Friday, June 03, 2005

It's Not My Job, Dude

The June 2005 issue of Communications of the ACM has an article called "IT professionals as organizational citizens."

Not a catchy title, but there was a reference to Dilbert, so I read it.

Bottom line, while doctors are taught to "do no harm," those working in information technology are conditioned to get their own work done, but help others on their own time.

Is the Help Desk Helpful?
The first concept here is that there are certain organizational citizenship behaviors that help the company work well. These "OCBs" are "workplace behaviors that promote effective organizational functioning but are... not directly or explicitly recognized by the formal reward system."

(There had to be a three letter abbreviation here;
after all, this is a scholarly journal.)

The finding is that folks working in information technology were not as helpful to their co-workers than their colleagues in non-IT areas of the companies.

I Don't Get No Respect
It appears that when people think that their company is fair to them, they are more likely to play nicely with others. It probably comes as no surprise to those who work in IT, who who read Dilbert, that IT workers don't have so much trust in their supervisors or confidence in the fairness of their companies. Instead of practicing OCBs, folks think more in economic exchanges: what's it worth to me?

With Truth and Justice for All
I like the idea of organizational citizenship. I want to get along well with others while helping the company succeed. After all, people are more interesting than the work. But then, I'm not a typical IT worker; I have a nice supervisor.
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