International Journal of Psychology, 2016 Vol. 51, No. 3, 238–242, DOI: 10.1002/ijop.12155

Looking good or doing good? Motivations for organisational citizenship behaviour in Turkish versus South Korean collectivists Merve Alabak, Müjde Peker, and Robert W. Booth Department of Psychology, I¸sık University, Istanbul, Turkey


he purpose of this article is to explore potential motivations to perform organisational citizenship behaviour (OCB) in collectivistic Turkish and South Korean societies. Although collectivism has been proposed as a predictor of OCB, previous research has not fully explored the possibility that collectivistic individuals’ OCB may result from their self-oriented motives (i.e. social desirability concerns) or their future-oriented motives (i.e. long-term orientation concerns). We predicted that OCB stems from social desirability concerns among Turkish collectivists, meaning it is used for maintaining a positive image within the organisation. However, for South Korean collectivists, we predicted that OCB stems from their long-term orientation concerns, meaning it is used to make the organisation better. The results were in line with our predictions, and the findings are discussed in terms of their implications for firms in collectivistic societies.

Keywords: Collectivism; Long-term orientation; Organisational citizenship behaviour; Social desirability; South Korea; Turkey.

Organisational citizenship behaviour (OCB) is defined as extra-role work behaviour which is voluntary and helpful; it is not part of the job description or rewarded, but is intended to promote the organisation (Organ, 1997). Numerous studies have identified different predictors and motives of OCB such as individual characteristics, employee role perceptions and demographics, task characteristics, organisational characteristics and leadership style (e.g. Podsakoff, MacKenzie, Paine, & Bachrach, 2000). OCB as a concept was developed in North America (e.g. Podsakoff, Mackenzie, Moorman, & Fetter, 1990). Boyacigiller and Adler (1991) argued that North American organisational studies may show an individualism bias. In other words, OCB may mean different things in collectivistic compared to individualistic cultures. People are integrated with their group or organisation in collectivistic cultures, while ties between individual and group are loose in individualistic cultures (Oyserman, Coon, & Kemmelmeir, 2002). This link between individual and

group may influence OCB, because individuals perform OCB to benefit their group or organisation (Moorman & Blakely, 1995). For example, collectivists may perceive helping behaviours as moral obligations, not as discretionary behaviours. Recently, individualism and collectivism have been conceptualised as individual differences. For example, Taras, Kirkman, and Steel (2010) argued they are personal values, and individuals with individualistic values look primarily after their own interests while those with collectivistic values give priority to cooperation and harmony. Unsurprisingly, collectivism predicts OCB (e.g. Cohen & Avrahami, 2006). However, the motivations for OCB in different collectivistic societies have not been examined. Van Dyne, Cummings, and McLean Parks (1995) argued that OCB has two functions. First, it supports work relations, through helping colleagues and showing courtesy towards them. In other words, OCB is socially desirable behaviour that promotes conformity and harmony. Because collectivists want to maintain harmony, they may

Correspondence should be addressed to Müjde Peker, Psikoloji Bölümü, I¸sık Üniversitesi, Sile ¸ 34980, ˙Istanbul, Turkey. (E-mail: [email protected]). Merve Alabak and Müjde Peker conceived the study, and prepared the manuscript. Merve Alabak collected the data. Robert W. Booth assisted with analyses and preparing the manuscript. We thank Dr. Hyun-Jung Lee and the London School of Economics Korean Society for facilitating data collection.

© 2015 International Union of Psychological Science


perform OCB purely for social desirability reasons: OCB can be performed to look good (Bolino, 1999). On the other hand, OCB also includes behaviours which improve work systems and processes. According to Lee, Hui, Tinsley, and Niu (2006), OCB can be effortful and discretionary behaviour for a better future, and if work contexts emphasise future goals, OCB will increase. Therefore, collectivists’ OCB could be a result of either of these motivations. While OCB by collectivists could be primarily about giving a good impression, it can also be motivated by their long-term orientation (i.e. willingness to delay short-term success or satisfaction to achieve future success; Hofstede, 2011), where OCB has the goal of improving future organisational performance and work conditions. In order to test the influence of future orientation on OCB in collectivistic cultures, we used a sample from South Korea, which is collectivist (Hofstede, Hofstede, & Minkov, 2010) and characterised by long-term orientation, and compared it to a sample from Turkey, which is also collectivist but lacks long-term orientation (Hofstede et al., 2010). We hypothesised that Koreans’ collectivist orientations may affect OCB through their beliefs about creating a positive future for their organisations, while Turkish individuals—who are more likely to be short-term oriented—would engage in activities that exceed their job requirements, not to help their organisation, but rather to give a good impression to their colleagues (i.e. for social desirability reasons). METHOD Participants A total of 65 Turkish undergraduates (33 females, M age = 21.63, SD = 1.25) from I¸sık University, Turkey and 60 South Korean undergraduates (28 females, M age = 22.02, SD = 2.46) at the London School of Economics, U.K. participated. Materials and procedure Data were collected using a paper questionnaire for all Turkish and 22 Korean participants, and an online questionnaire for the remaining participants. An online questionnaire was used to reach more Korean participants; format did not influence the study variables, there were no significant differences between the online and paper data (t < .80, p >.40). Participants read a consent form, and then completed the scales. The scales were translated for Turkish participants; they were administrated in English for Korean participants. Korean participants, who were receiving education in London, did not report any difficulties understanding the materials. © 2015 International Union of Psychological Science


Organisational citizenship behaviour Participants completed the Organisational Citizenship Behaviours Scale (Podsakoff et al., 1990) by thinking of their possible future work behaviours. A sample item was “I obey company rules and regulations even when no one is watching.” Participants responded on a 5-point scale. The scale was translated to Turkish by Ünüvar (2006), who reported a Cronbach’s alpha of .83. Although the scale can be decomposed into subscales measuring altruism, sportsmanship, conscientiousness, courtesy and civic virtue, in this study we focused on the total OCB score. Collectivism The six-item collectivism subscale from Yoo, Donthu, and Lenartowicz’s (2011) Cultural Values Scale was used to measure collectivistic orientations. This scale was adapted from Hofstede’s original dimensions. “Individuals should sacrifice self-interest for the group.” Participants responded on a five-point scale. Yoo et al. (2011) reported Cronbach’s alphas of .80 and .78 for their Korean and American samples, respectively. Long-term orientation Long-term orientation was assessed with the six-item long-term orientation subscale from the Cultural Values Scale (Yoo et al., 2011). A sample item was “It is important to plan for the long-term.” Participants responded on a 5-point scale. Yoo et al. (2011) report Cronbach’s alphas of .73 and .76 for their Korean and American samples, respectively. Social desirability Social desirability was measured by the seven-item form of Crowne and Marlowe’s (1964) social desirability scale. Items were in a true-false format. A sample item was “I have never intensely disliked anyone.” The Turkish adaptation was prepared by Ural and Özbirecikli (2006), who report a Cronbach’s alpha of .77. RESULTS Cronbach’s alpha for the OCB, Collectivism and Long-Term Orientation Scales were .74, .92 and .86, respectively. The alpha for the Social Desirability Scale was .61 after two problematic items were removed from analyses. This scale often yields a low alpha in our laboratory due to its dichotomous responses and small number of items, but it shows the predicted correlations with related variables (see Table 1).


ALABAK, PEKER, BOOTH TABLE 1 Inter-correlations and descriptive statistics for the Turkish (N = 65) and Korean (N = 60) samples

Turkish sample

Korean sample

1. Collectivism 2. OCB 3. Long-term orientation 4. Social desirability 1. Collectivism 2. OCB 3. Long-term orientation 4. Social desirability







.326** .334**

.419*** .535*** .257*


.598** .353**

.322* .233 .186

2.974 19.738 4.077 1.231 3.436 18.880 4.278 1.257

0.643 1.89 0.447 0.212 0.744 1.332 0.534 0.212

OCB = organisational citizenship behaviour. *p < .05. **p < .01. ***p < .001.

Correlations between variables are presented in Table 1. Importantly, collectivism was significantly related to OCB in both the Turkish, r (63) = .35, p = .004, and Korean samples, r (58) = .27, p = .04. The relationship was of equivalent strength in the two samples, z = 0.48, p = .63; the rs were compared by converting them with Fisher’s z-transformation. For each sample, a mediation model was estimated using PROCESS (Hayes, 2013), with collectivism as the predictor, OCB as the outcome, and long-term orientation and social desirability as parallel mediators. Indirect effects were estimated using ordinary least squares, and their bias-corrected confidence intervals (CIs) were computed by bootstrapping with 10,000 resamples; a 95% CI which does not include zero is equivalent to p < .05. This procedure for testing mediation is powerful and robust to smaller sample sizes. For the Turkish sample, there was a significant indirect effect via social desirability, unstandardised B = 0.55, 95% CI [0.16, 1.11], but not via long-term orientation, B = 0.18, 95% CI [−0.002, 0.54]. The direct effect was not significant, B = 0.30, 95% CI [−0.40, 1.00], t = 0.85, p = .40, suggesting the relationship between collectivism and OCB is largely accounted for by social desirability concerns in the Turkish sample. This analysis was repeated with each OCB subscale as the outcome; equivalent results were found for all subscales except sportsmanship, which did not correlate with any of the other variables, |r|s < .16, ps > .22. For the Korean sample, there was a significant indirect effect via long-term orientation, B = 0.33, 95% CI [0.05, 0.73], but not via social desirability, B = 0.10, 95% CI [−0.02, 0.43]. The direct effect was not significant, B = 0.05, 95% CI [−0.52, 0.62], t = 0.18, p = .86, suggesting the relationship between collectivism and OCB is largely accounted for by long-term orientation in the Korean sample. Repeating this analysis with each OCB subscale as the outcome suggested the effect was driven by the sportsmanship (indirect effect of long-term orientation = 0.14, 95% CI [.01, .30]) and conscientiousness (0.18, 95% CI [.07, .32]) aspects of OCB.

Note that, although Korean participants scored higher on long-term orientation than Turkish participants, t (123) = 3.72, p < .001, they did not differ in social desirability, t (123) = 0.70, p = .49. Our claim is not that Turks have higher social desirability concerns than Koreans, but that more collectivist Turks’ OCB is motivated by social desirability concerns, whereas more collectivist Koreans’ OCB is motivated by long-term orientation. DISCUSSION In this study, factors influencing OCB in Korean and Turkish collectivists were investigated. The results supported earlier findings that collectivism is positively associated with OCB. However, the results also indicated that OCB can be motivated by different concerns in different collectivistic groups. In the Turkish context, social desirability mediated the relationship between collectivism and OCB. Turkish people’s collectivism was related to their desire to look good, which was in turn related to their OCB. Turkish collectivists with higher social desirability concerns show OCB that contributes to interpersonal relations (e.g. altruism, civic virtue and courtesy) and stability (e. g. conscientiousness) at work. Because these forms of OCB such as helping, being courteous and attending activities are observable by others, they can be predicted by social desirability concerns. However, in the Korean context, this relationship between OCB and collectivism was mediated by long-term orientation. In particular, sportsmanship and conscientiousness dimensions are more characterised by long-term consideration. The consequences of these types of OCB (i.e. being tolerant of work-related problems) may or may not be visible in the here and now, but a lack of sportsmanship and conscientiousness can affect organisational effectiveness in the future. Therefore, thinking forward may play a more important role in showing such behaviours for Koreans. These findings suggest Korean people do not show OCB to “look good,” despite their strong collectivism; instead they show OCB to “do good.” © 2015 International Union of Psychological Science


It is debatable where social desirability-motivated OCB ends and future-oriented OCB begins. We believe the two are not mutually exclusive. Collectivistic individuals tend to shape their behaviours based on in-group values and goals (Hofstede, 2011): we also found a positive relationship between collectivism and social desirability concerns in both samples. In this study, Korean collectivists’ values appeared more consistent with their long-term view of organisational and social interactions. They focused on potential future rewards. It is possible that Confucianism facilitates this future-oriented perspective, because Confucianism strongly influences the long-term orientation of Koreans (Hofstede, 2011). Confucianism is associated with strong work ethics, and defines hierarchical relationships in terms of mutual responsibility for the common good, rather than unquestioning subservience. On the other hand, Turkish collectivists could prefer quick outcomes because they may be maintained and reinforced through short-term gains. Although OCB is defined as being not formally rewarded, it may be rewarded eventually (Podsakoff et al., 2000). In the Turkish context, these rewards can be appreciation and the approval of the in-group or leader: Ural and Özbirecikli (2006) found “management of social relations” was the dominant aspect of socially desirable responding in Turkish accountants. Whatever the mechanism, dominant cultural values may play an important role in determining motivations of OCB among collectivists. The findings of this study provide some valuable implications for practice. Although both motives may result in OCB, in the long run they may have different outcomes for organisational performance. People who want to look good are oriented towards the present, protecting their own image and stability (Hofstede, 2011), which is not desirable for any organisation. Hofstede (2011) also argued that long-term orientation is positively associated with economic growth. Second, people with social desirability concerns may show less effort than future-oriented people. For example, we believe Turkish collectivists engage in the conscientiousness aspect of OCB to look good, whereas Korean collectivists do this for future goals. Both groups may have excellent attendance at meetings, but Koreans might be more efficient and goal-oriented. Finally, OCB for social desirability reasons may not be consistent, because it depends on others’ presence (Bolino, 1999). Therefore, long-term oriented motivation is likely to enhance the effectiveness of organisations in the long run. Organisational practitioners may activate employees’ future focus by integrating long-term thinking and planning in organisational culture. The Korean results are encouraging as they show that surrounding cultural context has an impact on future focus. Also if firms support long-term employment, employees are more likely to work towards organisational improvement. © 2015 International Union of Psychological Science


One limitation with this study might be that we used student samples. On the other hand, this study examined the motivational antecedents of OCB for collectivistic individuals, and Rioux and Penner’s (2001) motivational approach to OCB assumes that individuals perform OCB to satisfy their own needs; that is, OCB should not be company-specific. Moreover, it appears that motives behind OCB are more related to individual inclinations rather than organisational characteristics. In fact, Rioux and Penner (2001) also used data from undergraduates to develop their measure of motives to perform OCB. The student samples necessitated a reliance upon self-report measures, but our measures have been validated in previous studies and there was little overlap between the constructs measured, reducing the risk of common method bias. However, our social reliability scale showed low reliability in this study, so replication with an alternative measure would be valuable. For practical reasons, we were forced to collect data from Koreans studying in the U.K., using English language questionnaires: this English context may have influenced our Korean participants’ responses (Oyserman & Lee, 2008). However, note that this would work against the mediation effect we found, because the U.K. has a lower long-term orientation than South Korea (Hofstede et al., 2010). We are therefore confident that Koreans residing in South Korea would show the same results, but future research should confirm this. In summary, collectivism remains one of the most important predictors of OCB, but we show that collectivistic values’ effect on OCB can be mediated by social desirability concerns and long-term orientation. These results suggest that collectivism encourages OCB, and promoting future focus among collectivists might have the advantage of increasing the quality of OCB. Organisations in collectivistic societies that wish to motivate employees to engage in OCB should take long-term orientation into account. In order to move from “looking good” to “doing good,” they need to instil their employees with the idea of long-term orientation. Manuscript received June 2014 Revised manuscript accepted January 2015 First published online February 2015

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© 2015 International Union of Psychological Science

Looking good or doing good? Motivations for organisational citizenship behaviour in Turkish versus South Korean collectivists.

The purpose of this article is to explore potential motivations to perform organisational citizenship behaviour (OCB) in collectivistic Turkish and So...
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