How Ambivalence in Organizational Identification Affects Organizational Citizenship Behaviors
Although theory postulates a strong connection between employees’ organizational identification and their extra-role efforts for the organization, empirical studies have found relatively weak links with considerable fluctuation across studies. Accordingly, it has been argued that the dynamics of this relation are not yet firmly understood. By adopting the perspective of an expanded model of organizational identification, we propose that the sense of identity that individuals develop vis-à-vis their organization goes beyond unidimensional ties and may involve conflicting impulses represented by ambivalent identification. Specifically, we propose that considering organizational identification and ambivalent identification in combination will contribute to a more accurate understanding of employees’ extra-role efforts. Supporting this view, a first field study involving employees from a broad spectrum of organizations and industries (N = 298) revealed that the positive relation between organizational identification and extra-role behavior was particularly strong for individuals low in ambivalent identification but nonexistent for highly ambivalent employees. A second field study (N = 564) applying a time-lagged design replicated and extended these findings by showing that these effects were generalizable to different types of extra-role behavior. Implications for the expanded model of organizational identification, the understanding of ambivalence, and the study of extra-role behavior are discussed.