Boundaries of Citizenship Behavior: Curvilinearity and Context in the Citizenship and Task Performance Relationship


Correspondence and requests for reprints should be addressed to Robert S. Rubin, Department of Management, Driehaus College of Business, DePaul University, 1 East Jackson Blvd., Chicago, IL 60604;


Resource allocation, attentional capacity, and role theories all suggest that the well-documented linear relationship between citizenship behavior and task performance may be more complex than previously believed. In a study of 352 incumbents, we develop hypotheses that propose a curvilinear effect of employee citizenship on task performance. We further argue that this nonmonotonic relationship is different across the targets of citizenship performance and is moderated by several factors from the task context. Results support the curvilinear assertion, indicating that the relationship with task performance inflects when citizenship is more frequently performed. These diminishing returns are amplified when the target of citizenship is the organization compared to the individual. Findings further reveal that the task context elements of accountability and autonomy moderate the curvilinear relationship, whereas ambiguity does not. Implications for a reappraisal of the citizenship–task performance relationship are discussed.