CN Citizen Series > CultureNeutral®

CultureNeutral® Key Number 4 – Organizational Citizen/ship Behavior

missionIn Dennis W. Organ’s original 1983 construct, Organizational Citizenship Behaviors (OCB), Organ proposed that beneficial individual behaviors within organizations can manifest as what he called a “Good Soldier Syndrome” among employees. [1]

Organ thoughtfully asserted, “…OCB is hardly a “neutral” concept…,” his recognition that citizen soldiers are anything but neutral in their commitment and allegiances to their sovereign.  Not tacitly at all, Organ pointed out that, “Ironically, while the inclusion of the word citizenship is rife with political implications, little attention has been given to the possible enrichment of the concept from political theory.” [2]

Whether or not our consideration here qualifies as “political theory,” Borman, Motowidlo, Rose, & Hanser identified a facet of the “Good Soldier” citizenship model in OCB that is highly relevant to the CultureNeutral® Framework. They observed:

“Commitment and socialization merge to define Allegiance…” which is defined very simply as: “loyalty or commitment of a subordinate to a superior or of an individual to a group or cause.” [3]

As Organ suggests, by its nature, the term “Good Soldier” provides a powerful metaphor for allegiance to and sovereignty of organizations, and a raft of associated “political” behaviors. One could argue that it is the volunteer citizen soldier‘s allegiance that represents the highest stake in military outcomes, regardless of the individual outcome. [4]

In the OCB construct, Organ’s focus was on the behavior of the individual member and their organizational behaviors equating to citizenship as different from required work performance behaviors.  But from national sovereignty to local jurisdictions, cultural norms translate into laws, rules, regulations and ordinances that govern, dictate and moderate citizen behaviors. The OCB construct implies the organization as a sovereign entity,

When considering “group or cause,’ does culture fit within the rubric of those things to which people, soldiers included, can have an allegiance? Sam P. Huntington argued that the answer was an unequivocal “Yes!” as he saw civilizations realigning in accord with cultural allegiances rather than national blocs, evidencing a subjection to diverse cultural sovereigns.

If that’s the case, how can OCB play into a CultureNeutral® Framework?  What are the implications for organizational culture as antecedent and consequence in terms of both cultural conflict and cultural compatibility of employee culture with that of the organization?

In a tangible way, culture transcends jurisdictional borders, and can even carry beyond national borders. Culture also carries across organizational boundaries, into organizations. Effectively managing those border crossings is at the heart of Corporate “Diversity” theory, mitigating the consequences of multicultural immigration, modifying OCB to optimize organizational performance. Until recently, the mark of highly effective Cultural Diversity programs was the extent to which an organization was able to both accommodate the diverse cultures of the “immigrant” during their corporate naturalization process (traditional HR probationary period) to achieve full organizational citizenship.

CultureNeutral® focus is secondarily on the Behavior, with the primary emphasis on the Citizen as subject to the cultural sovereignty factor dominant in establishing and enforcing acceptable (constitutional) behaviors within an organizational culture.  The reader will notice that CultureNeutral® sometimes employs a bisecting slash in the word citizen/ship to differentiate the legal status of the employee as “citizen” from both the requisite and voluntary qualitative state (behavioral) inherent in the suffix “ship.”

The citizen carries the obligation of allegiance, the loyalty and fidelity owed by a subject or citizen to a sovereign or government. A similar set of obligations falls  upon any alien to the government under which the alien resides for the period of their residence.   (i.e., When in Rome…)  In return for that allegiance, the citizen becomes a person entitled by birth or naturalization to the protection of a state or nation, legally belonging to that state or nation.

For the purpose of the CultureNeutral® frame, a simple, straightforward definition of the status side (left) of citizen/ship is this:  “Possession of citizenship is normally associated with the right to work and live in a country and to participate in political life.”  The same would apply to the analogous organizational citizen, as granted by the organization.

On the behavioral side (right) of the citizen/ship equation, CultureNeutral® Organizational Citizen Behavior (CNOCB) is defined as the range of behaviors that fall within the acceptable limits of the rights, duties, responsibilities and obligations of organizational citizenry.

While there are written policies, rules and regulations that dictate some behaviors in organizational life, there are unwritten and even unspoken cultural norms. These represent the full scope of behavioral expectations and limits for every corporate citizen. They apply in both social and task spheres, [6] and at each internal level of organizational work/play, from individual roles to team play, to functional groups and to leadership.

Perhaps most naturalization processes are strictly from one citizenship to another. The transition requires a conscious, deliberate and rigorous program of change in allegiance, completely relinquishing one for another.  But not always.  Only a dozen or so countries forbid dual citizenship.  [5] But therein lies a another CultureNeutral® differentiation from the Organ model.

A significant point of departure for CultureNeutral® from typical application of OCB is precisely because of the coupling with the complexities of culture.  Among the inescapable political implications of OCB that Organ acknowledge but didn’t address: in any polity employees do not behave strictly individually, but collectively as well, both with respect to social and task behaviors, and their citizen behaviors are influenced by that polity.

Collective bargaining, for example, could be seen as generating complexities via a state or sense of dual citizenship within an organization, bifurcated allegiance (not the same as divided loyalty), dual-cohesion modes.

Adding to the mix the layers of multicultural identity and overlapping “moral circles” [7] of race, gender, age, disability, class and so on complicates a marriage of citizenship and culture. This, in a nutshell, represents the compounding of operational complexity in “Diversity” as it is taught now, such that Hofstede alone requires almost 1,200 pages over two books [7] [8] to corral the concepts of managing culture and its consequences.  One more key is needed to mitigate diversity’s complications in the CultureNeutral® Framework…and even soldiers and Generals employ it in their work.

At this point, you’ve got the definitions and the fundamental ideas underlying the first four CultureNeutral® Keys, Culture, Conflict, Sovereignty and Citizenship.  You might already be anticipating how neutrality completes the overall framework.

CONTINUE with us to the discussion of the final:
CultureNeutral® Key Number 5 – Neutrality

To read more about OCB:
OCB – Cultural Implications
OCB – Is It Contagious?

View or review all the CultureNeutral® Keys:

Key #1 Culture
Key #2 Conflict
Key #3 Sovereignty
Key #4 Citizenship (Top of Page)
Key #5 Neutrality


Copyright Robert D. Jones, 2013, All Rights Reserved

[1] Organ, Dennis W., Organizational Citizen Behavior, 1988, Lexington Books, D.C. Heath and Company (p. 106, 109)

[2] ibid.

[3] Borman, W.C., Motowidlo, S.J., Rose, S.R., & Hanser, L.M. (1985). Development of a model of soldier effectiveness (Institute Report #95). Minneapolis, MN: Personnel Decisions Research Institutes.

[4]  Non-citizen soldiers may use the military as a path to citizenship, a practice dating back to the late Roman Empire.

[5] Some nations do not forbid multiple citizenship, where citizenship equates with nationality. Those are unnecessarily complex for our framework.

[6 ] Group cohesion reconsidered: A study of blue collar work groups (1969), Mikalachki, A., MB.A., PhD, Professor Emeritus, Richard Ivey School of Business, School of Business Administration, University of Western Ontario (London).  Mikalachki’s work identified the bifurcation of cohesion into a social vs. task model, with broad organizational implications.

[7] Cultures and Organizations: Software of the Mind, Hofstede, Hofsted & Minkov (2010), McGraw Hill, p. 17

[8] Cultures Consequences: Comparing values, behaviors, institutions, and organizations across nations, Hofstede, G. (2001) Sage Publications

Related Posts

No Comments Yet.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *