Organizational Citizenship Behavior | Definition and Examples | Organizational Behavior | Management Notes


Organizational Citizenship Behavior Definition

Organizational Citizenship Behavior (OCB) that has been studied since 1970s is defined as the voluntary commitment of the person within an organization or company that is not part of his or her contractual tasks. It refers to discretionary, non-required contributions by members to the organizations that employ them. It describes all the positive and constructive employee actions and behaviors that aren’t part of their formal job description.

Over the past three decades, interest in these behaviors has increased substantially. Organizational behavior has been linked to overall organizational effectiveness; thus, these types of employee behaviors have important consequences in the workplace. We can look at a company like a little city. It has a mayor (typically the owner or the person highest in charge) well as different departments (heck, we can even have the cleaning crew as the sanitation department).

So if we can look at a company like a little city, we can begin to look at the employees as citizens of that city. With that perspective in mind, we can see how citizens of our little city want it to be the best city it can be. They have a stake in waiting from a perspective of a company being a city and wanting employees to feel closely associated with the city is organizational citizenship, or a perspective that employees have whereby they extend their behaviors beyond the normal duties of their position.

Types of Organizational Citizenship Behavior

The five most common types of Organizational Citizenship Behavior defined by Dennis Organ in the year 1988 while studying on organizational citizenship behavior are altruism, courtesy, sportsmanship, conscientiousness, and civic virtue.


Altruism is defined as the desire to help or otherwise assist another individual, while not expecting a reward in compensation for that assistance. A common example outside of a business setting would be someone who drives a neighbor to work when their car has broken down, while not expecting as money or favors in compensation. In a business setting altruistic behavior is generally related to the work or project that the business group is working on.

Someone exhibiting altruistic behavior in a group setting might volunteer to work on certain special projects, voluntarily helping or assisting other employees with their work or with other tasks, and volunteering to do additional work in order to help other employees reduce their own work load. Altruism in the workplace leads to productivity and effectiveness because it encourages good inter-employee relations; it can also reduce the stress load on other employers, such as those who are overwhelmed without a little bit of help, which will in turn increase productivity.


Courtesy is defined as behavior which is polite and considerate towards other people. Courtesy outside of a workplace setting includes behavior such as asking how someone’s morning has been or asking after the welfare of a neighbor’s child. In a business context courtesy is usually exhibited through behaviors such as inquiring about personal subjects that a coworker has previously brought up, asking if a coworker is having any trouble with a certain work related project, and informing coworkers about prior commitments or any other problems that might cause them to reduce their workload or be absent from work.

Courtesy not only encourages positive social interactions between employees, which improve the work environment, but they can reduce any potential stress that might occur from employees who do not have the courtesy to inform their coworkers about issues such as upcoming absences from work-and so on.



Sportsmanship is defined as exhibiting no negative behavior when something does not go a planned or when something is being perceived as annoying difficult, frustrating or otherwise negative. Outside of a business context, sportsmanship is most commonly associated with sports and games poor sportsmanship, for example, might occur when a player on a soccer team
swears stomps and argues when their team loses a soccer game. In the context of business, good sportsmanship is usually related to potential complaints about work or workloads in addition to negativity surrounding work-related surprises.

For example: Imagine an employee who submit their proposal to their superior may be expecting it to be well-received and accepted – it is rejected, instead, and the employee displays good sportsmanship by not complaining about the situation to other coworkers or individuals who may report their behavior to others working for
the business.



Conscientiousness is defined as behavior that suggests a reasonable level of self-control and discipline, which extends beyond the minimum requirements expected in that situation. In the context of a business setting, conscientiousness is observed when an employee not only meets their employer’s requirements – such as coming into work on time and completing assignments on time–but exceeds them.

Exceeding these requirements, and thereby showing conscientiousness, could be observed –for example–by an employee planning ahead to ensure that they, and their coworkers, do not become overwhelmed in their work.


Civic Virtue

Civic Virtue definition

Civic virtue is defined as behavior which exhibits how well a person represents an organization with which they are associated, and how well that person supports their organization outside of an official capacity.

Civic Virtue Examples

For example, how well someone represents their business and how they may support that business are all examples of someone’s civic virtue.

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