Does organizational formalization facilitate voice and helping organizational citizenship behaviors? It depends on (national) uncertainty norms

  • Ronald Fischer
  • Maria Cristina Ferreira
  • Nathalie Van Meurs
  • Kubilay Gok
  • Ding-Yu Jiang
  • Johnny R J Fontaine
  • Charles Harb
  • Jan Cieciuch
  • Mustapha Achoui
  • Ma Socorro D Mendoza
  • Arif Hassan
  • Donna Achmadi
  • Andrew A Mogaji
  • Amina Abubakar
Research Note

Abstract

Prosocial work behaviors in a globalized environment do not operate in a cultural vacuum. We assess to what extent voice and helping organizational citizenship behaviors (OCBs) vary across cultures, depending on employees’ perceived level of organizational formalization and national uncertainty. We predict that in contexts of uncertainty, cognitive resources are engaged in coping with this uncertainty. Organizational formalization can provide structure that frees up cognitive resources to engage in OCB. In contrast, in contexts of low uncertainty, organizational formalization is not necessary for providing structure and may increase constraints on discretionary behavior. A three-level hierarchical linear modeling analysis of data from 7,537 employees in 267 organizations across 17 countries provides broad support for our hypothesis: perceived organizational formalization is weakly related to OCB, but where uncertainty is high; formalization facilitates voice significantly, helping OCB to a lesser extent. Our findings contribute to clarifying the dynamics between perceptions of norms at organizational and national levels for understanding when employees may engage in helping and voice behaviors. The key implication is that managers can foster OCB through organizational formalization interventions in uncertain environments that are cognitively demanding.

Keywords

organizational citizenship behavior culture uncertainty formalization multilevel analysis 

Résumé

Dans un environnement globalisé, les comportements de travail prosociaux ne se développent pas dans un vide culturel. Nous évaluons dans quelle mesure l’appel et l’aide aux comportements de citoyenneté organisationnels (CCO) varient selon les cultures, en fonction du niveau perçu par les employés de la formalisation organisationnelle et de l’incertitude nationale. Nous prédisons que dans les contextes d’incertitude, les ressources cognitives sont engagées pour faire face à cette incertitude. La formalisation organisationnelle peut fournir une structure qui libère les ressources cognitives pour s’engager dans des CCO. En revanche, dans les contextes de faible incertitude, la formalisation organisationnelle n’est pas nécessaire pour fournir une structure et peut accroître les contraintes sur le comportement discrétionnaire. Une analyse de modélisation linéaire hiérarchique à trois niveaux de données de 7 537 employés dans 267 organisations de 17 pays fournit un large soutien à notre hypothèse : la formalisation organisationnelle perçue est faiblement liée aux CCO, sauf si l’incertitude est élevée; la formalisation facilite considérablement l’appel, encourageant dans une moindre mesure les CCO. Nos résultats contribuent à clarifier la dynamique entre les perceptions des normes aux niveaux organisationnel et national pour comprendre quand les employés peuvent s’engager dans des comportements d’aide et d’appel. La principale conséquence est que les dirigeants peuvent favoriser les CCO par des interventions de formalisation organisationnelle dans des environnements incertains qui sont cognitivement exigeants.

Resumen

Los comportamientos de trabajo prosocial en un ambiente globalizado no operan en un vacío cultural. Evaluamos en qué medida expresar y ayudar los comportamientos de ciudadanía organizacional (OCB) varían entre las culturas, dependiendo del nivel percibido por los empleados de formalización organizacional y de incertidumbre nacional. Predecimos que, en los contextos de incertidumbre, los recursos cognitivos están comprometidos a sobrellevar esta incertidumbre. La formalización organizacional puede dar una estructura que libera los recursos para comprometerse con comportamientos de ciudadanía organizacional. En contraste, en contextos de baja incertidumbre, la formalización organizacional no es necesaria para dar estructura y puede aumentar las restricciones sobre el comportamiento discrecional. Un análisis de un modelo linear de tres niveles jerárquicos de datos de 7.537 empleados en 237 organizaciones en 17 países brinda un amplio respaldo a nuestra hipótesis: la formalización organizacional percibida está débilmente relacionada con los comportamientos de ciudadanía organizacional, pero cuando la incertidumbre es alta; la formalización facilita la expresión de manera significativa, ayudando a los comportamientos de ciudadanía organizacional en una menor medida. Nuestros hallazgos contribuyen a clarificar las dinámicas entre las percepciones de las normas en los niveles organizacionales y nacionales para entender cuando los empleados se comprometen a ayudar y expresar los comportamientos. La implicación clave es que los gerentes pueden promover los comportamientos de ciudadanía organizacional mediante las intervenciones de formalización organizacional en entornos de incertidumbre que son cognitivamente demandantes.

Resumo

Comportamentos de trabalho prosociais em um ambiente globalizado não operam em um vácuo cultural. Nós avaliamos em que medida verbalização e comportamentos de cidadania organizacional (OCB) variam de acordo com as culturas, dependendo do nível percebido pelos funcionários de formalização organizacional e da incerteza nacional. Nós prevemos que em contextos de incerteza, recursos cognitivos estão empenhados em lidar com essa incerteza. A formalização organizacional pode fornecer uma estrutura que libera recursos cognitivos para se envolver em OCB. Em contraste, em contextos de baixa incerteza, a formalização organizacional não é necessária para fornecer tal estrutura e pode aumentar restrições ao comportamento discricionário. Uma análise de modelagem linear hierárquica de três níveis de dados de 7.537 funcionários em 267 organizações em 17 países oferece um amplo apoio à nossa hipótese: a formalização organizacional percebida está fracamente relacionada aos OCB, mas onde a incerteza é alta; a formalização facilita significativamente a verbalização, ajudando OCB em menor medida. Nossos achados contribuem para esclarecer a dinâmica entre percepções de normas a nível organizacional e nacional para entender quando funcionários podem se envolver em comportamentos de ajuda e verbalização. A principal implicação é que gerentes podem promover OCB por meio de intervenções de formalização organizacional em ambientes incertos que são cognitivamente exigentes.

概要

全球化环境中的亲社会工作行为不是在文化真空中运作的。我们评估在多大程度上建言和助人的组织公民行为(OCB)随文化变化,取决于员工们对组织形式化和国家不确定性的认知度。我们预测在不确定性情境下,认知资源用来应对这种不确定性。组织形式化可以提供释放认知资源来参与OCB的结构。相比之下,在低不确定性的情境下,组织形式化对提供结构并不是必要的,且可能会增加对酌情行为的限制。对来自17个国家267个组织的7,537名员工的数据进行的三级分层线性模型分析,对我们的假设提供了广泛的支持:感知的组织形式化与OCB弱相关,但不确定性较高; 正规化明显促进建言,对OCB帮助较小。我们的研究结果有助于澄清组织和国家层面的规范认知之间的动态关系,以了解员工何时可以参与助人和建言行为。关键的启示是管理者能够在认知苛刻的不确定的环境中通过组织形式化干预来培育OCB。

Notes

Acknowledgements

The research was supported by various grants by Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand, and the School of Psychology at Victoria University of Wellington. Ronald Fischer was supported by a Marie-Curie Cofund Senior Fellowship while resident at the Aarhus Institute of Advanced Studies, Denmark. The work of Jan Cieciuch was supported by Grant 2011/01/D/HS6/04077 from the Polish National Science Centre. We are grateful for comments and suggestions by Anne-Wil Harzing, Paul Griseri, Jonathan Searle, Peter Smith, Mark Peterson, Diana Boer, and Melanie Vauclair during various stages of the preparation process as well as the editor Mary Zellmer-Bruhn and three anonymous reviewers who provided constructive feedback.

Supplementary material

41267_2017_132_MOESM1_ESM.docx (27 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 28 kb)

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Copyright information

© Academy of International Business 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ronald Fischer
    • 1
  • Maria Cristina Ferreira
    • 2
  • Nathalie Van Meurs
    • 3
  • Kubilay Gok
    • 4
  • Ding-Yu Jiang
    • 5
  • Johnny R J Fontaine
    • 6
  • Charles Harb
    • 7
  • Jan Cieciuch
    • 8
  • Mustapha Achoui
    • 9
  • Ma Socorro D Mendoza
    • 10
  • Arif Hassan
    • 11
  • Donna Achmadi
    • 1
    • 12
  • Andrew A Mogaji
    • 13
  • Amina Abubakar
    • 14
  1. 1.School of PsychologyVictoria University of WellingtonWellingtonNew Zealand
  2. 2.Salgado de Oliveira UniversityRio de JaneiroBrazil
  3. 3.International Management & Innovation Department, School of BusinessMiddlesex UniversityLondonUK
  4. 4.Department of Business Administration, College of Business AdministrationWinona State UniversityWinonaUSA
  5. 5.Department of PsychologyNational Chung Cheng UniversityChiayiTaiwan, ROC
  6. 6.Department of Personnel Management, Work and Organizational PsychologyGhent UniversityGhentBelgium
  7. 7.Department of PsychologyAmerican University of BeirutBeirutLebanon
  8. 8.University Research Priority Program Social NetworksUniversity of ZurichZurichSwitzerland
  9. 9.Arab Open University, KuwaitAl-Ardia AradiaKuwait
  10. 10.UBHC, Rutgers UniversityUnionUSA
  11. 11.International Islamic University MalaysiaKuala LumpurMalaysia
  12. 12.Canterbury District Health BoardHillmorton HospitalChristchurchNew Zealand
  13. 13.Department of PsychologyBenue State UniversityMakurdiNigeria
  14. 14.Department of Psychology and Public HealthPwani UniversityKilifiKenya

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