Academic journal article Journal of Managerial Issues

Leadership Style and Organizational Commitment: Mediating Effect of Role Stress

Academic journal article Journal of Managerial Issues

Leadership Style and Organizational Commitment: Mediating Effect of Role Stress

Article excerpt

Commitment to an organization involves three attitudes: (1) a sense of identification with the organization's goals, (2) a feeling of involvement in organizational duties, and (3) a feeling of loyalty to the organization (Becker et al., 1996; Mowday et al., 1982; Mueller and LaMer, 1999; Porter et al., 1974). Lee and Mitchell (1991) characterized commitment as a shared belief and acceptance of the values and goals of the organization and the eagerness to go above and beyond the call of duty to enhance the organization's goals and values, as well as the desire to maintain membership with the organization.

The positive outcomes of organizational commitment (OC) have been well documented in management literature. People who are committed are less likely to quit and accept other jobs (Allen and Meyer, 1996; Hom et al., 1979; Mathieu and Zajac, 1990; Porter et al., 1976; Porter et al., 1974; Tett and Meyer, 1993) and are less likely to be tardy or absent from work (Angle and Perry, 1981; Bateman and Strasser, 1984; Horn et al., 1979; Koch and Steers, 1978; Larson and Fukami, 1984; Porter et al., 1974; Steers, 1977; Wasti, 2003). Thus, the costs associated with high turnover and absenteeism are avoided. Further, there is an improvement in customer satisfaction because long-tenure employees have better knowledge of work practices, and customers like the familiarity of doing business with the same employees. Organizational commitment has also been found to be positively associated with higher work motivation, greater organizational citizenship, as well as higher job performance (Meyer et al., 2002; Mowday et al., 1974; Reichheld, 2001; Riketta, 2002; Stephens et al., 2004), and may represent one useful indicator of the effectiveness of an organization (Chow and Holden, 1997; Schein, 1970; Steers, 1975).


Despite the notion that some employers are demonstrating less commitment to their employees, Scott-Ladd, Travaglione, and Marshall (2006) argue that the mere dominance of affective commitment suggests it continues to be an important attitudinal response. Committed employees have a purpose, are involved, and help solve the organization's problems. This benefits both the employer and the employee.

Given the contribution a highly trained and committed employee can make to organizational productivity, keeping such an employee should be a high priority for the organization. Among the many factors that have been shown to influence an employee's decision to remain with or leave an organization are the supervisor or manager's leadership style and the extent to which the employees experience role stress in their jobs (i.e., conflicts, and not knowing when, how or what to do). Thus, it may be in the organization's best interest for managers to understand how their behavior might influence a worker's commitment to the organization.

The purpose of this study is to investigate the direct effects that two influential leadership styles (i.e., initiating structure and consideration) have on OC. More importantly, because less attention has been given to possible mediators of the leadership style--OC relationship in the past, the present study will also examine whether or not role stress acts as a mediator. A review by Mathieu and Zajac (1990) stresses the need for empirical testing of just such a mediating model. See Figure I for a graphic representation of the model.

Initiating Structure/Consideration and Organizational Commitment

Work experiences can have a strong influence on the extent to which psychological attachments are formed with the organization (Mowday et al., 1982). Examples of work experiences would include all of the things which over the years reinforce the steady growth of commitment. Morris and Sherman (1981) suggest that the quality of interpersonal exchange between the superior and a subordinate can make up an important element of the subordinate's work experience. …

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