Motivated by concern for others: Consequences of Organizational Altruism

Joanna Szulc

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review


The research on consequences of workplace helping is gaining momentum. However, we still have only a limited understanding as to why helping among colleagues can be either a positive or a negative phenomenon. Drawing on the theory of prosocial behaviour, we demonstrate that the consequences of helping will differ based on the actors’ underlying motivations. We focus on organizational altruism, where help is motivated by concern for others, and we suggest it will result in unique consequences that do not necessarily need to apply to other types of helping behaviours at work. In a qualitative study including three case studies with 94 individuals, we found that while organizational altruism brings a range of positive outcomes for individuals and teams, it can lead to negatives at an individual level. We further demonstrate that concern for others and feelings of empathy can make organizational altruism not only more persistent than other helping behaviours but, at the same time, also more prone to risks such as problems with own work or emotional fatigue. We identify contextual conditions that make organizational altruism particularly harmful as well as those which buffer against the negative outcomes. We discuss theoretical and practical implications.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of EURAM 19
Subtitle of host publicationExploring the Future of Management
Place of PublicationLisbon, Portugal
PublisherEuropean Academy of Management Conference, Lisbon, Portugal
ISBN (Print)9782960219517
Publication statusPublished - 2019
EventEuropean Academy of Management 2019: Exploring the Future of Management - Instituto Universitário de Lisboa , Lisbon, Portugal
Duration: 26 Jun 201928 Jun 2019


ConferenceEuropean Academy of Management 2019
Abbreviated titleEURAM 2019
Internet address


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