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Supervisor attribution of subordinates’ organizational citizenship behavior motives

Millissa Cheung (Department of Business Administration, Hong Kong Shue Yan University, North Point, Hong Kong)
Kelly Z. Peng (Department of Business Administration, Hong Kong Shue Yan University, North Point, Hong Kong)
Chi-Sum Wong (Department of Management, Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shatin, Hong Kong)

Journal of Managerial Psychology

ISSN: 0268-3946

Article publication date: 4 November 2014




The purpose of this paper is to investigate the agreement between supervisors and subordinates concerning the motives of organizational citizenship behaviors (OCB) and how the supervisors’ attributions affect their OCB ratings.


With the permission of seven large organizations in Macau, the authors conducted a survey of 500 employee-supervisor-co-worker triads. The final sample stood at 176 such triads with three hypotheses tested.


First, supervisors are more accurate when judging altruistic motives of subordinates’ OCB than with egoistic motives. Second, supervisor attribution of subordinates’ altruistic motives positively affects the supervisors’ OCB ratings. Third, employees who are motivated by altruistic motives perform more OCB actions those egoistically motivated.


The study adds to knowledge of how supervisor attribution of subordinates’ OCB motives affects their evaluation of the subordinates. It also provides evidence about the effect of OCB motives on the actual engagement in OCB. Findings of this study support the work of Organ et al. regarding the motives behind OCB and strengthen the role of attribution theory in studying OCB.



The authors would like to thank Marc Ahlstrom of Burlington County College for his editorial assistance.


Cheung, M., Z. Peng, K. and Wong, C.-S. (2014), "Supervisor attribution of subordinates’ organizational citizenship behavior motives", Journal of Managerial Psychology, Vol. 29 No. 8, pp. 922-937.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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