The Effects of Multi-Level Group Identification on Intergroup Helping Behavior
47 Pages Posted: 10 Apr 2017 Last revised: 22 Jul 2020
Date Written: December 1, 2017
We conduct an experiment to examine the effects of multi-level group identification on intergroup helping behavior. We predict and find that stronger identification with a sub-group (one’s immediate work-group) and a superordinate group (the organization in which that group is nested) – separately and interactively – increase helping behavior. We provide evidence that the relationships between stronger identification and helping behavior operate in part through increased salience of superordinate group boundaries, perceived potential benefits to one’s own group of intergroup helping, and positive affect. Collectively, our findings illustrate the importance of understanding how individuals perceive and identify with the different groups naturally present in organizations, as well as highlighting how identification can be used as an informal control to motivate important organizational behaviors like intergroup helping. Such an understanding can help firms determine the best organizational hierarchy, develop communication and control strategies to build identification at appropriate levels, and establish evaluation and compensation systems that measure and reward outcomes in a manner that accounts for these group effects.
Keywords: Groups; incentives; group identification; helping behavior; cooperation
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