Organizational Commitment, Accountability, and Work Behavior: A Correlational Study

Article excerpt

The authors postulated that attitudinal organizational commitment (AOC) and accountability to an external audience mutually moderate their relationships with work behavior. These hypotheses were tested for two types of work behavior (in-role performance and organizational citizenship behavior), using self-report data from 63 employees of a German healthservice organization. As expected, the correlation between AOC and in-role performance was higher for low as opposed to high accountability, and the correlation between accountability and in-role performance was higher for low as opposed to high AOC. Contrary to expectations, no moderator effects occurred for organizational citizenship behavior.

Attitudinal or affective organizational commitment (AOC), defined as the relative strength of an individual's identification with and involvement in a particular organization (Mowday, Porter, & Steers, 1982, p. 27), is one of the most often studied variables in organizational behavior research (for reviews, see Mathieu & Zajac, 1990; Meyer & Allen, 1997; Mowday et al., 1982). Moreover, AOC has gained popularity among practitioners. Kalleberg and Marsden (1995, p. 236) note that there is a current emphasis on a commitment-oriented performance management approach, which seeks to control employees by strengthening their AOC rather than by coercion. This management approach is fueled by the belief - widely accepted among scientists and practitioners - that AOC fosters almost any behavior that is beneficial for the organization such as performance, attendance, and staying with the organization (e.g., see Mathieu & Zajac, 1990; Meyer & Allen, 1997).

Previous research has mostly confirmed this assumption. In particular, several meta-analyses revealed that AOC does correlate posititvely with a number of beneficial work behaviors and intentions such as in-role performance, extra-role performance, intention to stay, and turnover (e.g., Mathieu & Zajac, 1990; Riketta, 2002; Tett & Meyer, 1993). However, especially for in-role and extrarole performance, the correlation turned out to be low - for example, rs = . 18 and .25, ks = 87 and 42, respectively, in the most recent meta-analysis, (Riketta, 2002). This somewhat disappointing finding led to attempts to search for conditions under which the correlation might be stronger. As a result, a number of moderators of the AOC-work behavior relationship have been identified (e.g., economic dependency on the job, Brett, Cron, & Slocum, 1991; organization purpose, Schaubroeck & Ganster, 1991; methodological variables and worker type, Riketta, 2002). In this study, we look at another potential moderator of the AOC-work behavior relationship: accountability of one's work behavior to an external audience. To our knowledge, no previous study on the AOC-work behavior relationship has dealt with the moderating impact of this variable. Moreover, at the same time, we investigate another possible consequence of AOC. Specifically, we postulate that AOC moderates the effect of accountability on work behavior.

We derived our moderator hypotheses from the research by Barreto and Ellemers (2000), which is based on the social identity and deindividuation model (Reicher, Spears, & Postures, 1995; Spears & Lea, 1994). Barreto and Ellemers assumed that a group member's behavior depends on two factors: identification with the group and accountability to others. Highly identified group members have internalized the group norms and therefore behave in line with those norms (i.e., display progroup behavior) independent of accountability. Thus, their behavior within the context of the group is intrinsically motivated. By contrast, low identifiers' motivation is dependent on accountability. If accountability is low, they are motivated to pursue their personal interests even at the expense of the group's standing. If accountability is high, low identifiers are guided by the motive to gain approval by others and therefore adapt their behavior to the audience's norms. …