Marc cleaned out his office on a Tuesday afternoon, and walked away from the small software development company he’d joined less than a year before. He left his keys, company identification, and the monarch-sized card with the company’s mission statement on his desk.
The bottom of that card once read, “People are our most important asset.” Marc left the card with what he considered a “slight correction. “Now it said, “People are our most abused asset.”

Marc moved on to a new company, but took his ill feelings with him. He’s a highly paid software development professional, and he’s also a professional cynic. The only boss you can really trust,” Marc says, is it one you work for when you’re self-employed. And I’m not all that sure about him, either.”

We’ve all met Marc in our own office, in almost every one of our jobs. There are those of us who may have been Marc, at least from time to time. But what markes Marc the software become Marc the cynic? And if our offices are full of Marc, might we be losing productivity? How far is it from there to lost market share, lost profitability, and lost jobs?

We could just get rid of Marc and everyone like him. It’s easy enough: round up all the cynic and maligner and fire them. Keep the happy people, and move right along. But of course, in the real world it’s not that simple, and, in the word of leadership guru Warren Bennis. “You can’t shrink your way to greatness.” So now what? If our offices are full of cynics, and if their ranks are swelling, what can we do?

Let’s go back to Marc’s “corrected” note. It’s simple enough to see the Marc believed that the actions of his managers belied the company’s misson statement. “People are our most important asset,” it said.
Yet clearly Marc felt that his bosses not only failed to live up to that lofty statement, but that their actions directly contradicted its spirit.

“After a while, ” Marc said, “the project managers didn’t respect the people actually doing the work. They made ridiculous promises to potential clients, and then when we got the contracts, we, the workers, would either have to meet these insane deadlines, or we, the company, would look like idiots. People were routinely working eighteen- and twenty-hour days trying to keep up with the deadlines, but burning out instead. Gee, what a surprise. And then, of course, people were exhausted and started making mistakes, and we delivered a few projects late, or with problems. After a while, it just seemed like none of us could do anything right. The manager were on our back night, day, and weekends. We had no life. It was a lot less fun than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick, if you catch my drift.” ( Story culled from ” The Coaching Revolution- David Logan, Ph.d., and John King.” )

The case study above can be traced to the problem of Organization Commitment on part of Marc, as an employee.
Organization Commitment attracted considerable attention over recent years and has become a central objective of Human Resource Management.

What is then Organization Commitment?
Organization Commitment (OC) is the degree of identification and involvement that individuals have with their organization’s mission, values and goals, this translates into desire to stay with the organization; belief in its objectives and values; and the strength of employee effort in the pursuit of business objectives.

The concept of Organization Commitment has grown in popularity in the literature on industrial and organizational psychology ( Cohen, 2003)

According to Wikipedia, Organizational commitment predicts work variables such as turnover, organizational citizenship behavior, and job performance. Some of the factors such as role stress, empowerment, job insecurity and employability, and distribution of leadership have been shown to be connected to a worker’s sense of organizational commitment.

Organizational commitment can be contrasted with other work-related attitudes, such as job satisfaction, defined as an employee’s feelings about their job, and organizational identification, defined as the degree to which an employee experiences a ‘sense of oneness’ with their organization

In particular, the Harvard approach views employee commitment as the key determinant of competitive performance. People working within a culture of commitment are prepared to work longer, apply greater ingenuity to resolve a problem, try that much harder to win an order.
Thus, commitment comes within a climate of trust. There must be a shared understanding between employees at all levels and natural stakeholders in the future of an enterprise.

Organization Commitment goes further than simple compliance. It is emotional attachment to the organization. For instance, Osborne and Cower (2002) make the claim that; ” a true believer mentality pervades high performing organizations. Everyone believe in the vision of the business and that it will bring certain success. People believe that they are involved in something bigger than simply their own self interest. They have a strong sense of identify with the organization and act as if they were owners.”

Meyer and Allen (2007) used the tri-dimension model to conceptualize Organizational Commitment in the three dimensions namely, Affective, Continuance, and Normative Commitment. These dimension describe the different ways of Organization Commitment development and the implications for the employee’s beaviour.

According Meyer and Allen, 2007, Affective Commitment is the employee’s emotional attachment to, identification with, and involvement in the organization. Organizational members who are committed to an organization on an affective basis, continue working for the organization because they want to.

Meyer and Allen pegged AC as the “desire” component of organizational commitment. An employee who is affectively committed strongly identifies with the goals of the organization and desires to remain a part of the organization. This employee commits to the organization because he/she “wants to”. This commitment can be influenced by many different demographic characteristics: age, tenure, sex, and education but these influences are neither strong nor consistent. The problem with these characteristics is that while they can be seen, they cannot be clearly defined.

Meyer and Allen, 2007, Continuance commitment is the ‘ awareness of the cost associated with leaving the orgamization.’ It is calculative in nature because of the indiviaul’s perception or weighing of costs and risks associated with leaving the current organization.

Continuance Commitment is the “need” component or the gains verses losses of working in an organization. “Side bets,” or investments, are the gains and losses that may occur should an individual stay or leave an organization.

The last dimension of the Organization Commitment model is Normative Commitment.

Meyer and Allen (2007) define normative commitment as ” a feeling of obligation make individuals obliged to sustain membership in the organization. According to them, “employees with normative commitment feel that they ought to remain with the organization”. In terms of the normative dimension, the employee stay because they should do so or it is the proper thing to do.

The strength of normative organization commitment is influenced by accepted rules about reciprocal obligation between the organization and its members.

The reciprocal obligation is based on the social exchange theory, which suggests that a person receiving a benefit is under a strong normative obligation or rule to repay the benefit in some way ( McDonald and Makin, 2008). This implies that individuals often feel an obligation to repay the organization for investing in them, for example through training and development.

Is your Commitment: Affective, Continuance or Normative to your Organization? Answer:

Akeem Gbadamosi, M.Sc Industrial Relations and Human Resource Management.