Academic journal article Public Personnel Management

Organizational Commitment among Public Service Employees

Academic journal article Public Personnel Management

Organizational Commitment among Public Service Employees

Article excerpt

Organizational commitment is an identification with and interest in the overall effectiveness and success of the organization. Over the past two decades, organizational commitment has become an increasingly popular research subject. The recent interest in the concept is likely a result of its relationship with other important employee behaviors. For example, organizational commitment appears to have an impact on job performance and turnover.(1) Mowday, Porter, and Steers suggested that society as a whole benefits from employees' organizational commitment due to lower job movement and higher national productivity.(2)

While many agree that commitment is important, reviews of the commitment literature indicate little consensus about construct definition.(3) Unfortunately, this vagueness in the definition and measurement of commitment has made it difficult to compare results across studies and to develop a clear understanding of the antecedents of commitment. Despite this, theories have been generated in an attempt to determine the causes of such an important organizational attitude.

One popular explanation for the development of commitment is the concept of exchange, whereby the individual becomes attached to the organization in return for gains provided by the organization.(4) Researchers have found support for a relationship between commitment and both intrinsic and extrinsic rewards.(5) Some investigators have attempted to determine the relative importance of intrinsic and extrinsic rewards for predicting commitment. The majority of research findings suggest that commitment is more strongly associated with intrinsic rewards than extrinsic rewards.(6) However, these findings may be largely a function of the professional or managerial white-collar employee populations from which they were obtained.

In a recent meta-analytic review of the antecedents of commitment, it was argued that more research is needed to clarify the relative importance of intrinsic and extrinsic rewards to blue-collar employees.(7) Some of the research concerning blue-collar employees suggests that extrinsic rewards are more important than intrinsic rewards in predicting commitment.(8)

Purposes of the Study

This present study was designed to examine the hypothesis that organizational commitment for blue-collar workers would be more closely related to extrinsic rewards than intrinsic rewards. Unlike other studies in the area, the focus of the present research was solely on blue-collar workers. The workers, in this case, were municipal employees involved in public works (e.g., waste collection and disposal, water and sewer sanitation). In addition to the theoretical value of examining the relationship between rewards and commitment, the present study has a unique applied interest because of the difficulty of developing organizational commitment in this population, due to the social stigma associated with their profession.(9) In addition, these employees are unique in that they are generally lower educated people of diverse ethnic backgrounds.


The research participants were 64 employees of the public services department of a small southwestern U.S. city.(10) Mean education level was approximately eleventh grade, with the modal response being a twelfth grade education. The median tenure level was such that the majority of participants had been with the organization between 2 and 5 years. Approximately 92% of the sample was male. Employees worked in one of four divisions: 21 from sanitation (solid waste management), 23 from streets and drainage, 6 from landfill, and 8 from fleet maintenance. The 6 remaining participants either did not indicate their division or performed mostly clerical and administrative functions throughout the organization. The average annual salary was approximately $17,500. The organization is primarily responsible for servicing residents' needs such as street maintenance, flood control, maintenance on all city vehicles, and solid waste disposal. …

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