No obligation? How gender influences the relationship between perceived organizational support and organizational citizenship behavior
Journal of Applied Psychology,
Previous research indicates that perceived organizational support (POS) elicits felt obligation on the part of employees who, in turn, reciprocate by helping the organization through the performance of organizational citizenship behavior (OCB). However, because gender roles dictate that women should be more helpful than men, women may feel more obligated to engage in OCB even when they experience relatively low levels of POS, whereas men may perform OCB only when they experience relatively high levels of POS. In this paper, we use social role theory to predict that the relationship between POS and three types of OCB will be stronger for men than for women. Our results, using four samples of employee-supervisor dyads, support this prediction. Further, in two of those samples, we also investigate the possibility that gender moderates the positive POS-felt obligation relationship and the indirect effect of POS on OCB via felt obligation. Taken together, we find evidence of first-stage moderated-mediation. Specifically, the relationship between POS and felt obligation is moderated by gender, such that this relationship is stronger for men than for women (who feel more obligation, even at relatively low levels of POS). Felt obligation mediated the POS-OCB relationship, but only for men. Our findings suggest that men are more likely than women to need POS to feel obligated to make reciprocal organizational exchanges. Implications and future research directions are discussed.