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Roles as Predictors of Behavior

Why is it important to understand the social cognitive nature of work role

behavior? One important reason for investigating this is to gain the ability to understand

what leads to positive and negative work outcomes and to be able to steer the process in

the right direction. Roles are organized schemas that initiate behavior in social situations

(Biddle, 1979; Fiske & Taylor, 1991). Therefore, roles are the scripts that guide

behaviors. For instance, the extent to which an individual endorses OCBs as part of a

work-role is likely to lead to actual OCB (Hofmann et al., 2003; Morrison, 1994; Tepper

et al., 2001). I am examining a broader domain of role perceptions and based on the

predictions of cognitive role theories (Fiske & Taylor, 1991; Lord & Foti, 1986) I make

similar predictions regarding the outcomes of roles.

Role perceptions act like schemas to provide a system for organizing knowledge

(Freeman, Romney, & Freeman, 1987) and lead to relatively automatic processing of

information and behavior (Lord & Foti, 1986). From a role theory perspective (Biddle,

1979; Katz & Kahn, 1978), roles convey organizational expectations. Therefore, I predict

that employees’ work roles will be positively related to the respective expected behaviors

and negatively related to the behaviors that are dysfunctional.

Hypothesis 2 a). A helping role will be positively related to helping behavior and

b) negatively related to achievement behavior.

Hypothesis 2 c). An achievement role will be positively related to achievement

behavior and negatively related to d) helping behavior.


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