Academic journal article Journal of Organizational Culture, Communications and Conflict

An Examination of Work Attitudes of Public Sector Employees

Academic journal article Journal of Organizational Culture, Communications and Conflict

An Examination of Work Attitudes of Public Sector Employees

Article excerpt


Lee and Olshfski (2002) argue that commitment to the organization reinforces the role that an individual has taken in the community and serves as a source of motivation. Given the importance of police, fire, and utility district workers to a community, maintaining a stable workforce with a positive attitude toward their work would be in the public interest. In more pragmatic terms, having public employees who are committed to their organizations and satisfied with their jobs could result in reduced turnover, lower absenteeism, greater productivity, and ultimately lower costs to the public. The purpose of this study was to test for differences in levels of job satisfaction and three types of organizational commitment for a sample of police officers, firefighters, and public utility district employees in a large southeastern city.


Job satisfaction is one of the most studied variables in the behavioral management literature. Job satisfaction is a global attitude that individuals maintain about their jobs based on perceptions of their jobs (Reilly, Chatham & Caldwell, 1991). Job satisfaction has also been defined as "a pleasurable or positive emotional state resulting from the appraisal of one's job or job experiences" (Locke, 1976, p. 1300). Thus, job satisfaction represents an expression of one's overall sense of satisfaction - or dissatisfaction - with a job. Studying job satisfaction aids in the understanding of individuals' perceptions about their jobs, and the ultimate consequences of those perceptions for an organization (DeBats, 1982; Smith, Kendall & Hulin, 1969; Weiss, Dawis, England & Lofquist, 1967).

Much attention has been given to the relationship between organizational commitment and job satisfaction, and findings from this study may be useful in developing a deeper understanding of public sector employees. There have been several studies that questioned the causal ordering of organizational commitment and job satisfaction (e.g., Bateman & Strasser, 1984; Williams & Hazer, 1986; Curry, Wakefield, Price & Mueller, 1986; Glisson & Durick, 1988; Huang & Hsiao, 2007). In a meta- analysis, Tett and Meyer (1993) reported that satisfaction and commitment contribute uniquely to turnover. Kacmar, Carlson, and Brymer (1999) found that the relationship between job satisfaction and organizational commitment was positive and statistically significant. However, Kacmar et al. (1999) reported that the links for affiliation, exchange, and identification commitment with job satisfaction were not significant. Whereas, Huang and Hsiao (2007) suggested that a reciprocal model explained the relationship.

Golden and Veiga (2008) found that high quality superior subordinate relationships lead to higher levels of commitment and job satisfaction and performance for those who worked extensively in a virtual mode. In another study of the relationship between job attitudes and performance, Riketta (2008) confirmed the existence of a small but significant effect for attitudes (such as job satisfaction) on performance. Previous research reported a positive relationship between substitutes for leadership and job satisfaction (e.g., Pool, 1997; Jemigan, 1990). One study found that public sector employees had lower levels of job satisfaction than private sector employees (Tortia, 2008), and another study reported a strong influence on job satisfaction for affective forms of organization commitment (Markovits, Davis & Van Dick, 2007).


While researchers have varied in their emphasis, most suggest that commitment represents both an attitude that describes an individual's linkage to the organization and a set of behaviors by which individuals manifest that link. Researchers have examined a wide range of issues important to the understanding of organizational commitment such as job satisfaction (Bateman & Strasser, 1984; Vandenberg & Lance, 1992), intention to leave the organization (Lee & Mitchell, 1991; Jaros, Jermier, Koehler & Sincich, 1993; Cohen, 1993), the influence of personal characteristics on dimensions of organizational commitment (Abdulla & Shaw, 1999), intrinsic motivation and affective commitment (Eby, Freeman, Rush & Lance, 1999), bases and foci of commitment (Clugston, Howell & Dorfman, 2000), and the dimensionality of commitment (Penley & Gould, 1988; Allen & Meyer, 1990; Meyer, Allen & Smith, 1993; Jaros, et. …

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