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Factors determining Organizational Commitment

management, business, organization, organizational commitment, commitment factors

Managers, once sensitive to the existence or nonexistence of commitment in the organization, might want to know what causes it. We may be able to alter commitment by understanding its antecedents, of which there are four: personal characteristics, job- or role-related characteristics, structural characteristics, and work experiences.
Research shows age and tenure to be personal characteristics positively correlated with commitment. As people get older and remain in their organizations, their commitment goes up, probably because alternative employment opportunities diminish for older people or because commitment may be a successful strategy in getting along. Or it may be, quite simply, that more committed employees stay with the organization longer. Higher education is associated with lower commitment, perhaps because educated people have expectations the organization cannot meet or are more committed to professions (their occupational community) than to organizations. It may also be that alternative work opportunities are greater. Women are usually more committed than men to their organizations, possibly because they have to overcome more barriers to getting into those organizations or because fewer alternatives are available to them. One multinational study of Asian, Western, and Arab workers in Saudi Arabia showed that Asians were more committed to work than the other two groups. This was probably because job opportunities were fewer in the six poor Asian countries from which these workers came.

A variety of personal attitudes are related to commitment, among them work-oriented life interests, achievement motivation, and a sense of competence. These kinds of relationships support the notion of exchange between the employee and his organization.
Several job role characteristics are correlated with commitment. Job scope is positively associated with commitment, perhaps because broad jobs challenge people more than narrow jobs or because people with broader jobs—managers and the like—often have already demonstrated their commitment, which is why they have been given the broader jobs. Role conflict and role overload are negatively associated with commitment; role ambiguity has mixed associations. Thus, when people have broad and clear jobs, commitment may increase, but if their jobs are ambiguous, commitment decreases. Managers need to watch their top performers; the temptation to load them down with additional tasks could result in lowered commitment.

Some characteristics of organizational structure are related to commitment, suggesting that managers should think about how the structural arrangements of their organizations may influence workers. Formalization, functional dependence, and decentralization are all related to commitment. Work experiences related to commitment include social involvement, organizational dependability, personal importance to the organization, pay equity, and group norms regarding hard work.
In summary, while we do not have very clear ideas about the process of commitment itself, we can identify a number of important antecedents to organizational commitment. They can alert managers to personal, work, and organizational characteristics they may wish to modify in the interest of improving commitment.

Published: 2007-04-23
Author: Martin Hahn

About the author or the publisher
Martin Hahn PhD has received his education and degrees in Europe in organizational/industrial sociology. He grew up in South-East Asia and moved to Europe to get his tertiary education and gain experience in the fields of scientific research, radio journalism, and management consulting.

After living in Europe for 12 years, he moved to South-East again and has worked for the last 12 years as a management consultant, university lecturer, corporate trainer, and international school administrator

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