Academic journal article International Journal of Management

Empowerment, Trust and Commitment: The Moderating Role of Work-Unit Centrality

Academic journal article International Journal of Management

Empowerment, Trust and Commitment: The Moderating Role of Work-Unit Centrality

Article excerpt

Based on survey data from 217 local government employees in the United Arab Emirates, the paper examines the effects of empowerment and trust on feelings of commitment. In support of previous research, the results show that the concept of empowerment is multi-dimensional and that one of its key dimensions is the felt (or perceived) centrality of work-unit. Further statistical analysis revealed that both empowerment and trust had an impact on commitment. However, different types of empowerment and trust were found to affect commitment to a different degree. In particular, the impact of trust on commitment was stronger when participants experienced feelings of high centrality of their work-unit. In contrast, the impact of empowerment (in terms of feelings of autonomy, freedom and information sharing) on commitment was much stronger when they experienced feelings of low centrality of their work-unit. These results verify the moderating role of work-unit centrality.

Empowerment, organizational trust and employee commitment are widely considered to be essential ingrethents in the life and performance of organizations. As a result, they have become popular topics and have been receiving a great deal of research attention in recent years. The rise in research interest is largely the result of an overwhelming realization that these variables are essential ingrethents of organizational success and performance. Despite this, previous research failed to incorporate all of these three variables in a single study. . While there is wide agreement that commitment should feature as a dependent variable, it is unclear what impacts would empowerment and trust have on this variable. Also, while it is widely agreed that empowerment, organizational trust and employee commitment are multi-dimensional concepts, research attempting to examine relationships between specific dimensions (or different aspects) of these variables has been lacking.

Furthermore, the majority of studies have been conducted in western contexts with potential limitations of their relevance in countries such as the United Arab Emirates. To fill this research gap, this paper examines the relative impacts of empowerment and trust on organizational commitment. It draws on an empirical study (217 survey participants) conducted in a local government organization operating in the United Arab Emirates.

The Importance of Organizational Commitment

Organizational commitment has received a great deal of interest and has been a subject of many studies (Mowaday et al, 1979; Bateman and Strasser, 1984; Iverson and Roy, 1994; Mowday, Porter and Steers, 1982; Mathieu. & Zajac, 1990). This interest about organizational commitment is driven by several reasons. Organizational commitment is a relatively stable construct over time (Porter et al., 1 974); previous studies have consistently found that organizational commitment is negatively related to turnover, absenteeism and performance (Steer, 1 977). Studies have also repeatedly found organizational commitment to be positively related to job satisfaction, job involvement and coping with job tension (Porter et al., 1974). These consistent findings indicate organizational commitment to be in the centre of a web that is made up of behaviors and attitudes, which can affect organizational outcomes positively or negatively. Organizational commitment refers to the person's loyalty and intent to stay with the employer based on a sense of duty and responsibility and extends beyond a purely personal interest in employment.

Organizational Commitment refers to the degree of employee emotional attachment, and involvement in the organization and its goals (Isaiah, 2006). It also indicates the degree to which an employee experiences a 'sense of oneness' with his/her organization. Meyer and Allen (1991) argued and showed that the concept of commitment is multidimensional. Most of the most recent research, however, has shown that the two key dimensions of commitment are Affective Commitment and Continuance Commitment Scale (Mayer and Schoorman, 1992; Wasti, 2002; Cooper-Hamik & Viswesvaran, 2005). …

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