Employee Gratitude: A New Direction for Understanding Organizational Citizenship Behaviour
Spence, Jeffrey Robert
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Organizational citizenship behaviour (OCB) is extra-role behaviour that is not formally required by organizations, but benefits the organization and its members (Organ, 1988). OCB is considered to be a core dimension of job performance (Rotundo & Sackett, 2002) with research showing that OCB contributes to the health and productivity of organizations (e.g., Podsakoff, Whiting, Podsakoff, & Blume, 2009). As a result, both organizational researchers and organizations have long been interested in understanding the origins of this behaviour. However, research into the antecedents of OCB has important limitations. Notably, this research has conceptualized OCB as a static construct, which recent theorizing and research indicates is an inaccurate assumption (e.g., Beal, Weiss, Barros, & MacDermid, 2005; Ilies, Scott, & Judge, 2006). Additionally, OCB research has relied on a single theoretical framework, social exchange theory, to explain previous findings, creating narrowness in the field. The current dissertation sought to address these important limitations by conceptualizing OCB as a dynamic construct (i.e., one that has sizable day-to-day within-person variability) and examining the ability of state gratitude, a novel and theoretically relevant antecedent, to predict OCB. Drawing on the Moral Affect Model of gratitude, Affective Events Theory, and Broaden and Build Theory, I propose that state gratitude is an important driver of day-to-day fluctuations in OCB. In two daily diary studies, my findings revealed that, as predicted, dynamic fluctuations in OCB were significantly predicted by state gratitude. Additionally, in the second of two daily diary studies, state gratitude was successfully induced by a “count your blessings” task and state gratitude was found to be a significant mediator of the induction and OCB. Overall, the results lend support to the notion that OCB is dynamic and that state gratitude, a discrete positive emotion, can be an effective driver of OCB.