Decelerating the Diminishing Returns of Citizenship on Task Performance: The Role of Social Context and Interpersonal Skill

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Recent scholarship on citizenship behavior demonstrates that engaging too often in these behaviors comes at the expense of task performance. In order to examine the boundary conditions of this relationship, we used resource allocation and social exchange theories to build predictions regarding moderators of the curvilinear association between citizenship and task performance. We conducted a field study of 366 employees, in which we examined the relationship between the frequency of interpersonal helping behavior and task performance and tested for the moderating influences of 3 social context features (social density, interdependence, and social support) and of employees’ levels of interpersonal skill. Results provided corroborating evidence of the diminishing returns between citizenship and task performance. Further, these diminishing returns were decelerated when contexts were characterized by high interdependence and social density and when employees possessed strong interpersonal skills. Implications for extending future citizenship theory and research to incorporate curvilinearity are presented.

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