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ORGANIZATIONAL CITIZENSHIP BEHAVIOR IN UNIVERSITIES: INCORPORATING AUTONOMY AND EMPOWERMENT INTO A CORRELATIONSHIP

S. Hussin, S.C. Wong

University of Malaya (MALAYSIA)
Universities are a socio-political system, in which interactions are characterized by complex networks of interrelationships that respond to internal and external forces. Working under complex and competitive circumstances becomes an essential feature of educational systems, the success of universities to face new challenges--such as globalization, internationalization, and accountability—collectively and fundamentally depends on the willingness of academics to go above and beyond the call of duty to attain their university’s objectives and goals. Here, within the terrain of a given autonomy and empowerment, academics in faculties and departments are expected to meet new management jargons and, thus, to portray the required organizational citizenship behaviors.

Dee et. al. (2000) argued that autonomous institutions are assumed to be flexible and responsive to make the necessary changes and developments according to their charter, aspirations, and resources, given their relative freedom from government control. University autonomy is assumed to “trickle down” to organizational members, who then feel empowered to devise unique solutions to solve particular problems, exhibiting change-oriented behavior, such as innovations in research and instruction. Academic empowerment—at four different levels such as the senate, faculty, department, and lecturer—has been argued as a tantalizing notion that seems to offer organization the promise of more focused, energetic and creative work from university academics (Forrester, 2000). Institutions that grant faculty high levels of discretion in their work tend to promote change-related behaviors (Dee et. al., 2000). Many educational reformers consider empowerment as essential in faculty members’ development towards change-oriented behaviors that can yield progressive outcomes and benefits to universities as knowledge towers in society (Kerr, 1976; Clark, 1983). In this perspective, theoretically, university autonomy is linked to academic empowerment, and both of which can be factors related to organizational citizenship behavior.

The purposes of this paper are to propose that research on OCB must not be so exclusive to organizational psychology, but must include the political perspective of citizenship in organizations; to propose that the Japanese paradigm of OCB seems to be better than the aggressive competition paradigm; and to examine the possibility of blending the constructs of university autonomy and lecturer empowerment into the OCB construct in research on university organizations.