Organisational Citizenship Behaviours: Definition and explanation
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Organisational Citizenship Behaviours: Definition and Explanation


What are Organisational Citizenship Behaviours?

Organisational Citizenship Behaviours (OCB) refer to the level to which employees are prepared to go above and beyond the behaviours and tasks that are designated by their role for the good of the organisation and the people within it. There are three key aspects to organisational citizenship behaviours:

1. They are discretionary and voluntary behaviours, in that people conduct them out of personal choice and a desire to help
2. They are behaviours which go above and beyond what is expected and part of their job description, and
3. That crucially, the behaviours contribute positively to the effectiveness and ambience of the organisation

The term was first coined in a paper in 1983 by a team of researchers from the School of Business at Indiana University. They found that altruism, having people around that go the extra mile in what they termed citizenship behaviours were important ingredients for job satisfaction. Since that paper was published it has been citied over 5300 time in other research papers and the concept of Organisational Citizenship Behaviours have been the subject of more than 216,000 research papers. 

Organisational citizenship behaviours have been shown in many studies to be connected to a range of positive outcomes including:

  • Increased organisational performance
  • Increased Team Performance
  • Lower levels of turnover
  • Lower levels of counter-productive work behaviours
  • Higher levels of productivity

Leadership self-sacrifice

A recent (2020) study by researchers from the Universities of Leeds, Sheffield and York in the UK, found that leadership self-sacrifice can help to increase the chances of Organisational Citizenship Behaviours occurring in an organisation.


Smith, C. A. O. D. W. N. J. P., Organ, D. W., & Near, J. P. (1983). Organizational citizenship behavior: Its nature and antecedents. Journal of applied psychology68(4), 653.

Mohammad, J., Quoquab Habib, F., & Alias, M. A. (2011). Job Satisfaction and Organisational Citizenship Behaviour: an Empirical Study at Higher Learning Institutions. Asian Academy of Management Journal16(2).

Mostafa, A. M. S., & Bottomley, P. A. (2020). Self-sacrificial leadership and employee behaviours: An examination of the role of organizational social capital. Journal of Business Ethics161(3), 641-652.


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