Social comparisons in boundary-spanning work: Effects of community outreach on members’ organizational identity and identification – Statistical Data Included

Caroline A. Bartel


This research investigated how experiences in a particular boundary-spanning context (community outreach) affected members’ organizational identity and identification. Multimethod panel data from 219 participants showed that intergroup comparisons with clients (emphasizing differences) and intragroup comparisons with other organization members (emphasizing similarities) changed how members construed their organization’s defining qualities. Intergroup comparisons also enhanced the esteem members derived from organizational membership, which, in turn, strengthened organizational identification. Supervisors reported higher interpersonal cooperation and work effort for members whose organizational identification became stronger. The results reveal potential outcomes of boundary-spanning work as well as how organizational identification processes operate in everyday work contexts.

Social comparisons are an important means through which people come to understand their identities as organization members. Contemporary organizational designs and strategies are blurring internal and external organizational boundaries, creating an unprecedented array of opportunities for individuals to engage in social comparisons with others outside of their work organization. Supplier and customer collaborations, strategic alliances and cooperative networks, outsourcing, and community outreach increasingly bring organization members into close contact with individuals and groups with whom they may have not interacted before. Social comparisons are a principal way that members make sense of such interactions and, in the process, evaluate their organizational identities. Yet little is known about the potential impact of these social comparisons on members’ organizational identification.

Organizational identification reflects a perception of oneness with or belonging to an organization (Ashforth and Mael, 1989), such that a member’s perceptions about its defining qualities become self-referential or self-defining (Pratt, 1998). Identification is not static but can increase or decrease in strength as a result of new experiences. Similar to researchers who study social identifications (Turner, 1982; Hogg and Abrams, 1988; Brewer, 1993), organizational identity theorists argue that individuals aim to accentuate their own distinctiveness and, thus, identify strongly with organizations that have unique characteristics relative to other groups (Dutton, Dukerich, and Harquail, 1994). Individuals also tend to identify with organizations with high social status or socially desirable features relative to other groups to elevate their own sense of self-esteem (Hall and Schneider, 1972; Dutton, Dukerich, and Harquail, 1994; Pratt, 1998). Thus, the perception and maintenance of group differences through i ntergroup social comparisons, motivated by a need for high self-esteem, constitute the psychological fuel that drives organizational identification. Accordingly, members may recalibrate the strength of their organizational identification when work contexts and comparison groups change (Hogg and Terry, 2000). This has important implications for organization members who, more and more, span organizational boundaries and interact with diverse groups in the course of their daily lives.

Even though social comparisons are a central process in organizational identification, the few studies that have examined comparisons directly have focused on those occurring within an organization’s immediate task domain, such as when individuals compare their work organization to a competing organization (Mael and Ashforth, 1992; Elsbach and Kramer, 1996). Competitors are highly diagnostic of the relative distinctiveness and status of an individual’s work organization because they are somewhat similar on important dimensions surrounding the comparison (e.g., operate in the same industry, deliver similar products or services). Elsbach and Kramer (1996), for example, found that following the publication of Business Week magazine’s school rankings, members selectively invoked comparisons with other schools based on attributes that reaffirmed their own organization’s unique and desirable qualities. Moreover, competitive dynamics force organizations to invoke comparisons to differentiate themselves from their ri vals. This often leads organizations to manipulate the social comparative context deliberately to include other organizations that accentuate their own distinctive qualities or enhance their relative competitiveness (Hogg and Terry, 2000).

The domain of relevant intergroup comparisons for organization members can stretch beyond the competitive landscape to include a broad array of contexts in which other groups are present and members’ organizational identity is salient, that is, contexts in which a person uses his or her identity as a member of a particular work organization to define him- or herself and to define relationships with others. Tajfel (1982) argued that potential arenas for intergroup comparison include any situation in which ingroups and outgroups are contextually salient. Individuals who perform boundary-spanning work interact with an array of different groups that are not necessarily competitors (customers, suppliers, unions, government and community agencies). The objective of boundary spanning is to link and coordinate an organization with key constituents in its external environment. Individuals who participate in such activities are thus exposed to numerous work contexts and interaction partners that provide potential oppor tunities for members to evoke social comparisons. Moreover, these comparisons typically occur in social contexts involving fewer threats to members’ organizational identities than situations involving competitors. Identity threats result when a person’s ingroup is criticized, downgraded, or attacked, or when a person otherwise perceives that the ingroup’s relative distinctiveness or status is somehow compromised. When threat is present, social comparisons with outgroups function as a self-defensive strategy by redirecting attention toward positive group features to affirm the general integrity of the group and self (Steele, 1988). Without an explicit threat and an immediate need for self-protection, people manage their social comparisons less actively (Hornsey and Hogg, 2000). Rather, organization members may engage in social comparisons whenever information about an outgroup is available and salient, which could have various implications for their organizational identification. Relatively little attention, h owever, has been devoted to how naturally occurring comparisons in boundary-spanning contexts affect members.

In the present research, I investigate members’ responses to experiences in a context outside of their organization’s task domain: experiences in community outreach programs. Community outreach programs encourage members to give their time and skills to assist particular at-risk groups at designated service agencies, usually in small groups comprising members from different departments and hierarchical levels. These groups work together on a shared task with clients or recipients from various racial, social class, or regional backgrounds (e.g., deliver meals to the homeless and elderly, refurbish inner-city housing, mentor children). Activities range in duration and intensity from short-term projects involving minimal levels of commitment to more extensive projects involving close client contact for extended periods.

Community outreach programs link and coordinate an organization with key constituents (e.g., schools, health care centers, government agencies, current and potential customers) in its external environment and thus meet boundary-spanning objectives. Organizations often initiate such programs to acquire information about critical issues and problems in their local communities and take action on such issues through active, participative, organized involvement (Tichy, McGill, and St. Clair, 1997). For instance, Fannie Mae, which provides financial products and services that make it possible for low-, moderate- and middle-income families to buy homes, depends on the economic viability of the communities in which it operates. It is thus an essential part of the company’s business to use community outreach programs to acquire information that will allow it to foster community economic development. Organizations also use community outreach programs to send information into the environment that presents them in a favo rable light. For example, Elsbach and Glynn (1996) discussed how such programs promote strategic reputation-building objectives by signaling an image of high quality to consumers and competitors.

Organization members who participate in community outreach programs are boundary spanners who are expected to deliver high-quality service through personal interaction, care, and concern for service agency clients. As support providers, members need to involve themselves intimately with clients but, at the same time, create boundaries to maintain objectivity and protect themselves from becoming too emotionally invested (Bacharach, Bamberger, and McKinney, 2000). This observation is descriptive of many service-oriented relationships, such as those forged by consultants, lawyers, accountants, and financial investment counselors. It is the combination of intimacy and separateness that makes these experiences fertile ground for social comparisons. Intimacy brings detailed knowledge of clients, whereas separateness prompts members to differentiate themselves psychologically from clients, perhaps by using their knowledge of clients to do so.

Social comparisons with groups outside the organization and its immediate task domain can change members’ beliefs about their work organization’s distinctive or defining qualities (i.e., perceived organizational identity). Yet relatively little attention has been paid to how social comparisons that arise when there are changes in contexts and interaction partners subsequently affect the content of members’ perceived organizational identity and the strength of their identification. To date, organizational theory and research has not considered changes in members’ identification as critical byproducts of boundary-spanning work. Zabusky and Barley (1997) offered a perspective on boundary spanners that outlined different forms of identification that scientists can possess as information brokers for their work organization and the larger scientific community, but it was not their intent to explain how specific boundary-spanning experiences affect any one form of identification. I explore this idea here in boundary -spanning contexts that present no immediate identity threats to members (i.e., community outreach), as well as how these boundary-spanning experiences subsequently influence members’ behavior within the organization.


In any social setting, people generally aim to reduce uncertainty by construing themselves and others in terms of social identities. Self-categorization provides a method for defining others in relation to oneself, allowing individuals to interpret information and events in a given situation and behave appropriately (Turner et al., 1987). Self-categorization thus serves an important sensemaking function for members working in boundary-spanning contexts. Self-categorization, by definition, requires social comparison to determine the social identity that best fits the social context. Individuals tend to claim identities that account for relevant similarities and differences among people and for context-appropriate behaviors (Turner et al., 1994). Self-categorization and social comparison are mutually dependent processes, such that the focus of comparisons, in turn, is guided by the identity that is claimed (Hogg, 2000). In boundary-spanning contexts, a salient organizational identity serves as a lens through wh ich experiences are filtered and provides the frame of reference for members’ social comparisons.

Self-categorization. Ashforth and Mael (1989) noted that group-level identities (e.g., membership in a work group or department) are often prevalent in members’ interactions within the organization due to task interdependence, physical proximity, and interpersonal similarity with others in their primary work group or department. In contrast, an organizational level identity (e.g., membership in the organization itself) is likely to become salient when members perform organizational activities that involve interactions with groups outside of the organization (Kramer, 1991), such as boundary-spanning work.

It is a goal of most organizations that members perceive themselves as organizational representatives when performing boundary-spanning work: individuals should view their boundary-spanning work as official company business and represent themselves as organizational members when performing on- or off-site activities. Several situational factors make it likely that individuals’ organizational membership will be salient in community outreach contexts. Organizations often provide release time for members to participate in community outreach, thereby signaling that such work is an organizational activity, not a personal one. Unifying symbols, such as T-shirts, hats, and buttons bearing the company logo, that organizations often distribute to members and that members wear on site provide visible reminders of their organizational affiliation that may activate their organizational-level identities (Pratt and Rafaeli, 1997). The team-based design of most company-sponsored community outreach programs (Forward, 1994; P oints of Light Foundation, 1999) surrounds members with others who share the same organizational affiliation. Self-categorization at the organizational level is likely when the basis of members’ similarity is their affiliation with the organization as a whole rather than a particular subgroup within it. Teams with members from different work groups, departments, or hierarchical levels can reduce the salience of an individual’s primary group membership and increase the salience of his or her membership in the organization (Kramer, 1991). When organizations communicate the objectives of community outreach to these teams, they can create a superordinate goal that activates an organizational-level identity while members work at the service agency (Gaertner et al., 1993). Individuals’ identity as a member of a particular work organization (i.e., organizational identity) is likely to be salient in community outreach contexts because this category best fits the social structure of the service context and provides a basis for mutual orientation as members perform their boundary-spanning work. To the extent that this occurs, the stage is thus set for social comparisons involving members’ organizational identities.

Organizational Identity Content and Value

Self-categorization and social comparison processes clarify structural relations among groups and promote assimilation to an ingroup “prototype” that prescribes appropriate attitudes, feelings, and behaviors. In addition, social comparisons in these contexts can provide information that alters the value that members attach to their work organization as well as their perceptions of its defining qualities. The high role differentiation between support providers and clients may create intergroup distinctions (Ashforth and Humphrey, 1995). Members’ boundary-spanning work typically requires them to enact the role of support provider to deliver services or assistance directly to clients (Tichy, McGill, and St. Clair, 1997). Moreover, members occupy the specialized role of “support provider from organization X,” which is usually distinct from other roles within service agencies. Status differentials (e.g., socioeconomic status, employment, education level) often associated with the roles of support provider and clie nt or recipient may further reinforce salient intergroup differences and lead to social comparisons.

Dutton, Dukerich, and Harquail (1994) referred to the psychological ingroup with which an organization member identifies as perceived organizational identity. This reflects a member’s own personal beliefs about what is central and distinctive about his or her work organization. Hogg and Terry (2000) argued that members’ perceptions of an organization (e.g., prototypical beliefs, attitudes, feelings, and behaviors) are constructed, maintained, and modified by features of both transitory and more enduring social contexts. Lasting changes in such perceptions thus are possible when salient comparison groups change over time. As a result of ongoing social comparisons that highlight positive features that distinguish them from other groups, members may come to view certain features as more emblematic than others of what their organization generally represents (Kramer and Brewer, 1986; Pratt, 1998). Social comparisons that emphasize positive group differences are sometimes accompanied by social comparisons that high light members’ similarities (Hogg, 2000). It is possible that comparisons with other organization members also affect the content of individuals’ organizational identity by shaping perceptions of what ingroup members share and, thus, what they represent as a collective. Accordingly, I predict:

Hypothesis 1 (H1): Changes in work contexts and interaction partners associated with boundary-spanning work will alter the content of members’ perceived organizational identity: the greater the extent of favorable intergroup comparisons with clients (emphasizing differences) and intragroup comparisons with other members (emphasizing similarities), the greater the degree of change in members’ perceived organizational identity.

In addition to affecting how individuals think about their organizational identity, social comparisons can affect how they feel about it, in particular, the value they place on their organizational membership. Luhtanen and Crocker (1991, 1992) defined “collective self-esteem” as the degree to which an individual generally evaluates his or her social groups positively. Contemporary research has used collective self-esteem to refer to the positive value that a person attaches to specific group memberships (Crocker et al., 1994; Long, Spears, and Manstead, 1994). Accordingly, collective self-esteem is used here to describe the extent to which a member evaluates his or her work organization positively, which includes his or her evaluation of the organization as a whole and his or her perceptions of other people’s (outsiders) evaluation of it (Luhtanen and Crocker, 1991). Collective self-esteem results from a dynamic process of ingroup appraisal that continually updates previous perceptions in accordance with new experiences (Rubin and Hewstone, 1998). Over time, repeated exposure to favorable comparative information can become generalized and represented in members’ overall evaluations of their ingroup (Schlenker, 1985). Thus, ongoing involvement in boundary-spanning situations that continually produce favorable intergroup comparisons can enhance the personal and social value that members attach to their organizational identity. elevating their collective self-esteem.

In community outreach contexts, client groups are potential targets of intergroup comparison. Individuals tend to engage in social comparisons effortlessly and spontaneously when another group is proximal and salient (Gilbert, Giesler, and Morris, 1995). Moreover, comparative information is often imposed on people by the social context rather than deliberately sought out (Wood, 1989; Wheeler and Miyake, 1992). Working with disadvantaged clients who dwell in impoverished social and economic environments may provide compelling and attention-getting contrasts that activate intergroup comparisons among members. Although perceptions of identity threat are an especially powerful trigger for motives of self-enhancement and, thus, favorable intergroup comparisons (Elsbach and Kramer, 1996), people are generally motivated to evaluate salient ingroups favorably (Tajfel and Turner, 1986). Thus, even in the absence of identity threat, individuals process information in the social context in an involved and interested man ner.

Insofar as members use their organizational identity as a source of self-definition in boundary-spanning contexts, they are likely to filter in, magnify, and accept information that places their group in a favorable light relative to others. Intergroup comparisons can validate or enhance members’ positive evaluations of their organization (collective self-esteem) when they perceive that it has higher social status or more desirable or distinctive features relative to another group (Hogg and Abrams, 1988; Luhtanen and Crocker, 1992). Laboratory studies offer suggestive evidence of the positive impact of intergroup discrimination on group-based forms of self-esteem (Chin and McClintock, 1993; Gagnon and Bourhis, 1996), as do qualitative accounts based on field work (Elsbach and Kramer, 1996). Researchers have not yet examined directly the type (with who), extent, and content of social comparisons that emerge in natural social groups as members perform their work and how these comparisons subsequently affect the ir collective self-esteem. I examine those effects on collective self-esteem in this study by testing the following hypothesis:

Hypothesis 2 (H2): Changes in work contexts and interaction partners associated with boundary-spanning work will alter the value that members attach to their work organization: the greater the extent of favorable intergroup comparisons with clients, the higher members’ collective self-esteem.

Strength of Organizational Identification

In theory, members who derive a high degree of esteem from their organizational membership tend to exhibit high levels of identification (Ashforth and Mael, 1989; Dutton, Dukerich, and Harquail, 1994); high collective self-esteem strengthens identification because membership enables individuals to define themselves in terms of the organization’s positive qualities. Individuals who come to hold their organizational membership in high regard as a result of working in boundary-spanning contexts that highlight this identity and that repeatedly produce favorable intergroup comparisons therefore may demonstrate high levels of identification. Arguably, identification is partly influenced by self-categorization and social comparison processes, which make the organization a salient source of self-definition (Turner, 1982; Hogg, 2000). Nonetheless, the potency of favorable intergroup comparisons comes from its effect on collective self-esteem, which transforms comparative information and renders an evaluation that make s the organization a more or less attractive way to construe the self. Thus, collective self-esteem should mediate the effects of favorable intergroup comparisons on members’ identification:

Hypothesis 3 (H3): Collective self-esteem will mediate the positive relationship between extent of favorable intergroup comparisons with clients and strength of organizational identification.

Behavioral Implications of Boundary-spanning Work

Boundary-spanning activities potentially have both attitudinal and behavioral implications. Strong levels of identification keep individuals attuned to the survival of the organization, prompting actions that support its collective welfare. This occurs because members’ self-concepts are intertwined with the success of the organization, such that they can experience its accomplishments vicariously (Dutton, Dukerich, and Harquail, 1994). To the extent that boundary-spanning experiences affect the strength of members’ organizational identification, such activities may, in turn, shape their behavior at work. The present research focuses on three behavioral outcomes previously identified in theories of organizational identification: interpersonal cooperation, work effort, and advocacy participation.

Interpersonal cooperation. Individuals who identify strongly with their work organization tend to perceive a heightened sense of group-based trust and reciprocity, which can lead them to adopt cooperative orientations with other members (Kramer and Brewer, 1986; Kramer, 1991). Kramer (1993) noted that much of the research on cooperation utilizes laboratory experiments designed to simulate cooperation dilemmas commonly found in organizations. Greater emphasis is placed on specific types of collective-action problems (e.g., resource allocation, decision making) than on more mundane forms of interpersonal cooperation common in organizational settings. In contrast, field studies of organizational identification have examined cooperation with the focal organization, such as financial contributions and participation in organizational activities (Mael and Ashforth, 1992; Bhattacharya, Rao, and Glynn, 1995), but not cooperation between members.

To the extent that members’ boundary-spanning experiences affect their overall perceptions of identification with an organization, then tendencies to cooperate with other members should be influenced as well. I examine two forms of interpersonal cooperation described by McAllister (1995): assistance and affiliation. Assistance behaviors provide task-based help (e.g., assisting others with difficult assignments), whereas affiliation behaviors help to preserve, maintain, and improve individuals’ work relationships (e.g., listening to others’ problems and concerns). Together, assistance and affiliation behaviors create a more complete picture of the cooperative acts that members can exhibit on an everyday basis in organizational settings. As members come to identify more strongly with their work organization as a result of their boundary-spanning experiences, they are likely to provide a higher degree of personal and job-related help to other members:

Hypothesis 4 (H4): Boundary-spanning experiences that strengthen members’ organizational identification will increase the frequency of their affiliation and assistance behaviors at work.

Work effort. Strong identification results in the coupling of self and organizational interests, such that members are likely to work intensely and persistently to ensure the organization’s success. Researchers have thus theorized that members who identify highly should demonstrate a high level of effort, diligence, and perseverance in the performance of their jobs (Ashforth and Mael, 1989; Dutton, Dukerich, and Harquail, 1994) based on the assumption that their individual efforts will help promote the collective good of the organization. Thus, boundary-spanning experiences that strengthen members’ organizational identification should, in turn, enhance their work-related effort:

Hypothesis 5 (H5): Boundary-spanning experiences that strengthen members’ organizational identification will also increase their level of work effort.

Advocacy participation. Strong organizational identification is also likely to promote other behaviors that benefit the organization, such as advocacy participation (e.g., maintaining high standards, challenging others, and making suggestions for change) (Van Dyne, Graham, and Dienesch, 1994). Such acts are often aimed at other organization members but go beyond helpful and cooperative acts, reflecting a willingness to be risky or controversial. In theory, when a member defines him- or herself as an organization member then efforts to improve the organization as a whole can simultaneously benefit the self. Thus, members will contribute more frequently and more freely to the organization to bolster its success and survival:

Hypothesis 6 (H6): Boundary-spanning experiences that strengthen members’ organizational identification will also increase their level of advocacy participation at work.

Figure 1 summarizes the predictions that I tested in research on a formalized corporate community outreach program.


To test the hypotheses, I collected data from organization members who performed community outreach for the Pillsbury Company, headquartered in Minneapolis, MN. I used a multimethod panel design and collected survey, interview, and observational data from a single sample of participants and their supervisors during several time periods.

Pillsbury’s Community Outreach Efforts

Four programs constitute the heart of Pillsbury’s community outreach initiatives. The first program consists of business and elementary school partnerships that aim to teach economically disadvantaged students work-related concepts, help them discover career opportunities, and motivate perceptions that work is a viable, positive option for their futures. Participants work in small teams and follow the program curriculum (e.g., lesson schedule and recommended lesson activities) to develop, organize, and deliver their monthly lessons. The second program aims to help at-risk children improve their reading skills. Once a month, participants assisted elementary school students who were below grade level in reading. Participants worked one on one with students and in small teams with other Pillsbury employees to conduct structured exercises designed to improve students’ reading comprehension. The third program is a partnership with a service agency that delivers midday meals to people who are elderly or disabled, h ome-bound, or otherwise unable to prepare their own meals. Participants worked together in small teams to deliver lunchtime meals once or twice a month for seven consecutive months. The fourth program involves an international nonprofit organization dedicated to building homes with deserving low-income families. Participants worked in small teams to perform 15-20 hours of construction work over a seven-week period.

To gather information on the design of participants’ activities, I interviewed six Pillsbury community outreach coordinators and conducted on-site observations of each program. Although activities differed across programs (e.g., lecturing and leading discussions, reading exercises, meal delivery, home construction), they shared several important design features. First, each program required that participants complete 15-20 hours of service, for which Pillsbury provided release time. Participants completed these hours over an eight-month period, with the exception of participants in the home-building program, who completed these hours over a seven-week period. Second, participants in each program were organized into small teams that remained together for the duration of their service work. Finally, all the programs provided similar opportunities for social interaction with agency clients.


During the recruitment drive for each program, on my behalf, Pillsbury coordinators notified potential participants that they would be asked to complete several surveys about their experiences for an external study of the company’s community outreach efforts. Participation in the study was voluntary and confidential. Coordinators also informed participants that their supervisors would be asked to take part in the study. I used multiple methods to minimize the possibility of same-source bias by having supervisors conduct behavioral assessments of participants and having participants report on social comparisons, perceived organizational identity, collective self-esteem, and organizational identification. Participants were later debriefed about the full range of information that their supervisors provided (i.e., assessments of work behavior). No participants objected to their supervisors’ involvement in the study.

Overall, 327 members signed on for the programs, and 310 agreed to participate in the study. Each participant’s supervisor agreed to serve as a behavioral observer in the study. Three- and four-person teams were created for each program based on members’ work schedules (e.g., availability and time preferences). Coordinators made no special efforts to place department coworkers on the same team. In fact, few teams had multiple members from the same department because of the difficulties involved with having several persons out of the office simultaneously. Thus, teams generally comprised members from various departments and hierarchical levels, which increased the likelihood that members’ organizational identity, rather than departmental identity, would be used for self-definition in community outreach contexts.


Self-categorization. I used a condensed version of the Twenty Statements Test (TST) (Hartley, 1970) to assess self-categorization in terms of organizational membership. The TST is a qualitative measure designed to reveal salient aspects of an individual’s identity by having him or her provide twenty statements in response to the question “Who am I?” Because the open-response format of the TST allows individuals to determine the type and order of their responses, it has the capacity to reveal the saliency of various aspects of identity in a given context (Brewer and Gardner, 1996). A person may report self-defining qualities reflecting his or her unique individual qualities (personal identity), social relationships or roles (interpersonal identities), and/or group memberships (social identities). Because I was interested in highly salient self-categorizations in community outreach contexts, rather than the full range of self-categorizations, it included only ten “I am . . .” sentence stems.

Social comparison. I used a self-report diary method, whereby members reported on their comparisons at a regular, predetermined time (Wood, 1996). The measure is based on Wheeler and Miyake’s (1992) Rochester Social Comparison Record (SCR), which provides a more representative and accurate appraisal of social comparisons in natural contexts than indirect assessments that infer comparison activity from observable reactions, such as mood change. While these researchers provided verbal instructions to members about what constitutes a social comparison, for this study I provided a similar set of written instructions adapted from Helgeson and Taylor (1993):

In social situations people sometimes compare themselves with others. This simply involves thinking about information about some person or persons in relation to yourself. For example, this can include thinking about how your family background compares to another person or persons. For the community outreach session you just completed, indicate the extent to which you compared yourself with the following people.

Participants indicated on a 5-point scale (1 = not at all, 5 to a great extent) the extent to which they compared themselves with (1) agency clients and (2) other Pillsbury members. Two items then inquired about the comparison direction for each comparison target. First, participants indicated how they were generally feeling in relation to the person(s) with whom they compared themselves: “I am feeling” inferior or worse off; similar, about the same; or superior or better off. Open-ended questions asked members to describe the nature of the comparisons with agency clients and other organization members, for example, “describe what (if any) inferences, judgments, or observations you made” and “describe what you learned about yourself or the other person(s) today.” Second, members reported (later in the survey) their perceived similarity to agency clients and other organization members on a 5-point scale (1 = highly dissimilar, to 5 highly similar). Comparable questions recently appeared in Locke and Nekich’s ( 2000) application of the SCR to determine favorable, unfavorable, and neutral social comparisons.

Collective self-esteem. Self-esteem derived from organizational membership was measured with eight items from two subscales of Luhtanen and Crocker’s (1992) collective self-esteem scale (see Appendix). These items reflect a member’s personal evaluation of the group (private collective self-esteem) as well as his or her assessment of how nonmembers evaluate the group (public collective self-esteem). The original scale was designed to capture a general, cross-group tendency to have a positive social identity. For this study, particular instances of social comparison should affect members’ assessments of the value of a specific group rather than his or her total collection of group memberships. Researchers have shown that the scale can be adapted to address a specific group without compromising its psychometric properties (Crocker et al., 1994; Long, Spears, and Manstead, 1994); the items were rephrased accordingly (e.g., “In general, others respect what Pillsbury stands for”). Participants responded to each ite m using a 7-point scale (1 = very inaccurate, 7 = very accurate), which I averaged to create a single collective self-esteem score (Cronbach’s [alpha] = .91).

Perceived organizational identity. Prior to the study, I conducted semi-structured interviews with a convenience sample of 24 employees not participating in current community outreach initiatives to identify the types of attributes that may constitute participants’ perceived organizational identity. Sample interview questions included “What adjectives would you use to describe Pillsbury?” and “What are some key values at Pillsbury?” Interviewees’ responses revealed a set of 23 items, which I used as possible indicators of the content of participants’ perceived organizational identity. Participants indicated the extent to which they would use each item to describe Pillsbury, using a 7-point scale (0 = not at all, to 6 = to a great extent).

Organizational identification. I used a two-item measure of organizational identification. The Appendix illustrates the first item, which uses the combination of a visual and verbal report in the form of a Venn diagram to assess the degree of cognitive overlap in attributes that an individual uses to define him- or herself and the organization (Tropp and Wright, 1999). Members indicated the pair of overlapping circles that best represented their perceived relationship to Pillsbury (from no overlap at all to complete overlap). Based on Bagozzi and Bergami’s (2000) recommendation, I supplemented the Venn diagram with a second item that asked members to report the degree of overlap between their selfimage and their image of Pillsbury (1 = not at all, 8 = to a great extent). According to these researchers, averaging an individual’s responses to these cognitively oriented items provides a more reliable, valid, and conservative measure of organizational identification than indices that rely on affective assessments . Cronbach’s alpha was .94 for the two items.

Work behaviors. I used McAllister’s (1995) seven-item affiliation behavior scale and three-item assistance behavior scale to measure cooperation (see Appendix). Because supervisors provided these behavioral assessments, I modified the self-report items accordingly. The affiliation scale (Cronbach [alpha] = .88) targets personal help provided to others, whereas the assistance scale (Cronbach [alpha] = .92) targets instances of work-related help. Supervisors assessed work effort and advocacy participation with items developed by Van Dyne, Graham, and Dienesch (1994). Their 10-item obedience scale measures work effort (Cronbach [alpha] = .90), which reflects respect for organizational rules and policies and a willingness to expend appropriate energy on the organization’s behalf. The seven-item advocacy participation scale (Cronbach [alpha] = .89) assessed behaviors indicative of innovation, maintaining high standards, and making suggestions for change. Supervisors used a 7-point scale to indicate the extent to w hich each item described participants’ typical work behavior during the past month.

Control variables. Several control variables were also included: organizational tenure, previous community outreach experience, and members’ work characteristics (task interdependence and standardization). Organizational identification often becomes stronger the longer one remains an active member of the organization (Barker and Tompkins, 1994); thus, I controlled for organizational tenure (measured in years and months) in subsequent analyses. Because the sample contained both novice and seasoned participants, I also controlled for prior experience in company-sponsored community outreach projects (measured as the average number of service days the previous year) to avoid potential confounds. Finally, behavioral expressions of attitudes may be constrained by the structural configuration of an employee’s work environment, including standardization and task interdependence. Seven items from Van de Ven and Ferry’s (1980) Organizational Assessment Instrument measured standardization (Cronbach [alpha] = .88), the d egree to which rules, standard operating procedures, and performance expectations are formalized and followed to coordinate, control, and evaluate members’ work activities. Pearce and Gregersen’s (1991) five-item scale measured task interdependence (Cronbach [alpha] = .94), the degree to which members work with others to plan, coordinate, and execute their tasks. Supervisors responded to the 12 items using 5-point scales.

Data Collection Procedure

I collected multimethod panel data using a one-group pretest-posttest design to assess the study’s hypotheses. Participants in the two school programs and the meal delivery program were recruited approximately two months before the programs were scheduled to begin. Pre-program surveys were sent to each participant and his or her supervisor two weeks before the start date of each program. Self-report participant surveys provided demographic data and established baseline levels of collective self-esteem and organizational identification and assessments of perceived organizational identity. Supervisor surveys provided demographic data, established baseline levels of participants’ cooperation, work effort, and advocacy participation and provided data on their work environment. Participants in the home-building program could only be recruited one week prior to the program’s start date, thus I could not collect baseline measures. Post-program surveys containing identical measures were sent to all participants and t heir supervisors 10-14 days after the service programs concluded. I tested for systematic differences in pre- and post-program survey reports as a function of community outreach program. Mean levels of participants’ collective self-esteem and organizational identification did not differ significantly across programs (Hotelling’s F = 1 .53, p> .05); nor did mean levels of supervisors’ behavioral assessments (Hotelling’s F= 2.31, p> .05). Thus, community outreach program was not included as a control variable in the analyses.

Participants also completed a community outreach journal containing survey and open-ended questions pertaining to self-categorization and social comparison, which community outreach coordinators distributed to them on site during the first service session. The journal contained three entries that participants completed after the first, midpoint, and final service sessions. The Twenty Statements Test appeared only in the first entry. The social comparison items appeared in all three entries. In contrast to a single measurement point, this method yielded a series of snapshots that spanned the entire program and provided a more complete picture of participants’ comparison activities. The instructions asked them to complete each journal entry immediately after the service session, preferably on site.

The final phase of data collection involved interviewing a subset of participants and supervisors to further clarify and elaborate the survey and journal data. I chose a random sample of 28 participants (seven participants from each program) and their 22 supervisors, who I interviewed at the conclusion of the programs. Participants’ interview questions were broad in scope, focusing on their initial reactions to the program, how they conducted their service work, and their interactions with others. This procedure enabled me to record any social comparisons that participants expressed spontaneously during the interview. Supervisors’ interviews included general questions about participants’ work behavior both before and after their program participation, as well as specific questions about their cooperation, effort, and advocacy behavior. Overall, I conducted 14 in-person and 36 telephone interviews lasting approximately 30-40 minutes, which were either tape-recorded or hand-transcribed.

Sample Characteristics

I used only complete sets of data for statistical analyses. For the two school programs and the meal delivery program, a complete set consisted of pre- and post-program participant and supervisor surveys and participants’ community outreach journals. A complete set for the home-building program contained post-program participant and supervisor surveys and participants’ journals. I obtained 219 complete sets of data from the 310 participants in the study (71 percent response rate). Of the 91 excluded participants, 28 participants (five to nine from each program) were unable to perform their community outreach work due to other work-related demands. Because these 28 participants completed pre- and post-program surveys (as did their supervisors), they provided a naturally occurring control group.

The number of data sets per program and program response rates were as follows: school program 1 (N = 39, 78 percent), school program 2 (N = 23, 76 percent), food delivery program (N = 82, 63 percent), and home-building program (N = 75, 75 percent). The majority of participants were women (N = 136, 62 percent), with an average age of 32.6 years (range: 18 to 65) and whose tenure with the organization averaged 4.1 years (range: 2 months to 24 years). Participants’ community outreach experience (median = 3.10 days prior year, mean = 18.3 hours) was consistent with the larger population of headquarters employees (median = 3.05 days prior year, mean = 17.8 total hours) as well as the rate of volunteerism in the U.S. population (mean = 19.9 hours per year) (Independent Sector, 1999). Supervisors (N = 142) were mostly male (67 percent), with an average age of 37.1 years (range: 25 to 50), who had worked at Pillsbury for 4.93 years (range = 6 months to 29 years).


Self-categorization as an Organization Member

To examine self-categorization and social comparison based on participants’ journal entries and interview statements, two independent raters, who were blind to the study’s objectives, coded participants’ ten “I am” statements according to three mutually exclusive categories based on Brewer and Gardner’s (1996) coding scheme. Personal self-definitions contained references to individual physical qualities, traits, attitudes, or activities (e.g., “I am intelligent”). Interpersonal self-definitions identified specific role relationships (e.g., “I am an understanding boss”). Collective self-definitions referred to memberships in social groups (e.g., “I am a woman,” “I am a Pillsbury employee”). Raters received detailed category descriptions, which they used in coding. Raters also flagged self-definitions that referenced participants’ organizational affiliation. Interrater reliability was .92; discrepancies in coding were reconciled before data analysis.

Overall, the mean percentage of personal, interpersonal, and collective self-definitions in each participant’s statements were 58, 12, and 30, respectively. Although researchers have found that self-descriptions of U.S. respondents predominately reflect personal traits and attributes (Markus and Kitayama, 1991), Brewer and Gardner (1996) found that the number of collective statements increased considerably when they primed a “we” (i.e., group) condition in an experimental setting. In this study, I found that in a natural intergroup context (community outreach) in which a group condition was not explicitly primed by the researcher, participants reported mostly personal self-descriptions but also recorded a substantial number of collective identity statements. For each participant, approximately three in ten statements were at the collective level. This finding suggests that the social structure of the service context made certain group memberships particularly salient. Examples of frequently mentioned social g roups are race, sex, occupation, and organizational affiliation. Overall, 156 participants (71 percent) made explicit references to their work organization (e.g., “I am a Pillsbury employee,” “I am a Pillsbury volunteer”), with most reporting this affiliation among the top three positions in their statements. These qualitative data provide suggestive evidence that participants’ organizational affiliation was a salient source of self-definition in community outreach contexts.

Rate of Social Comparisons

Participants indicated the extent to which they compared themselves with agency clients and other organization members on the first, midpoint, and final service sessions. Table 1 displays the rate of social comparison for each target as well as the comparison direction. Overall, paired t-tests indicated that participants reported engaging in more comparisons with clients than with other organization members in each time period (p < .001). Comparisons with clients were generally favorable: participants reported feeling "superior or better off" in each time period. In contrast, comparisons with organization members were neutral (neither favorable nor unfavorable), with participants feeling "about the same" as other members. Moreover, paired t-tests showed that participants reported feeling more similar to other organization members than to clients in each time period (p < .001). This pattern of results is consistent with self-categorization as an organization member; social comparisons highlighted relevant simi larities with ingroup members and differences with outgroup members (agency clients).

Given that most comparisons with clients were favorable, I used reports of the rate of comparisons with clients as a measure of the extent of favorable client comparisons in the community outreach context. In contrast, most comparisons with other organization members highlighted similarities; thus I used reports of the rate of comparisons with members as a measure of the extent of neutral member comparisons. A repeated-measures analysis of variance (ANOVA) revealed that the extent of favorable client comparisons remained stable across sessions, [F.sub.2,436] = 1.01 (p > .05), as did neutral member comparisons, [F.sub.2,436] = .82 (p > .05). Based on these results, I averaged comparison scores across the three sessions to create two summary scores: favorable client comparisons (mean = 2.98, S.D. = 1.25, scale = 1-5) and neutral member comparisons (mean = 2.10, S.D. = 1.01, scale = 1-5).

A multivariate ANOVA revealed no systematic differences in mean levels of favorable client comparisons and neutral member comparisons as a function of community outreach program (Hotelling’s F = .376, p > .05). A paired t-test revealed that individuals engaged in more favorable client comparisons than neutral member comparisons [t (218) = 9.41 (p < .001]. The social comparison measure assessed the extent and direction of social comparisons with specific targets and did not differentiate between interpersonal or intergroup comparisons. Nonetheless, the salience of participants' organizational identities, coupled with a preponderance of client comparisons emphasizing positive differences and neutral member comparisons highlighting similarities, suggest that clients provided the frame of reference for self-appraisal as a member of a particular group, not as a unique individual.

Social Comparative Content

To examine the content of social comparisons, I used information involved in comparisons with both clients and members in the journal entries and interview statements. Most of the sample (84 percent) provided usable responses to the open-ended social comparison question for one or more journal entries. I examined a total of 411 separate journal entries for their comparative content, most of them containing 60 words or less. I used the content analysis procedures described by Miles and Huberman (1994) to identify specific categories of comparative information reflected in the journals and interview responses. A Master’s student in psychology served as a second content analyst. We began by reading members’ journals and the interview transcripts to familiarize ourselves with the scope and content of their statements. We then separated statements involving client comparisons from those involving member comparisons. We then separately generated a set of codes corresponding to specific information categories identi fied during an initial review of the client-comparison data. The goal was to create a coding scheme to serve as a general map for interpreting participants’ responses; thus we focused on generating general (i.e., education) rather than specific (i.e., high school versus college education) comparative categories. We separately coded a portion of the data and modified the coding scheme by adding, merging, or eliminating categories of comparative information until the categories fully captured participants’ responses. We then discussed the categories that we each generated and worked together to reach agreement about the categories that best represented the data. We repeated this process (i.e., coding a portion of the data, modifying categories and recording, and jointly discussing category fit) a second time to further refine the categories.

The coding process revealed nine comparative categories for comparisons with clients. These included education, professional skills and abilities, employment status and stability, wealth, social status and mobility, mental and physical health, social support, quality of life, and attitudes and personality (e.g., proactive versus reaction orientation, propensity toward risk taking). We carried out the same coding process for the member-comparison data, which produced five comparative categories: work environment (department characteristics), professional skills and abilities, attitudes and personality, mental and physical health, and personal backgrounds. Examples of each appear in table 2.

Comparisons with clients. Participants’ journal entries and interview responses for client comparisons (total mentions = 406) shared a number of interesting features. First, there was evidence indicative of comparisons that were more spontaneous than deliberately sought out (total mentions = 281), such as “their situation made me think,” and “working with [the clients] forced to me to take stock.” For example, a participant wrote that the experience “puts things in perspective and makes me think about the basics; not just that we have homes but that we’ve got the education and skills needed to hold onto our jobs and our homes.” Another participant wrote, “it forced me to appreciate just how fortunate we are to have a strong support system at work-people who genuinely care about each other.” These data suggest that salient contrasts between organization members and clients may have imposed comparisons that members wouldn’t have sought out otherwise.

A second noteworthy aspect was the combination of “I” an “we” statements, suggesting that client comparisons occurred on both an interpersonal and intergroup level. Inter-personal comparisons provided self-appraisals based on comparisons with a single client (e.g., “I am much more financialy secure than he is”). In contrast, intergroup comparisons provided information about the relative standing of organization members in relation to the client group as a whole (e.g. “We are in a position to use our wealth and our skills to help others out, they’re not”). Consistent with the quantitative findings, the journal and interview data suggest that intergroup comparisons with clients (total mentions = 302) occurred at a greater frequency than interpersonal comparisons with clients (total mentions = 104). There was strong evidence that intergroup client comparisons served to high-light, confirm, or reinforce differences that placed participants’ organizational identities in a relatively favorable light.

Overall, intergroup client comparisons took many forms, varying in complexity from simple contrasts based on single attributes to multidimensional contrasts involving several attributes from one or more comparative categories. For example, a participant in the home building program noted that, “After listening to [the future homeowner] talk about how he’s been downsized out of four jobs and how he can’t afford the education he needs to get a more stable, higher-level job made me appreciate what we have–secure jobs, good pay, medical benefits, and access to strong training programs. They don’t have any of these things.” Table 2 provides further examples of favorable intergroup client comparisons.

Comparisons with members. Overall, comparisons with other organization members (total mentions 166) involved fewer attributes and comparative categories than intergroup client comparisons. Most comparisons highlighted member similarities (total mentions = 122), suggesting assimilation rather than contrast effects. The focus on intergroup differences (with clients) and intragroup similarities (between organization members) is consistent with self-categorization at the collective level. Examples of member comparisons appear in table 2. For example, a participant offered this comment about her coworkers:

I’m from marketing and my team members were from finance and manufacturing. I thought that they’d be numbers-driven and would care more about designing a lesson that was more factually correct than interesting. I was totally wrong; their ideas were as creative as mine. They really challenged the way I look at this company–the way I stereotype different departments. I bet we all have the same creative potential, we just channel it into different things.

Test of Hypotheses

Perceived organizational identity. Hypothesis 1 predicted that favorable comparisons with clients and neutral comparisons with members would produce changes in the content of participants’ perceived organizational identity. A principal components factor analysis of the 23 items reflecting possible indicators of participants’ perceived organizational identity in pre-program surveys produced six factors with a minimum loading of .40 and a cross-loading maximum cutoff of .25. Based on an inspection of the 18 items contained in the six factors, I labeled the factors as cooperativeness, competitiveness, results orientation, innovation, social responsiveness, and predictability. These factors accounted for 64.4 percent of the explained variance, with Cronbach’s alpha ranging from .69 to .90. A principal components factor analysis of post-program assessments reproduced this factor structure. Table 3 lists items and factor loadings based on the pre-program survey data. Mean levels of each content dimension in pre-pro gram and post-program reports did not differ significantly across community outreach programs (Hotelling’s F = 2.87, p > .05).

Repeated measures ANOVAs revealed no significant differences in participants’ pre-program and post-program ratings of competitiveness, results orientation, and predictability. In contrast, significant differences were found for cooperativeness ([F.sub.1,143] = 28.25, p < .001), innovation ([F.sub.1,143] = 12.35, p < .01), social responsiveness ([F.sub.1,143] = 13.13, p < .001). Because participants in the home-building program did not complete pre-program measures, these analyses were based on a sample of 144 participants in the other three programs. These results suggest that attributes corresponding to cooperativeness, innovation, and social responsiveness became more central to participants' perceived organizational identity during the period of their community outreach work. For the 28 participants representing the naturally occurring control group, repeated measures ANOVAs revealed no significant differences in pre-program and post-program ratings for any content dimension. These results provide supporti ve evidence that observed changes in perceived organizational identity were less a function of the people who participated in community outreach and more a function of their experiences.

For the content dimensions that exhibited pre-program and post-program change (cooperativeness, innovation, and socia responsiveness), regression analyses were conducted to assess the influence of participants’ social comparison activities. In each analysis, organizational tenure, community outreach experience, and pre-program ratings of the content dimension were entered as control variables to partial out their influence. Then, extent of favorable client comparisons and member comparisons were entered. Any variance accounted for in this second step, as estimated by the change in [R.sup.2], is the contribution of client comparisons (emphasizing differences) and member comparisons (emphasizing similarities) to the change in specific content dimensions of perceived organizational identity.

In each analysis, pre-program ratings of the content dimension were significant in the second regression step; organizational tenure and community outreach experience were not. For cooperativeness, the addition of the comparison variables in step 2 contributed an additional 5 percent of variance ([[delta]R.sup.2] = .05, [delta]F = 15.06, p < .001), and both favorable client comparisons ([beta] = .10, p < .01) and member comparisons ([beta] = .15, p < .001) were significant predictors. For innovation, the comparison variables added an additional 4 percent of variance ([[delta]R.sup.2] = .04, [delta]F = 17.05, p < .001), and both favorable client comparisons ([beta] = .16, p < .001) and member comparisons ([beta] = .11, p < .01) were significant predictors. Finally, for social responsiveness, the comparison variables contributed 3 percent of variance ([[delta]R.sup.2] = .03, [delta]F = 5.13, p < .01), and only member comparisons ([beta] .14, p < .05) was a significant predictor. These results provide suggestive support for hypothesis 1.

Collective self-esteem and organizational identification. A series of regression analyses tested the hypothesized relationships between favorable client comparisons, collective self-esteem (CSE), and strength of organizational identification (Ol). Table 4 contains zero-order correlations for pre-program and post-program variables (N = 144). For simplicity, I refer to these pre- and post-program variables numerically (e.g., CSE-1 versus CSE-2 and Ol-1 versus Ol-2) in subsequent analyses.

I tested hypothesis 2 (the greater the extent of favorable client comparisons, the higher the level of collective self-esteem) and hypothesis 3 (collective self-esteem mediates the positive effect of extent of favorable client comparisons on strength of organizational identification) using the three-stage mediated regression approach recommended by Baron and Kenny (1986). Table 5 presents these results.

First, CSE-2 was regressed on favorable client comparison using a hierarchical regression technique (equation 1). CSE-1 was entered in step 1 to control for pre-program levels of this factor on CSE-2. A second set of variables containing organizational tenure and community outreach experience was entered to partial out their influence on CSE-2, allowing for a more stringent test of the effect of favorable client comparison (step 3). Any variance accounted for in this final step, as estimated by the change in [R.sup.2], is the contribution of favorable client comparison to the change in collective self-esteem. Table 5 shows that in step 3, where client comparison was entered, an additional 11 percent of variance was contributed to the regression equation, supporting hypothesis 2.

In the next stage of the mediated regression analysis, 01-2 was regressed on client comparison, as a necessary condition for mediation is to show a direct effect of the independent variable (favorable client comparison) on the dependent variable (OI-2) (equation 2). Using a hierarchical procedure, OI-1 was entered first to control for existing levels of this factor on OI-2. Then organizational tenure and community outreach experience were entered to partial out their effects on OI-2. In the third step, the addition of favorable client comparison explained an additional 8 percent of the variance in OI-2.

In the final stage of the mediated regression analysis, OI-2 was regressed simultaneously on favorable client comparison and CSE-2 (equation 3). Using a hierarchical procedure, steps 1 and 2 from the previous analysis were repeated. Then I entered CSE-1 to control for pre-program levels of this factor. Favorable client comparisons and CSE-2 were entered in the final step. Any variance accounted for in step 4 is the contribution of such comparisons and change in collective self-esteem to change in organizational identification. Table 5 shows that these variables accounted for an additional 14 percent of the variance in OI-2. Not only was the effect of favorable client comparisons on OI-2 less in the third equation than in the second, but it was also nonsignificant. This pattern of results indicates that CSE-2 fully mediated the relationship between favorable client comparisons and OI-2, supporting hypothesis 3.

Participants’ reports of collective self-esteem and organizational identification were then compared with the responses of non-participants in the control group. Repeated measures ANOVAs, controlling for organizational tenure and community outreach experience, revealed significant pre-program and post-program differences among participants for CSE ([F.sub.1,141]) 3.81, p < .05) and OI ([F.sub.1,141] = 4.02, p .05) and OI ([F.sub.1,22] = 3.15, p > .05) did not demonstrate significant changes, suggesting that social comparisons in the boundary-spanning context contributed to the observed effects.

Behavioral implications of boundary-spanning. Hypotheses 4-6 predicted the effects of participants’ boundary-spanning experiences on cooperation, work-related effort, and advocacy participation. Table 4, above, shows zero-order correlations among the variables, and table 6 displays the regression results. Based on the correlations contained in table 4, three control variables were included in the analyses: organizational tenure, task interdependence, and standardization. For each behavior, I entered supervisors’ pre-program assessments of the behavior in step 1 to control for the effect of existing levels on post-program assessments. The next step was the entry of the control variables to partial out their effects. In the third step, OI-1 was entered to control for existing levels of identification on post-program behaviors. Then OI-2 was entered into the regression equation. Any variance accounted for at this final step is the contribution of change in OI to change in work behavior. Table 6 shows that the ad dition of OI-2 increased the [R.sup.2], produced a significant [DELTA]F, and yielded significant coefficients for each work behavior. It shows that OI-2 explained 6 percent of the variance in assistance cooperation and 9 percent of the variance in affiliation cooperation, supporting hypothesis 4. The 7-percent change in [R.sup.2] for work effort supports hypothesis 5. For advocacy participation, the modest amount of added variance (delta][R.sup.2] = .03) suggests a weak relationship with identification (hypothesis 6).

Supervisors’ reports of participants’ work behavior were then compared with reports for non-participants in the control group. Repeated measures ANOVAs, controlling for organizational tenure and community outreach experience, revealed significant pre-program and post-program differences in reports of participants’ assistance cooperation ([F.sub.1,141] = 13.21 p < .001), affiliation cooperation ([F.sub.1,141] = 13.33, p < .001), and work-related effort ([F.sub.1,141] = 3.31, p .05). In contrast, supervisors’ reports for non-participants revealed no significant changes in pre-program and post-program levels of any work behavior.


This study makes a first attempt to document the psychological experiences of members who find themselves in boundary-spanning contexts by focusing on changes in organizational identification that accompany changes in contexts and social interaction partners. Such effects occurred when the social setting highlighted members’ organizational affiliation and activated favorable intergroup comparisons that enhanced their collective self-esteem and, in turn, their organizational identification. Moreover, these experiences appeared to alter the attributes that members perceived as most descriptive of their work organization. By showing how members’ perceived organizational identity, collective self-esteem, and organizational identification are malleable, this research marks a departure from most other studies of organizational identification that focus on antecedent conditions at a single point in time (see Elsbach, 1999). Instead, it joins a growing conversation among organizational scholars who question the appar ent durability of organizational identity, viewing it instead as relatively dynamic and subject to frequent redefinition and revision by members based on their experiences and interactions with non-members (Ashforth and Mael, 1996; Gioia, Schultz, and Corley, 2000). To this point, the findings of this study offer useful insights about potential outcomes associated with organizations’ boundary-spanning activities as well as how organizational identification processes operate in everyday work contexts.

Implications for Theories of Organizational Identification

This paper extends theories of organizational identification in several ways. The study explored social comparisons in situations devoid of explicit threat. Without an explicit threat and an immediate need for self-protection, social comparisons generally promote sensemaking and information gathering. An intriguing implication of the present research concerns the potency of favorable intergroup comparisons that occur in low-threat versus high-threat contexts. According to regulatory focus theory (Higgins, 1998), goal-directed activities fall into two broad categories of desired objectives: goals related to advancement and growth (promotion) and those related to safety and security (prevention). A promotion focus involves sensitivity to positive outcomes and motivates actions aimed at accomplishment, whereas a prevention focus involves sensitivity to negative outcomes and motivates actions to achieve stability (being conservative and avoiding mistakes) (Liberman et al., 2001). When a threat exists, a person’s primary self-defensive goal is to affirm the integrity of the self, not to resolve the particular threat (Steele, 1988). This is likely to activate a prevention focus and prompt concentrated efforts to pinpoint desirable features that preserve the ingroup’s relative status or distinctiveness. Social comparisons may therefore be conservative in both frequency and scope, such that members leverage opportunities for self-enhancement based on a limited set of attributes when the situation appears safe to do so (i.e., free of the risk of failure or humiliation). Perhaps this pattern of social comparison is less potent for elevating collective self-esteem and identification than comparisons that occur in low-threat contexts.

In low-threat contexts, members are likely to have a promotion focus that centers their attention on potential positive outcomes; leveraging opportunities for growth and achievement, such as enhancing one’s sense of self (Liberman et al., 2001). People in a promotion focus tend to use a wide range of information and alternatives as well as creative strategies in problem solving (Crowe and Higgins, 1997). Relative to high-threat contexts, intergroup comparisons in low-threat contexts therefore are likely to be more frequent and extensive (involving a broad set of attributes). The interview data provided some evidence that members elaborated salient information about clients, constructing additional information to generate further points of comparison. For example, one participant said “. . . these kids are struggling with learning disabilities so the likelihood that they’ll go on to college and be able to have the kinds of challenging and interesting jobs that we have is very small,” yet noted having no direct knowledge about the education level that clients typically achieve. In low-threat conditions, members may exhibit considerable cognitive flexibility in creating perceptions that membership in a particular organization is both personally and socially appealing. Favorable intergroup comparisons undertaken with a promotion focus may be powerful in promoting awareness of the positive features of an organization, which, in turn, may bolster collective self-esteem and identification. Thus, favorable intergroup comparisons in low-threat contexts could have a more dramatic and lasting effect on members than those that occur in high-threat contexts. Ultimately, this is an empirical question worthy of exploration.

This study also represents a first attempt to show how social comparisons that ensue when work contexts and interaction partners change can alter the content of members’ perceived organizational identity. Overall, social comparisons with clients (emphasizing differences) and other organization members (emphasizing similarities) led participants to perceive attributes indicative of cooperation, innovation, and social responsiveness as increasingly descriptive of the work organization. Some parallels existed between particular content dimensions and these comparisons. For example, intragroup comparisons regarding attitudes and professional skills and abilities highlighted commonalities in terms of assertiveness, resourcefulness, and imagination, which may speak to the organization’s overall capacity for innovation. It is possible that repeated exposure to positive comparative information in the community outreach context was generalized to other settings, making these features more accessible descriptors of the organization.

Social comparisons thus serve multiple roles in organizational identification. First, the combination of contextual cues and social comparison may bring into focus individuals’ membership in an organization and therefore set the stage for further social comparisons involving this particular identity. While the current study focused on social comparison, it is important to note that contextual cues provide a vital backdrop against which self-categorization occurs. Additional work is needed to provide a more complete mapping of influential structural, contextual, and relational cues and their relative impact on the salience of members’ organizational identity within the organization and in external contexts. A second role of social comparison is that favorable intergroup contrasts provide information that leads members to feel more positively about their work organization and, thus, motivated to identify more strongly with it. Finally, intergroup comparisons that highlight positive differences and intragroup co mparisons that emphasize members’ similarities may lead certain attributes to become more attractive and/or accessible descriptors of the organization, leading members to think differently about what their work organization stands for.

This study also helps to fill an important need to document empirically the range of work-related actions exhibited by members who identify strongly with their work organization. Boundary-spanning work that strengthened organizational identification also increased members’ work effort and their cooperative tendencies (instrumental and interpersonal). Interviews with supervisors revealed that some members “worked harder,” “came in to the office more energized, enthusiastic, and ready to work,” and seemed “more attentive to details.” Other supervisors reported that members “shared information with others without having to be asked,” seemed “more responsive to requests from others,” and appeared “more careful to meet deadlines that coworkers set for one another.” But supervisors varied widely in their reports of participants’ work behavior: some reported that it fell below the average member, others claimed that it was comparable to other members, while still others observed that it exceeded the average member. Thus, not all members included in this study were stellar or model employees. To the contrary, most were quite average–conscientious, hardworking, and amicable, but in no way exceptional. Nonetheless, the results suggest that, regardless of the caliber of the member, supervisors reported behavioral changes for those who perceived a stronger degree of identification following their community outreach work. The stability of such changes, however, remains uncertain; additional research could assess the degree to which members’ behavioral expressions of their psychological tie to the organization are short-lived or permanent.

Supervisors did not report a higher incidence of advocacy participation among members (e.g., challenging others and making suggestions for change). As identification becomes stronger, members often become highly concerned with engaging in socially accepted behaviors to maintain a favorable image to other members (Ashforth and Mael, 1989). Members therefore may refrain from challenging or change-oriented behaviors if they believe that such behaviors counter social norms and will lead other members to impose negative sanctions (e.g., rejection, social distancing). As identification intensifies, members also may view change as a threat (Wiesenfeld, Brockner, and Thibault, 2000) if they perceive that it will alter or eliminate the organization’s distinctive features. Future research could explore in greater depth the conditions under which increasing levels of identification will promote different types of organizationally beneficial behaviors.

Limitations and Future Research

This study has some potential limitations and boundary conditions that suggest areas in which future research could be fruitful. It is possible that the participants in community outreach programs are not representative of typical organization members but, rather, held a stronger cognitive connection to the organization and thus were motivated to preserve this relationship. Although biases associated with self-selection cannot be ruled out completely, three factors suggest that participants were comparable to the larger population of employees. First, nearly 70 percent of headquarters employees engage in company-sponsored community outreach at some point, suggesting that such activities are not performed by a select group of people. This percentage is comparable to the rate of volunteerism in Minnesota (66 percent) but higher than the U.S. average (56 percent) (Independent Sector, 1999). Second, the fact that release time for community outreach was provided might have attracted a more diverse, and perhaps mor e representative, sample than if it were performed on personal time. In the interviews, members attributed their participation to a variety of motives, including building professional networks, escaping the pressures of the office, and managing impressions with supervisors. For example, 29 percent of the interviewees reported participating because they perceived that managers endorse such activities. Although not formally required to participate, they perceived strong normative pressure to volunteer. Given this, many members may have taken advantage of available release time for community outreach out of self-interests that did not necessarily reflect their relationship with the organization. Although it is premature to suggest that the study’s findings would hold if members were required to perform community outreach work, the interview data suggest it is likely, given that nearly one-third of the sample felt obligated to participate.

Finally, a small sample of members who signed up for but did not perform their community outreach work did not exhibit the same attitudinal or behavioral changes as participants, suggesting that processes activated in the community outreach context were the primary drivers of the results rather than characteristics particular to volunteers. The lack of a control group that did not sign up for this boundary-spanning work, however precludes full verification of this argument.

Another point of concern involves the measurement of participants’ social comparisons. Self-report diaries that ask specific questions about recent events avoid retrospective biases and yield more accurate assessments than measures that ask general questions about past events (Wood, 1996; Suls and Wheeler, 2000). Moreover, self-report diaries enable in situ assessments and the opportunity to assess comparisons that individuals seek as well as those that are presented to (or forced on) them by the context. Nonetheless, a potential limitation is that asking participants to reflect on their social comparisons could prompt the phenomenon itself. For that reason, I examined participants’ interview responses in tandem with their self-report diaries. Of the 28 participants interviewed at the conclusion of the programs, 21 provided spontaneous statements indicating they had made social comparisons with clients. Such statements emerged as participants described their community outreach work and their experiences at th e site; I did not ask them about social comparisons directly. Together, the interview data and self-report diaries are consistent with prior claims that social comparisons are prevalent in everyday life and that people invoke comparisons spontaneously to make sense of their surroundings. Moreover, participants who engaged in favorable client comparisons to a great extent subsequently provided post-program reports indicative of changes in their levels of collective self-esteem and organizational identification. If substantial priming effects had occurred for all members as they completed the on-site self-report diaries, then it is unlikely that I would have found such robust support for the study’s predictions. Future research on social comparison, however, could benefit from a blend of laboratory and field methods to test specific hypotheses more precisely.

It is also important to specify the nature of the content changes provided by the measure of participants’ perceived organizational identity. In theory, the specific attributes that define a particular member’s perceived organizational identity may differ considerably from those used by other members. I asked participants to assess a single set of attributes culled from interviews with other organization members. To this point, pre- and post-program assessments thus reflect changes in the degree to which a member perceives a particular category of attributes as representative of the organization. Such assessments therefore cannot account for the addition or deletion of specific attributes in a member’s perceived organizational identity. Another possible limitation of this study is that supervisors’ behavioral reports may have been the product of halo effects. Although this alternative argument cannot be ruled out completely, the inclusion of pre- and post-program assessments diminishes this possibility. Halo effects might occur for all members by virtue of their voluntary participation, though the finding that changes in self-reported identification predicted changes in supervisors’ behavioral assessments makes this explanation unlikely.

An important boundary condition of the present study concerns the relative status of the client groups. Ample opportunities for favorable intergroup comparisons existed, given the relatively disadvantaged status of clients along various dimensions, but this may be less characteristic of other community outreach contexts or boundary-spanning activities. For example, members may perceive that their ingroup holds a favorable but small advantage over an outgroup, possibly minimizing the positive impact of such comparisons. Other boundary-spanning contexts may involve relatively privileged groups and activate comparisons that place members’ ingroup in an inferior position. Such situations are likely to create salient identity threats for members. For example, members of accounting firms that interact with clients belonging to prestigious and affluent organizations may, over time, derive less esteem from and identify less with their firm as the result of unfavorable comparisons that repeatedly show their own group to be lacking on specific dimensions. This may partly explain why a large percentage of accountants leave their firms to take positions with former client organizations. But there are other options. The presence of threat may also prompt members to select new comparison dimensions to produce more favorable contrasts (Elsbach and Kramer, 1996) or even more aggressive strategies, such as uncooperative or hostile acts toward the outgroup (e.g., prejudice, discrimination, negative stereotyping) (Ashforth and Mael, 1989). The latter could be especially problematic when the boundary-spanning context calls for intergroup cooperation or collaboration. Additional research could explore conditions under which members respond to identity threats by using more aggressive or more benign strategies.

This study’s focus on community outreach contexts and its accompanying outcomes made social comparison processes especially salient. The prevalence of social comparison in members’ everyday work lives is likely to become increasingly critical as organizations forge more interorganizational relationships with suppliers, customers, government and community agencies, and even competitors as part of their repertoire of strategic practices. A critical implication is that members will have greater opportunities to evaluate the meaning and value of their organizational identities based on social comparative information from a wider variety of groups than perhaps they did in the past. This puts pressure on members to be more psychologically flexible–to perform more cognitive work to determine what it means to be an organizational member and to adjust their level of identification in ways that maintain or enhance their overall sense of self. For members who engage in boundary-spanning work regularly, perhaps the expe rience of being identified with their work organization will feel more ephemeral than stable. How ongoing changes in work contexts and interaction partners affect members’ organizational identification and the implications for both the individual and the organization will be increasingly relevant for future research.

This research was completed as part of the author’s doctoral dissertation at the University of Michigan. I wish to thank Dan Brass and the anonymous reviewers who provided invaluable advice and suggestions during the preparation of this article, and Linda Johanson for her insightful editorial assistance. I am also grateful for the many constructive comments offered by Chao Chen, Jennifer Crocker, Jane Dutton, Frances Milliken, Elizabeth Morrison, Mike Pratt, Richard saavedra, Lance Sandelands, Kathleen Sutclifte, and Batia Wiesenfeld. Much appreciation goes to Barbara Alfrey and the Pillsbury coordinators who assisted with data collection. Preparation of this article was supported by a grant from the Tenneco Fund Program at the Stern School of Business, New York University.


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Table 1

Participants’ Social Comparison Activities (N = 219) (*)

First Midpoint Final

Social comparisons session session session Average

Extent of social

comparison with (1-5 scale)

Agency clients 2.92 3.04 2.95 2.98

(1.32) (1.35) (1.29) (1.25)

Other organization members 2.07 2.12 2.13 2.10

(1.01) (1.04) (.98) (1.01)

Direction of comparison

Proportion of members

reporting “I was feeling”

Agency clients

Inferior, worse off .02 .03 .00 .03

Similar, about the same .12 .15 .13 .13

Superior, better off .86 .82 .87 .85

Percent of sample

responding (+) 87% 85% 84%

Other organization members

Inferior, worse off .12 .10 .11 .11

Similar, about the same .80 .85 .87 .86

Superior, better off .08 .05 .02 .05

Percent of sample

responding (+) 74% 70% 72%

Similarity to target

(1-5 scale)

Agency clients 1.81 1.78 1.89 1.82

(.76) (.70) (.90) (.86)

Other organization members 3.36 3.64 3.60 3.52

(.89) (1.01) (.92) (.90)

(*)Standard errors are in parentheses.

(+)Participants responded only to this question if they reported a “2”

or higher in the previous question, extent of social comparison.

Table 2

Summary of Social Comparative Content (*)

Comparisons with clients

1. Education “They don’t have the

advantage of a college

degree like we do.”

2. Professional skills “Most of [the clients]

and abilities won’t have the

opportunity to learn

the types of skills

and hold the types of

high-paying jobs that

we have.”

3. Employment status “It must be incredibly

and stability stressful to have no

job security; we can

all count on our

jobs, at least for now,

and it’s comforting to

know that we

have what it takes to

get a good job somewhere


4. Wealth “Right now, we have

the luxury of being

financially secure,

they don’t.”

5. Social status and “They are not treated

mobility well by society;

we receive more


6. Mental and physical “Emotionally and

health physically, we’re in

good shape. We’re

able to help out

others. It must be

hard to be a

recipient instead

of a provider.”

7. Social support “[The clients] are

lacking support and

friendship that we

have. I’ve learned

that people at

Pillsbury are really

there for each other,

always willing to

help each other out.”

8. Quality of life “Even on our worst days

at work, we know that

tomorrow will be

better. [The clients]

face serious struggles

every day; that’s a

hard way to live.”

9. Attitudes and “Unlike [the clients],

personality we can afford to be

optimistic, to take

risks to make out

work and our personal

lives better.”

Comparisons with other organization members

1. Department characte- “What surprised me

ristics was that, although we

have different jobs,

life in other

departments in pretty

similar; we share

the same joys and


2. Professional skills “I’ve found that what

and abilities makes Pillsbury a

unique place is the

quality of the talent

and experience that

we all bring to

the job.”

3. Attitudes and “I’ve learned that

personality people at Pillsbury

are truly kind-

hearted; it’s not

just isolated cases,

I think that most

of us share the

same values.”

4. Mental and physical “It’s not just me,

health we’re all a pretty

vibrant bunch,

energetic and ready

to tackle anything;

there’s no slackers


5. Personal backgrounds “I was struck by how

similar our stories

are; most of us faced

the same challenges

trying to get a

career started; it’s

these types of things

that really bring us


(*)Information for comparative categories is based on participants

journal entries and interview statements, which provided strong evidence

for a moderate rate of comparison with clients and a low rate of

comparison with other organization members. Survey results showed a mean

of 2.98 for comparisons with clients and 2.10 for comparisons with other

organization members on a scale from 1 (not at all) to 5 (to a great


Table 3

Factor Analysis of Perceived Organizational Identity Items and

Descriptive Statistics (N = 144) (*)

Coopera- Competi- Results

Factor tiveness tiveness oriented Innovation

Accepting different .74 .04 .08 .17


Being courteous and .82 .07 .05 .08


Being cooperative .80 .10 .05 .15

Being polite and .76 -.08 .03 -.10

respecting individuals

Adaptable and flexible in .09 .80 .06 .19

new situations

Aggressive in pursuing .12 .89 .10 .12


Striving to outperform .05 .79 .11 .23


Taking initiative .12 .76 .11 .19

Achievement oriented .03 .20 .70 .11

High expectations for .08 .22 .65 .14

work quality

Attentive to details .10 .04 .72 -.16

Creative .12 .03 .16 .80

Experimenting .02 .21 .28 .70

Innovative .14 .10 .19 .81

Committed to improving .14 .04 .02 .07

others’ welfare

Honorable and having .10 .05 .02 .10

ethical principles

Equality/avoiding status .20 .09 .02 .06


Upholding ceremony and .08 -.02 .01 -.22


Rule oriented .11 -.15 -.03 -.19

Stable .03 -.09 .09 -.25

Pre-program mean 4.05 4.63 4.85 4.50

(1.13) (1.36) (1.12) (1.29)

Post-program mean 4.31 4.65 4.83 4.68

(1.21) (1.40) (1.07) (1.18)


respon- Pre-

Factor siveness dictability

Accepting different .20 .06


Being courteous and .04 .01


Being cooperative .09 .02

Being polite and .02 .03

respecting individuals

Adaptable and flexible in .06 -.03

new situations

Aggressive in pursuing -.05 -.09


Striving to outperform .04 -.10


Taking initiative .02 .08

Achievement oriented -.06 .09

High expectations for -.02 -.03

work quality

Attentive to details .01 -.09

Creative .12 -.03

Experimenting .02 -.07

Innovative -.03 -.05

Committed to improving .89 .05

others’ welfare

Honorable and having .72 .10

ethical principles

Equality/avoiding status .72 .02


Upholding ceremony and -.09 .79


Ruleoriented -.07 .70

Stable .03 .69

Pre-program mean 4.72 3.81

(1.14) (1.05)

Post-program mean 4.93 3.80

(1.26) (1.09)

(*)Standard deviations are in parenthesis.

Table 4

Intercorrelations among Pre-program and Post-program Variables (N = 144)


Pre-program Post-progr


Variable Mean S.D. Mean

1. Favorable client comparison — — 2.98

2. Collective self-esteem 5.21 1.04 5.59

3. Organizational identification 3.79 1.76 4.22

4. Assistance cooperation 4.53 1.20 4.93

5. Affiliation cooperation 4.75 1.35 5.00

6. Work effort 4.98 1.20 5.14

7. Advocacy participation 4.22 1.55 4.30

8. Organizational tenure 4.10 2.12 4.12

9. Community outreach experience 3.87 1.70 3.89

10. Task interdependence 3.17 1.21 3.20

11. Unit standardization 3.10 1.01 3.09



Variable S.D. 1 2

1. Favorable client comparison 1.25 — —

2. Collective self-esteem 1.01 .47 (**) —

3. Organizational identification 1.65 .35 (**) .42 (**)

4. Assistance cooperation 1.14 .18 (*) .32 (**)

5. Affiliation cooperation 1.16 .23 (*) .36 (**)

6. Work effort 1.14 .20 (*) .26 (**)

7. Advocacy participation 1.28 .19 (*) .31 (**)

8. Organizational tenure 2.11 .15 .28 (**)

9. Community outreach experience 1.88 .28 (*) .30 (**)

10. Task interdependence 1.26 .07 .12

11. Unit standardization 1.07 .02 .07

Variable 3 4 5

1. Favorable client comparison — — —

2. Collective self-esteem .40 (**) .33 (**) .27 (**)

3. Organizational identification — .30 (**) .29 (**)

4. Assistance cooperation .40 (**) — .31 (**)

5. Affiliation cooperation .37 (**) .38 (**) —

6. Work effort .40 (**) .24 (*) .19 (*)

7. Advocacy participation .30 (**) .22 (*) .14

8. Organizational tenure .30 (**) .10 .13

9. Community outreach experience .24 (*) .05 .16

10. Task interdependence .15 .34 (**) .29 (**)

11. Unit standardization .04 -.19 (*) -.14

Variable 6 7 8

1. Favorable client comparison — — —

2. Collective self-esteem .15 .21 (*) .27 (**)

3. Organizational identification .32 (**) .31 (**) .32 (**)

4. Assistance cooperation .20 (*) .29 (**) .15

5. Affiliation cooperation .20 (*) .11 .22 (*)

6. Work effort — .15 .09

7. Advocacy participation .20 (*) — .23 (*)

8. Organizational tenure .07 .30 (**) —

9. Community outreach experience .09 .13 .10

10. Task interdependence .06 .25 (**) .02

11. Unit standardization -.04 -.35 (**) -.03

Variable 9 10 11

1. Favorable client comparison — — —

2. Collective self-esteem .24 (*) .10 .04

3. Organizational identification .21 (*) .09 .02

4. Assistance cooperation .05 .30 (**) -.24 (*)

5. Affiliation cooperation .13 .22 (*) -.15

6. Work effort .04 .02 -.10

7. Advocacy participation .15 .19 -.36 (**)

8. Organizational tenure .12 .04 -.02

9. Community outreach experience — .05 .03

10. Task interdependence .09 — -.25 (**)

11. Unit standardization .01 -.30 (**) —

(*)p < .01

(**)p < .001.

(#)Pre-program correlations are above the diagonal and post-program

correlations are below the diagonal. Scales: client comparison (1-5);

organizational identification (1-8); collective self-esteem,

cooperation, effort, and advocacy participation (1-7); task

interdependence and unit standardization (1-5); organizational tenure

(years/months); and community outreach experience (days).

Table 5

Summary of Mediated Regression Analysis for Variables Predicting

Organizational Identification (N = 144) (#)

Dependent Independent

Variable Step Variables [DELTA][R.sup.2]

Equation 1

CSE-2 1 CSE-1 .53

2 Organizational tenure .05

Outreach experience

3 Client comparison .11

Equation 2

OI-2 1 OI-1 .37

2 Organizational tenure .03

Outreach experience

3 Client comparison .08

Equation 3

OI-3 1 OI-1 .37

2 Organizational tenure .03

Outreach experience

3 CSE-1 .03

4 Client comparison .14


Standardized [beta] for

Independent Variable (+)


Variable [DELTA]F Step 1 Step 2 Step 3

Equation 1

CSE-2 184.23 (**) .75 (**) .72 (**) .70 (**)

8.66 (**) .03 .02

.22 (**) .14 (*)

45.49 (**) .33 (**)

Equation 2

OI-2 86.12 (**) .61 (**) .56 (**) .58 (**)

2.38 .07 .05

.13 .08

16.64 (**) .29 (**)

Equation 3

OI-3 86.12 (**) .61 (**) .56 (**) .51 (**)

2.38 .07 .05

.13 .13

2.91 .13

16.05 (**)


[beta] for


Variable (+)


Variable Step 4 Adjusted [R.sup.2]

Equation 1



Equation 2



Equation 3

OI-3 .52 (**)





.40 (**) .54

(*)p < .01

(**)p < .001

(#)CSE = collective self-esteem and OI = strength of organizational

identification, with the number 1 and 2 following them designating pre-

and post-program levels, respectively.

(+)Standard errors range from .02 to .11.

Table 6

Summary of Hierachical Regression Analyses Assessing Effects of

Organizational identification on Work Behaviors (N = 144)

Dependent Independent

Variable Step Variables [DELTA][R.sup.2]

Assistance-2 1 Assistance-1 .66

2 Organizational tenure .02

Task interdependence

Unit standardization

3 Ol-1 .01

4 Ol-2 .06

Affiliation-2 1 Affiliation-1 .62

2 Organizational tenure .01

Task interdependence

Unit standardization

3 Ol-1 .02

4 Ol-2 .09

Effort-2 1 Effort-1 .65

2 Organizational tenure .01

Task interdependence

Unit standardization

3 Ol-1 .01

4 Ol-2 .07

Advocacy-2 1 Advocacy-1 .68

2 Organizational tenure .04

Task interdependence

Unit standardization

3 Ol-1 .00

4 Ol-2 .03

Standardized [beta]

for IndependentVariable (#)


Variable [DELTA]F Step 1 Setp 2

Assistance-2 277.36 (***) .80 (***) .77 (***)

2.33 .05




33.50 (***)

Affiliation-2 229.10 (***) .78 (***) .78 (***)

1.25 .05



3.94 (*)

45.96 (***)

Effort-2 267.17 (***) .80 (***) .81 (***)

.08 .02




36.47 (***)

Advocacy-2 301.01 (***) .83 (***) .74 (***)

6.39 (***) .17 (***)


-.11 (*)


4.26 (*)

Standardized [beta]

for IndependentVariable



Variable Step 3 Step 4 Adjusted [R.sup.2]

Assistance-2 .76 (***) .78 (***)

.02 .03

.06 .07

-.09 -.05

.02 .06

.33 (***) .73

Affiliation-2 .79 (***) .80 (***)

.02 .04

.04 .06

-.07 -.05

-.11 (*) -.36

.33 (***) .63

Effort-2 .81 (***) .80 (***)

-.03 -.01

.01 .03

.03 .06

-.01 -.10

.41 (***) .73

Advocacy-2 .73 (***) .72 (***)

.16 (***) .16 (***)

.05 .07

-.11 (*) -.10 (*) 0.

.03 -.07

.15 (*) .72

(*)p <.05;

(**)p < .01;

(***)p < .001.

(#)Standard errors range from .03 to .10.

APPENDIX: Select Set of Survey Instruments

Collective Self-esteem (adapted from Luhtanen and Cracker, 1991, 1992)

1. I feel good about working for Pillsbury.

3. Overall, I often feel that working for Pillsbury is not worthwhile. (*)

4. In general, I’m glad to be an employee in this company.

5. Overall, Pillsbury is considered a good company by others (non-employees).

6. In general, others respect what Pillsbury stands for.

7. Most people consider Pillsbury, on average, to be less effective than other companies. (*)

8. In general, others think that Pillsbury is not a good company to work for. (*)

(*) Reverse-coded

2. I often regret that I work for Pillsbury. (*)

Organization Identification (Tropp and Wright, 1999; Bagozzi and Bergami, 2000)

(1) Please describe your relationship with Pillsbury by using the following diagrams. Imagine that the circles at the left represent your own personal identity (what describes you as a unique individuall, while the circles at the right represent the identity of Pillsbury. Which diagram best describes the level of overlap between your own identity and Pillsbury’s identity?

My Personal Identity of

Identity Pillsbury

1 [] [] Far apart

2 [] [] Close together, but


3 [] [] Very small overlap

4 [] [] Small overlap

5 [] [] Moderate overlap

6 [] [] Large overlap

7 [] [] Very large overlap

8 [] [] Complete overlap


(2) To what extent does your own sense of who you are (i.e., your personal identity) overlap with your sense of what Pillsbury represents (i.e., Pillsbury’s identity)? [Scale: 1 = not at all, to 8 = to a great extent]

1. Takes time to listen to other people’s problems and worries.

2. Rarely takes a personal interest in others. (*)

3. Frequently does extra things that won’t be rewarded, but which make cooperative efforts with others more productive.

4. Passes on information that might be useful to others.

5. Willingly helps others, even at some cost to personal productivity.

6. Rarely takes others needs/feelings into account when making decisions that affect others. (*)

7. Tries not to make things more difficult for others at work.

8. Goes out of his/her way to help co-workers with difficult assignments.

9. Offers to help others who have heavy work loads.

10. Covers for absent co-workers.

Interpersonal Cooperation (McAllister, 1995)

Items 1-7 reflect affiliation cooperation; items 8-10 reflect assistance cooperation

(*) Reverse-coded

2. Produces as much as capable of at all times.

3. Always comes to work on time.

4. Regardless of circumstances, produces highest quality work.

5. Does not meet all departmental deadlines. (*)

Work-related Effort (Van Dyne. Graham, and Dienesch, 1994)

1. Rarely wastes time while at work.

6. Is mentally alert and ready to work when he/she arrives at work.

7. Follows work rules and instructions with extreme care.

8. Sometimes wastes departmental resources. (*)

9. Keeps work area clean and neat.

10. Sometimes misses work for no good reason. (*)

Advocacy Participation (Van Dyne, Graham. and Dienesch, 1994)

1. Uses personal judgment to assess what might be right/wrong for the department.

2. Encourages management and co-workers to keep knowledge and skills current.

3. Encourages others to speak up and participate in meetings.

4. Does not push co-workers to establish higher standards at work. (*)

5. Keeps well informed where his/her opinion might matter.

6. Helps co-workers think for themselves.

7. Frequently gives co-workers creative suggestions for ways of accomplishing tasks.

(*.) Reverse-coded

COPYRIGHT 2001 Cornell University, Johnson Graduate School

COPYRIGHT 2002 Gale Group

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