Discretionary Behavior and Performance in Educational Organizations: The Missing Link in Educational Leadership and Management: Volume 13


Table of contents

(22 chapters)
Content available
Content available

The contributors of this volume provide new insights and perspectives on discretionary behaviors in educational organizations. Such behaviors have long been recognized as essential to organizational effectiveness. Long ago Barnard (1938) characterized the willingness of individual employees to contribute cooperative efforts to an organization as indispensable. Katz and Kahn (1966) argued that extra-role behaviors are crucial in improving organizational effectiveness and that when individuals only perform prescribed duties, failure is inevitable.

Organizational environment where the organizational behavior takes place and the task roles employees need to perform have become increasingly complex in today's organizations. To respond to this complexity, modern organizations need willing, flexible, and proactive employees who go beyond narrow task requirements and who approach work proactively by showing personal initiative (Crant, 2000; Ohly, Sonnentag, & Pluntke, 2006; Parker, 2000; Sonnentag, 2003). In an era where the responsibility and decision making have shifted downward through transformational leadership and shared decision-making, employees have started taking part in both decision making and implementation process without constant close supervision (Frese & Fay, 2001; Sonnentag, 2003). They are expected to demonstrate discretionary behaviors that may go beyond their formally identified job descriptions to carry out the current expectations and comprehensive and complex tasks. Discretionary behavior refers to the employee behavior that is not directly or explicitly recognized by the formal reward system, and in the aggregate promotes the efficient and effective functioning of the organization (Organ, Podsakoff, & MacKenzie, 2006; Van Dyne, Cummings, & McLean Parks, 1995). Employee discretionary behaviors contribute to maintenance and enhancement of the social and psychological organizational context which supports task performance and organizational effectiveness (McBain, 2004; Organ, 1997). As Den Hartog and Belschak (2007) stated, employee discretionary behaviors are crucial for organizations to be able to stay competitive in today's global economy.

Typical organizations comprise members whose behaviors range from the minimum possible to maintain membership, to those discretionarily engaging in job-related behaviors above that expected or required. These discretionary behaviors are beyond the job description and often are not recognized by the formal reward system. Possibly, individuals with high emotional intelligence are more prone to engage in discretionary behaviors. The relationship between the dimensions of emotional intelligence and discretionary citizenship behaviors has not previously been explored. Using samples of nursing and business university professors, this study investigates the relationship between discretionary behaviors of educators and the four branch model of emotional intelligence. Discretionary behaviors comprised a set of traditional organizational citizenship dimensions, and those behaviors beyond the expected unique to higher education. Salovey and Mayer's four branch model was used to assess emotional intelligence. Data were analyzed with correlation analysis and multiple regressions. The regression results indicate that managing emotion (the ability to manage one's emotions and emotional relationships) had the greatest number of significant positive relationships with discretionary behaviors in both samples. Perceiving emotions and understanding emotions produced negative relationships with sportsmanship in the nursing sample. The nursing sample produced more relationships between emotional intelligence and discretionary behaviors than the business faculty sample. Overall results support the idea that emotional intelligence is linked to discretionary citizenship behavior. The study results provide evidence to support the organizational value of emotional intelligence. Also, the results provide ideas for fruitful further research which may hold promise for increasing organizational effectiveness and efficiency.

The purpose of this research was to explore common conceptions about the underlying nature of teachers’ organizational citizenship behaviors (OCBs). Two studies were conducted to examine the dynamic and subjective nature of the boundary between teachers’ in-role and extra-role behavior. Study 1, based on a sample of 205 teachers from 30 elementary schools in Israel, examined this boundary between teachers’ in-role and extra-role behaviors through teachers’ career stages. Study 2, based on a survey of 29 principals, 245 teachers, and 345 parents from 30 elementary schools in Israel, investigated how different stakeholders in schools (principals, teachers, parents) conceptualized teachers’ in-role–extra-role boundary. Results from these two studies attest to its dynamic and subjective nature. Implications for research and practice are discussed.

In an educational landscape fraught with demands and limited finances, organizational citizenship behaviors (OCBs) of teachers are a coveted resource. In this regard, transformational leadership (TL) is often attributed with the achievement of such organizational outcomes. This conceptual essay considers the relationship between teacher culture, teacher OCBs, and TL, arguing that the characteristics of teacher culture predispose those who become teachers to perform OCBs. Furthermore, due to its participatory style, TL may result in either a motivating or de-motivating influence on teacher OCBs depending on the perceived values congruence between teacher culture and leadership goals and behavior. Implications and suggestions for practice are offered.

The purpose of this study was to examine factors affecting teachers’ work performance (i.e., task performance and discretionary performance) and career aspirations (i.e., remaining a teacher, seeking promotion to a principalship, and career change). Applying an inclusive social-cognitive perspective, the study integrated the personal, organizational, and leadership domains to explain teachers’ task performance, discretionary performance, and career aspirations. The three domains, represented by the independent variables of self-efficacy, collective efficacy, perceived organizational support, and principal leadership styles, predicted teachers’ work performance and career aspirations. Participants included 897 public school teachers in a southern state in the United States. The data gathering instrument incorporated several previously validated scales on study constructs. The analyses indicated that teacher self-efficacy, collective efficacy, POS, and principal transformational leadership all significantly predicted the teachers’ task performance, discretionary performance, and career aspirations. Study findings suggest directions for future research on factors influencing teachers’ work performance and career aspirations.

Organizational citizenship behavior involves behaviors that support an organization. However, such behaviors are not normally set out in an individual's job description. These behaviors normally exceed the minimum role requirements of the job and are not easily enforceable, thus performing them is usually at the discretion of the individual (Organ, 1997). This study seeks to examine the relationship between the demographic variables and organizational citizenship behavior among lecturers in community colleges that have been established by the Ministry of Higher Education in Malaysia. The variables consist of gender, age, educational level, recruitment status, length of service with the organization, tenure, job classification, and intention to leave the service.

A review of literature produced a list of 59 organizational citizenship behaviors. This list was then sent to 10 educational experts in the community colleges. After identifying the most important organizational citizenship behaviors, the experts then ranked the importance of each of the behaviors. This resulted in 36 organizational citizenship behaviors being selected for the formulation and development of the questionnaire. A pilot test of the questionnaire showed a Cronbach's alpha value of .93. The questionnaire was then distributed to 762 lecturers in 14 community colleges throughout Malaysia. A factor analysis showed three important dimensions of organizational citizenship behaviors emerged from the study. It includes: helping behavior, sportsmanship, and organizational compliance. Next, the study examined the impact of demography on organizational citizenship behavior. The findings of the study are discussed along with implications and directions for future research.

The inherit complexity of an educational system further complicates the challenge of introducing technology-based educational initiatives into a school environment. Once introduced, the initiative has the potential to become self-sustaining or to cease once the term is over. Such uncertainty makes the use of expensive information technology (IT) in schools “risky business,” which requires school leaders go above and beyond their current routine to extend the system's capacity to sustain the innovation. A discretionary behavior of school leaders and teachers is one of key factors that contribute to or prevent the sustainability of an innovation. A lack of understanding of what encourages an individual's discretionary behavior and how discretion is fostered in school practices contribute to the challenge of innovation's sustainability. If the individuals’ discretion is required to sustain a technology-based educational program within a school, do their actions dwell outside or inside of the school environment? More importantly, how does a discretionary chain of command operate and can it be aligned? In this chapter we use an “ecological model” approach to describe the influential factors, which affect project's sustainability by transforming effective discretionary approaches of school leaders and teachers from policy to practice. We draw our description of the model on the results of the empirical study of Hong Kong schools involved in the design and strategic IT implementation of the e-Leadership Enhancement Project (eLEP).

The contemporary life of an Australian academic has changed in almost every way imaginable in response to the challenges and opportunities emerging from global and national policy agendas. In this context, the subject coordinator11A subject coordinator may also be referred to as a Unit Chair, Unit Coordinator or Course Coordinator at different universities. represents the frontline of a move towards increasingly distributed forms of leading and learning. The knowledge that managing teaching responsibilities does not provide a clear route to promotion (with active research status providing a more well established path) means that academics may proactively minimise the time they spend on the discretionary tasks of leading and managing teaching well. Tasks that include adopting a proactive longer term of curriculum development, team building and teaching innovation, in addition to the more immediate needs for compliance and measurable outcomes. Research from an Australian Learning and Teaching Council (ALTC) project provides evidence that despite lack of formal recognition for many of the discretionary responsibilities of subject coordination, coordinators believe they are executing their job well. This chapter discusses factors that impede discretionary academic leadership behaviours in Australian higher education and suggests strategies to empower leadership and thus improve engagement with discretionary teaching and learning responsibilities.

Teacher discretionary behaviors are considered to be organizationally beneficial and ways to develop and support such behaviors are sought after. Discretionary behaviors have, in the main, been considered from an individual level of analysis. However, using the group as the level of analysis, and viewed through Social Identity/Social Categorization theory (SIT/SCT) respectively, data from this longitudinal, mixed-method, case study of teachers during a curricular reform suggest that teacher discretionary behaviors may be the means to teacher socialization and the outcome of teacher social identification. Implications and applicability of the findings to other settings are discussed.

This chapter examined the relationships between organizational justice, organizational trust, and organizational citizenship behaviors in Turkish secondary schools. Specifically, the study investigated whether, and to what extent, organizational justice and organizational trust predict variation in the organizational citizenship behaviors of teachers. A survey research methodology was employed in the study. The sample included 466 secondary school teachers in Kutahya, a city in western Turkey. The study adopted pre-developed respective scales for gathering the data. The data gathering instrument of the study incorporated the Organizational Justice Scale (Hoy & Tarter, 2004), the Organizational Trust Scale (Yılmaz, 2006), and the Organizational Citizenship Behavior Scale (DiPaola, Tarter, & Hoy, 2005). Analysis of the data through the use of hierarchical multiple regression analysis yielded a significant effect of organizational justice and significant effects for two of the three types of organizational trust. There is a positive and moderate level relationship between organizational citizenship on the one hand, and organizational justice, trust in the principal, trust in colleagues, and trust in stakeholders on the other. Predictor variables are ranked in terms of the size of their effect on organizational citizenship as trust in colleagues, trust in the principal, trust in stakeholders, and organizational justice. Organizational justice is a significant predictor of organizational citizenship behavior when considered in isolation, but becomes insignificant when organizational trust is controlled for. Organizational trust and organizational justice explain around two fifths of the total variance in organizational citizenship behavior.

This chapter examines the teacher's role as supervisor of support staff (Teaching Assistants (TAs) in the UK, school paraprofessionals in the US) – a role for which there is typically little administrative or infrastructural support. Working from a UK perspective, the chapter draws on research from the UK and the US to address questions pertinent to the education systems of all countries which employ paraprofessionals: What types of behaviours do conscientious teachers engage in to provide effective supervision to paraprofessionals? How do paraprofessionals view the supervisory behaviours of their supervising teachers? Given the important role of paraprofessionals, the high levels of expertise required by their assigned roles, and the uneven provision for their professional development, the chapter also makes recommendations for building the teacher's supervisory role into the infrastructure of schools, rather than relying on its emergence as a discretionary behaviour.

The purposes of this study was to obtain a greater understanding of the consequences of teacher organizational citizenship behavior (OCB) for the teachers who perform OCBs in prevention education as well as for their classrooms and schools as perceived by the teachers and the principals themselves. Based on semi-structured interviews with 30 high-school teachers and 10 principals in the Israeli educational system, the present study found both positive and negative consequences of teacher OCB in prevention education. Among the positive consequences are self-fulfillment, social acknowledgment of the teacher's unique contribution, high levels of trust toward the teacher, and a sense of professional effectiveness. Among the negative consequences are negative relationships with colleagues, depletion of personal energy, and limited time with the teacher's family. Theoretical and practical insights are provided.

This study focuses on assistant principals, the “forgotten future workforce” of educational leadership. We explored the current landscape of assistant principalship within the context of work performance, including both task and discretionary performance, and the future career aspirations of assistant principals from a cross-national perspective. Specifically, the study aimed to fulfill the following objectives: (a) to identify the factors affecting the task and discretionary performance of assistant principals, (b) to identify the factors affecting three future career aspirations of assistant principals, and (c) to determine whether the influences of these factors differ by national origin. Personal initiative and perceived organizational support (POS) were the independent variables. This study also examined the demographic attributes of the participants and their schools. Two randomly selected samples, which composed of 227 Turkish and 144 American assistant principals were the participants. The data-gathering instrument incorporated the revised versions of the Personal Initiative Scale (Fay & Frese, 2001), the Perceived Organizational Support Scale (Eisenberger, Huntington, Hutchison, & Sowa, 1986), and the School Organizational Citizenship Behavior Scale (DiPaola & Tschannen-Moran, 2001). The findings of the study showed that personal initiative and POS significantly predicted the task performance, discretionary performance, and certain future career aspirations of assistant principals. National origin appeared to be a significantly differentiating factor of the assistant principals' task performances, discretionary performances, and future career aspirations. We drew conclusions and provided suggestions for future research.

Yahya Altınkurt holds Ph.D. from Anadolu University, Turkey. He is assistant professor at Dumlupınar University Faculty of Education in Kütahya. Dr. Altınkurt's research focuses on strategic planning, organizational justice, organizational citizenship, and leadership in schools. His most recent books include Assessment of Researches of School Administration (2008, Anadolu University Publishing coauthored with E. Ağaoğlu, M. Ceylan, E. Kesim, and T. Madden). Dr. Altınkurt's research has appeared in various journals including Educational Sciences: Theory & Practice, Education and Science, Educational Administration: Theory and Practice, International Journal of Human Sciences, Academic Sight.


Pages 339-342
Content available
Publication date
Book series
Advances in Educational Administration
Series copyright holder
Emerald Publishing Limited
Book series ISSN