2.1 Concept of Commitment and its Effect on Productivity
In general, commitment is defined as the psychological attachment of workers to their workplaces (Becker, Billings, Eveleth, and Gilbert 1996, Allen and Meyer, 1990, O’ Reilly and Chatman, 1986). In fact, few empirical studies have examined a public sector employee’s commitment and its relationship to productivity variables, such as extra-role behavior, desire to remain, absenteeism, and willingness to support productivity improvement strategies. Much of the literature regarding organizational performance and productivity places the emphasis on securing the commitment of employees to organizational goals and purposes (Balfour and Wechsler, 1991, 1996, Bass 1985).
Employee commitment literature is huge and most studies have centered on organizational commitment and its relationship to job performance, turnover intent, and other motivational outcomes. The common findings and implications of those studies are that employee commitment is the key to achieving productivity and performance in any organization (Mowday, Porter, and Steers, 1982, Reichers, 1985, Becker, Billings Eveleth and Gilbert, 1996, Becker, 1992; Meyer, Allen and Smith, 1993; Reichers, 1986, Lion, 1995, Balfour and Weschler, 1991, 1996).
There have been numerous efforts to identify and divide the concept of organizational commitment among organizational behavior scholars in both public and private sectors, Mathieu and Zajac (1990) categorize the definition of organizational commitment into three types: Attitudinal Commitment, Calculative Commitment, and Normative Commitment. The most commonly studied type of OC has been attitudinal commitment (Mowday, Steers, and Porter, 1979; Steers, Mowday, & Boulian, 1974).
In the public sector, following O’Reilly and Chatman’s definition, Balfour and Wechsler (1991, 1996) have tried to see organizational commitment as multiple constructs: affiliation commitment (belongingness), compliance commitment (exchange commitment), and identification commitment (value congruence). Robertson and Tang (1995) also divide the concept of commitment into two types.
(1) Identification or involvement commitment from an organizational behavior perspective, and
(2) Exchange commitment from a rational choice perspective.
By using multiple dimensions of organizational commitment, they tried to find out some meaningful relationships between multiple commitments and key dependent variables. Those relationships, however, have varied with regard to researchers, samples, and subjects. Studies have differed regarding whether or not organizational commitment was positively associated with job satisfaction, job performance, tenure, and educational attainment.
For example, Balfour and Wechsler (2001) found that organizational commitment was significantly related to in-role behavior, while no connection was found between organizational commitment and extra-role behavior. Six years later, however, they revisited organizational commitment and found that identification commitment was connected to extra-role behavior. In fact, there have been some inconsistencies in the findings. In this regard, Lion (1995) maintains that “researchers argued that the inconsistent findings are due to the different definition and operationalizations of commitment used, and the organizations and variables analyzed”.
A conventional view of commitment has exclusively focused on commitment to organization. It should be noted, however, that, in contrast to this conventional view, a number of researchers have begun to view employee commitment as having multiple foci and bases (Becker, Randall, & Riegel, 1995; Reichers, 1985, 1986, Becker, 1992; Gorden, Philipot, Burt Thomposn, and Spiller, 1980, Meyer, Allen, and Smith 1993).
Foci of commitment are the individuals and groups to whom an employee is attached (Reichers, 1985). It has been found that employees could be committed to such foci as professions (Morrow, 1983, Gouldon, 1958) and unions (Gouldon, Beauvais, & Ladd, 1984), as well as commitment to organizations (Mowday et al., 1982). In addition, recent research has pointed out that workers could also be differentially committed to occupations, top management, supervisors, co-workers, and customers (Becker, 1992, Meyer, Allen, and Smith, 1993, Reichersi, 1986). Especially, Becker et al. (1996) pointed out that in previous research, employee commitment and job performance are largely unrelated as prior work has failed to distinguish among individual foci of commitment. Based on their empirical findings, they argued that commitment to supervisors was positively related to performance and was more strongly associated with performance than was commitment to organization (Becker, Billings, Eveleth, & Gilbert, 1996).
Becker (1992) also discovered that “commitment to top management, supervisor, and work group were important determinants of top satisfaction, intent to quit, and prosocial organizational behaviors over and above commitment to an organization. In other words, it was found that commitment to foci other than an employing organization, specifically to top management, supervisors, and work groups, were negatively related to intent to quit and positively related to satisfaction and prosocial organizational behaviors and explained variance in these dependent variables over and above that explained by commitment to organization” (p. 232).
It should be noted, therefore, that viewing employee commitment as having multidimensional constructs helps explain more variance in key dependent variables than does commitment to organization.
In relation to goal clarity, it has so often been hypothesized that compared to private sector employees, public employees perceive their organizations’ goals as less clear and less easy to measure (Dahl and Lindblom, 2003, Gortner, Nahler, and Nicholson, 1987, Lan and Rainey 1992). In other words, private sector employees are higher on goal clarity than do public sector employees. This is, in part, due to the absence of clear performance measures, such as profits and sales, in the public sector (Boyatzis, 1982). However, this hypothesis is very controversial. Unlike conventional wisdom, recent studies indicate that public managers perceive greater clarity of organizational goals and greater effectiveness in achieving those goals (Lan & Rainey, 1992; Rainey, 1983 Rainey, Pandey, and Bozeman, 1975). With regard to multiplicity of objectives, public organizations also have greater diversity and multiplicity of objectives, as well as criteria and conflict among objectives and products, compared to private ones (Banfield, 1975; Rainey, Backoff, and Levine, 1976).