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Title:Beyond behavior as a function of chronological age: the roles of motives and subjective age identity in employee citizenship
Author(s):Huang, Yung-Kuei
Director of Research:McDowell, Jacqueline
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):McDowell, Jacqueline
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Vargas, Patrick T.; McKinney, William R.; Shinew, Kimberly J.; Schwartz, Zvi
Department / Program:Recreation, Sport and Tourism
Discipline:Recreation, Sport, and Tourism
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):age differences
subjective age identity
comparative age
prosocial motives
impression management motives
organizational citizenship behavior
park and recreation professionals
Abstract:The recent economic downturn has intensified challenges associated with financing, staffing and increasing demands for services, which public park and recreation agencies must manage to sustain the quality and quantity of services. Employees’ fulfillment of assigned tasks is no longer sufficient to support their agencies as the agencies respond to volatile external environments in a flexible and adaptable manner. It is urgent that employees in public park and recreation agencies go and beyond what is typically expected or required by performing, for example, organizational citizenship behavior during times of economic hardship. Organizational citizenship behavior (OCB) is characterized by discretionary cooperative gestures that can enhance efficiency and effectiveness of the organization as a whole, including five behavioral dimensions: (1) altruism, (2) conscientiousness, (3) sportsmanship, (4) courtesy, and (5) civic virtue. A parallel trend challenging public park and recreation agencies is an aging workforce. Accommodating the needs of an age-diverse workforce and motivating such a workforce have become a compelling issue to public park and recreation agencies. A question arises as to the extent to which, or whether or not, age makes motivating employees’ engagement in OCB more complicated. To identify strategies that can effectively motivate age-diverse workforces towards engagement in OCB, there is a need to take a closer look at age-related OCB processes. Therefore, the purpose of the current study is to explore the roles of chronological age and subjective age identity in shaping the two OCB-specific motives (i.e., prosocial and impression management motives) and OCBs. The current study employed a cross-sectional survey method to collect data from full-time employees in municipal park and recreation agencies in the state of Illinois. A mixed-mode strategy characterized by the use of both paper-based and web-based survey formats was adopted to increase the response rate and reduce coverage errors. Of the 2301 survey invitations, 607 survey respondents provided usable responses, yielding a response rate of 26.4%. Drawing on findings from personality research, the current study predicted a curvilinear relationship between chronological age and OCBs in that middle-aged employees would have greatest engagement in OCBs. Counter to the prediction, the data failed to support a curvilinear relationship between age and OCBs. Instead, a linear pattern was found to be sufficient to describe the relationships of age with two OCB subdimensions (conscientiousness and sportsmanship) and overall OCB. Guided by the principles of socioemotional selective theory, the current study examined age differences in prosocial and impression management motives. The data of the current study confirmed the positive relationship between age and prosocial motives and the negative relationship between age and impression management motives. The results further supported the mediating roles of prosocial and impression management motives in age-related OCB relationships. Specifically, prosocial motives were found to be a significant mediator in the relationships of age with four OCB sub-dimensions, including altruism, conscientiousness, sportsmanship, and civic virtue, at a confidence level of 95%, while marginal significance of mediation was found for courtesy and overall OCB at a lower confidence level of 90%. In exploring the role of subjective age identity in predicting the motives and OCBs, the current study included three subjective age measures: identity age, cognitive age, and comparative age. The results suggested that, when controlling for age and other demographic variables, incremental validity of subjective age identity in predicting OCBs is limited. Identity age uniquely accounted for 1.1% of the variance in conscientiousness; cognitive age uniquely accounted for 1.3% of the variance in sportsmanship; comparative age uniquely accounted for 1.6% of the variance in sportsmanship and 1% of the variance in overall OCB. Cognitive age and comparative age were found to be significantly related to both prosocial and impression management motives, when controlling for age and other demographic variables. The data did not support the hypothesized moderation effect of comparative age in the relationships of age with criterion variables. The current study contributes to the body of studies on OCB by enhancing the understanding of age-related OCB processes. Older employees tended to report higher levels of OCBs, particularly conscientiousness and sportsmanship, as opposed to their younger counterparts. The findings pertaining to age differences in motives indicate the greater prominence of prosocial motives and the lower relevance of impression management with increasing age, providing empirical support for the general principles derived from socioemotional selectivity theory. The current study also advances knowledge of age differences in motives by identifying age differences in the two OCB-specific motives. The mediation relationships found in the current study verified prosocial and impression management motives as relevant underlying psychological mechanisms in age-related OCB processes. Such findings present age as a meaningful demographic antecedent to OCBs, beyond behavior as a function of age. The use of the comparative age measure allowed the current study to specifically explore and witness the relevance of younger age identities in shaping OCB-specific motives based on their meanings of physical or social functioning, or self-concept. People with a more youthful identity are more likely to embrace prosocial motives and discount impression management motives. The consideration of the subjective age measures, particularly comparative age, provides a valuable tool with which to gauge employees’ motives, attitudes, and behavior. The major limitations of the current study include the use of self-reports and a cross-sectional research design. To reduce common method variance and the socially desirable bias associated with self-reports, future studies on employee OCB can consider the use of multiple sources by including self-ratings, supervisor ratings, peer ratings and possibly customer ratings. To address concerns for contamination of cohort effects and unclear causality, future research may consider a longitudinal approach that can provide identification of age-related changes in motives and/or an investigation of the causal relationships of subjective age identity with motives and OCBs. Based on the findings, the current study provides recommendations for management practices. Municipal park and recreation agencies should consider age-related differences in motives and OCBs when communicating their expectations to and managing employees. Agencies could create social opportunities for younger employees to learn about the norm of citizenship from older employees. Agencies could emphasize the relational nature of employees’ task significance and/or collectivistic norms to nurture prosocial motives and reduce impression management motives, and therefore greater engagement in OCBs would arise. An alternative strategy to promote prosocial motives and discourage impression management motives would be to help employees secure and maintain their younger age identities.
Issue Date:2013-02-03
Rights Information:Copyright 2012 Yung-Kuei Huang
Date Available in IDEALS:2013-02-03
Date Deposited:2012-12

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