Academic journal article Journal of Psychology and Theology

Organizational Commitment, Job Satisfaction, and Turnover Intention of Missionaries

Academic journal article Journal of Psychology and Theology

Organizational Commitment, Job Satisfaction, and Turnover Intention of Missionaries

Article excerpt

Affective organizational commitment, job satisfaction and turnover intention were surveyed in 468 missionaries. Tenure in the organization was a stronger predictor of organizational commitment, job satisfaction and turnover intention than was age (i.e., Generation X vs. older generations). Three models relating job satisfaction and affective organizational commitment to turnover intention were tested using structural equation modeling. When balancing model fit, and simplicity, one model was preferred-the model in which job satisfaction predicted affective organizational commitment, which in turn explained turnover intention. Mission agencies are encouraged to give greater attention to tenure than to age and to not ignore the role that job satisfaction plays in members' commitment to the organization and intention to leave.

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The entry of younger workers into the workplace, and specifically into mission agencies, has been both the cause of celebration and some hand wringing by those of older generations. On the one hand young workers offer new energy and vigor, yet those of the younger generation, often labeled Generation X, have been accused of having such different values and motives than previous generations that the two generations have difficulty communicating and working together. However, are these conflicts rightly to be attributed to generational differences, or are they merely the byproduct of less job experience and fewer years of job tenure? Tenure is used in the industrial/organizational literature to refer to the number of years that someone has been formally affiliated with an organization, such as being an employee. The present article contrasts the role of tenure in missionary organizational commitment, job satisfaction and turnover intention with differences in the age of missionaries.

The applied research reported in this article follows the recommendation of Jensma, Pike, Duerksen, and Strauss (1997) that "research must meet needs felt by the mission board. Furthermore, adequate feedback must be promised so that the board believes that it, not only the researcher, will profit from the data" (p. 386). In the summer of 2000, I was approached by WEC (Worldwide Evangelization for Christ) International, an interdenominational, multinational mission agency (www.wec-int.org), because they were concerned about the cross-cultural adjustment of their younger missionaries but more importantly their assimilation into the organizational culture of WEC, an established mission agency dating back to 1913 (WEC, 2006). Leaders in the organization had noticed that some new recruits from Generation X (Gen Xers) were experiencing conflict with the older missionaries and thus leaving the organization. Although the mission agency worried about generational differences (that is, the effect of age) in organizational commitment, job satisfaction, and turnover intention, a second issue explored in this article is the effect of job tenure on these variables. Finally three models of the relationship among organizational commitment, job satisfaction, and turnover intention will be compared.

Generational Differences

Although there are no universally accepted definitions of when specific generations end and begin, one way to classify Baby Boomers is those born during the two decades after World War II (1946-1964). After the spike in birth rate that characterized the Baby Boom, the following generation had lacked a name and thus many have referred to this cohort as Generation X. Valenti's (2001) review of 22 articles found that the most common starting date for Gen X was 1965, although some defined it starting as early as 1961. He found much less agreement about the ending year of Gen X, ranging from 1976 to 1985.

Missionaries and business personnel have concerned themselves with understanding Gen Xers. For example, O'Bannon (2001) found differences in communication patterns and workplace expectations between Gen Xers and Boomers, with Gen Xers complaining that they are not given the respect and attention that they deserve. …

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