One of the most thoroughly studied aspects of prosocial workplace behavior is organizational citizenship behavior (OCB). Yet, the definition of OCB seems to overlook the fact that help-giving acts may be of different types with different consequences for both giver and recipient. The present research explores workplace help-giving behavior by investigating the importance of gender as a factor that facilitates or inhibits specific types of help that empower and disempower independent coping: autonomy- and dependency-oriented help, respectively. A pilot and two following studies were conducted. The pilot study empirically assessed which acts would be clearly perceived by participants as representing both types of help. Then, using the descriptions of these acts, Study 1 examined which type of help would be perceived as most likely to be given by a male or female employee to a male or female colleague in a sample of 226 participants (78% women). Study 2 explored which type of help participants perceived as one they would rather receive from a male or female helper in a sample of 170 participants (65% women). Our findings indicate that male and female respondents who rated men giving help were more likely to expect them to give autonomy-oriented help, especially to women. There were no significant differences in dependency-oriented help. Further, women preferred to receive more autonomy-oriented help than men did, regardless of the help-giver’s gender; no significant results were found for men. Implications for OCB and workplace power relations are discussed.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: This research was partially supported by a research grant from The Israel Science Foundation (grant No. 1288/16) was awarded to Lily Chernyak-Hai.
© The Author(s) 2018.
- autonomy/dependency-oriented help
- organizational citizenship behavior
- workplace power relations