Can a Four-Dimensional Model of Occupational Commitment Help to Explain Intent to Leave the Emergency Medical Service Occupation?

By Blau, Gary; Chapman, Susan et al. | Journal of Allied Health, Fall 2009 | Go to article overview

Can a Four-Dimensional Model of Occupational Commitment Help to Explain Intent to Leave the Emergency Medical Service Occupation?


Blau, Gary, Chapman, Susan, Pred, Robert S., Lopez, Andrea, Journal of Allied Health


Using a sample of 854 emergency medical service (EMS) respondents, this study supported a four-dimension model of occupational commitment, comprised of affective, normative, accumulated costs, and limited alternatives. When personal and job-related variables were controlled, general job satisfaction emerged as a negative correlate of intent to leave. Controlling for personal, job-related, and job satisfaction variables, affective and limited alternatives commitment were each significant negative correlates. There were small but significant interactive effects among the commitment dimensions in accounting for additional intent to leave variance, including a four-way interaction. "High" versus "low" cumulative commitment subgroups were created by selecting respondents who were equal to or above ("high") versus below ("low") the median on each of the four occupational commitment dimensions. A t-test indicated that low cumulative commitment EMS respondents were more likely to intend to leave than high cumulative commitment EMS respondents. J Allied Health 2009; 38:177-186.

AS WORK ORGANIZATIONS continue to restructure and employer-employee relationships become less stable,1 many employees ate shifting their loyalty to a broader base of perceived stability, i.e., their occupation.2 However, despite often greater difficulties, such as lost income and retraining costs, employees also change occupations.3 More research is needed to study variables affecting intent to change occupation. The purpose of this study was to test the impact of occupational commitment dimensions on intent to change occupation in a sample of emergency medical service (EMS) respondents. Occupational retention has been identified as a major issue in the EMS field.4,5

A Model for Studying Changing Occupations and Empirical Research Review

RHODES AND DOERING MODEL

The only model of voluntary career change found in the literature was presented by Rhodes and Doeting,6 in which changing one's career "refers to movement to a new occupation that is not part of a typical career progression" (p631). Rhodes and Doering based their model on prior voluntary job turnover models, particularly Mobley, Griffeth, Hand, and Meglino.7 Rhodes and Doering theorized that personal factors (such as education level and earnings) as well as job-related factors (such as fit with work environment and growth opportunities) affected one's job satisfaction, leading to career or occupational satisfaction. Job satisfaction is generally viewed as a more transitory or dynamic work attitude than occupational satisfaction,8 which is assumed to be more stable.9 The gteater assumed stability of an occupational- vetsus job-related attitude is partly based on the idea of individuals' voluntarily changing jobs due to dissatisfaction with more dynamic issues such as supervision, coworkers, or working conditions, but often still remaining in the occupation or profession.9 The practitioner literature supports a much higher frequency of job change than occupational change.10 Reduced job satisfaction and career satisfaction lead to gteater career withdrawal cognitions (including intent to change careers) which, combined with search and availability of alternatives, then leads to actual career (occupational) change.6

EMERGING ROLE OF OCCUPATIONAL COMMITMENT

Since the publication of the Rhodes and Doeting6 model 25 years ago, the terminology used and direction of research on occupational change have shifted somewhat. As noted earlier, career generally means occupation. Since the early 1990s, research has focused not on occupational satisfaction but on occupational commitment.11'13 Occupational commitment was initially broken down into three facets: affective, normative, and continuance.13 Affective commitment refers to one's emotional attachment to their occupation ("I want to stay"); normative commitment is a person's sense of obligation to remain in their occupation ("I should stay"); while continuance commitment refers to the individual's assessment of the costs associated with leaving one's occupation ("I have to stay"). …

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