Organizational Commitmment Essay Research Paper Organisational CommitmentWhat

Organizational Commitmment Essay, Research Paper

Organisational Commitment

What is organisational commitment?

Why should manager want it in their workforce?

Is there any cost effective way to secure it?

The concept of organisational commitment (OC) is not easy to describe. By studying the literature on OC it becomes apparent that there is little consensus as to the meaning of the term.

As the area has grown and developed, researchers from various disciplines have ascribed their own meaning to the topic. This is one of the reasons why defining OC is difficult. One definition is “Giving all of yourself while at work” (Martin and Nicolls). This definition is not very specific nor is it precise. A second definition says that work commitment come into being “When a person, by making a side-bet, links extraneous interests with a consistent line of activity.” (Becker, 1960) This definition focuses mainly on activities and behaviour in OC. A third definition explains OC as “an attitude or an orientation towards the organisation which links or attaches the identity of the person to the organisation.” (Sheldon, 1971)

The two last definitions differ from each other in their understanding of OC. The second focuses mainly on behaviour while the third is more based on attitude and identification. A good definition should cover the attitudinal-behavioural dichotomy and one definition that does that is Richard T Mowday et al’s (1982) definition:

This definition represents something more than the previous because it says that OC goes beyond mere passive loyalty to an organisation. It sees commitment to an organisation as an active relationship with the organisation such that individuals are willing to give something of themselves in order to contribute to the organisation’s well being. Mowday’s definition can be characterised by at least three factors:

+ A strong belief in and acceptance of the organisation’s goals and values

+ A willingness to exert considerable effort on behalf of the organisation and

+ A strong desire to maintain membership in the organisation

Mowday’s definition also has some weaknesses. Firstly it is important to notice that this definition does not prelude the possibility that individuals will also be committed to other aspects of their environment. It simply asserts that regardless of these other possible commitments the organisationally committed individual will tend to exhibit the three characteristics identified. Secondly, the definition doesn’t clarify the terms ‘identification with’ and ‘involvement in’. It can be discussed whether this is a good definition since the terms may be understood as ambiguous.

Although this is not an ideal definition of OC, it is a definition that gives a good understanding and explanation of what OC is.

Furthermore, Staw (77) differentiates between 2 different types of OC.

Attitudinal commitment: Refers to commitment rooted in an employee’s identification with the particular value system upheld by the co, and a desire to continue working there. Behavioural commitment on the other hand, comes about through a consistent pattern of action by an employee over a period of time, and the way in which s/he tends to become bound by this behaviour and hence reluctant to change.

The point made here is that attitudinal commitment should lead to behavioural commitment and behavioural to attitudinal. Understanding this, we will examine in part 3 possible ways managers in which look to initially generate OC.

There are several possible reasons why managers should want work commitment in their workforce.

Drennan suggest that most managers believe that with real commitment from staff the performance of their business could improve dramatically. Beside an increased performance the work will also be a better place to work.

The empirical studies carried out on the topic of OC represent a rich collection of findings with respect to both the antecedents and the consequences of the construct. Here is a short explanation of five possible outcomes that has been studied.

+ Job Performance:

Few important correlations have emerged in studies, although the correlations are consistently in a predicted direction and often reached statistical significance. (Mowday et al., 1974; Porter, Crampon, & Smith, 1976; Steers, 1977a) Therefore we should expect commitment to influence the amount of effort an employee puts forth on the job and this efforts should have some influence on actual performance.

+ Tenure:

Committed employees are desirous of remaining with the organisation. Highly significant, positive correlations have been found between increased tenure and increases commitment in Mowday 1974 and Steer 1977 studies.

+ Absenteeism:

Theory would predict that highly committed employees would be more motivated to attend so they could facilitate organisational goal attainment. Modest support can be found in several studies like F.J. Smith, 1977; Steers, 1977a, but this support is not entirely consistent (Angle & Perry, 1981).

When an employee’s commitments lie outside the organisation (e.g. hobby, family), less internal pressure would be exerted on the employee to attend (Morgan & Herman, 1976).

We could say that commitment may represent an influence on attendance motivation.

+ Tardiness:

In a study by Angle and Perry (1981), commitment was found to be strongly and inversely related to employee tardiness. The theory underlying the construct suggests that highly committed employees are likely to engage in behaviours consistent with their attitudes toward the organisation. Coming to work on time would certainly represent one such behaviour.

+ Turnover:

The strongest or most predictable behavioural outcome of employee commitment should be reduced turnover, which are shown in five studies. (Angle & Perry, 1981, Hom et al., 1979; Koch & Steers, 1978; Mowday et al., 1979; Steers, 1977a)

In a sixth study, a longitudinal design was used to track commitment levels over time among a sample of psychiatric technicians. (Porter et al., 1974) Again commitment was found to be significantly and inversely related to subsequent turnover.

Using the model suggested by Mowday et al, we look at the development of OC in 3 stages. What should be clear here is the significance of the early part of the company’s relationship with an employee in seeking OC. Here we refer in particular to recruitment and induction practices of the firm.

(1) Pre-entry:

Employee characteristics: Choose people whose values, beliefs, etc in some way fit with those of the firm.

Nb. The role of this ‘fit’ in securing attitudinal commitment is significant

Employee Expectations: Make sure these correspond with the realities of the job

(2) Early employment

Job Design: Increase scope leads to increased commitment. Important dimensions inc: variety, autonomy, feedback, significance, challenge.

- Participation, group work, and interdependence of tasks leads to commitment thru greater involvement and also increased felt responsibility

- Make work challenging: Will attract those individuals who value work and bring an attitude of achievement to the organisation.

Management and structure: Integration and supportive/open management

- Loosen tight supervision and give employees more discretion

Reward System: Internal labour market

Organisational characteristics: Co must be seen as protecting the workers’ interests while offering employment stability. Socialising employees is also important here, altho little research has been done on either its implementation of its usefulness.

(3) Middle/late career stages:

Nb. Increasing focus on behavioural commitment

As tenure increases,

1. Employees’ jobs more likely to inc those dimensions mentioned above in ‘Job design’

2. Higher extrinsic awards + increased value of investments made by employee

3. Workers generally more socialised in the co

Note: A major factor in influencing OC which has been ignored deliberately is that of personal experiences and histories that employees bring with them from previous jobs, etc. as this is beyond the scope of management intervention.

4. Some comments to work commitment

In this essay we have mainly argued that organisational commitment is good and we have explained why manager should want it in their workforce. It is also evident that having a strong committed workforce has its advantages. One thing we have not mentioned is the disadvantages of a committed workforce. Randall (1987) used the term “blind” commitment in describing a workforce that was too committed. If you are too committed it can lead employees to accept the status quo even if the ultimately means that the company loses its ability to innovate and adapt to change.

Another possible drawback to commitment can be illustrated by the example of a mediocre employee who has been at for a particular org for some time and who would struggle to get another job elsewhere. In this case, we assume s/he would be committed to his/her job so as not to risk losing it.


In this way, this paper, having shown that there are many reasons why managers may wish to secure OC and how it can be achieved, has also highlighted some potential drawbacks that managers should be aware of.


Richard T. Mowday, Lyman W. Porter and Richard M. Steers: Employee-Organization Linkages. 1982

Baron Kreps: Strategic Human Resources, Framework for General Managers. 1998

David E. Guest: Is the psychological contract worth taking seriously? 1998

John Arnold: The Psychological Contract: A Concept in Need of Closer Scrutiny? 1996

Roy J. Lewicki and Barbara B. Bunker: Developing and Mantaining Trust in the Work Relationships.

John P. Mayer and Natalie J. Allen: Commitment in the Workplace

B.Staw; ‘The two sides of commitment’; Paper presented at the National Meeting of the Academy of Management; Orlando, Florida (1977)



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