The Significance of Career Commitment in Generating Commitment to Organizational Change among Information Technology Personnel

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

The commitment of individuals is critical for the success of an organizational change initiative. In this quantitative survey-based study conducted at a large global bank, we analyze the perceptions of 575 information technology (IT) software professionals in India and Malaysia regarding an enterprise-wide change in order to understand the impact of career commitment vs. organizational commitment and how they impact change messages (beliefs) to generate commitments towards the change. Our finding is that the role of career commitment among IT personnel is more important than organizational commitment in generating commitment to change. Also, we show that it is career commitment, rather than organizational commitment, that is critical for change messages to be effective.

INTRODUCTION

Modern organizations need their employees to adapt to constant changes with a minimal amount of disruption. However, dysfunctional reactions to change, in terms of poor commitment to new processes, appear to be far more prevalent than the authentic embracing of new changes (Fedor et al., 2006). In order to secure the desired form of commitment, managers spend a great deal of time, effort, and capital implementing elaborate change management and communication strategies, often with little success (Sumner and Yager, 2004; Sumner et al., 2005). While the importance of an individual's commitment to the success of a change has been well established in the literature (Meyer & Alien, 1996; Meyer & Herscovitch, 2001), there has been little research on the impact of change messages on individual commitment to change.

It has been discussed that people who are committed to the organization are more likely to embrace organizational changes (Herscovitch and Meyer, 2002). Also, Armenakis et al. (1999) extensively covers the role of communication in helping employees to make sense of organizational changes. We argue that, compared to organizational commitment, it is actually the commitment of professionals to their career that amplifies the effect of change message on individual's attitude towards organizational change. Even though organizational commitment is desirable during organizational change, it is more effective when employees are committed to their careers rather than just to the organization.

Through a survey of IT professionals in two large centers of a global bank, we collected 575 responses to test our model. Findings followed by discussions and practical implications are also presented.

THEORETICAL FRAMEWORKAND HYPOTHESES

The concept of organizational commitment has evolved over the last three decades, starting with Porter et al. (1974) which conceptualized commitment with the following factors: "(a) strong belief in and acceptance of the organization's goals and values, (b) a willingness to exert considerable effort on behalf of the organization, and (c) a definite desire to maintain organizational membership". More current research defines affective commitment as "the desire to remain", continuance commitment as "the perceived cost of leaving", and normative commitment as "the perceived obligation to remain"(Meyer, et al., 1990; Meyer and Allen, 1991). These factors enable the differentiation among commitment forms that are characterized by different mindsets, while individuals may simultaneously experience different combinations of all three mindsets. These three components altogether become an employee's commitment profile.

Commitment to change is particularly important now, given the speed and complexity of change in a distributed, global business environment. The command and control model of shaping employees' behaviors and attitudes at work is giving way to a model of "developing committed employees who can be trusted to use their discretion to carry out j ob tasks in ways that are consistent with changing organizational goals" (Arthur, 1994). Having a committed workforce is becoming a competitive advantage in the industry and various studies (Arthur, 1994; Huselid, 1995; Macduffie, 1995) have shown that commitment strategies are associated with low turnover and high productivity and corporate financial success. …