Organizational citizenship behavior: What's gender got to do with it?

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


In this paper we present a feminist reading of the concept of Organizational Citizenship Behavior (OCB) and its components. We propose that although the OCB discourse in the literature is presented as gender-neutral, gender is deeply embedded within the concept. We reveal the gendered nature of the concept in two ways. First, drawing on a poststructural feminist perspective, the analysis examines the rhetorical nature of the text, the language and metaphors used in the definition of the concept of OCB and its different dimensions. Second, using a critical post liberal perspective, which considers gender as socially constructed and focuses on gender/power relations, the analysis explores how the constructs of the OCB concept are defined and enacted in ways which culturally differentiate men and women, and reveals the dynamics through which the use of this concept reproduces the gendered division of labor and inequality between women and men in organizations. The importance of this critique is that it highlights the theoretical concepts themselves, and shows that they not only reflect existing organizational work structures, but also contribute to the nature of these structures and help stabilize and reproduce the existing order. Finally, we conclude with a discussion of the possible negative aspects of OCB for both men and women, consider the implications of our analysis and point to future directions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)889-917
Number of pages29
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2005
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We are thankful for the helpful suggestions of Jane Dutton, Heather Geraci, Dafna Izraeli, Boas Shamir, Pamela Tolbert and Monique Valcour. We also wish to express our great appreciation to Marta Cal¥as and Linda Smircich for applying a tailored and encouraging 'feminist practice' in reviewing this paper and to the reviewers who provided challenging and thoughtful feedback. The second author gratefully acknowledges the support of the Alfred Sloan Foundation (grant #96-6-9 and #99-6-3).

Copyright 2011 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Critical post liberal feminist perspective
  • Feminist critique
  • Gender
  • Organizational citizenship behavior
  • Poststructural feminist perspective


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