Distinguishing Between Selfless and Self-Serving OCB Motives

  • Magda B. L. DoniaEmail author
  • Gary Johns
  • Usman Raja
Original Paper



In line with findings that organizational citizenship behaviors (OCBs) may be driven by selfless and self-serving motives, we sought to determine supervisor effectiveness in distinguishing good soldiers from good actors.


Employing a sample of 197 supervisor-subordinate dyads, we collected self- and supervisor-reports of employees’ citizenship motives. Dominance analysis was used to determine supervisory accuracy in identifying and distinguishing among subordinates’ motives.


We found that the relationships between self- and supervisor-reports of corresponding motives were strongest, supporting our hypotheses that supervisors are able to accurately identify their subordinates’ OCB motives and that they are not fooled by good actors.


Our results address concerns raised in previous research that inaccuracy in supervisor attributions of motives might lead to unfair reward or punishment of their subordinates. In demonstrating their accuracy in identifying their subordinates’ motives, an important implication of our work is that supervisors’ preferences for selfless motives may relate to actual differences in their employees’ contribution to the organization.


Our study contributes to existing research to more conclusively address the question of supervisors’ bias in their preference for selfless motives. Our results also underscore the importance of accounting for employee motives in research exploring the outcomes of OCBs.


Organizational citizenship behaviors Citizenship motives Selfless motives Self-serving motives 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of OttawaOttawaCanada
  2. 2.Concordia UniversityMontrealCanada
  3. 3.Brock UniversitySt. CatherinesCanada

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