Skip to main content

Analysis of Self-Reported Motives for Task-Related Helping: Implications for an Integrated Theory of Helping

Abstract

Purpose

In organizations where work is complex, dynamic and interdependent, maintaining an environment where employees offer help to one another is essential for organizational effectiveness. This research is aimed at understanding the antecedent motives underlying task-related interpersonal helping.

Design/Methodology/Approach

The research took an atypical approach by asking employees directly to explain in their own words why they would, or would not, help co-workers with work-related problems. Content analysis yielded five categories of motives for helping. The qualitative motive categories were able to explain variance in quantitative scales assessing respondents’ affect, attitudes, organizational perceptions, and demographics.

Findings

Employees who gave altruistic reasons for helping (i.e., helping was a personal value or a contribution to the team) reported performing more helping behaviors, expressed greater organizational commitment, and perceived more organizational justice than did employees who expected reciprocity for helping, or whose help was contingent.

Implications

No existing theory of helping explains the total collection of motives identified in this research. We encourage researchers to develop integrated theories capable of explaining the totality of motives for task-related helping. Our research identities several essential parameters of such integrated theories and provides guidance for carrying out the task of theory integration.

Originality/Value

This phenomenological research is the only empirical investigations into task-related helping based on respondents’ own reasons for helping. It also is one of the few to incorporate both qualitative and quantitative methodologies.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

References

  1. Allen, N. J., & Meyer, J. P. (1990). The measurement and antecedents of affective, continuance, and normative commitment to the organization. Journal of Occupational Psychology, 63, 1–18.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Antaki, C. (1989). Structured causal beliefs and their defense in accounts of student political action. Journal of Language and Social Psychology, 8, 39–48.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Bagozzi, R. P., Bergami, M., & Leone, L. (2003). Hierarchical representation of motives in goal setting. Journal of Applied Psychology, 88, 915–943.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Bagozzi, R. P., & Dabholkar, P. A. (1994). Customer recycling goals and their effect on decisions to recycle: A means-end chain analysis. Psychology and Marketing, 11, 313–340.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Bagozzi, R. P., & Dabholkar, P. A. (2000). Discursive psychology: An alternative conceptual foundation to means-end chain theory. Psychology and Marketing, 17, 535–586.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Becker, T. E., & Vance, R. J. (1993). Construct validity of three types of organizational citizenship behavior: An illustration of the direct product model with refinements. Journal of Management, 19, 663–682.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Bergeron, D. (2007). The potential paradox of organizational citizenship behavior: Good citizens at what cost? Academy of Management Review, 32, 1078–1095.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Bergeron, D., Shipp, A., Rosen, B., & Furst, S. (2013). Organizational citizenship behaviors and career outcomes: The cost of being a good citizen. Journal of Management, 39, 958–984.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Blau, P. (1964). Exchange and power in social life. New York: Wiley.

    Google Scholar 

  10. Bolino, M., Turnley, W., & Neihoff, B. (2004). The other side of the story: Re-examining prevailing assumptions about organizational citizenship behavior. Human Resource, Management Review, 14, 229–246.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Costa, P. T., & McCrae, R. R. (1992). NEO PI-R professional manual. Odessa, FL: Psychological Assessment Resources Inc.

    Google Scholar 

  12. Crede, M. (2011). Personal communication.

  13. Cropanzano, R., & Mitchell, M. S. (2005). Social exchange theory: An interdisciplinary review. Journal of Management, 31, 874–900.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (1985). Intrinsic motivation and self-determination in human behavior. New York: Plenum Press.

    Book  Google Scholar 

  15. Dovido, J. F., Piliavin, J. A., Schroeder, D. A., & Penner, L. A. (2010). The social psychology of prosocial behavior. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.

    Google Scholar 

  16. Dudley, N. M., & Cortina, Jose. M. (2008). Knowledge and skills that facilitate the personal support dimension of citizenship. Journal of Applied Psychology, 93, 1249–1270.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  17. Ehrhart, M. G., & Naumann, S. E. (2004). Organizational citizenship behavior in work groups: A group norms approach. Journal of Applied Psychology, 89, 960–974.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  18. Eisenberger, R., Cotterell, N., & Marvel, J. (1987). Reciprocation ideology. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 53, 743–750.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  19. Emerson, R. M. (1976). Social exchange theory. Annual Review of Sociology, 2, 335–362.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  20. Ericsson, K. A., & Simon, H. A. (1980). Verbal reports as data. Psychological Review, 87, 215–251.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  21. Ericsson, K. A., & Simon, H. A. (1998). How to study thinking in everyday life: Contrasting think-aloud protocols and explanations of thinking. Mind, Culture, and Activity, 5, 178–186.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  22. Fredrickson, B. L. (2001). The role of positive emotions in positive psychology; the broaden-and-build theory of positive emotions. American Psychologist, 56, 218–226.

    PubMed Central  PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  23. Frost, B. C., Ko, C.-H. E., & James, L. R. (2007). Implicit and explicit personality: A test of a channeling hypothesis for aggressive behavior. Journal of Applied Psychology, 92, 1299–1319.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  24. Furnham, A. (2003). Belief in a just world: Research progress over the past decade. Personality and Individual Differences, 34, 795–817.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  25. Gagné, M., & Deci, E. L. (2005). Self-determination theory and work motivation. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 26, 331–362.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  26. George, J. M. (2009). The illusion of will in organizational behavior research: Nonconscious processes and job design. Journal of Management, 35, 1318–1339.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  27. George, J. M., & Jones, G. R. (1997). Organizational spontaneity in context. Human Performance, 10, 153–170.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  28. Glaser, B. G., & Strauss, A. (1967). The discovery of grounded theory: Strategies for qualitative research. New York: Aldine de Gruyter.

    Google Scholar 

  29. Gouldner, A. W. (1960). The norm of reciprocity: A preliminary statement. American Sociological Review, 25, 161–178.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  30. Grant, A. M. (2007). Relational job design and the motivation to make a prosocial difference. Academy of Management Review, 32, 393–417.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  31. Grant, A. M., Dutton, J. E., & Rosso, B. D. (2008). Giving commitment: Employee support programs and the prosocial sensemaking process. Academy of Management Journal, 51, 898–918.

    Google Scholar 

  32. Hackman, J. R., & Oldham, G. R. (1980). Work redesign. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.

    Google Scholar 

  33. Harris, S. (1994). Organizational culture and individual sensemaking: A schema-based perspective. Organization Science, 5, 309–321.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  34. Hayes, A. F., & Krippendorf, K. (2007). Answering the call for a standard reliability measure for coding data. Communication Methods and Measures, 1, 77–89.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  35. Hollensbe, E. C., Khazanchi, S., & Masterson, S. S. (2008). How do I assess if my supervisor and organization are fair? Identifying the rules underlying entity-based justice perceptions. Academy of Management Journal, 51, 1099–1116.

    Google Scholar 

  36. Huffmeier, J., & Hertel, G. (2011). Many cheers make light the work: How social support triggers process gains in teams. Journal of Managerial Psychology, 26, 185–204.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  37. Ilies, R., Fulmer, I. S., Spitzmuller, M., & Johnson, M. D. (2009). Personality and citizenship behavior: The mediating role of job satisfaction. Journal of Applied Psychology, 94, 945–959.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  38. Ilies, R., Nahrgang, J. D., & Morgeson, F. P. (2007). Leader–member exchange and citizenship behaviors: A meta-analysis. Journal of Applied Psychology, 92, 269–277.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  39. Ilies, R., Scott, B. A., & Judge, T. A. (2006). The interactive effects of personal traits and experienced states on intraindividual patterns of citizenship behavior. Academy of Management Journal, 49, 561–575.

    Google Scholar 

  40. Johnson, R., Chang, C. H., & Yang, L. Q. (2010). Commitment and motivation at work: The relevance of employee identity and regulatory focus. Academy of Management Review, 35, 226–245

    Article  Google Scholar 

  41. Judge, T. A., Heller, D., & Mount, M. K. (2002). Five-factor model of personality and job satisfaction: A meta-analysis. Journal of Applied Psychology, 87, 530–541.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  42. Kaplan, S., Bradley, J. C., Luchman, J. N., & Haynes, D. (2009). On the role of positive and negative affectivity in job performance: A meta-analytic investigation. Journal of Applied Psychology, 94, 162–176.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  43. Kidwell, R. E., Jr, Mossholder, K. W., & Bennett, N. (1997). Cohesiveness and organizational citizenship behavior: A multilevel analysis using work groups and individuals. Journal of Management, 23, 775–793.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  44. Konovsky, M. A., & Organ, D. (1996). Dispositional and contextual determinants of organizational citizenship behavior. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 17, 253–266.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  45. Konovsky, M. A., & Pugh, S. D. (1994). Citizenship behavior and social exchange. Academy of Management Journal, 37, 656–669.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  46. Krebs, D. (1970). Altruism—An examination of the concept and a review of the literature. Psychological Bulletin, 73, 258–302.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  47. Krippendorff, K. (2004). Content analysis: An introduction to its methodology (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

    Google Scholar 

  48. Kuhn, T. S. (1962). The structure of scientific revolutions. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

    Google Scholar 

  49. Kunin, T. (1955). The construction of a new type of job attitude measure. Personnel Psychology, 8, 65–78.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  50. Leary, M. R., & Kowalski, R. M. (1990). Impression management: A literature review and two-component model. Psychological Bulletin, 107, 34–47.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  51. Leeds, R. (1963). Altruism and the norm of giving. Merrill-Palmer Quarterly, 9, 229–240.

    Google Scholar 

  52. LePine, J. A., Erez, A., & Johnson, D. E. (2002). The nature and dimensionality of organizational citizenship behavior: A critical review and meta-analysis. Journal of Applied Psychology, 87, 52–65.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  53. LePine, J. A., & Van Dyne, L. (2001). Peer responses to low performers: An attributional model of helping in the context of groups. Academy of Management Review, 26, 67–84.

    Google Scholar 

  54. Lerner, M. J., & Miller, D. T. (1978). Just world research and the attribution process: Looking back and ahead. Psychological Bulletin, 55, 1030–1051.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  55. Locke, E. A., & Latham, G. P. (2004). What should we do about motivation theory? Six recommendations for the twenty-first century. Academy of Management Review, 29, 388–403.

    Google Scholar 

  56. Mayfield, C. O., & Taber, T. D. (2010). A prosocial self-concept approach to understanding organizational citizenship behavior. Journal of Managerial Psychology, 25, 741–763.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  57. Meyer, J. P., & Mulherin, A. (1980). From attribution to helping: An analysis of the mediating effects of affect and expectancy. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 30, 201–210.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  58. Moorman, R. H., & Blakely, G. L. (1995). Individualism–collectivism as an individual difference predictor of organizational citizenship behavior. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 16, 127–142.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  59. Morrison, E. W. (1994). Role definitions and organizational citizenship behavior: The importance of the employee’s perspective. Academy of Management Journal, 37, 1543–1567.

    Google Scholar 

  60. Motowidlo, S. J., Borman, W. C., & Schmitt, M. J. (1997). A theory of individual differences in task and contextual performance. Human Performance, 10, 71–83.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  61. Mowday, R., Steers, R. H., & Porter, L. M. (1979). The measurement of organizational commitment. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 14, 224–247.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  62. Niehoff, B. P., & Moorman, R. H. (1993). Justice as a mediator of the relationship between methods of monitoring and organizational citizenship behavior. Academy of Management Journal, 36, 527–556.

    Google Scholar 

  63. Nielsen, T. M., Hrivnak, G. A., & Shaw, M. (2009). Organizational citizenship behavior and performance: A meta-analysis of group-level research. Small Group Research, 40, 555–577.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  64. Ones, D. S., Dilchert, S., Viswesvaran, C., & Judge, T. A. (2007). In support of personality assessment in organizational settings. Personnel Psychology, 60, 995–1027.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  65. Organ, D. (1997). Organizational citizenship behavior: It’s construct clean-up time. Human Performance, 10, 85–97.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  66. Organ, D. W., Podsakoff, P. M., & Mackenzie, S. B. (2006). Organizational citizenship behavior: Its nature, antecedents and consequences. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

    Google Scholar 

  67. Pearce, J. L., & Gergensen, H. B. (1991). Task interdependence and extra-role behavior: A test of the mediating effects of felt responsibility. Journal of Applied Psychology, 76, 838–844.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  68. Piliavin, J. A., & Charng, H. W. (1990). Altruism: A review of recent theory and research. Annual Review of Sociology, 16, 27–65.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  69. Podsakoff, P. M., Mackenzie, S. B., & Bommer, W. H. (1996). A meta-analysis of the relationships between Kerr and Jermier’s substitutes for leadership and employee job attitudes, role perception, and performance. Journal of Applied Psychology, 81, 80–399.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  70. Podsakoff, P. M., Mackenzie, S. B., Moorman, R. H., & Fetter, R. (1990). Transformational leader behaviors and their effects on followers’ trust in leaders, satisfaction, and organizational citizenship behaviors. Leadership Quarterly, 1, 107–142.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  71. Podsakoff, P. M., Mackenzie, S. B., Paine, J. B., & Bachrach, D. G. (2000). Organizational citizenship behaviors: A critical review of the theoretical and empirical literature and suggestions for future research. Journal of Management, 26, 513–563.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  72. Podsakoff, P., & Organ, D. (1986). Self-reports in organizational research: Problems and prospects. Journal of Management, 12, 69–82.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  73. Podsakoff, N. P., Whiting, S. W., Podsakoff, P. M., & Blume, B. B. (2009). Individual- and organizational-level consequences of organizational citizenship behaviors: A meta-analysis. Journal of Applied Psychology, 94, 122–141.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  74. Price, J. L., & Mueller, C. W. (1986). The handbook of organizational measurement. Marshfield: M.A. Pittman.

    Google Scholar 

  75. Reynolds, T. J., & Gutman, J. (1988). Laddering theory, method, analysis and interpretation. Journal of Advertising Research, 28, 11–31.

    Google Scholar 

  76. Rhoades, L., & Eisenberger, R. (2002). Perceived organizational support: A review of the literature. Journal of Applied Psychology, 87, 698–714.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  77. Rioux, S. M., & Penner, L. A. (2001). The causes of organizational citizenship behavior: A motivational analysis. Journal of Applied Psychology, 86, 1306–1314.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  78. Roberts, B. W., Chernyshenko, O. S., Stark, S., & Goldberg, L. R. (2005). The structure of conscientiousness: An empirical investigation based on seven major personality questionnaires. Personnel Psychology, 58, 101–139.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  79. Scandura, T. A., & Graen, G. B. (1984). Moderating effects of initial leader–member exchange status on the effects of a leadership intervention. Journal of Applied Psychology, 69, 428–436.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  80. Shamir, B. (1991). Meaning, self and motivation in organizations. Organization Studies, 12, 405–424.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  81. Shore, L. M., Bommer, W. H., Rao, A. N., & Seo, J. (2009). Social and economic exchange in the employee-organization relationship: The moderating role of reciprocation wariness. Journal of Managerial Psychology, 24, 701–721.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  82. Shore, L. M., & Coyle-Shapiro, J. A. M. (2003). New developments in the employee–organization relationship. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 24, 443–450.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  83. Smith, C. A., Organ, D. W., & Near, J. P. (1983). Organizational citizenship behavior: Its nature and antecedents. Journal of Applied Psychology, 68, 653–663.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  84. Sommerfield, E. (2010). The subjective experience of generosity. In M. Mikulincer & P. R. Shaver (Eds.), Prosocial motives, emotions, and BEHAVIOR: The better angels of our nature, (Chap. 16). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

    Google Scholar 

  85. Spence, J. R., Ferris, D. L., Brown, D. J., & Heller, D. (2011). Understanding daily citizenship behaviors: A social comparison perspective. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 32, 547–571.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  86. Stone-Romero, E. F., Alvarez, K., & Thompson, L. F. (2009). The construct validity of conceptual and operational definitions of contextual performance and related constructs. Human Resource Management Review, 19, 104–116.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  87. Strauss, A., & Corbin, J. (2008). Basics of qualitative research: Techniques and procedures for developing grounded theory. London: Sage.

    Google Scholar 

  88. Taber, T. D. (1991). Triangulating job attitudes with interpretive and positivist measurement methods. Personnel Psychology, 44, 577–600.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  89. Taber, T. D., & Taylor, E. (1990). A review and evaluation of the psychometric properties of the Job Diagnostic Survey. Personnel Psychology, 43, 467–500.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  90. Tepper, B. J., & Taylor, E. C. (2003). Relationships among supervisors’ and subordinates’ procedural justice perceptions and organizational citizenship behaviors. Academy of Management Journal, 46, 97–105.

    Google Scholar 

  91. Watson, D., Clark, L. A., & Tellegen, A. (1988). Development and validation of brief measures of positive and negative affect: The PANAS scales. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 54, 1063–1070.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  92. Watson, D., Wiese, D., Vaidya, J., & Tellegen, A. E. (1999). The two general activation systems of affect: Structural findings, evolutionary considerations, and psychobiological evidence. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 76, 820–838.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  93. Weick, K. (1995). Sense-making in organizations. London: Sage.

    Google Scholar 

  94. Weick, K. (2000). Making sense of the organization. Malden, MA: Blackwell.

    Google Scholar 

  95. Weiner, B. (1980). A cognitive (attribution)-emotion-action model of motivated behavior: An analysis of judgments of help-giving. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 39, 186–200.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  96. Wents, D. R. (1994). Prosocial organizational behavior and the dimension of beneficiary. In Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology, Nashville, TN.

  97. Williams, L. J., & Anderson, S. E. (1991). Job satisfaction and organizational commitment as predictors of organizational citizenship and in-role behaviors. Journal of Management, 17, 601–617.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  98. Witt, A. (1991). Equal opportunity perceptions and job attitudes. The Journal of Social Psychology, 131, 431–433.

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgment

The authors thank Dr. Marcus Crede and Dr. Dianna Stone for their comments and suggestions on this research

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Thomas D. Taber.

Additional information

Order of authorship is random. Contributions are equal.

An earlier version of this paper was presented at the Southern Management Association. November, 2008, St. Pete Beach, FL.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Taber, T.D., Deosthali, K. Analysis of Self-Reported Motives for Task-Related Helping: Implications for an Integrated Theory of Helping. J Bus Psychol 29, 343–366 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10869-013-9327-4

Download citation

Keywords

  • Helping
  • OCB
  • Motivation
  • Norms
  • Social exchange
  • Qualitative