Commitment on the Board: A Model of Volunteer Directors' Levels of Organizational Commitment and Self-Reported Performance

By Stephens, Robert D.; Dawley, David D. et al. | Journal of Managerial Issues, Winter 2004 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Commitment on the Board: A Model of Volunteer Directors' Levels of Organizational Commitment and Self-Reported Performance

Stephens, Robert D., Dawley, David D., Stephens, David B., Journal of Managerial Issues

Previous research has established a link between the composition and performance of boards of directors and organizational performance in both for-profit and not-for-profit contexts (Dowen, 1995; Green and Griesinger, 1996; Jackson and Holland, 1998; Zahra and Pearce, 1989). Boards play an important role in governance, strategy, and management selection that has a presumed impact on the overall performance of the organization (Dalton et al., 1999; Jackson and Holland, 1998; Green and Griesinger, 1996).

Studies of board performance have focused mostly on board composition (Coles and Hesterly, 2000; Daily and Dalton, 1993; Dalton et al., 1999) and board practices (Gabreilsson and Winlund, 2000; Herman and Renz, 2000; Westphal, 1999). Although each of these is important in explaining board effectiveness, they do not take into account individual director roles. For example, Johnson et al. (1996) argued that directors should be chosen and therefore serve in one or more of the following roles--control (e.g., governance), service (e.g., advice and counsel), and resource dependence (e.g., access to critical resources). Assuming that each director is diligent in fulfilling one or more of the above responsibilities, the performance of the board as a whole is ultimately dependent on the performance of individual board members.

The purpose of this article is to propose and test a model that examines the relationships between an individual's experience and role on a board of directors, the director's level of commitment to the board, and the director's self-reported performance. The following sections offer a review of the organizational commitment literature, and hypotheses regarding the antecedents of organizational commitment and director's self-perception of performance. The hypotheses are empirically tested and the results are reported. This study concludes with a discussion of our findings.


Organizational commitment has been given considerable attention in management research over the past twenty-five years and has also been a popular concept with practitioners. It has formed the basis of the widely-held assumption that higher levels of commitment among employees lead to improved work performance and a wide range of other positive organizational outcomes, such as reduced absenteeism and turnover (Riketta, 2002). In fact, Meyer, Stanley, Herscovitch, and Topolnytsky's meta-analysis (2002) identified 70 published articles, dissertations, and other empirical research dealing with the concept of organizational commitment from 1985 to 2000. This high volume of publication and interest in the topic underscores the continued relevancy of organizational commitment to the fields of management research and practice.

Commitment has been conceptualized in terms of behavioral patterns, intentions, motivations, or attitudes (Goulet and Frank, 2002). The attitudinal approach, which has been the most widely used, describes commitment as "the relative strength of an individual's identification with and involvement in a particular organization" (Mowday et al., 1979: 231). In meta-analyses of the concept, researchers continue to find significant correlations between attitudinal commitment and numerous organizational outcomes, including job performance (Mathieu and Zajac, 1990; Meyer et al., 2002; Riketta, 2002).

The preponderance of the organizational commitment research examines the commitment of traditional, paid employees to their employer (Meyer el al., 2002). Volunteers are fundamentally different from employees in that the behavior of volunteers is less likely to be subject to coercive power than is the behavior of employees because volunteers are less dependent on organizational rewards (Pearce, 1993). This creates conditions of normative uncertainty--a situation where social expectations and organizational values are less certain and more fluid for the volunteer than they would be for the paid employee.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Commitment on the Board: A Model of Volunteer Directors' Levels of Organizational Commitment and Self-Reported Performance


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?