Predicting OCB Role Definitions: Exchanges with the Organization and Psychological Attachment

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To investigate the relationship between trust in the organization and employees' exchange beliefs (i.e., exchange ideology) and both psychological attachment and role definitions.


A field study based on data from 204 line and supervisory employees examined the relationships between the predictors and work role boundaries. Two important mechanisms, psychological attachment (organizational commitment) and job satisfaction were examined as mediator and moderator, respectively, to the relationship between trust and exchange ideology and role definitions.


Results indicate that both relation- and exchange-based variables predict enlarged roles (i.e., employees' perceived organizational citizenship behaviors as in-role). Additionally, organizational commitment mediated the relationship between the predictor and the outcome. Job satisfaction moderated the relationship between trust and role definition.


Work role boundaries are important in the contemporary workplace, where employees are oftentimes required to enlarge their behavioral set. We provide evidence for the importance of managing the relationship with the organization (through high levels of trust) and making sure employees construe their exchanges with the organization as more open. Such knowledge may help design interventions to increase employee trust, and select employees with favorable exchange ideologies.


This is one of the first studies examining both relationship- and exchange-based variables as predictors of role definitions, and clarifies possible mechanisms (mediation through psychological attachment) and the role of job satisfaction as moderator.

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