Tribal Citizenship Behavior

When a crisis occurs, like a hurricane hits your city or the country freaks out about the swine flu, part of a leaders job is to protect the tribe. To do that, the people have to be prepared. The first priority must then be to make sure every member of the tribe is prepared to take care of their family. Katrina made this concept clear:

The New Orleans police chief says some of his officers may still be trapped in their homes and he’s not sure how many walked off the job.

Walk off the job? Police!? Obviously family comes first. Or people won’t show up to work no matter how critical their job is because no job is more important than your family. Step one is to have everyone develop an “in case of emergency preparedness family plan“.

Assuming someone is prepared as best they can be, then what makes them a “team player” as they say. Well, as usual, “they” is wrong in that the phrase “team player” is like comparing the word “violin” to “Stradivarius”. What you REALLY want from your tribe members, peers, friends, etc, whether you know it or not, is far more nuanced that the phrase “team player” suggests. You want someone who is “cool with the tribe” and supports you ALL!

caroline-tribeA bit of research led me to the Distributive, Procedural and Interactive Justice scales by Niehoff & Moorman. If they weren’t academics they would call it a way to quantify employee satisfaction. But that isn’t really what I am after. More digging made me realize that the academics call what I am after, perhaps theirs is more narrow in scope, but they call it “Organizational Citizenship Behavior.” This criticism of Organizational Citizenship Behavior questions if good OCB is in fact in the best interest of the organization! But I’ll leave that to another day. For now OCB is comprised of four elements (from the above link):

OCB has four separate, but related behavior elements that differ in their target and direct objective.  It is believed that the indirect objective of all OCB is the benefit of organizational goals (Organ, 1988).  In a theoretical typology developed by Graham (1989; Moorman & Blakely, 1995; Moorman, Blakely, Niehoff, 1998) OCB categorizes into four types:

  1. personal industry,
    1. (the extent to which an individual performs tasks beyond the call of duty.  Employees who spontaneously work overtime, put in extra hours on a project, or volunteer to take on new projects are engaging in personal industry.)
  2. loyal boosterism,
    1. (the promotion of firm image to outsiders.  An employee that spontaneously compliments his employer to a member of another firm, a friend, or any stakeholder displays loyal boosterism behavior.)
  3. individual initiative,
    1. (communicating with others in the organization to improve individual and group performance) and
  4. inter-personal helping.
    1. (An employee, recognizing that a co-worker might benefit from possession of a piece of information, such as a sales contact, technical information, or market tip, and passing on such information without the other asking for it)

and

To summarize, OCB consist of non-obligatory, informally influenced behaviors.

I translate that last part to say what OCB is referring to, is stuff you do to help the organization that isn’t in your job description. It’s the stuff that makes life pleasant, like buying a Nerf Gun refill pack for your unarmed co-worker to make cubicles-war “fair” again. That stuff.

I think what I’m looking for is really a Tribal Citizenship Behavior index. With the definition of tribe being more loosely defined than just the employees of a company. A tribe that has even low clustering coefficients – meaning loosely bound.

Anthropologist Michel Maffesoli appears to have coined the term Neo-Tribalism which Wikipedia defines as:

Neotribalism is the ideology that human beings have evolved to live in a tribal, as opposed to a modern, society, and thus cannot achieve genuine happiness until some semblance of tribal lifestyles has been re-created or re-embraced.

Tribes are not organizations, at least in the context of OCB as I understand it. An easy example; in tribes people have distinct roles including that of the cynic who provides constant creative tension. Yet the cynic DOES add value in times of crisis because they foresee the need for batteries, chain saws, and medical masks before a crisis. While not wildly popular perhaps, they fix the weakest link in a tribe at specific times. Maybe a score of 5/10 on a day-to-day basis on the OCB scale, but a 10/10 for Tribal Citizenship Behavior when the *&@#! hits the fan! This need to remain loosely joined (a clustering coefficient closer to zero) quickly snaps back into place during a crisis (a clustering coefficient closer to 1 – we ALL know the guy with the generator after a Hurricane!).

I’ll keep thinking about this (of course) but I wanted to highlight two other concepts from OCB that we can borrow for TCB are dominant coalitions and technological change as a tribe restructuring catalyst:

Dominant Coalitions

A dominant coalition consists of the network of individuals within and around an organization that most influence the mission and goals of the organization (Cyert & March, 1963).  In theory, the goals of an organization flow from the chief executive officer, board of directors, or top management team.  However, the dominant coalition maintains an influence on goals through informal, rather than formal, channels.

When it comes to social media, public relations and tribal behavior, you have a unique problem. It is considered “uncool” to call yourself a “Social Media Expert“. And indeed like any other trend that goes mainstream, every new kid on the block joins in when their last trendy business dries up and becomes an “expert”. I overheard a conversation the other day that was “I didn’t follow her back (on twitter) because her description said ‘social media expert’ and she only had 22 followers!”. I wouldn’t have followed back either so I am part of the problem in a way.

The point is the “cool kids find it cool to deny being cool.” Or, the dominant coalitions in tribal citizenship behavior deny being influencers in the first place.

which ties into technology as follows

A technological change within an organization may provide the impetus for power changes within the organization.  Burkhardt and Brass (1990) studied the introduction of a new computer technology into a governmental agency.  They found that early adopters of the technology gained a significant amount of informal power in the organization, which could be used to join or enhance one’s membership in the dominant coalition.  Thus, such changes in technology could result in altered membership in the dominant coalition.

Or “The Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth.” If this premise is true it not only changes the complexion of the dominant coalitions and the tribe itself, but it is a biased change. By that I mean tech people are more introverted than extroverted, more logical than mathematical, tend towards aspergers, etc… In other words a different personality type has joined the dominant coalition. Perhaps a good thing! But a change to be noted regardless.

In conclusion, Tribal Citizenship Behavior (TCB, heh) can borrow heavily from Organizational Citizenship Behavior. Like OCB we can borrow personal industry, loyalty, initiative, people helping people.  We can try to measure dominant coalitions in a tribe. Measure intention which is always critical. But these aren’t enough because a tribe may not have a stated goal like an organization, beyond preservation of the tribe. Which, again, is why we start by personal emergency planning.

More posts on the topic of Tribal Citizenship Behavior as my thoughts evolve. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the topic?