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Unformatted text preview: article title Explaining Variations in Co-worker Assistance in Organizations Stephen J. Frenkel and Karin Sanders Abstract In an age of flattened hierarchies and networked organizations, lateral processes in orga- nizations take on added significance. Co-worker assistance refers to a key aspect of lat- eral relations: workers helping behaviour in relation to their immediate colleagues. Using data from a Dutch survey of public sector and related service employees, we develop and test a model of co-worker assistance. We argue that reciprocity facilitates management-induced co-worker assistance and that this depends on the extent of work- ers organizational commitment. This in turn is influenced by the manner in which management exercises control over employees. We find evidence for organizational commitment acting as a partial mediator between co-worker assistance and bureaucratic control, co-worker control, and facilitative supervision respectively. Group cohesion, forged by workers independent of management, has a strong direct effect on co-worker assistance and a particularly strong effect when interacting with co-worker control. We also find that co-worker control is more strongly related to co-worker assistance where tasks are more interdependent. Keywords: co-worker relations, helping behaviour, reciprocity norm, management control, organizational commitment, group cohesion, organizational citizenship behaviour (OCB) Extracting effort and commitment from employees beyond customary norms leads to conflict either through union representation or more often through informal work group bargaining (Kuhn 1961; Sayles 1958). Today, in advanced economies where knowledge workers and customer-oriented service workers are on the ascen- dant, such opposition has gone underground. Both types of worker are expected to extend themselves in the service of customer and company. Behind this emphasis on cultural or normative forms of control lies a stubborn fact: process control is no longer tenable where workers have come to expect and practise autonomy in sat- isfying customers and solving complex problems. This extension of effort and creativity beyond the formal contract of employ- ment has sometimes been labelled organization citizenship behaviour (OCB) (LePine et al. 2002; Organ 1988, 1997; Podsakoff et al. 2000; Lamertz 2006). A further distinction is made between individually focused behaviour (OCBI) and behaviour directed at the organization (OCBO). OCBI is concerned with acts of altruism or helping behaviour such as assisting a worker with a heavy workload, sharing resources, giving emotional support, and being courteous (George and Jones 1997; Van Scotter and Motowidlo 1996). While organizational psychologists have been studying OCB, sociologists have focused on the themes of reciprocity Organization Studies 28(06): 797823 ISSN 01708406 Copyright 2007 SAGE Publications (Los Angeles, London, New Delhi & Singapore) Stephen J. Frenkel University of New...
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This note was uploaded on 06/09/2009 for the course MANAGEMENT 2025MGT taught by Professor Davidponton during the One '08 term at Griffith.
- One '08