Good soldiers and good actors: Prosocial and impression management motives as interactive predictors of affiliative citizenship behaviors
- Good soldiers and good actors: Prosocial and impression management motives as interactive predictors of affiliative citizenship behaviors. By: Grant, Adam M., Mayer, David M., Journal of Applied Psychology, 0021-9010, 2009, Vol. 94, Issue 4
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Kenan-Flagler Business School, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
David M. Mayer
Department of Management, College of Business Administration, University of Central Florida
Acknowledgement: We thank Matt Bowler, Jeff Edwards, Noah Eisenkraft, Joshua Margolis, and Sharon Parker for “good citizen” advice and conversations about our ideas. For assistance with data collection, we thank Jamie Freese, Rebecca Greenbaum, Maribeth Kuenzi, Susan Lerch, Priya Raghavan, and Justine Silver.
Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to: Adam M. Grant, Kenan-Flagler Business School, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Campus Box 3490, McColl Building, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3490 Electronic Mail may be sent to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Organizational citizenship behavior is a critical concern for both scholars and practitioners. Citizenship describes efforts by employees to take initiative to contribute in ways that are not formally required by the organization (C. A. Smith, Organ, & Near, 1983). More than 4 decades have passed since researchers proposed that employees can advance group, organizational, and personal effectiveness by engaging in citizenship behaviors such as helping coworkers, protecting the organization, making constructive suggestions, developing oneself, and spreading goodwill (Katz, 1964; Katz & Kahn, 1966). In recent years, extensive research has supported this core proposition. At collective levels, groups and organizations with employees who engage in high levels of citizenship achieve higher performance quality, performance quantity, and customer satisfaction (Ehrhart & Naumann, 2004; Podsakoff, MacKenzie, Paine, & Bachrach, 2000). At the individual level, employees who engage in citizenship by taking initiative to contribute to other people and the organization earn higher supervisor performance evaluations (e.g., MacKenzie, Podsakoff, & Fetter, 1991, 1993; Motowidlo & Van Scotter, 1994) and more awards and promotions (e.g., Van Scotter, Motowidlo, & Cross, 2000).
In light of these benefits of citizenship to organizations and their employees, scholars have devoted considerable effort to understanding the causes of citizenship behaviors. Scholars have often assumed that citizenship behaviors are driven by prosocial motives. From this perspective, citizenship is undertaken by “good soldiers” seeking to help other people and the organization (Bateman & Organ, 1983; Organ, 1988). Indeed, across a number of studies, researchers have found that citizenship behavior is predicted by prosocial motives (Rioux & Penner, 2001) and related other-serving traits and values such as concern for others and empathy (Joireman, Kamdar, Daniels, & Duell, 2006; Kamdar, McAllister, & Turban, 2006; McNeely & Meglino, 1994; Settoon & Mossholder, 2002), duty (Moon, Kamdar, Mayer, & Takeuchi, 2008), collectivism (Moorman & Blakely, 1995), the prosocial personality (Penner, Midili, & Kegelmeyer, 1997), agreeableness and conscientiousness (Ilies, Scott, & Judge, 2006; King, George, & Hebl, 2005), and other-orientation (Meglino & Korsgaard, 2004). However, other studies have revealed equivocal results about the role of prosocial motives in citizenship behaviors. For example, two different studies found that empathy did not significantly predict citizenship behaviors (Anderson & Williams, 1996; Ladd & Henry, 2000), and Konovsky and Organ (1996) found that neither benevolence nor agreeableness significantly predicted supervisor ratings of citizenship behaviors. Similarly, two meta-analyses have returned null and weak effects for agreeableness and conscientiousness as predictors of supervisor and coworker ratings of different forms of citizenship behavior (Organ & Ryan, 1995; Podsakoff et al., 2000). These conflicting findings suggest that there may be undetected moderators of the relationship between prosocial motives and citizenship behaviors, highlighting the importance of gaining a deeper understanding of the conditions under which prosocial motives predict citizenship behaviors.
In this article, we seek to resolve these inconsistent results by developing and testing a contingency perspective on the relationship between prosocial motives and citizenship behaviors. We draw on theories of impression management (e.g., Bolino, 1999) to propose that individuals with prosocial motives will engage in higher levels of affiliative forms of citizenship when they also hold impression management motives. From this perspective, strong impression management motives may encourage employees with prosocial motives to avoid expressing their feelings of concern and empathy in risky forms of citizenship, such as voicing problems in ways that threaten supervisors or challenge the status quo. Thus, impression management motives may lead employees with prosocial motives to channel their feelings of concern and empathy toward contributing in ways that are both socially and personally beneficial. We examine prosocial and impression management motives as interactive predictors of affiliative citizenship behaviors across two studies using field samples with multisource data. Our results extend existing knowledge about the motivational forces that drive citizenship behaviors.
Citizenship behaviors are discretionary contributory actions that are not explicitly rewarded by organizations but nonetheless enhance their effectiveness (Organ, 1988). Researchers have argued that citizenship behaviors can be classified into two different categories: affiliative versus challenging (Van Dyne, Cummings, & McLean Parks, 1995). Affiliative citizenship behaviors are actions directed toward maintaining the status quo by promoting and supporting existing work processes and relationships (Van Dyne et al., 1995). Affiliative citizenship behaviors include helping colleagues, showing courtesy toward others, and taking initiative to work additional hours (Van Dyne et al., 1995). Challenging citizenship behaviors are actions directed toward changing the status quo by questioning and improving upon existing work processes and relationships (Van Dyne et al., 1995). Challenging citizenship behaviors include voicing problems (LePine & Van Dyne, 1998), selling issues (Ashford, Rothbard, Piderit, & Dutton, 1998), and taking charge to implement constructive changes to work methods (Bettencourt, 2004; Choi, 2007; Frese & Fay, 2001; Morrison & Phelps, 1999). Research has shown that both affiliative and challenging forms of citizenship behaviors can contribute to effective outcomes in organizations (e.g., Podsakoff et al., 2000; Van Dyne & LePine, 1998). In the following sections, we consider how prosocial and impression management motives are likely to relate to both affiliative and challenging citizenship behaviors.
Motivational perspectives on citizenship behavior have become increasingly popular among organizational scholars and applied psychologists (Borman & Penner, 2001; Hanson & Borman, 2006; Organ, 1990). The central premise behind these motivational perspectives is that to understand the emergence of citizenship behavior, it is critical to examine the reasons that guide the decision to engage in this behavior, as these reasons shed light on why employees enact citizenship (Penner et al., 1997).
As noted previously, considerable research has linked citizenship behaviors to prosocial motives, or desires to benefit other people (Rioux & Penner, 2001). Researchers have identified at least three different mechanisms through which prosocial motives may increase the likelihood of citizenship behavior. First, employees with prosocial motives tend to focus their attention outwardly rather than inwardly, which increases the chances that they will recognize opportunities for contributing to other people and their organizations (Meglino & Korsgaard, 2004). Second, employees with prosocial motives tend to place greater value on and feel more responsible for improving the welfare of other people and organizations, which increases the chances that they will feel committed to engaging in citizenship behavior (Grant, 2007, 2008; Ilies et al., 2006). Third, because employees with prosocial motives are concerned with the welfare of other people and the organization, they are often willing to subordinate their own interests to contribute (Bolino & Turnley, 2005; Meglino & Korsgaard, 2004; Moon et al., 2008). We therefore hypothesize that prosocial motives will predict higher levels of both affiliative and challenging forms of citizenship behavior. Employees with prosocial motives will be more likely to recognize and act on opportunities to engage in affiliative forms of citizenship, such as helping and courtesy, as well as challenging forms of citizenship such as voice.
Hypothesis 1a: The stronger the employee’s prosocial motives, the greater the employee’s level of affiliative citizenship behaviors.
Hypothesis 1b: The stronger the employee’s prosocial motives, the greater the employee’s level of challenging citizenship behaviors.
In the past decade, a second motivational perspective on citizenship behavior has emerged. Bolino (1999) argued that affiliative citizenship is often undertaken not only by “good soldiers” attempting to help other people and their organizations but also by “good actors” attempting to create favorable images in the eyes of others. From this perspective, employees engage in citizenship at strategic times and in strategic ways to bolster their reputations as helpful, capable contributors (Deutsch Salamon & Deutsch, 2006). Indeed, Flynn (2003) found that employees who engage in more frequent citizenship behaviors earn higher levels of social status from their peers. Several other studies have demonstrated that some forms of citizenship behavior are predicted by impression management motives, such as image enhancement (Finkelstein, 2006; Yun, Takeuchi, & Liu, 2007) and ingratiation and status enhancement (Bowler & Brass, 2006; Eastman, 1994; Snell & Wong, 2007). However, other studies have returned mixed results about the association between impression management motives and citizenship behavior. For example, Rioux and Penner (2001) found that impression management motives explained incremental variance in sportsmanship behaviors but not in four other citizenship behaviors of helping, courtesy, civic virtue, or initiative. These conflicting findings highlight the potential value of reconsidering the role of impression management motives in citizenship behaviors.
The Interaction of Prosocial and Impression Management Motives
We conceptualize impression management motives as a moderator of the effects of prosocial motives on affiliative citizenship behaviors, rather than as an independent predictor of these behaviors. In past studies, researchers have treated prosocial and impression management motives as separate reasons that drive citizenship behaviors for different employees. Indeed, Rioux and Penner’s (2001) results suggest that some employees hold prosocial motives that drive them to engage in citizenship to help other people and the organization, whereas other employees hold impression management motives that drive them to engage in citizenship to help their own images. Consistent with this perspective, psychologists have long assumed that self-serving and other-serving motives are bipolar opposites. Personality psychologists have spent 3 decades developing a framework of basic values that pits self-enhancing values of power, achievement, security, and hedonism against self-transcending values of benevolence and universalism (Schwartz, 1992). Social psychologists have devoted more than 3 decades to a conceptual and empirical debate about whether helping behavior is ultimately egoistic or altruistic (Batson, 1987, 1990, 1998; Batson et al., 1997; Cialdini, Brown, Lewis, Luce, & Neuberg, 1997; Cialdini et al., 1987; for a review, see Penner, Dovidio, Piliavin, & Schroeder, 2005). Organizational psychologists have proposed that employees differ reliably in their dispositional orientations toward rational self-interest versus other-orientation (Meglino & Korsgaard, 2004). Together, these perspectives imply that prosocial and impression management motives are opposing poles of a continuum of other-serving versus self-serving motivation.
Conversely, others have argued that self-serving and other-serving motives may coexist. Although his article on citizenship and impression management provocatively raised the question of whether citizens are good soldiers or good actors, Bolino (1999, p. 83) noted that “it is likely that individuals’ motives generally are mixed.” This notion can be traced to Adam Smith, the father of modern economics, who wrote more than 300 years ago,
How selfish soever man may be supposed there are evidently some principles in his nature which interest him in the fortunes of others, and render their happiness necessary to him, although he derives nothing from it except the pleasure of seeing it. (A. Smith, 1759/1976, p. 47)
In line with Adam Smith’s perspective, organizational scholars have begun to question whether prosocial and impression management motives are mutually exclusive. Recently, De Dreu (2006) asserted that other-concern and self-concern are independent traits and states, suggesting that employees can vary independently in prosocial and impression management motives (see also Meglino & Korsgaard, 2006). Indeed, rather than finding a negative correlation between prosocial and impression management motives, Rioux and Penner’s (2001) study of city government employees showed a positive correlation (r = .34) between prosocial and impression management motives.
Taken together, these emerging viewpoints suggest that there is value in adopting a mixed-motive perspective on citizenship behavior. We propose that an examination of the interaction of prosocial and impression management motives has the potential to illuminate the aforementioned inconsistent findings regarding the relationship between prosocial motives and citizenship behavior. As noted previously, research suggests that employees with prosocial motives are more likely to engage in “self-sacrificing” behaviors, subordinating their own needs to the concerns of others (e.g., Barry & Friedman, 1998; Meglino & Korsgaard, 2004; Omoto & Snyder, 1995). These findings indicate that prosocial motives may be a double-edged sword, predisposing employees toward engaging in forms of citizenship that take reputational risks. For example, employees with prosocial motives may be likely to voice and sell an important issue facing the organization when they recognize a need, overlooking the reputational costs of threatening supervisors and coworkers.
However, we propose that impression management motives will encourage employees to express their prosocial motives in affiliative forms of citizenship, such as helping, courtesy, and initiative. Impression management theory and research suggests that when employees have strong impression management motives, they are careful to avoid creating a negative image in the eyes of others (Jones & Pittman, 1982; Leary & Kowalski, 1990). As such, we expect that employees with strong prosocial and impression management motives will tend to engage in affiliative citizenship behaviors that benefit other people and the organization without jeopardizing their own reputations. Indeed, in lifespan developmental psychology research, McAdams and de St. Aubin (1992) proposed and found that individuals are able to simultaneously fulfill prosocial and impression management motives by contributing in ways that both help others and strengthen their own reputations. Thus, employees with strong prosocial and impression management motives are likely to gravitate toward citizenship behaviors that simultaneously “do good” and “look good”—actions that are beneficial to others and themselves (Grant, 2008; Sheldon, Arndt, & Houser-Marko, 2003). Because affiliative citizenship behaviors such as helping, courtesy, and initiative contribute to maintaining the status quo, they are likely to benefit other people and the organization without threatening employees’ images. For these reasons, we hypothesize that impression management motives will strengthen the positive association between prosocial motives and affiliative citizenship behaviors.
Hypothesis 2: Impression management motives strengthen the positive relationship between prosocial motives and affiliative citizenship behaviors.
In contrast, we expect that impression management motives will be less likely to strengthen the association between prosocial motives and challenging citizenship behaviors. Impression management is a subset of organizational politics, and engaging in challenging behaviors can be politically risky (Ferris, Bhawuk, Fedor, & Judge, 1995; Ferris, Judge, Rowland, & Fitzgibbons, 1994; Fuller, Barnett, Hester, Relyea, & Frey, 2007). Challenging citizenship behaviors such as voice and taking charge run the risk of harming employees’ reputations by “rocking the boat” and threatening supervisors and coworkers (Ashford et al., 1998; Frese & Fay, 2001; Grant & Ashford, 2008; Grant, Parker, & Collins, in press; Morrison & Milliken, 2000; Parker, Williams, & Turner, 2006). Thus, impression management motives are likely to guide employees to express their prosocial motives in affiliative, rather than challenging, forms of citizenship. Accordingly, we expect that impression management motives will be more likely to encourage employees with prosocial motives to engage in affiliative forms of citizenship than challenging forms of citizenship.
We test our hypotheses across two field studies. In both studies, employees provided self-reports of their prosocial and impression management motives, and observers provided ratings of employees’ citizenship behaviors. In Study 1, we use data from two nonprofit organizations to predict supervisor ratings of affiliative interpersonal citizenship behaviors. In Study 2, we sample a broader pool of organizations. We shift our consideration of the criterion domain to focus on initiative as a form of affiliative citizenship that is directed toward benefiting the organization rather than coworkers, and we also examine voice as a form of challenging citizenship.
Participants and Procedures
Participants in this study were 114 paid employees and their 114 direct supervisors at two nonprofit organizations in the midwestern United States. The missions of both nonprofit organizations focused on protecting the health and safety of children. One organization was dedicated to protecting the health of children in life-threatening medical situations, and the other organization was dedicated to protecting the safety of children in life-threatening physical situations. Across the two organizations, participants were 77% female with an average age of 29.84 years (SD = 13.99) and an average tenure of 2.96 years of experience with their employing organization (SD = 55.60). We recruited participants by sending electronic messages for managers to forward and by visiting the organizations in person. The response rates were 35% (60/171) in the first organization and 100% (54/54) in the second organization. After participants completed our survey of citizenship motives, we distributed paper surveys to their direct supervisors and also sent links to the supervisors by e-mail. We assured all respondents of confidentiality. Employees completed measures of their citizenship motives, and supervisors provided ratings of each employee’s affiliative citizenship behaviors. In this study, to capture affiliative citizenship behaviors, we focused on interpersonal citizenship, emphasizing actions directed toward helping and showing courtesy to colleagues.
We introduced the measures of citizenship motives with a statement adapted from Rioux and Penner (2001) that described affiliative citizenship behaviors in lay terms. “Oftentimes, employees engage in discretionary behaviors that are not directly or explicitly recognized by the organization’s formal reward system, even though such behaviors do promote the effective functioning of the organization. By discretionary, we mean that the behavior is not an enforceable requirement of the employees’ role or job description. The behavior is rather a matter of personal choice.” We then described several examples of helping and courtesy and asked employees to rate how important each of the following motives were to their decisions to engage in affiliative citizenship behaviors (1 = not at all like me, 7 = very much like me). We measured prosocial citizenship motives with the four-item scale developed by Grant (2008), which includes items such as “Because I want to have positive impact on others” and “Because I want to help others through my work” (α = .94). We measured impression management citizenship motives with the ten-item scale developed by Rioux and Penner, which includes items such as “To look better than my coworkers” and “To impress my coworkers” (α = .83).
Affiliative interpersonal citizenship behaviors
Each employee’s unique supervisor completed a scale measuring the employee’s levels of affiliative interpersonal citizenship behaviors. We used the helping and courtesy scales developed by Podsakoff, MacKenzie, Moorman, and Fetter (1990), which include items such as “Is always ready to lend a helping hand to those around him/her,” “Helps orient new people even though it is not required,” “Takes steps to try to prevent problems with other employees” and “Considers the impact of his/her actions on coworkers” (α = .91). Past research has advocated combining these dimensions into an interpersonal citizenship scale (e.g., Lee & Allen, 2002), and to ensure that this was appropriate in our sample, we conducted an exploratory factor analysis using principal axis factoring with maximum likelihood estimation. The analysis revealed a one-factor solution that explained 74.59% of the variance in the items (Eigenvalue = 4.48, compared with an Eigenvalue for a second factor of 0.62). These results support our decision to combine helping and courtesy into a single interpersonal citizenship scale.
Means, standard deviations, and correlations for our key variables appear in Table 1. We tested our hypotheses by following the ordinary least-squares moderated regression procedures recommended by Aiken and West (1991; see also Cohen, Cohen, West, & Aiken, 2003). We began by mean-centering the independent variable (prosocial motives) and the moderator variable (impression management motives). Next, we multiplied the two mean-centered variables to create an interaction term. We then conducted a hierarchical regression analysis predicting supervisor ratings of interpersonal citizenship from prosocial motives and impression management motives (Step 1), and the partial product term (Step 2). The analysis, which appears in Table 2, indicates that in support of Hypothesis 1a, prosocial motives predicted higher levels of interpersonal citizenship. The analysis also showed that impression management motives were a significant independent predictor of interpersonal citizenship.
The analysis further revealed a statistically significant interaction between prosocial and impression management motives as predictors of interpersonal citizenship. To interpret the form of the interaction, we plotted the simple slopes at one standard deviation above and below the means (see Figure 1). The slopes suggest that prosocial motives were more strongly associated with interpersonal citizenship as impression management motives increased. The simple slope was positive and differed significantly from zero at high levels of impression management motives, β = .78, t(113) = 6.87, p < .001, and less strongly positive but still greater than zero at low levels of impression management motives, β = .27, t(113) = 2.96, p < .01. In addition, when we entered the partial product term in a separate step of a hierarchical regression analysis, the interaction of prosocial and impression management motives explained 5.4% incremental variance in interpersonal citizenship, which was a significant increase, F(1, 110) = 11.91, p = .001. These results are consistent with Hypothesis 2, which predicted that impression management motives would strengthen the positive association between prosocial motives and affiliative interpersonal citizenship behaviors.
This study supported our hypotheses. Prosocial and impression management motives were significant independent predictors of supervisor ratings of affiliative interpersonal citizenship behaviors. More importantly, the two motives interacted to predict interpersonal citizenship, such that impression management motives strengthened the positive relationship between prosocial motives and citizenship.
Although these results are encouraging, an important limitation is that we only measured interpersonal citizenship as one dimension of citizenship behavior. To generalize our results to multiple forms of citizenship, it is necessary to examine citizenship directed toward the organization, not only toward other people. To do so, we conducted a second study in which we shifted our criterion variable to focus on initiative, a central dimension of affiliative citizenship that involves high levels of effort, persistence, and dedication in contributing to the organization (e.g., Bolino & Turnley, 2005; Podsakoff et al., 2000; Van Scotter & Motowidlo, 1996). We also examined voice as a form of challenging citizenship (LePine & Van Dyne, 1998). In this study, we collected ratings of initiative and voice from both supervisors and coworkers. Including voice is important because it allows us to test Hypothesis 1b and, more generally, to examine the association between citizenship motives and challenging citizenship behaviors. We also broadened the scope of our sample to target a wider range of organizations and controlled for organizational concern motives and role definitions as possible confounding influences on initiative and voice. We controlled for organizational concern motives because research has shown that these motives are correlated with prosocial and impression management motives, and are independent predictors of citizenship directed toward the organization (Rioux & Penner, 2001). We controlled for role definitions because research has shown that employees are more likely to engage in citizenship when they define it as part of their roles (e.g., Hofmann, Morgeson, & Gerras, 2003; McAllister, Kamdar, Morrison, & Turban, 2007; Morrison, 1994; Tepper, Lockhart, & Hoobler, 2001).
Participants and Procedures
A total of 455 individuals—167 focal employees and their matched 142 supervisors and 146 coworkers—participated in the study. Participants were from a variety of different organizations in the southeast United States, including technology, government, insurance, financial, food service, retail, manufacturing, and medical organizations. The focal employees were 52.8% male and 51.2% Caucasian (17.1% Hispanic, 10.4% African American, and 11.0% Asian American). They averaged 25.1 years of age with 3.1 years of experience in the organization. The supervisors were 61.3% male and 68.3% Caucasian (18.3% Hispanic, 6.3% African American, and 3.5% Asian American). They averaged 38.1 years of age with 8.9 years of experience in the organization. The coworkers were 52.7% male and 52.5% Caucasian (13.9% Hispanic, 13.9% African American, and 4.9% Asian American). They averaged 29.3 years of age with 4.2 years of experience working in their organizations.
We recruited participants using a snowball sampling procedure (e.g., Morgeson & Humphrey, 2006; Skarlicki & Folger, 1997). To recruit participants, researchers sent an electronic message to 312 students in upper level management courses and provided them with the opportunity to help with a study for extra credit. Students who worked at least 20 hr per week in a job were allowed to participate in the study; if they did not, they were asked to invite a friend or family member to complete the survey. A total of 167 focal employees participated, for a response rate of 54%. Focal employees were instructed to visit a website to complete a survey and to send an electronic survey link to their supervisors and a coworker familiar with their work. Respondents were assured that their responses would remain confidential. Focal employees completed measures of citizenship motives and role definitions, and coworkers and supervisors provided ratings of each focal employee’s initiative and voice.
Focal employees completed scales measuring prosocial and impression management motives for citizenship behavior. We used the same scales for citizenship motives as in Study 1, measuring prosocial citizenship motives with Grant’s (2008) four-item scale (α = .89) and impression management citizenship motives with Rioux and Penner’s (2001) 10-item scale (α = .92).
Affiliative citizenship behavior: Initiative
One supervisor and one coworker completed a scale measuring each focal employee’s level of initiative. We used the 15-item initiative scale developed by Bolino and Turnley (2005), which includes items such as “Volunteers for special projects in addition to his/her normal job duties” and “Stays at work after normal business hours” (α = .96).
Challenging citizenship behavior: Voice
One supervisor and one coworker completed a scale measuring each focal employee’s level of voice. We used the six-item voice scale developed by Van Dyne and LePine (1998), which includes items such as “Communicates his/her opinions about work issues to others in this group even if his/her opinion is different and others in the group disagree with him/her” (α = .92).
We measured organizational concern motives using the 10-item scale developed by Rioux and Penner (2001), which includes items such as “Because I care what happens to the organization” and “Because I am committed to the organization” (α = .94). We measured role definitions using the prompt developed by Tepper et al. (2001). For each citizenship behavior item, we asked employees, “To what extent do you see the following behaviors as part of your job requirements versus beyond your job requirements?” We coded the answers so that 1 = definitely exceeds my job requirements, and 7 = definitely part of my job (α = .92). We also controlled for gender, education level, job level, and ethnicity.
Means, standard deviations, and correlations for the key measured variables appear in Table 3. To assess whether it was appropriate to combine the supervisor and coworker ratings of initiative and voice, we calculated intraclass correlation coefficients (ICCs) at the item level using a two-way mixed model with consistency agreement (McGraw & Wong, 1996; Shrout & Fleiss, 1979). The ICCs for both initiative and voice reached acceptable levels of agreement (e.g., James, Demaree, & Wolf, 1984; Nunnally, 1978). For the 15 initiative items, the ICC(2) values ranged from .44 to .74 (rmean = .63). For the 6 voice items, the ICC(2) values ranged from .34 to .53 (rmean = .44). All ICC values were statistically significant at the p < .01 level. We thus computed indexes of initiative by taking the mean of all 30 items, and voice by taking the mean of all 12 items, across supervisors and coworkers.
Regression Analyses for Initiative
We once again tested our hypotheses using the moderated regression procedures recommended by Aiken and West (1991) and Cohen et al. (2003). We mean-centered the independent and moderator variables of prosocial motives and impression management motives and multiplied these mean-centered variables to create an interaction term. We then conducted hierarchical ordinary least-squares regression analysis predicting supervisor and coworker ratings of initiative from prosocial motives, impression management motives, and the partial product term. The results of these analyses are displayed in Table 4, where we entered the control variables in Step 1, the two motives in Step 2, and the partial product term in Step 3. The results indicate mixed support for Hypothesis 1a. In the correlation table, prosocial motives displayed a significant positive association with initiative, but once the control variables and impression management motives were entered, prosocial motives were no longer significantly associated with initiative. In contrast to the results of Study 1, impression management motives were not significantly associated with initiative.
As expected, we observed a statistically significant interaction between prosocial and impression management motives as a predictor of initiative. We interpreted the form of the interaction by plotting the simple slopes at one standard deviation above and below the means (see Figure 2). The slopes suggest that prosocial motives were more strongly associated with initiative as impression management motives increased. Indeed, the simple slope for the relationship between prosocial motives and initiative was positive and differed significantly from zero at high levels of impression management motives, β = .31, t(139) = 2.71, p < .01, but did not differ significantly from zero at low levels of impression management motives, β = .02, t(139) = 0.17, p = .86. In addition, when we entered the partial product term in a separate step of a hierarchical regression analysis, the interaction of prosocial and impression management motives explained 3% incremental variance in initiative, which was a significant increase, F(1, 122) = 3.86, p < .05.
Regression Analyses for Voice
Consistent with Hypothesis 1b, bivariate correlations showed that prosocial motives were significantly associated with higher ratings of initiative (affiliative citizenship) and voice (challenging citizenship). We conducted moderated regression analyses to explore the possibility that prosocial and impression management motives interacted to predict voice, a challenging form of citizenship. The results showed that voice was significantly predicted by prosocial motives, β = .22, t(139) = 2.56, p < .01, but not by impression management motives, β = −.11, t(139) = −1.22, p = .23, or the partial product term, β = .07, t(139) = 0.82, p = .41. The substantive results did not change when we added the control variables, although voice was predicted significantly by both organizational concern motives, β = .22, t(139) = 2.01, p < .05, and role definitions, β = .18, t(139) = 2.23, p < .05. These results suggest that as predicted, impression management motives strengthened the association between prosocial motives and affiliative (initiative) but not challenging (voice) forms of citizenship.
Comparing the Results of Study 1 and Study 2
A visual inspection of Figures 1 and 2 reveals differences in the form of the interactions for interpersonal citizenship and initiative across the two studies. To account for these differences, we used the procedure developed by Cohen and Cohen (1983) to compare regression coefficients across the two studies. We found that the average effect of impression management motives was significantly stronger in Study 1 than Study 2, t(246) = 2.57, p = .01, and that the average effect of prosocial motives was marginally stronger in Study 1 than Study 2, t(246) = 1.69, p = .09. However, there were no differences in the strength of the interaction effect, t(246) = 0.18, p = .86. These findings suggest that the differences in the form of the interaction are due to differences in the average effects of impression management and prosocial motives, whereas the strength and direction of the moderating effect are the same across both studies.
In summary, this study provides partial support for Hypotheses 1a and 1b in identifying weak positive associations between prosocial motives and both affiliative (initiative) and challenging (voice) forms of citizenship behavior. Our interaction results for initiative once again provide support for Hypothesis 2, which predicted that impression management motives would strengthen the positive association between prosocial motives and affiliative citizenship. In contrast, there were no moderating effects for predicting voice, a challenging form of citizenship.
A comparison of the results of the two studies indicates that in Study 1, prosocial and impression management motives were strong independent predictors of interpersonal citizenship. In contrast, in Study 2, prosocial motives were a weak predictor of initiative, and impression management motives did not significantly predict initiative. This latter pattern mirrors the results of two studies showing that impression management motives predicted citizenship behaviors directed toward coworkers but not toward the organization (Finkelstein, 2006; Finkelstein & Penner, 2004). We believe that these differences between the two studies can be explained by the nature of the dependent variables. Prosocial and impression management motives are both relational motives that involve a focus on other people; the former involve a concern for the well-being of other people, and the latter involve a concern for one’s image in the eyes of other people. Accordingly, employees may feel more capable of expressing and fulfilling prosocial and impression management motives when engaging in acts of citizenship directed toward other people than toward the organization. Interpersonal citizenship behaviors provide employees with direct opportunities to see how they are helping others (prosocial benefits) and ensure that their efforts are visible to others (image benefits), whereas organizational citizenship behaviors may benefit others less directly and often go unnoticed. More generally, the predictor and criterion variables share the same referent (other people) in Study 1 but not in Study 2, and psychologists have long known that correspondence between the referents of two variables increases the strength of the association between them (e.g., Ajzen, 1991). It appears that prosocial motives still predicted both interpersonally and organizationally focused citizenship behaviors in part because employees with prosocial motives are often interested in contributing to the organization as well as to other people (Rioux & Penner, 2001). Indeed, in Study 2, there is a strong correlation between prosocial and organizational concern motives.
We found convergent evidence that prosocial and impression management motives interacted positively to predict higher levels of affiliative citizenship behaviors. In Study 1, impression management motives strengthened the positive association between prosocial motives and affiliative interpersonal citizenship among employees of two nonprofit organizations, as rated by supervisors. In Study 2, impression management motives strengthened the positive association between prosocial motives and initiative among a diverse sample of employees, as rated by both supervisors and coworkers, while controlling for organizational concern motives and role definitions. Moreover, voice, a challenging form of citizenship, was predicted by prosocial motives but not by the interaction of the two motives.
Our findings offer several important theoretical contributions to existing understandings of citizenship behavior. First, our research helps to resolve conflicting findings about whether prosocial motives predict citizenship behavior. Whereas past efforts to resolve these inconsistent results have focused on how prosocial motives may better predict some types of citizenship behaviors than others (Organ & Ryan, 1995; Rioux & Penner, 2001), we showed that prosocial motives are more likely to predict affiliative citizenship directed both toward other people (helping and courtesy) and the organization (initiative) when employees also hold strong impression management motives. Although researchers have argued and found that both prosocial and impression management motives can predict citizenship behaviors, existing models have treated these motives as independent, overlooking the possibility that they may interact (see Rioux & Penner, 2001). Our findings suggest that instead of focusing only on bivariate associations, it is important to consider the interactions of multiple motives when predicting affiliative citizenship behaviors (see also King et al., 2005).
Second, our findings provide a fresh perspective on the debate about whether citizenship is carried out by good soldiers with prosocial motives or good actors with impression management motives. Rioux and Penner (2001) sought to reconcile this foundational debate by arguing that citizenship can be driven independently by prosocial and impression management motives. A broad conclusion implied by their research is that some employees engage in citizenship for other-serving or prosocial reasons, whereas other employees engage in citizenship for more self-serving or impression management reasons. Our research takes a step beyond this conclusion by suggesting that employees can engage in citizenship for both other-serving (prosocial) and self-serving (impression management) reasons at the same time. Our findings indicate that employees who are both good soldiers and good actors may be rated as engaging in higher levels of affiliative citizenship behaviors than employees guided by one or neither motive. These results challenge the validity of dichotomizing prosocial and impression management motives, and point to the value of recognizing that the motives of soldiers and actors can be located within the same employees. Such employees represent a new class that might be described as “good doctors,” because they express concern for both doing good and looking good.
Third, our findings enter a larger debate about whether citizenship and helping behaviors are driven by selfish or selfless motives. As noted previously, psychologists have long argued that self-enhancement versus self-transcendence is a fundamental dimension along which values vary (Schwartz, 1992), that specific acts of helping are ultimately altruistic (Batson, 1998) or egoistic (Cialdini et al., 1997), and that employees are predisposed either toward rational self-interest or other-orientation (Meglino & Korsgaard, 2004). Organizational scholars have begun to call for theory and research that integrates, rather than dichotomizes, self-interested and prosocial motives (De Dreu, 2006; Grant, 2007, 2008; Loewenstein & Small, 2007). Our research takes a step toward answering these calls. Our theoretical perspective and empirical findings underscore the importance of recognizing that employees can and often do hold both selfish and selfless motives, which can function in conjunction—not only in opposition—to influence citizenship behaviors.
Fourth, our research advocates an underrepresented perspective on the interactions of multiple motivations. When studying multiple motivations, researchers have often argued that they detract from each other. For example, numerous studies have demonstrated that extrinsic motivation can undermine intrinsic motivation (Deci, Koestner, & Ryan, 1999; Lepper, Greene, & Nisbett, 1973) and distract attention away from citizenship behaviors (Wright, George, Farnsworth, & McMahan, 1993). Researchers have also shown that having multiple motives for volunteering can raise individuals’ expectations, increasing stress and decreasing satisfaction, which may undermine effort over time (Kiviniemi, Snyder, & Omoto, 2002). Our theory and findings depart from this trend by suggesting that prosocial and impression management motives can support each other in enhancing affiliative citizenship behaviors. In the language of expectancy theory (Vroom, 1964), when employees hold prosocial and impression management motives, they place value on two outcomes: helping others and improving their own images. Whereas expectancy theory would predict that these two valences would combine in an additive fashion to influence motivation, we found that they interact in a multiplicative fashion. These results provide empirical support for theoretical perspectives proposing that multiple motivations can interact positively to predict behavior (Amabile, 1993; Grant, 2008; Staw, 1977).
Finally, our research also addresses a debate about the effects of impression management motives in organizations. Many researchers have identified costs of impression management motives, linking them to ingratiatory acts that advance one’s image without contributing to social and organizational effectiveness, as well as reductions in citizenship when one’s actions are not visible or instrumental to self-serving outcomes (Bolino, 1999; Bolino, Varela, Bandey, & Turnley, 2006; Ferris et al., 1995; Hui, Lam, & Law, 2000). Moreover, recent qualitative and quantitative reviews have shown that although employees with strong impression management motives tend to succeed in getting along and getting ahead, they may choose pragmatics over principles (Gangestad & Snyder, 2000), withhold making strong commitments to their organizations (Day, Schleicher, Unckless, & Hiller, 2002), and end up being overrepresented in senior management positions, to the detriment of organizations’ ethical and strategic agendas (Day & Schleicher, 2006). However, researchers have also argued that impression management motives may offer important contributions to organizations, as the desire to maintain a favorable image can motivate citizenship behaviors (Rioux & Penner, 2001), as well as effectiveness in terms of job performance and building social relationships (Day & Schleicher, 2006; Day et al., 2002). Our research presents a balanced perspective on this debate by highlighting the mixed effects of impression management motives on citizenship behaviors. Our findings suggest that on one hand, impression management motives may encourage employees—especially those with prosocial motives—to engage in affiliative forms of citizenship such as helping, courtesy, and initiative. However, our findings suggest that impression management motives do not encourage riskier forms of citizenship such as voice. These findings suggest that impression management motives may guide employees toward acts of affiliative citizenship that support the status quo but not necessarily toward acts of challenging citizenship that fuel change.
Limitations and Future Directions
Across our two field studies, we were not able to directly examine the psychological mechanisms by which motives are converted into citizenship behaviors. We encourage researchers to examine multiple psychological mechanisms that may explain the associations that we observed between motives and citizenship behaviors. Our theoretical arguments suggest that impression management motives strengthen the tendency of employees with prosocial motives to engage in affiliative citizenship behaviors by directing their attention toward behaviors that both do good (help others or the organization) and look good (help one’s own image). Thus, the presence of these two motives may strengthen employees’ instrumentality beliefs, as they feel that performing citizenship behaviors effectively will translate into the valued outcomes of helping others and enhancing their own status. In addition, it is possible that holding both prosocial and impression management motives for citizenship may encourage employees to engage in visible, recognizable forms of citizenship (e.g., Deutsch Salamon & Deutsch, 2006), increasing the likelihood that observers will be aware of their citizenship. Future research will need to measure and test each of these mechanisms as plausible explanations for the interactive association of prosocial and impression management motives with affiliative citizenship.
Second, our research does not inform the conditions under which motives will be more and less likely to drive citizenship. Existing research suggests that employees’ motives will be more likely to trigger citizenship when they believe that citizenship is instrumental to fulfilling these motives (McAllister et al., 2007). From an expectancy theory perspective, citizenship motives involve placing high valence or value on outcomes of benefiting others (for employees with strong prosocial motives) and protecting and promoting one’s image (for employees with strong impression management motives), and these motives should only enhance citizenship when employees believe that acts of citizenship can achieve these valued outcomes (Haworth & Levy, 2001). Thus, employees with impression management motives should only engage in citizenship when they believe it will advance their status and images (Hui et al., 2000), and employees with prosocial motives should only engage in citizenship when they believe it will benefit other people (McAllister et al., 2007). As such, it will be critical for future research to examine not only employees’ citizenship motives but also their instrumentality beliefs about the extent to which specific forms of citizenship can serve and fulfill these motives. Such investigations have the potential to clarify the conditions under which motives will predict different forms of citizenship behavior. For instance, because challenging forms of citizenship are risky, behaviors such as voice and taking charge may be especially dependent on employees’ beliefs that they can fulfill their motives by engaging in them. If employees with strong impression management motives believe that expressing voice or taking charge will improve their images, the resulting favorable cost-benefit ratios may lead them to accept the risks and engage in the behavior (Ashford et al., 1998; Fuller et al., 2007; McAllister et al., 2007).
Third, our results in Study 2 raise questions about whether employees with high impression management and low prosocial motives receive “less credit” for their citizenship behaviors. It is plausible that supervisors and coworkers may penalize these employees for engaging in citizenship only at opportune or visible times, seeing their initiative not as good citizenship but rather as instrumental, strategic, self-serving behavior. This possibility is consistent with the arguments offered by Ferris et al. (1995), who proposed that if a behavior is interpreted as self-serving, it will be viewed cynically as a political influence move rather than benevolently as an act of citizenship. This possibility is also consistent with two studies conducted by Grant et al. (in press), who found that supervisors were less likely to recognize the contributions of behaviors such as voice and helping when they were carried out by employees with self-serving values. As such, observers may at times interpret the contributory actions of employees with high impression management but low prosocial motives as attempts at political influence, which will not be recognized or valued as citizenship behavior. We encourage researchers to explore this issue in more detail.
Fourth, further research is needed to investigate the psychological bases of impression management motives for citizenship behaviors. The majority of research in this area has assumed that impression management motives are guided by a desire to protect and promote one’s image in the eyes of other people (e.g., Bolino, 1999; Rioux & Penner, 2001). However, the literature on helping behavior and role identity suggests that when individuals internalize their roles into their identities, they come to feel that role-specific activities and behaviors are central to their self-concepts (Finkelstein & Penner, 2004; Grube & Piliavin, 2000). If employees have internalized citizenship behaviors into their identities, they may be motivated to manage others’ impressions to sustain and reinforce their own identities as good citizens. If this is the case, impression management motives may be ultimately concerned with one’s identity as a good citizen, rather than with advancing one’s image in the eyes of others. Researchers have yet to resolve the relationship between these self-identity and impression management motives: Some scholars believe they are distinct (Ashford, Blatt, & VandeWalle, 2003), whereas others believe they may be inextricably intertwined (Tetlock & Manstead, 1985).
However, we believe it is plausible that impression management motives are based not merely on the egoistic desire to serve one’s own interests by making a positive impression in the eyes of others, but also on the merger of one’s identity into the prosocial role implied by citizenship behaviors. In this situation, acts of citizenship may serve both altruistic and egoistic functions, as the act of contributing is likely to be psychologically pleasurable. Over time, the experience of benefiting others and the self through acts of citizenship may strengthen the likelihood that employees internalize the “good citizen” role, thereby fueling higher levels of citizenship. We hope to see these issues receive greater conceptual and empirical attention. Finally, several of our measures across the two studies had high internal consistency values, which can signal item redundancy and thus threaten construct validity (Boyle, 1991). We believe that this is not a threat in our research (a) because our measures showed high predictive validity, (b) because the high alphas largely occurred in long measures, and alpha is in part a function of test length (e.g., Cortina, 1993; Schmitt, 1996), and (c) because our items displayed “useful redundancy” (DeVellis, 1991, p. 56), rather than harmful redundancy, in that they shared the same meaning but had different semantic content (Bollen & Lennox, 1991).
Practical Implications and Conclusion
Our research offers important practical implications for organizations. Our findings suggest that managers who seek to cultivate good citizens may benefit from highlighting the multiple rewards of citizenship. Ensuring that employees are aware that citizenship can result in both helping and status rewards may increase the chances that employees with strong prosocial and impression management motives recognize the value of expressing these motives in the form of affiliative citizenship behaviors. In addition, if managers wish to encourage more challenging citizenship behaviors, they may place particular emphasis on selecting employees with strong prosocial motives. Our findings thereby offer meaningful theoretical, research, and practical implications for understanding and motivating citizenship behavior. As Bill Gates recently stated at the World Economic Forum, “This hybrid engine of self-interest and concern for others serves a much wider circle of people than can be reached by self-interest or caring alone” (Gates Foundation, 2008).
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Submitted: February 26, 2008 Revised: July 14, 2008 Accepted: July 15, 2008
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Source: Journal of Applied Psychology. Vol.94 (4) US : American Psychological Association pp. 900-912.
Accession Number: apl-94-4-900 Digital Object Identifier: 10.1037/a0013770
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