Rostrum’s Law Review | ISSN: 2321-3787



In today’s volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA) world, organisations that practice organisational citizenship behaviour are more likely to succeed in the cutthroat business climate. An organisation can increase efficiency and acquire a competitive edge by encouraging workers to go above and beyond the statutory job requirements. Recognizing the utmost need of organisational citizenship behaviour (OCB), a thorough literature review was done to explore its antecedents. Hence, this paper focuses on exploring the antecedents of organisational citizenship behaviour (OCB) and its role in achieving and sustaining competitive advantage.

Keywords: Organisational citizenship behaviour, competitive advantage, job satisfaction, organisational commitment


 Organisational relationships and systems have undergone a paradigm transition. Traditional hierarchical and authoritarian organisational structures are giving way to self-governing, collaborative settings and job positions in modern organisations. Organisations increasingly recognise the value of voluntary self-initiative and collaboration as a result of this change. In such an organisational setting, organisational citizenship conduct is becoming more and more important. It is defined as behaviour that goes beyond the scope of one’s official job duties to contribute pro-socially to the organisation and coworker. OCB has significant effects on organisational/individual performance and effectiveness even though it is not formally a part of the organisational structure or incentive system. These actions significantly contribute to the upkeep of a strong workplace culture that fosters staff enthusiasm, dedication, and engagement—all of which provide businesses a competitive edge. The current study focuses on the emerging role of OCB in sustaining competitive advantage. It is structured as follows: Firstly, conceptual framework of OCB is presented along with its dimensions, antecedents and consequences. After this, a broad understanding about competitive advantage is put forth through resource-based theory. This is then followed by the role of OCB in sustaining competitive advantage and then towards the end, the strategies have been suggested to sustain competitive advantage through sustaining organisational citizenship behaviour among the organisations’ members.


2.1. Conceptual Framework

Organisation citizenship behaviour (OCB) refers to employee voluntary positive behaviour that supports and benefits the organisation as a whole. Organisational citizenship behaviour (OCB) is also referred as positive extra-role behaviour, which implies conducting above and beyond formal role. The employees who exhibit OCB may not every time be the high performer, they are the individuals that consistently “go the extra mile” or “go above and beyond” the minimal level of performance needed for doing a task successfully. One of the subjects in organisational behaviour research that has received the greatest attention recently is organisational citizenship behaviour (OCB) (Hannam and Jimmieson, 2002; Khalid and Ali, 2005). The introduction of this concept was done by Bateman & Organ in 1980s. Later on, this concept was improved and enhanced by other scholars including Podsakoff and Mackenzie (1997), Jahangir et al., (2004); Khalid and Ali (2005).

Organisational citizenship conduct is optional, which means it’s not legally binding necessity of role or job description and is instead question of individual discretion, absence of which is not typically seen as penalized (Organ, 1988). The support, cooperation & commitment of workforce of organisation will ensure that it operates effectively & efficiently if there is a high level of OCB tendency amongst the workforce. At organisational level, OCB has also been seen to boost productivity, effectiveness, and client satisfaction whilst decreasing expenses. It is connected to decreased rates of staff turnover and absenteeism (Podsakoff et al, 2009).

Wilson (2000) defined OCB as a type of helping act that involves spontaneous aid and a higher sense of commitment, and in that time is freely given to benefit other people, groups, and organisations. Despite the abundance of study on OCB, there are still differences in the definition and types of behaviours that are called OCB. Prior research, for example, has largely characterised OCB in terms of additional behaviours, according to Organ (1997). According to Jolly (2003), OCB should be viewed as part of a larger framework that encompasses both in-role as well as extra-role activities. Eastman and Pawar (2005), on the other hand, proposed that the larger framework of extra-role behaviours include political behaviours, OCB, and negative behaviours, implying that OCB is only one type of extra-role behaviour.

Despite these different viewpoints, Organ’s (1988) depiction of OCB is the most often utilised OCB conception. According to Organ, Organisational Citizenship Behaviours (OCBs) are discretionary behaviour patterns that are not expressly rewarded by an official reward system but contribute to the organisation’s overall effectiveness (Dennis W. Organ, 1988). Organ (1997) expounded on the three essential qualities of OCB in order to clear up any ambiguity on OCB:

  • These behaviours are voluntary in nature, meaning that OCB performance is not a job requirement, but rather a question of personal preference.
  • The benefits of demonstrating citizenship behaviours are not always assured.
  • These actions are necessary for an organisation’s efficient and effective operation.

2.2. Dimensions of OCB


Organ (1988) popularised a five-dimensional OCB framework, which is now the most widely used conception. Organ’s five-dimensional taxonomy contains the following:

  1. Altruism– It means helping behaviours of employees voluntarily and concern for the well-being of co-workers, such as assisting co-workers with excessive workloads.
  2. Conscientiousness– It means being responsible and performing above the minimal acceptable levels of workplace requirements in terms of organisational norms, punctuality, resource conservation, and other internal maintenance issues.
  • Sportsmanship – It demonstrates employees’ propensity to focus on the positive parts of an organisation rather than the negative parts, such as accepting the unavoidable workplace difficulties without complaining.
  1. Courtesy – It involves voluntary efforts intended at preventing workplace conflicts with coworkers, such as informing coworkers of behaviours that may cause them inconvenience.
  2. Civic Virtue – It entails proactive, constructive participation and dedication to the organisation as a whole, for example, volunteering for additional tasks.

Altruism is defined as voluntarily assisting other employees. Courtesy has to do with motivating coworkers and avoiding issues in the workplace. Accepting less-than-ideal conditions is a sign of sportsmanship. Participation in and devotion to the organisation is a civic virtue. Conscientiousness entails voluntarily going above and beyond what is required.

Organisations need OCBs because they help them make better use of limited resources and boost productivity. Because of their role in creating positive connections among employees and involving people in the organisation’s activities, OCBs are considered crucial (Chu et al., 2005).

2.3. Antecedents of OCB

On the basis of review of literature based on OCB, the relevant antecedents of OCB identified thus far (Lok et.al. 2007; Jahangir et al., 2004; Meyer et.al., 1997; Hannam and Jimmieson, 2002) are as follows:

  • Role Perception: Role conflict as well as role ambiguity are two aspects of role perception that have been proven to be strongly and adversely associated to OCB. On the other hand, there is a positive correlation between role facilitation and role clarity, and so both of these concepts should be promoted to improve OCB.
  • Individual disposition: Positive affectivity, negative affectivity, conscientiousness, and agreeableness are four character traits related to work that fall under category of individual disposition. These personality traits are viewed as important when interacting with coworkers or clients. Extraversion and introversion should both be observed within specified bounds.
  • Fairness Perceptions: It refers to procedural justice and distributive justice. Procedural justice refers to whether or not employees perceive organisational decision-making to be free of bias. Distributive justice refers to the proportionate reward system that is implemented in the organisation based on their training, tenure, responsibility, or workload. Both of these components have a favourable connection to OCB.
  • Motivation: The research found that motives play important role in strengthening OCB. Encouragement of employees to take an active role in making decisions is one way managers can support collaboration among teams. Consequently, this will improve the team’s effectiveness and productivity. Nevertheless, motivation is seen as less significant as an antecedent of OCB when an individual rises through the ranks in a job.
  • Leadership: The degree to which an employee is willing to participate in OCB appears to be strongly influenced by leadership. Its association with OCB is positive. Leadership, one of the antecedents of OCB, enhances harmony, spirits, and teamwork among employees, which in turn promotes organisational commitment. It also indirectly affects how workers view justice and fairness in the workplace.
  • Job Satisfaction and Organisational Commitment: It has been discovered that there is a favourable correlation between job happiness and both job performance and OCB. This association can assist lower absenteeism among workers, turnover, and psychological discomfort. Workers that are highly satisfied with their jobs are more inclined to participate in OCB. Affective organisational commitment is mentioned as an antecedent of OCB in addition to job satisfaction. Hannam and Jimmieson (2002) argue that affective commitment is conceptualized as a strong belief towards acceptance of organisational goal and a strong desire to maintain membership in the organisation.
  • Employee Age: According to studies, younger workers are more flexible in how they align their needs with organisational requirements, but older employees are more likely to be strict in how they do so. As a result, the orientations that younger and older employees have toward themselves, others, and their jobs may vary. These variations could result in differing salient OCB motivations for younger and older employees.

Figure 1: Antecedents and Consequences of OCB

2.4. Consequences of OCB

Organisational performance has been linked closely to organisational citizenship behaviour. In general, it has been asserted that organisations with higher degrees of OCB have lower absence rates, lower turnover rates, and higher employee retention rates (Chughtai and Zafar, 2006; Khalid and Ali, 2005; Meyer et.al, 1997; Podaskoff and Mackenzie, 1997), and this ultimately results in enhanced organisational performance. On basis of metrics like decreased absenteeism, decreased turnover, staff satisfaction, staff loyalty, staff retention, client loyalty, and client satisfaction, influence of OCB on organisational effectiveness/performance can be assessed. These dimensions are explained as under:

  • Reduced Absenteeism: According to numerous research, organisations with higher OCB levels have lower absence rates. High propensity in the OCB dimensions of altruism, sportsmanship, civic virtue, and conscientiousness, which affect employee attendance and encourage employees to minimise unneeded absences, enhance organisational effectiveness.
  • Reduced Turnover: Previous studies indicate that reduced turnover intention is influenced by OCB levels that are greater inside the organisation. The various OCB characteristics can raise workplace performance stability and reduce workplace performance variability to boost organisational efficiency and productivity.
  • Employees Retention: According to earlier research, the OCB traits of altruism and sportsmanship promote organisational performance by making it easier for businesses to recruit and keep top talent. Employee loyalty results in the long run from this. Altruism and good sportsmanship contribute to a productive workplace atmosphere that boosts employee morale and a sense of community within the team, enhancing the company’s appeal as an employer. Workers with a strong sense of sportsmanship have less complaints regarding trivial issues, are more willing to take on or acquire new responsibilities, and help the organisation better adapt to environmental changes. As a result, employees grow to feel loyal to and committed to the company, which could improve organisational effectiveness.
  • Employees’ Satisfaction: Dimensions of OCB in relation to altruism & conscientiousness helps in improving employee satisfaction in organisation (Chughtai and Zafar, 2006; Khalid and Ali, 2005). When more seasoned workers act kindly and advise less seasoned workers on how to perform their jobs effectively, it improves both the quantity and quality of the less seasoned workers’ performance. On the other hand, Employees that behave conscientiously demand less management and enable the manager to give them more responsibilities (Meyer et.al. 1997; Podsakoff and Mackenzie 1997).
  • Consumer Satisfaction: Emphasis on consumer satisfaction is crucial element in boosting organisational performance (Sivadas and Baker, 2000; Kersnik, 2001). It has become crucial to include continual quality improvement in quality evaluation in order to maintain consumer happiness. Employees that are happy with their performance will work harder and provide consumers with more valuable services. Customers will consequently feel that the service is of good quality and will be pleased with it.
  • Consumer Loyalty: Consumer devotion is another consumer-based metric that can be used to assess business effectiveness (Ruyter and Bloemer, 1999; Gallarza and Saura, 2004; Chahal, 2008). Consumer happiness leads to increased customer loyalty, which helps to preserve and enhance an organisation’s reputation in the marketplace. Particularly for private organisations, this is important. The consumer’s financial situation, on the other hand, distorts the concept of loyalty and customer pleasure.

3.1. Conceptual Framework

An edge over rivals is known as a competitive advantage. This advantage is attained by providing clients with higher value, either via cheaper prices or by delivering extra benefits in products and/or services that warrant equivalent or possibly increased rates. As an illustration, one of Wal-competitive Mart’s advantages is its ability to offer products at low prices because of its low overhead. Wal-Mart, on the other hand, sets itself apart from its competitors by being open around-the-clock and providing services, dry goods, and food in one place. For millions of its clients, affordability and convenience are undeniably appealing characteristics. The company’s market dominance stems from its comparative advantages. Implementing a value-creating strategy without any existing or potential competitors doing the same can provide one a competitive advantage.

When a company has a competitive edge that cannot be readily replicated or surpassed by its rivals, it is said to have a sustainable competitive advantage. Sustainability is when an advantage is maintained despite the actions of competitors.

The four essential requirements for a resource/skill to be a source of Sustainable Competitive Advantage are listed as below:

  • It must have value; resources and expertise provided by businesses are valued when they help them develop and put into practise solutions that increase their productivity and effectiveness.
  • It must be uncommon among the company’s present and potential rivals.
  • It has to be somewhat imitable.
  • There can’t be a strategically equal replacement for this ability/skill.

3.2. Resource-Based Theory of Competitive Advantage

The Resource-Based theory claims that an organisation’s competitive advantage can be produced by its organisational resources. Resources are defined as “the actual and intangible assets that a corporation controls that it can employ to think of and implement its strategies” according to Barney and Hesterly (2012) who have written extensively on this subject. This theory is predicated on two major assumptions:

(1)     Resources differ amongst organisations, and

(2)     Resources not already in possession may be difficult for other companies to grow or acquire.

As a result, having control of vital resources can provide a company a competitive edge and enable it to beat rival companies. More significantly, because to a lack of comparable resources, rivals might not be able to confront the focus organisation (Barney and Hesterly, 2012). Barney believes a company has a competitive advantage when it implements an approach that creates value if no present or prospective rivals have done the same at the same time. The firm enjoys an ongoing competitive edge if other businesses have no way to replicate the advantages of this approach. As stated by Barney, a resource needs four characteristics to be able to have a lasting competitive edge.:

  1. Non-substitutability.

Figure 3: Barney’s Resource-Based Theory


A strategic resource is an asset that is valuable, rare, difficult to imitate, and non-substitutable. The Apple store, numerous elements of the overall purchasing experience, including price, and an innovative culture are just a few of Apple’s many strategic resources. Their proprietary software and hardware platforms, which have developed through a plethora of inventions and enhancements over a period of several years, are another. Strategic resources that are expensive to acquire (like an aeroplane) or scarce are valuable solely because of these factors (e.g., diamonds). Rivals find it difficult to imitate resources which are difficult to copy. A number of legal tools, including patents, copyrights, trademarks, may be utilised to safeguard particular assets and keep rivals from simply replicating them. Other resources are more challenging to duplicate because they are dynamic and represent certain firm attributes. A resource is considered to be not replaceable when competitors have no way to devise an alternative strategy to gain the benefits that it provides.

If this is the case, these resources may offer the company a lasting competitive edge as well as a transient one, which will allow it to maintain its popularity for a very longer time. While resources that don’t meet all four requirements may still be very beneficial, they are unlikely to provide benefits over the long run. For example, a resource that is rare and valuable but also easily copied may provide a temporary gain, but competition may soon outweigh such an advantage.

By using what Barney (1991) first referred to as the VRIO framework (Table 1), the RBV makes it easier to understand the competitive advantage. He believes that Value (V), Rareness (R), Imitability (I), and Organisation (O) are the keys to understanding competitive advantage and that they can also be used to differentiate between advantages that are short-lived and those that are long-lasting.

Table 1: VRIO Framework (Barney & Hesterly, 2010)


According to resource-based theory, a corporation is best positioned for long-term success if it has access to resources that are valued, rare, challenging to imitate, and non-substitutable. These crucial assets have the potential to be the foundation for the expansion of corporate capacities, which could eventually lead to increased performance. Capabilities are needed to combine, supervise, and employ resources in a manner that benefits consumers and provides an edge against competitors.

Figure 3: A Resource-Based Approach to Strategy Analysis


3.3. Sources of Competitive Advantage

The following are sources of competitive advantage:

  • Cost Advantage: A company can achieve cost advantage when it can sell a comparable product for less money than what its rivals are charging.
  • Differentiation Advantage: When a company is able to offer more benefits from its product than those of its competitors, this is referred to as having a differentiation advantage. 

Introducing the concept of Resource-Based Theory, we may examine the role of Organisational Citizenship Behaviour (OCB) in achieving sustainable competitive advantage. One of the components of an organisation’s resources is its human resource, and the phenomena has to do with both organisational behaviour and personnel conduct inside the organisation’s walls. Organisational citizenship behaviour (OCB) is a good extra role behaviour that employees of the organisation display at work. The definition of OCB according to Organ was changed in 1997 to include “performance that supports the social and psychological context in which task performance takes place.” According to this concept, OCB has a significant role in regulating how well individuals accomplish their jobs since it fosters a supportive and cooperative workplace culture. Positive consequences usually follow positive behaviour.

It has been discovered that businesses view their competitive and interorganisational cooperation connections as a special way to get a competitive edge. However, despite substantial advancements in connection detection, difficulties still exist in leveraging relationships for competitive advantage. This might be due to the affect of many other factors. The competitive advantage that can be attained through network of connections is unique & comes primarily from inter-organisational collaboration, which is preferred method of resource sharing as well as fostering partnerships among businesses. The competitive advantage is based on many abilities that are typically obtained from the distinctiveness of interactions at both the intra- and inter-organisational levels, as well as discovered and applied to relevant markets. As a result of these networks of links being challenging to duplicate, social capital – OCB is the outcome of relationships of interaction, which has a significant influence on a firm’s competitive edge. Productivity, efficiency, lower costs, customer happiness, unit-level turnover, and organisational effectiveness are effects of OCB determined via literature review. These effects could help organisation develop competitive edge. Past research studies have also shown significant positive impact of OCB on competitive advantage (Ranjhan & Mallick, 2018).

Figure 4:  Role of Organisational Citizenship Behaviour in Sustaining Competitive Advantage

Such citizenship practices significantly contribute to the upkeep of an excellent work environment that fosters enthusiasm among staff members, commitment, and engagement—all of which provide businesses a competitive edge. An organisation’s overall increased profitability, productivity, performance, client satisfaction, decreased costs along with effectiveness might very well aid in capturing sizable market dominance, expanding size of firm, making products at minimal price, expanding marketing, distribution & service capabilities as well as creating strong brand. These advantages result in competitive advantage as they stem from organisation’s core competency, that is unique to that organisation and can only be obtained by that particular organisation. Strategies must be made to maintain OCB among the organisation’s personnel in order to maintain competitive advantage.


It has now been established that in order to sustain competitive advantage, there is need of creation of commitment among the employees and for that, the leaders need to focus on promotion of citizenship behaviours among the employees. Considering that psychological attachment can spur individuals’ urges to contribute, organisations should foster a sense of ownership among their workforce. The following interventions can be used to encourage OCB:

  • An employee care cell should be established where any problems or complaints can receive a rapid response.
  • Even though the concept of the OCB is metaphysical, it can be made practical by establishing Citizenship laws and rules.
  • Rather than allowing OCB and employee commitment processes to evolve naturally, firms can set up training sessions wherein employees’ psychological conditioning can be accelerated in order to accelerate OCB maturation process.

The aforementioned suggestions could appear to be more expensive initially, but as the OCB process quickly matures, costs will be lower in the process’ intermediate and later stages; and additionally, it will boost up in achievement and sustainment of competitive edge among its rivals.

Further, the antecedents of Organisational Citizenship Behaviour can be used as guidelines for increasing pace of OCB, e.g. by inspiring workers or encouraging stronger interactions among managers & employees. The following are some additional suggestions for promoting and maintaining OCB at work.

  • Establish a workplace culture that values organisational citizenship such as encouraging personnel to attend office events, increasing the number of workplace events, or hosting company-wide birthday meals. The social & psychological context in which task performance occurs will be encouraged if managers add OCB as one of the criterion of performance appraisal management.
  • To promote OCB, an informal reward system might be implemented, in which staff members receive rewards through their supervisors’ evaluations or other channels.
  • During the hiring process, it is important to look for characteristics connected to organisational citizenship behaviour, and preference should be given to candidates who also meet the formal standards.

Organisational Citizenship Behaviour (OCB) is a cooperative and supportive conduct that encourages employees to be committed to achieving organisational goals. Positive effects of OCB aid organisations in achieving profitability at the level of competition, which gives them a competitive advantage. Because OCB is a capability that is unique to an organisation, it becomes a core competency of that organisation and is derived from its human resource. By maintaining the OCB among its staff, organisations can maintain their competitive edge. By maintaining the OCB among its personnel, organisations can maintain their competitive advantage.


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