Organizational Behavior

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Organizational Behavior

  1. 1. Journal of Vocational Behavior 64 (2004) 47–71 www.elsevier.com/locate/jvb Affective commitment to the organization, supervisor, and work group: Antecedents and outcomes Christian Vandenberghe,* Kathleen Bentein, and Florence Stinglhamber Psychology Department, Universite Catholique de Louvain, Place Cardinal Mercier 10, Louvain-la-Neuve B-1348, Belgium Received 10 May 2002 Abstract Three longitudinal studies investigated the usefulness of distinguishing among employeesÕ affective commitments to the organization, the supervisor, and the work group. Study 1, with 199 employees from various organizations, found that affective commitments to these entities were factorially distinct and related differentially to their theorized antecedents. Study 2, with a diversified sample of 316 employees, showed that organizational commitment (a) had an indirect effect on turnover through intent to quit, (b) partially mediated the effect of commit- ment to the supervisor on intent to quit, and (c) completely mediated the effect of commitment to the work group on intent to quit. Study 3, with matched data collected from 194 nurses and their immediate supervisors, determined that (a) commitment to the supervisor had a direct effect on job performance and (b) organizational commitment had an indirect effect on job performance through commitment to the supervisor. However, Study 3 failed to show any effect of commitment to the work group on performance. These findings are interpreted in light of the relative salience of commitment foci with regard to the outcome under study. Ó 2003 Elsevier Science (USA). All rights reserved. Keywords: Multiple commitment; Intent to quit; Turnover; Job performance * Corresponding author. E-mail address: christian.vandenberghe@psp.ucl.ac.be (C. Vandenberghe). 0001-8791/$ - see front matter Ó 2003 Elsevier Science (USA). All rights reserved. doi:10.1016/S0001-8791(03)00029-0
  2. 2. 48 C. Vandenberghe et al. / Journal of Vocational Behavior 64 (2004) 47–71 1. Introduction Recent research has emphasized the value of distinguishing among multiple foci of employee commitment in the workplace (Becker, 1992; Becker & Billings, 1993; Bec- ker, Billings, Eveleth, & Gilbert, 1996; Clugston, Howell, & Dorfman, 2000; Greger- sen, 1993; Siders, George, & Dharwadkar, 2001). Commitment foci represent those individuals, groups, or entities to which an employee is attached. Research has shown that just as employees develop affective attachments to the global organization, they may feel committed to their supervisor (Becker, 1992; Becker & Billings, 1993; Becker et al., 1996; Clugston et al., 2000; Siders et al., 2001) and to their work group or team (Bishop & Scott, 2000; Bishop, Scott, & Burroughs, 2000; Ellemers, de Gilder, & van den Heuvel, 1998; Lawler, 1992; Yoon, Baker, & Ko, 1994; Zaccaro & Dobbins, 1989). Whatever the foci of interest, affective commitment to a given entity may be broadly defined as an attachment characterized by an identification to and involve- ment in the target entity (Meyer & Allen, 1991; Meyer & Herscovitch, 2001). Researchers have begun to examine the incremental value of the multiple foci per- spective on commitment in influencing work outcomes (e.g., Becker, 1992; Becker et al., 1996; Bishop et al., 2000; Siders et al., 2001). Meyer and Herscovitch (2001) went a step further and developed a general model of workplace commitment in which commitment is defined as a mind set that binds an individual to a course of action that is of relevance to a particular target. Along this line, Herscovitch and Meyer (2002) found that commitment directed to a specific target was a better pre- dictor of behavior relevant to that target than was the more general organizational commitment. Actually, they found commitment to an organizational change to be a stronger predictor of behavioral support to the change than was organizational com- mitment. The specific behavior one wants to predict also determines the level of anal- ysis of relevance to the relationship between commitment and the outcome. For example, if one chooses to examine commitment to the supervisor, outcomes that are relevant to that entity will be more easily explained. This issue is a question of both proximality or salience of behavior (Lewin, 1943) and matched levels of analysis in the commitment–behavior relationship. The present research examined this issue. We recognize that employee behavior reflects multiple commitments that are not totally independent, and may have either direct or indirect effects. Based on their rel- evance to organizations, three commitment foci were addressed in the present re- search: the global organization, the supervisor, and the work group. We examined whether affective commitments to these specific foci could be distinguished from one another and whether they related differentially to theorized antecedent variables (Study 1). The validity of these measures was further examined by determining how the commitments influenced major work outcomes such as intent to quit and turn- over (Study 2) and job performance (Study 3). All three studies were longitudinal. The specific contribution of this research was thus to propose a thorough exam- ination of the validity of measures of affective commitments to the organization, the supervisor, and the work group, and to assess (a) their unique relationships with presumed antecedents and (b) their specific role in the withdrawal process and the generation of job performance.
  3. 3. C. Vandenberghe et al. / Journal of Vocational Behavior 64 (2004) 47–71 49 2. Study 1: Development of measures and relationships with antecedents A prerequisite to construct validity is the ability of measures to capture differen- tially what they are supposed to tap (Hinkin, 1995). Several arguments plead for the distinctiveness of affective commitments to the organization, the supervisor, and the work group. First, employees have been shown to engage in separate exchange relationships with their organization and with their supervisor (Aryee, Budhwar, & Chen, 2002; Settoon, Bennett, & Liden, 1996; Wayne, Shore, & Liden, 1997), sug- gesting that they may feel differentially committed to these two foci. In a similar vein, LawlerÕs (1992) choice-process theory states that employees develop separate com- mitments to the ‘‘distal’’ organization and to the more ‘‘proximate’’ work group because they attribute to these foci a different ability to generate positive emotions. Third, because the formal status of the work group (co-workers) and of the supervi- sor is likely to be different (Eisenberger, Stinglhamber, Vandenberghe, Sucharski, & Rhoades, 2002), commitments to these foci should differ as well. Finally, on empir- ical grounds, there is some evidence that measures of affective commitment to the organization, the supervisor, and the work group are distinguishable (Becker, 1992; Clugston et al., 2000). We thus hypothesize the following: Hypothesis 1a: Affective commitments to the organization, the supervisor, and the work group are factorially distinct. An important antecedent of affective commitment to the organization should be perceived organizational support (POS). POS reflects the global beliefs employees develop concerning the extent to which their organization values their contribution and cares about them (Eisenberger, Huntington, Hutchison, & Sowa, 1986). POS should lead to stronger affective organizational commitment because organizational support theory suggests that, by virtue of the reciprocity norm (Gouldner, 1960), em- ployees who feel supported by their organization will attempt to repay their debt through affective commitment (Settoon et al., 1996). Although this relationship has been documented in previous research (Eisenberger, Armeli, Rexwinkel, Lynch, & Rhoades, 2001; Settoon et al., 1996; Wayne et al., 1997), it has never been dem- onstrated that POS specifically and uniquely contributes to affective commitment to the organization and does not simultaneously reinforce affective commitment to the supervisor and to the work group. Because POS and affective organizational commitment involve an exchange relationship with the organization, POS should not contribute to commitment to the other two foci. Hypothesis 1b: POS relates uniquely and positively to affective organizational commitment. Social exchange interpretations of employee–organization relationships have also been used to explain the exchange processes involving employees and their supervi- sor. For example, when compared with POS, the quality of leader–member ex- changes (LMX) has been found to be uniquely related to such favorable outcomes as in-role performance and citizenship behavior (Settoon et al., 1996; Wayne et al., 1997). Relatedly, Gerstner and Day (1997) reported the corrected meta-ana- lytic correlation between LMX and satisfaction with the supervisor to be stronger than the corresponding correlation between LMX and organizational commitment
  4. 4. 50 C. Vandenberghe et al. / Journal of Vocational Behavior 64 (2004) 47–71 (r ¼ :71 vs. r ¼ :42). The latter suggest that LMX should be primarily related to em- ployee attitudinal outcomes that specifically benefit the supervisor. In other words, LMX should be uniquely related to affective commitment to the supervisor, but not to affective commitment to the organization and to the work group. Hypothesis 1c: LMX relates uniquely and positively to affective commitment to the supervisor. Research on self-directed teams has shown that perceived team support and sat- isfaction with co-workers related more strongly to team commitment than to orga- nizational commitment (Bishop & Scott, 2000; Bishop et al., 2000), while the strength of the relationship involving perceived task interdependence did not differ across these outcomes (Bishop & Scott, 2000). The latter finding may be explained by the fact that the responsibility for creating interdependence among tasks within teams is partly shared by the organization and the work group. Although the gener- alizability of the above findings to more traditional work groups remains uncertain, these results suggest anyway that variables that are specifically linked to the group interpersonal dynamics may be critical to predict attachment to the group. In this regard, Wech, Mossholder, Steel, and Bennett (1998), using a cross-level design, re- ported perceived group cohesiveness to significantly contribute to organizational commitment. Should they have added affective commitment to the work group as a dependent variable, one could reasonably hypothesize that group cohesiveness would have been more strongly correlated with it than with organizational commit- ment. As group cohesiveness reflects the quality of work-related interactions within the group (Hackman, 1992), employeesÕ affective commitment to the work group should be one of its primary consequences (Heffner & Rentsch, 2001). Hypothesis 1d: Perceived work group cohesiveness relates uniquely and positively to affective commitment to the work group. 2.1. Method 2.1.1. Sample and procedure A random sample of 710 French-speaking Alumni who graduated from a Belgian university between 1990 and 1999 was selected for this study. Measures were taken at two points in time, separated by a 6-month interval. First, prospective participants received a survey questionnaire including measures of POS, LMX, and work group cohesiveness. Six months later, those who responded at Time 1 received a second questionnaire comprising the commitment measures. Questionnaire packets, sent to the subjectsÕ private address, contained a cover letter explaining the purpose of the study and providing assurances of confidentiality, the survey, and a postage-paid return envelope. Two weeks after survey delivery, we mailed follow-up letters to non- responders stressing the value of the survey and the importance of their participa- tion. Questionnaires were coded so as to allow researchers to match responses at the two measurement occasions. Out of the 710 prospective participants, 301 provided usable returns (42.4%) at Time 1, of which 212 (70.4%) also responded at Time 2, for an overall response rate of 29.8%. Excluding the incomplete questionnaires, 199 responses were usable for
  5. 5. C. Vandenberghe et al. / Journal of Vocational Behavior 64 (2004) 47–71 51 conducting the analyses. This final sample of subjects averaged 30.7 years ðSD ¼ 5:0Þ in age and had been employed by their organization for an average period of 4.0 years ðSD ¼ 3:7Þ at Time 1. Among participants, 56.0% were male. Respondents worked in industries (13.5%), banking and insurance (14.5%), consulting (8.8%), computer science (9.8%), teaching (4.1%), construction (.5%), public administration (18.7%), transportation and communication (2.1%), trade (3.1%), environmental agencies (1.6%), leisure and sports (3.6%), media and advertising (5.2%), research (6.2%), or were unclassified (8.3%). 2.1.2. Measures Because the study was conducted in a French-speaking environment, all measures previously developed in English (POS, LMX, group cohesiveness, and organiza- tional commitment) were translated into French using a standard translation- back-translation procedure (cf. Brislin, 1980). Minor discrepancies among original and back-translated versions were observed and were solved by a short discussion among translators. POS. We used the shortened 8-item version of POS developed by Eisenberger, Cummings, Armeli, and Lynch (1997) to assess employeesÕ perception that the orga- nization valued their contribution and cared about their well-being. A typical item is ÔMy organization really cares about my well-being.Õ Previous research has reported good reliability for this scale (CronbachÕs a ¼ :90 in Eisenberger et al., 1997). LMX. We used the multidimensional LMX scale developed by Liden and Maslyn (1998). This scale captures four dimensions of LMX: (a) affect, defined as ‘‘the mu- tual affection members of the dyad have for each other’’ (3 items; e.g., ÔMy supervisor is a lot of fun to work withÕ), (b) loyalty, defined as the ‘‘expression of public sup- port’’ from the superior to the employee (3 items; e.g., ÔMy supervisor would come to my defense if I were ‘‘attacked’’ by othersÕ), (c) contribution, referring to the per- ceived work-related efforts put forth by the employee toward the goals of the dyad (2 items; e.g., ÔI do work for my supervisor that goes beyond what is specified in my job descriptionÕ), and (d) professional respect, defined as the perceived reputation and excellence of the superior (3 items; e.g., ÔI respect my supervisorÕs knowledge of his/her jobÕ) (Liden & Maslyn, 1998, p. 50). Liden and Maslyn (1998) reported reli- abilities of .90, .78, .59, and .89 for the affect, loyalty, contribution, and professional respect sub-scales, respectively. In this study, the 4-factor model of LMX yielded a good fit to the data, v2 ð38Þ ¼ 58:54, p < :05, GFI ¼ .96, AGFI ¼ .94, TLI ¼ .99, and CFI ¼ .99. Perceived work group cohesiveness. The 6-item scale developed by Wech et al. (1998) was used to measure the extent to which members have positive attitudes to- ward each other as well as spirit of teamwork among co-workers. A typical item is ÔMembers of my work group take a personal interest in one another.Õ Wech et al. (1998) reported an a coefficient of .81 for this scale. Commitment. For measuring commitment to the organization, we relied on a revised version of Meyer, Allen, and SmithÕs (1993) affective commitment scale that was elaborated for international replication (Meyer, Barak, & Vandenberghe, 1996). This scale has shown a reasonable reliability of .82 in previous work conducted in
  6. 6. 52 C. Vandenberghe et al. / Journal of Vocational Behavior 64 (2004) 47–71 French-speaking environments (Vandenberghe, Stinglhamber, Bentein, & Delhaise, 2001). For measuring commitment to the supervisor (6 items) and to the work group (6 items), we adapted somewhat the organizational commitment items, based on their suitability to these targets as evaluated by 20 interviewees from various occu- pations and organizations. Commitment to the supervisor items addressed the feel- ing of pride in working with, and appreciation of, the supervisor, while commitment to the work group items captured the feeling of belongingness and emotional attach- ment to the work group. For all variables, a 5-point Likert-type scale was used for measuring respondentsÕ level of agreement with each statement (1, strongly disagree; 5, strongly agree). 2.2. Results and discussion 2.2.1. Confirmatory factor analysis We conducted a series of confirmatory factor analyses using the LISREL 8.3 package (J€reskog & S€rbom, 1993) to determine the distinctiveness of affective o o commitments across foci. We tested, successively, a null model in which all items were constrained to independence, a 1-factor model, three alternative 2-factor mod- els in which commitment foci were combined on a two-by-two basis, and the hypo- thesized 3-factor model. As some items were identical across commitment foci, with only the referent target being changed, the error terms for these items were likely to be correlated. Hence, we allowed the estimated error terms of these items to freely covary (Clugston et al., 2000; Markel & Frone, 1998; Mueller & Lawler, 1999). To examine which model was the best fit to the data, we used v2 difference tests for comparing lower factor models with the next higher factor model in which they were nested (Bentler & Bonnett, 1980). Table 1 shows the results of these analyses. As can be seen, fit improves signifi- cantly along the sequence of models as one moves from the null to the 3-factor mod- el. Of major interest, the 3-factor model displays significant improvement over the best lower factor model (a 2-factor model), Dv2 ð2Þ ¼ 225:51, p < :001. Although the absolute GFI, AGFI, and TLI values for the 3-factor model are below the con- ventional standard of .90, the value for the CFI which is particularly suited for the comparison of theoretical models (Medsker, Williams, & Holahan, 1994) reaches the .90 criterion. A check at the modification indices provided in the LISREL output for this model also indicated that only 3 items had significant expected cross-loadings on non-hypothesized factors. Moreover, these cross-loadings were far less sizeable than their corresponding loadings [differences between loadings and expected cross-load- ings were .53 (item 3), .65 (item 10), and .49 (item 14)]. Thus, the 3-factor model was the best fit to the data, lending support to Hypothesis 1a. The item loadings for the 3-factor model appear in Table 2. 2.2.2. Relationships with antecedents Descriptive statistics and correlations for the study variables appear in Table 3. Re- liability coefficients were reasonably high for all variables. Of greatest interest, among hypothesized antecedent variables, the strongest correlation with organizational
  7. 7. C. Vandenberghe et al. / Journal of Vocational Behavior 64 (2004) 47–71 53 Table 1 Study 1: Confirmatory factor analysis fit indices for affective commitment models Model v2 ðdf Þ GFI AGFI TLI CFI Model Dv2 ðDdf Þ comparison 1. Three-factor 363.53Ã (126) .82 .76 .87 .90 1 vs. 3 225.51Ã (2) 2. Two-factor 775.53Ã (128) .64 .51 .66 .72 2 vs. 5 402.19Ã (1) (AC-ORG and AC-SUP ¼ 1 factor) 3. Two-factor 589.04Ã (128) .72 .63 .76 .80 3 vs. 5 588.68Ã (1) (AC-ORG and AC-GR ¼ 1 factor) 4. Two-factor 829.69Ã (128) .60 .47 .63 .69 4 vs. 5 348.03Ã (1) (AC-SUP and AC-GR ¼ 1 factor) 5. One-factor 1177.72Ã (129) .51 .35 .45 .54 5 vs. 6 1247.65Ã (24) 6. Null 2425.37Ã (153) .29 .20 — — — — Note. N ¼ 199. AC-ORG, affective organizational commitment; AC-SUP, affective commitment to the supervisor; and AC-GR, affective commitment to the work group. GFI, goodness-of-fit index; AGFI, adjusted goodness-of-fit index; TLI, Tucker and Lewis index; and CFI, comparative fit index. * p < :001. Table 2 Study 1: Confirmatory factor analytic item loadings Item AC-ORG AC-SUP AC-GR 1. This organization has a great deal of personal meaning for me .87 2. I really feel a sense of ‘‘belonging’’ to my organization .83 3. I am proud to belong to this organization .74 4. I do not feel emotionally attached to my organization (R) .61 5. I really feel as if my organizationÕs problems are my own .58 6. I do not feel like ‘‘part of the family’’ at my organization (R) .56 7. I feel a sense of respect for my supervisor .89 8. I appreciate my supervisor .89 9. I feel proud to work with my supervisor .88 10. My supervisor means a lot to me .86 11. I am not really attached to my supervisor (R) .83 12. I feel little admiration for my supervisor (R) .73 13. I really feel a sense of ‘‘belonging’’ to my work group .89 14. I feel proud to be a member of my work group .79 15. My work group means a lot to me .74 16. I do not feel emotionally attached to my work group (R) .64 17. I do not feel like ‘‘part of the family’’ in my work group (R) .60 18. I do not feel a strong sense of ‘‘belonging’’ to my work group (R) .59 Note. N ¼ 199. (R), reverse scored. All loadings are standardized. commitment involved POS, the strongest correlation with commitment to the super- visor involved two LMX dimensions, affect and professional respect, while commit- ment to the work group was most strongly associated with perceived work group cohesiveness.
  8. 8. 54 C. Vandenberghe et al. / Journal of Vocational Behavior 64 (2004) 47–71 Table 3 Study 1: Descriptive statistics and intercorrelations among variables Variable M SD 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 1. AC-ORG 3.21 .86 .84 2. AC-SUP 3.18 1.09 .38ÃÃ .94 3. AC-GR 3.34 .87 .41ÃÃ .25ÃÃ .86 4. Perceived organizational 2.72 .85 .40ÃÃ .30ÃÃ .22ÃÃ .90 support 5. LMX: affect 3.18 1.19 .35ÃÃ .70ÃÃ .16Ã .35ÃÃ .93 6. LMX: loyalty 3.35 1.12 .36ÃÃ .46ÃÃ .12 .26ÃÃ .61ÃÃ .93 7. LMX: contribution 3.49 .94 .19ÃÃ .17Ã .12 .24ÃÃ .21ÃÃ .35ÃÃ .69 8. LMX: professional 3.21 1.20 .29ÃÃ .61ÃÃ .07 .28ÃÃ .67ÃÃ .54ÃÃ .17Ã .95 respect 9. Perceived work group 3.47 .89 .16Ã .27ÃÃ .41ÃÃ .29ÃÃ .35ÃÃ .36ÃÃ .19ÃÃ .29ÃÃ .89 cohesiveness Note. a coefficients are reported on the diagonal. LMX, leader–member exchange. * p < :05. ** p < :01. These linkages were further examined by regressing hypothesized antecedents on commitment variables. As can be seen from Table 4, POS was the single significant predictor of affective organizational commitment, providing support to Hypothesis 1b. Similarly, only LMX was significantly associated with affective commitment to the supervisor, though its effect was attributable solely to the affect and professional respect dimensions. Hypothesis 1c was thus supported. Finally, work group cohe- siveness was the unique predictor associated with affective commitment to the work group, lending support to Hypothesis 1d. Overall, these results indicate that the proposed antecedents of commitment vari- ables relate differentially and in the expected direction with their attitudinal out- comes, hence further substantiating the results obtained from the confirmatory factor analysis of commitment scales. Table 4 Study 1: Regression analysis for affective commitment variables Variable AC-ORG AC-SUP AC-GR Ã Perceived organizational support .35 .07 .13 LMX: affect .03 .49Ã .11 LMX: loyalty .04 .04 ).06 LMX: contribution .08 .01 .03 LMX: professional respect .09 .26Ã ).13 Perceived work group cohesiveness ).01 ).04 .37Ã Note. Entries are standardized regression coefficients. For AC-ORG, F ð6; 193Þ ¼ 7:26Ã ; for AC-SUP, F ð6; 193Þ ¼ 36:00Ã ; and for AC-GR, F ð6; 190Þ ¼ 6:84Ã . * p < :001.
  9. 9. C. Vandenberghe et al. / Journal of Vocational Behavior 64 (2004) 47–71 55 3. Study 2: Relationships with intent to quit and turnover Field theory (Lewin, 1943) asserts that individualsÕ behavior is primarily influ- enced by those elements from the environment which are perceived as being proxi- mal and salient (Mathieu, 1991; Mathieu & Hamel, 1989). Along this line, it is likely that the notion of salience is determined by the type of behavior one is willing to predict. For example, the organization focus may be viewed by an employee as salient when it comes to predict turnover behavior. This is because turnover is the kind of behavior for which cognitive deliberations about the viability of oneÕs mem- bership in the organization are activated (Hom, Caranikas-Walker, Prussia, & Griff- eth, 1992). In order to decide to pursue or to stop organizational membership, the employee will primarily evaluate the current status of his/her relationship with the organization, hence his/her level of commitment to the organization. In contrast, it is likely that the nature of relationships with, and level of commitment to, other foci (e.g., supervisors or work groups) will be less relevant for predicting turnover. The match among entities for determining the strength of the commitment–behavior relationship is thus critical. We suggest that the old conception of LewinÕs (1943) proximality/salience of behavior corresponds to what current scholars more com- monly consider to be a levels-of-analysis issue. Indeed, as shown by Meyer and Hers- covitch (2001), if the level captured by the commitment construct does not fit the level which is tapped by the behavior, the strength of the relationship is likely to be diminished. Consistent with this point of view, organizational commitment has been repeat- edly reported to relate negatively to intended and actual turnover (Mathieu & Zajac, 1990; Tett & Meyer, 1993). As evidenced by the turnover literature, its influence on turnover behavior is largely mediated by turnover intentions (Hom et al., 1992; Hom & Griffeth, 1991; Price & Mueller, 1986; Sager, Griffeth, & Hom, 1998; Tett & Meyer, 1993). Conversely, and as mentioned above, due to the fact that supervisors and work groups address a different level of analysis, we do not expect commitment to the supervisor and to the work group to be as influential on the employee with- drawal process from the organization. We thus posit the following: Hypothesis 2a: Affective organizational commitment has a significant indirect ef- fect on actual turnover through intent to quit. The tenets of field theory (Lewin, 1943) suggest that the elements from the envi- ronment that are not salient and proximal to the individualÕs action will not affect his/her behavior directly (Mathieu, 1991). As far as organizational turnover is con- cerned, such foci as the supervisor and the work group may not be so psychologically salient as the organization because it remains possible to maintain membership in the organization when commitment to these foci is low. For example, in case of low commitment, the employee may wish to change supervisors or work groups, or avoid being too much in contact with these target entities (Eisenberger et al., 2002; Malatesta, 1995). Support for this contention can be found in several studies. First, re-analyzing BeckerÕs (1992) data, Hunt and Morgan (1994) found support for a key-mediating construct model in which commitment to constituencies that are ‘‘cognitively distant’’ from the organization, such as the supervisor, the work group,
  10. 10. 56 C. Vandenberghe et al. / Journal of Vocational Behavior 64 (2004) 47–71 and top management, exerted its influence on work behavior through organizational commitment. As Hunt and Morgan (1994) noted, their findings may be due to the fact that the outcomes of interest were mainly directed toward the organization (e.g., intent to quit and organizational citizenship behavior). That is, these outcomes referred to a level to whom organizational commitment is naturally tied. Similarly, Wayne et al. (1997) found organizational commitment to be more strongly related to intentions to quit than LMX, a variable thought to lead to affective commitment to the supervisor. Finally, Bishop et al. (2000) reported organizational commitment to be more strongly linked with intended turnover than team commitment. All these arguments suggest that commitments to the supervisor and to the work group may (a) have less direct influence on turnover than organizational commitment and (b) mainly exert their effect indirectly, through commitment to the global organization. This leads us to hypothesize that: Hypothesis 2b: Affective commitment to the supervisor and to the work group has a significant indirect effect on intent to quit through affective organizational commitment. 3.1. Method 3.1.1. Sample and procedure A random sample of 704 Alumni from a Belgian university who graduated be- tween 1990 and 1996 was selected. Note that this sample was independent from the sample used in Study 1. As part of a larger survey, respondents received a ques- tionnaire including, among others, the three-foci commitment and intent to quit measures. Questionnaires were sent directly to the subjectsÕ private addresses. A cov- er letter accompanying the questionnaire explained the objective of the study, as- sured that responses would be confidential, and asked participants to send back their completed questionnaire to the researchersÕ office using a pre-stamped enve- lope. This letter also mentioned that questionnaires were coded so as to allow re- searchers to send a reminder memo to non respondents after a 2-week period, and to track respondentsÕ organizational membership status after 18 months. In total, 408 subjects responded to the survey. Excluding the incomplete questionnaires, 397 responses were usable for conducting the analyses (a 56.4% response rate). Among respondents, 353 could be contacted 18 months later to determine if they voluntarily left their organization during that time lag. Because we were interested in voluntary turnover, we excluded from the analysis 37 respondents who were laid off, leaving a final sample of 316 employees. As respondents were asked to report the name of their organization, we were able to contact their employer in order to verify the accuracy of their membership reports. We did so for a random subset of 50 em- ployees. No discrepancy was detected between employeesÕ reports of their member- ship and reason of turnover (voluntary vs. involuntary) if any, and the corresponding employersÕ views. The final sample of respondents had an average age of 29.5 years ðSD ¼ 4:6Þ and an average organizational tenure of 3.5 years ðSD ¼ 4:3Þ at Time 1. Among partic- ipants, 67.4% were male and 92.0% were employed full-time. Respondents worked in
  11. 11. C. Vandenberghe et al. / Journal of Vocational Behavior 64 (2004) 47–71 57 banking and insurance (16.7%), industries (13.1%), research (11.2%), consulting (8.7%), public administration (8.3%), computer science (7.4%), public health (6.7%), transportation and communication (3.8%), law (2.9%), environmental agen- cies (2.6%), advertising (1.9%), construction (1.6%), trade (1.3%), teaching (1.0%), media and real-estate (.6%), leisure and sports (.3%), or were unclassified (11.9%). 3.1.2. Measures Commitment. Affective commitment to the organization, the supervisor, and the work group was measured using the same scales as in Study 1. Intent to quit. We measured intent to quit with two items: ‘‘I often think about quitting this organization’’ and ‘‘I intend to search for a position with another em- ployer within the next year.’’ These items were adapted from Hom and Griffeth (1991) and Jaros (1997), respectively. Turnover. Stayers were rated as 1 while voluntary leavers were rated as 2. The turnover rate in the sample was 20.0%. 3.2. Results and discussion Data were analyzed using the structural equations modeling approach using the LISREL 8.3 package (J€reskog & S€rbom, 1993). The dichotomous nature of the o o turnover variable violated a key assumption of standard structural equation model- ing procedures which presume interval-level scaling of variables. To circumvent this statistical problem, we followed BollenÕs (1989) recommendations and used, as input for model estimation, a matrix of polychoric correlations and its associated asymp- totic covariance matrix in place of the traditional covariance matrix of observed vari- ables, and analyzed the data by the weighted-least-squares method of estimation. A similar approach for correcting data for noninterval scaling has been used in prior turnover research (Jaros, Jermier, Koehler, & Sincich, 1993; Sager et al., 1998). Table 5 presents the descriptive statistics and the correlations among latent vari- ables in the confirmatory factor analytic model. As can be seen, intent to quit was more strongly associated with affective organizational commitment than with com- mitments to the supervisor (r ¼ À:71 vs. ).56, t½313Š ¼ À4:11, p < :01) and to the work group (r ¼ À:71 vs. ).55, t½313Š ¼ À7:66, p < :01). Likewise, turnover was Table 5 Study 2: Descriptive statistics and intercorrelations among latent variables Variable M SD 1 2 3 4 5 1. AC-ORG 3.18 .90 .89 2. AC-SUP 3.41 .90 .57à .88 3. AC-GR 3.37 .81 .72à .63à .83 4. Intent to quit 2.40 1.19 ).71à ).56à ).55à .82 5. Turnover 1.20 .40 ).15à ).06 ).23à .47à — Note. N ¼ 316. a coefficients are reported on the diagonal. For Turnover, stayers were coded as 1 and leavers as 2. All intercorrelations are estimated by LISREL. * p < :001.
  12. 12. 58 C. Vandenberghe et al. / Journal of Vocational Behavior 64 (2004) 47–71 more strongly tied to intent to quit than to commitment to the organization (r ¼ :47 vs. ).15, t½313Š ¼ 6:47, p < :01), to the supervisor (r ¼ :47 vs. ).06, t½313Š ¼ 5:81, p < :01), and to the work group (r ¼ :47 vs. ).23, t½313Š ¼ 7:79, p < :01). Fit indices for structural models are presented in Table 6. The Hypothesized mod- el, which proposes organizational commitment to be indirectly related to turnover via intent to quit (Hypothesis 2a) and commitments to the supervisor and to the work group to influence intent to quit through organizational commitment (Hypoth- esis 2b), yielded a good fit to the data, as evidenced by its sizeable GFI, AGFI, TLI, and CFI values. Although not hypothesized in this study, significant bivariate rela- tionships between commitments to the supervisor and to the work group and intent to quit have been reported in previous research (Becker et al., 1996), leaving the pos- sibility that these attitudes could also have direct effects on intent to quit. In order to test these plausible connections, we estimated two models in which the paths from these constructs to intent to quit were alternatively freed (cf. Table 6). Alternate model 1, which added a direct effect of commitment to the supervisor on intent to quit, was a significant improvement over the Hypothesized model, Dv2 ð1Þ ¼ 58:80, p < :001, indicating that this effect was not trivial. In contrast, Alternate model 2, which added a path from commitment to the work group on intent to quit, did not differ significantly from the Hypothesized model, Dv2 ð1Þ ¼ 2:73, ns, signaling that the path of interest was not significant. Finally, in order to test whether the path from organizational commitment to intent to quit was of the same magnitude than the path from commitment to the supervisor to intent to quit, we estimated a model in which these paths were constrained to equality (Alternate 3, cf. Table 6). Contrast- ing this model with the Alternate model 1 resulted in a significant decrease in fit, Dv2 ð1Þ ¼ 19:20, p < :001, revealing that the paths in question were not equal. The standardized weighted-least-squares estimates of the structural parameters for the retained Alternate model 1 are reported in Fig. 1. As can be seen, affective commitment to the supervisor (b ¼ :12, p < :001) and to the work group (b ¼ :68, p < :001) were significantly related to organizational commitment which in turn in- fluenced intent to quit (b ¼ À:57, p < :001), with the latter being significantly asso- ciated with turnover (b ¼ :38, p < :001). Although not hypothesized, commitment to Table 6 Study 2: Fit indices for structural models Model v2 ðdf Þ GFI AGFI TLI CFI Model Comparison Dv2 ðDdf Þ Ã Hypothesized 987.34 (176) .97 .96 .96 .97 – – Alternate 1 928.54à (175) .97 .96 .96 .97 Hypothesized vs. 58.80à (1) Alternate 1 Alternate 2 984.61à (175) .97 .96 .96 .97 Hypothesized vs. 2.73 (1) Alternate 2 Alternate 3 947.74à (176) .97 .96 .96 .97 Alternate 1 vs. 19.20à (1) Alternate 3 Note. N ¼ 316. GFI, goodness-of-fit index; AGFI, adjusted goodness-of-fit index; TLI, Tucker and Lewis index; and CFI, comparative fit index. * p < :001.
  13. 13. C. Vandenberghe et al. / Journal of Vocational Behavior 64 (2004) 47–71 59 Fig. 1. Study 2: Standardized path coefficients for Alternate model 1. For the sake of parsimony, param- eters for the measurement portion and disturbance terms are not presented. *p < :001. the supervisor had also a significant direct effect on intent to quit (b ¼ À:26, p < :001). The estimation of direct effects was supplemented by the calculation of the indi- rects effects predicted by Hypotheses 2a and 2b. We used the technique recommended by Sobel (1982, 1986) to estimate the indirect effects of organizational commitment on turnover (Hypothesis 2a) and of commitment to the supervisor and to the work group on intent to quit (Hypothesis 2b). The indirect effect of organizational commit- ment on turnover was ).25 ðSE ¼ :03Þ, and its 95% confidence interval ().19/).31) did not contain zero. This indicates that the effect was significant, which supports Hy- pothesis 2a. Similarly, the indirect effect of commitment to the supervisor on intent to quit was ).09 ðSE ¼ :02Þ and its 95% confidence interval ().05/).13) did not contain zero. Finally, the indirect effect of commitment to the work group on intent to quit was ).42 ðSE ¼ :03Þ and its 95% confidence interval ().36/).48) did not contain zero. The latter results lended support to Hypothesis 2b. Worth of noting also is that the three commitment variables exerted a significant indirect effect on turnover [).16 ðSE ¼ :02Þ for commitment to the supervisor, ).17 ðSE ¼ :02Þ for commitment to the work group, and ).25 ðSE ¼ :03Þ for commitment to the organization]. In brief, the results of this study demonstrated that (a) affective organizational commitment exerted the strongest direct effect on intent to quit, (b) affective commit- ment to the supervisor had both a direct and indirect effect on intent to quit, and that (c) affective commitment to the work group exerted an indirect effect on quitting in- tentions. The fact that the impact of organizational commitment was stronger than that of commitment to the supervisor suggests that the organization was psycholog- ically more relevant in the eyes of employees when they were to generate their mem- bership decisions. 4. Study 3: Relationships with job performance Prior research regarding the ability of organizational commitment to predict job performance has provided mixed results (Cohen, 1991; Mathieu & Zajac,
  14. 14. 60 C. Vandenberghe et al. / Journal of Vocational Behavior 64 (2004) 47–71 1990; Randall, 1990). In his quantitative review of the relevant literature, Riketta (2002) reported a true correlation of .20 between attitudinal organizational commit- ment and performance. He also found that the way commitment was measured (via the ACS or the OCQ) did not influence the strength of the relationship. Thus, the reasons for such a weak relationship must be searched elsewhere than in differences in conceptualization and/or measurement of commitment. Among these, the nature of performance as well as the foci of commitment seem to be important ones. As far as in-role activities are concerned, it seems that organizational commitment is not strongly related to performance (Becker & Kernan, 2001; Bishop et al., 2000; Elle- mers et al., 1998; Keller, 1997; Settoon et al., 1996). In contrast, when organizational citizenship behavior is used as criterion, organizational commitment appears to have a more powerful influence (Organ & Ryan, 1995; Riketta, 2002). This differential re- lationship may be due to the fact that the performance of in-role activities is more dependent on regular interactions with, and feedback from, proximal entities such as the work group and supervisor (Becker et al., 1996), these foci being psycholog- ically more salient and relevant than the distal organization for such purposes. In contrast, organizational citizenship behavior is concerned with behavior that benefits the organization as a whole, hence renders the organization a more salient entity to employees. As supervisors have the formal responsibility to monitor, direct, and provide feed- back to, employees in the performance of their in-role duties (Eisenberger et al., 2002), supervisors facilitate the acceptance of performance norms by employees (Becker et al., 1996; Siders et al., 2001). Due to these interactions, the supervisor should represent the most salient commitment focus when prediction of job perfor- mance is at stake. Support for this contention has been provided by Becker et al. (1996) and Becker and Kernan (2001) who found that commitment to the supervisor was more strongly associated with performance than was overall commitment to the organization. Similarly, in traditional work settings, commitment to the work group may also be less important than commitment to the supervisor for predicting job performance. This is because co-workers are not formally in charge of monitoring, guiding, and rewarding employee performance. Note that this may not be the case in self-directed work teams, in which the completion of tasks and responsibility for end products are collectively shared by the team (Bishop & Scott, 2000; Bishop et al., 2000). To summarize, the supervisor should be a more salient and relevant commitment focus than the organization and the work group when job performance is the outcome of interest. Hypothesis 3a: Affective commitment to the supervisor has a significant direct effect on job performance. The role of affective commitments to the organization and to the work group in the prediction of job performance should be indirect. Indeed, they may act on per- formance through commitment to the supervisor, the latter representing the person who is formally responsible for driving employees in performing competently on the job. The organization is a more distant entity in this case because it provides the more general rules and strategic orientation within which the actions of individual employees should take place. Similarly, the work group is psychologically less salient
  15. 15. C. Vandenberghe et al. / Journal of Vocational Behavior 64 (2004) 47–71 61 because co-workers may only provide informal aid in the performance of duties. However, we could expect affective commitment to the organization to be more strongly related to commitment to the supervisor than commitment to the work group would be, because supervisors are representatives of the organization toward employees (Eisenberger, Fasolo, & Davis-LaMastro, 1990; Eisenberger et al., 1986) while co-workers do not possess such formal status and prestige (Eisenberger et al., 2002). Consequently, the indirect effect of organizational commitment on job perfor- mance should be stronger than the corresponding indirect effect of commitment to the work group. Hypothesis 3b: Affective commitments to the organization and to the work group have a significant indirect effect on job performance via commitment to the supervisor. Hypothesis 3c: The indirect effect of affective commitment to the organization on job performance is stronger than the corresponding indirect effect of commitment to the work group. 4.1. Method 4.1.1. Sample and procedure We obtained the formal agreement of the nursing director of a Belgian hospital to conduct an attitude survey among its nursing staff. As part of a larger study, all nurses received a questionnaire including the measures of affective commitment to the organization, to the supervisor and to the work group. A cover letter accompa- nying the questionnaire explained the objective of the study, assured that responses would be kept confidential, and asked participants to return their completed questionnaire to the researchersÕ office using a pre-stamped envelope. The letter also mentioned that questionnaires were coded in order to match responses with supervi- sor-rated performance appraisals. Nurses voluntarily completed the survey during their regularly scheduled work hours. Of the 530 nurses who were contacted, 278 returned their questionnaire to the researchers, with 270 of them providing usable returns, for a 50.9% response rate. Six months later, head nurses were contacted to provide performance ratings for their ward nurses on a 4-item scale designed by the researchers. Due to missing data on commitment measures ðN ¼ 19Þ and performance ratings (2 head nurses for 23 nurses) as well as turnover among nurses ðN ¼ 34Þ, the number of valid commitment-performance pairings was reduced to 194. These responses involved performance assessments by 32 head nurses, for an average number of perfor- mance ratings per unit of 6.06 (range ¼ 1–16). In the final sample of nurses, aver- age age was 35.4 years ðSD ¼ 8:3Þ and average organizational tenure was 10.3 years ðSD ¼ 6:7Þ. Among respondents, 82.9% were female and 58.0% worked full-time. 4.1.2. Measures Commitment. Affective commitment to the organization, the supervisor, and the work group were measured using the same scales as in the first two studies.
  16. 16. 62 C. Vandenberghe et al. / Journal of Vocational Behavior 64 (2004) 47–71 Performance. Supervisor-rated performance appraisals were obtained 6 months after Time 1 data collection. Based on a panel discussion with the nursing manage- ment staff, four criteria were selected as being central aspects of nursesÕ job in this hospital. Head nurses rated the performance of their staff on the following criteria: (a) quality of care, (b) quality of contacts with patients, (c) work-related helping be- havior directed toward colleagues, and (d) work-related helping behavior directed toward the head nurse. Ratings were provided using a 10-point scale anchored ‘‘ex- tremely poor’’ (1) and ‘‘outstanding’’ (10). Performance data were submitted to a principal components analysis. Results suggested a single factor, as indicated by a strong loading of items on the first factor (mean loading: .85), accounting for 71.5% of the total variance, a clear break in the scree plot, and eigenvalues less than 1.0 for the remaining potential factors. We thus combined the items to create a single score of performance for each nurse. In addition, as head nurses assessed the perfor- mance of several nurses (range ¼ 1–16), we standardized the performance ratings within raters, i.e., subtracting the mean of each unit from the score of any particular nurse. These standardized performance ratings were then used as input in the LIS- REL analyses. Such a procedure allowed us to control for any potential response bias in supervisor ratings. 4.2. Results and discussion The relationships among commitment variables and job performance were ana- lyzed using the structural equations modeling approach with the LISREL 8.3 pack- age (J€reskog & S€rbom, 1993). The covariance matrix of observed variables was o o used as input for model estimation through maximum likelihood. Table 7 displays the descriptive statistics and the intercorrelations among latent variables in the con- firmatory factor analytic model. Of greatest interest, affective commitment to the su- pervisor was significantly associated with job performance (r ¼ :24, p < :01). Fit indices for structural models are presented in Table 8. The Hypothesized mod- el yielded a good fit to the data, as indicated by a TLI of .89 and a CFI of .91, these indices being particularly suited for the comparison of competing models (Medsker et al., 1994). As some studies have reported significant relationships between organizational commitment and performance (Angle & Lawson, 1994; Table 7 Study 3: Descriptive statistics and intercorrelations among latent variables Variable M SD 1 2 3 4 1. AC-ORG 2.79 .89 .79 2. AC-SUP 3.29 .94 .46ÃÃ .87 3. AC-GR 3.67 .84 .36ÃÃ .32ÃÃ .83 4. Job performance 7.63 1.14 .05 .24Ã .11 .86 Note. N ¼ 194. a coefficients are reported on the diagonal. All intercorrelations are estimated by LISREL. * p < :01. ** p < :001.
  17. 17. C. Vandenberghe et al. / Journal of Vocational Behavior 64 (2004) 47–71 63 Table 8 Study 3: Fit indices for structural models Model v2 ðdf Þ GFI AGFI TLI CFI Model Comparison Dv2 ðDdf Þ Hypothesized 372.51Ã (199) .84 .80 .89 .91 — Alternate 1 372.17Ã (198) .84 .80 .89 .91 Hypothesized vs. .34 (1) Alternate 1 Alternate 2 372.46Ã (198) .84 .80 .89 .91 Hypothesized vs. .05 (1) Alternate 2 Note. N ¼ 194. GFI, goodness-of-fit index; AGFI, adjusted goodness-of-fit index; TLI, Tucker and Lewis index; and CFI, comparative fit index. * p < :001. Mayer & Schoorman, 1992; Meyer, Paunonen, Gellatly, Goffin, & Jackson, 1989) and between team commitment and performance (Bishop & Scott, 2000; Ellemers et al., 1998), we tested for such possibilities by relaxing the corresponding paths in the Hypothesized model. Alternate model 1, which freed the path from organiza- tional commitment to performance, did not improve over the Hypothesized model, Dv2 ð1Þ ¼ :34, ns, nor did Alternate model 2, which relaxed the path from work group commitment to performance, Dv2 ð1Þ ¼ :05, ns (cf. Table 8). Fig. 2 presents the standardized parameter estimates for the Hypothesized model. As can be seen, organizational commitment (b ¼ :40, p < :001) and work group commitment (b ¼ :18, p < :05) were significantly related to commitment to the su- pervisor, with the latter being significantly associated with performance (b ¼ :25, p < :01), hence providing support to Hypothesis 3a. We estimated the indirect effects of affective commitments to the organization and to the work group on job performance using the procedure outlined by Sobel (1987). The indirect effect of organizational commitment on performance was .08 ðSE ¼ :03Þ and its 95% confidence interval (.02/.14) did not contain zero, suggesting that the effect was significant. The indirect effect of commitment to the work group on Fig. 2. Study 3: Standardized path coefficients for Hypothesized model. For the sake of parsimony, parameters for the measurement portion and disturbance terms are not presented. Ã p < :05; ÃÃ p < :01; and ÃÃÃ p < :001.
  18. 18. 64 C. Vandenberghe et al. / Journal of Vocational Behavior 64 (2004) 47–71 performance was .04 ðSE ¼ :02Þ, with its 95% confidence interval (.00/.08) including zero, hence revealing that the effect was not significant. The latter results lended only partial support to Hypothesis 3b. Finally, Hypothesis 3c asserted that the indirect effect of organizational commitment on performance would be stronger than the cor- responding effect of commitment to the work group. Although there is no statistical test that permits to directly compare the relative strength of indirect effects, the fact that the 95% confidence intervals for the indirect effects of organizational commit- ment (.02/.14) and work group commitment (.00/.08) did overlap suggests that their magnitude cannot be said to differ. Hypothesis 3c was thus rejected. As one item of the performance scale that we used contained an explicit reference to behaviors benefitting the supervisor (i.e., ‘‘work-related helping behavior directed toward the head nurse’’), it could have artifactually inflated the relationship between commitment to the supervisor and performance. To check for this possibility, we excluded that item and rerun the analyses using a 3-item, rather than the original 4-item, scale of performance. This shortened scale had a reliability of .82. Results remained the same. The Hypothesized model yielded a good fit to the data, v2 ð179Þ ¼ 343:18, TLI ¼ .89, and CFI ¼ .91, and the Alternate models 1 and 2 did not improve over the Hypothesized model (Dv2 ð1Þ ¼ :02, ns, and Dv2 ð1Þ ¼ :00, ns, respectively). These results rule out the explanation of our findings being biased by the inclusion in the measure of commitment to the supervisor of an item referring to helping behavior benefitting the supervisor. As a whole, the results of this study were consistent with the view that the psycho- logical salience and relevance of the supervisor with respect to issues related to per- forming well in oneÕs job made commitment to this target more critical in explaining job performance. On the other hand, the reduced salience of the organization and work group foci rendered the effect of commitment to these entities on performance only indirect, if any. 5. General discussion Three longitudinal studies are reported demonstrating that affective commitments to the organization, the supervisor, and the work group can be reliably distinguished, have distinct antecedents, and influence turnover in a different manner than they im- pact job performance. The results associated with Study 1 provide convergent evidence that employees do engage in separate exchange relationships with the organization to which they belong, the supervisor who is in charge of monitoring their performance, and the co-workers with whom they interact in the completion of their tasks. The data sug- gest that the perceptions of being supported by the organization, of having a con- structive and quality exchange relationship with oneÕs superior, and of working in a cohesive work group, foster employee commitment specifically directed toward these entities. That is, POS contributed uniquely to affective organizational com- mitment, LMX was uniquely related to affective commitment to the supervisor, whereas perceived group cohesiveness was the sole significant predictor of affective
  19. 19. C. Vandenberghe et al. / Journal of Vocational Behavior 64 (2004) 47–71 65 commitment to the work group. By using a longitudinal design and involving all predictors of interest in the same regression equation, this study improved over past research. In line with LewinÕs (1943) field theory, work commitment foci are likely to vary in their level of psychological salience to employees. A basic tenet of field theory is that the most salient foci will have the strongest effect on individual behavior (Mat- hieu, 1991; Mathieu & Hamel, 1989). When organization-relevant variables such as intent to quit and turnover are at stake, employees will thus primarily evaluate the current state of their relationship with the organization, hence the organization will be the most salient entity to their mind. Consequently, attitudes towards the organi- zation (e.g., commitment to the organization) will more directly influence employee turnover whereas the influence of commitments to the supervisor and to the work group will be mainly indirect. These predictions are also in line with a levels-of-anal- ysis interpretation of the commitment-outcome relationship. That is, if both commit- ment and the outcome address the same level (the organization, the supervisor, or the work group), then their relationship will be stronger. That is what we found in Study 2. More specifically, by including affective commitments to the organization, to the supervisor, and to the work group together in the same model as potential pre- dictors of turnover intentions and actual turnover, we were able to tease out their direct and indirect effects on withdrawal. Given this, affective organizational commitment was found to have a significant indirect effect on turnover through intent to quit and commitments to the supervisor and to the work group exerted indirect effects on intent to quit through organiza- tional commitment. Of interest, commitment to the supervisor had also an unex- pected direct effect on intent to quit (b ¼ À:26, p < :001). The added value of the present finding is that the significant effect of supervisor commitment was observed while accounting for the influence of organizational commitment, which previous re- search has not done. This should encourage researchers to revise their turnover mod- els by including commitment to foci other than the global organization as additional predictors of voluntary departure. Indeed, our findings highlight the importance of the three commitment variables in explaining turnover, as all of them exerted a sig- nificant indirect effect on actual turnover. The finding of a significant effect of supervisor commitment on intent to quit may be explained by the fact that supervisors are formal representatives of the organiza- tion toward employees (Eisenberger et al., 2002) and that if the employee cannot change supervisors in case of low commitment to him/her, this would result in the willingness to leave the organization. Although the effect of organizational commit- ment on intent to quit was stronger than the effect of commitment to the supervisor (cf. Table 6), future research should examine whether the relative strength of these effects is moderated by the ease of intra-organizational mobility (McElroy, Morrow, & Mullen, 1996; Todor & Dalton, 1986). Indeed, if the employee is not provided with the opportunity to work for another supervisor when commitment to this target per- son is low, the single remaining option would be to leave. In other words, it is plau- sible that when there are few opportunities for intra-organizational mobility, the negative effect of affective commitment to the supervisor on leaving would be
  20. 20. 66 C. Vandenberghe et al. / Journal of Vocational Behavior 64 (2004) 47–71 strengthened. Though an alternative to leaving would be to reduce the number of in- teractions with the supervisor (Malatesta, 1995), this may have a detrimental effect on job performance because the supervisor is formally responsible for orienting em- ployeesÕ on-the-job behavior. The employee may not afford such a situation and de- cide to leave anyway. Another explanation for the significant direct effect of commitment to the super- visor on intent to quit relates to the nature of the sample involved in Study 2. In- deed, the sample was composed of young employees with relatively short tenure (average age was 29.5 years and average tenure was 3.5 years), all having a master degree. These employees, more than others, may enter organizations with the ex- pectation that their supervisor will offer them lots of personal development oppor- tunities. In case this expectation is not met, these employees may reduce their affective commitment to the supervisor, hence more readily decide to leave the company. Study 3 showed with a sample of 194 hospital nurses that commitment to the su- pervisor had a significant direct effect on job performance and that organizational commitment significantly affected job performance through supervisor commitment. This finding furthers Becker et al.Õs (1996) and Becker and KernanÕs (2001) results that commitment to the supervisor is more strongly associated with performance than is overall commitment to the organization. Because the supervisor has the for- mal responsibility to monitor and direct employees in the performance of their in- role duties (Becker et al., 1996; Eisenberger et al., 2002; Siders et al., 2001), this entity becomes particularly salient to employees when they have to direct their efforts at work. Consequently, affective commitment to the supervisor represents the attitude which more directly predicts employee performance. In contrast, because the orga- nization has less direct relevance in this context, the influence of commitment to the organization on performance has been found to be only indirect in this study. Probably that, in order to perform well on the job, employees will find more energy from the emotional bond they have created with their supervisor than with their organization. The employeeÕs relationship with the organization as assessed via his/her level of affective organizational commitment, provides just a Ôfavorable ground,Õ that needs however to be more focused in order to more directly influence job performance. The fact that work group commitment did not exert a significant indirect effect on performance despite its being a significant predictor of supervisor commitment (b ¼ :18, p < :05) may be due to the very nature of the nursing occupation. Nurses are usually recognized as being deeply trained and competent in the performance of their in-role duties (Kramer, 1981). This level of expertise and the ability to achieve oneÕs job competently plausibly underlies the sense of autonomy valued by nurses as well as by most professionals (Kerr, Von Glinow, & Schriesheim, 1977). Conse- quently, interactions with colleagues in performing oneÕs job may not be crucial for nurses. In contrast, this may not be the case for interactions with the head nurse whose role in monitoring care quality to patients and in transmitting physiciansÕ di- rectives to ward nurses is more critical, hence the strong influence of supervisor com- mitment on job performance.
  21. 21. C. Vandenberghe et al. / Journal of Vocational Behavior 64 (2004) 47–71 67 5.1. Limitations and future perspectives A strength of our set of studies was their longitudinal nature, and for two of them, the use of data obtained from an external source. However, as any other research, the present one has a number of limitations. First, the relationships between commit- ments and the target outcomes were based on predictors being measured at the same time. So, even though we relied on the structural equations modeling approach for testing our hypotheses for Studies 2 and 3, one should be cautious about drawing causality inferences concerning relationships among commitments to the organiza- tion, the supervisor, and the work group. In the future, it might be worthwhile to use panel designs in which commitments and their antecedents/outcomes would be measured at more than one occasion. This type of design would provide stronger ev- idence for causal relationships among commitments and their presumed antecedents/ outcomes than is afforded when variables are measured simultaneously (Finkel, 1995). However, panel designs also have limitations, namely because they test sub- stantive relationships while auto-correlations among variables across measurement occasions are accounted for. This might be overly conservative when auto-correla- tions are high. Second, in both Studies 2 and 3, commitment to the work group did not exert a direct effect on work outcomes. This does not mean that its consideration was use- less. For example, using SobelÕs (1982, 1986) recommendations for the computation of indirect effects in Study 2, commitment to the work group had actually a signif- icant indirect effect on both intent to quit ().42; SE ¼ :03; 95% confidence inter- val ¼ ).36/).48) and turnover ().17; SE ¼ :02; 95% confidence interval ¼ ).13/ ).21). However, future investigations should be conducted in organizational settings that make the work group a more salient focus of commitment (e.g., self-directed work teams, cf. Bishop & Scott, 2000; Bishop et al., 2000) with respect to some work outcomes, or to identify aspects of work behavior that might be more intrinsically tied to commitment to the work group (e.g., mutual aid among co-workers that are not explicitly rewarded; cf. McNeely & Meglino, 1994). The third study reported in this research has been conducted in the nursing staff of a general hospital. This type of population may display peculiarities that warrant com- ments. First, in contrast to the samples of university Alumni used in Study 1 and 2, the nurse sample was predominantly female. Although it is unclear how such characteris- tic may affect relationships between commitments and job performance, future re- search is nonetheless needed to examine this issue more closely. Second, and may be more importantly, the correlations between commitments to the organization, to the supervisor, and to the work group were lower in the nurse sample from Study 3 (cf. Table 7) than in the samples used in Study 1 (cf. Table 3) and in Study 2 (Table 5). This may be explained by the fact that hospitals have more differentiated structures than other types of organizations, hence inner entities tend to be more distinct than in other contexts. Consequently, nurses may be more capable of differentiating their level of commitment to the organization, to the supervisor, and to the work group. Also, it might be argued that the three studies lack overall comparability. For ex- ample, the fact that Studies 1 and 2 relied on samples of Alumni makes it difficult to
  22. 22. 68 C. Vandenberghe et al. / Journal of Vocational Behavior 64 (2004) 47–71 determine whether employees from these samples differ on some important organi- zational, group or supervisor characteristics. Although this bias is undetermined, the large variety of industries represented in the samples makes it unlikely that a sys- tematic bias affects the findings. Indeed, no industry was particularly overrepre- sented. So, if a bias does exist, it is probably more of a random than of a systematic one. Moreover, as our analyses involved individual attitudes and behav- iors rather than aggregate phenomena, systematic fluctuations in contexts may be less relevant for the purposes of this study. However, this should not undermine the need for more research addressing how characteristics of organizations, groups, and supervisors affect commitment–behavior relationships. This research did not consider potential moderators of the relationships between commitments to the organization, to the supervisor, and to the work group, and work outcomes. For example, it might be that the ease of intra-organizational mo- bility affects the strength of the relationship between commitment to the supervisor and to the work group and intent to quit (Todor & Dalton, 1986). Similarly, the ex- tent to which the supervisor is perceived as representing the organization (cf. Eisen- berger et al., 2002) may moderate the relationship between commitment to the supervisor and intended or actual turnover. Also, the relationship between work group commitment and job performance could be stronger when team performance is rewarded by the organization (Bishop & Scott, 2000). Finally, other forms of com- mitment might be worth investigating across foci. Incorporating both foci and forms of commitment within a single model would enrich our understanding of how inter- dependencies develop across them and affect behavior. Acknowledgments We thank John P. Meyer, Thomas E. Becker, and Vicente Gonzales-Roma for their helpful comments on earlier drafts of this paper. References Angle, H. L., & Lawson, M. B. (1994). Organizational commitment and employeesÕ performance ratings: Both type of commitment and type of performance count. Psychological Reports, 75, 1539–1551. Aryee, S., Budhwar, P. S., & Chen, Z. X. (2002). Trust as a mediator of the relationship between organizational justice and work outcomes: Test of a social exchange model. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 23, 267–285. Becker, T. E. (1992). Foci and bases of commitment: Are they distinctions worth making? Academy of Management Journal, 35, 232–244. Becker, T. E., & Billings, R. S. (1993). Profiles of commitment: An empirical test. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 14, 177–190. Becker, T. E., Billings, R. S., Eveleth, D. M., & Gilbert, N. L. (1996). Foci and bases of employee commitment: Implications for job performance. Academy of Management Journal, 39, 464–482. Becker, T. E., & Kernan, M. C. (2001, April). Affective and continuance commitment and performance: A closer look. Paper presented at the 16th annual conference of the society for industrial and organizational psychology, San Diego, CA.
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