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The difference between involvement and commitment is like ham and eggs. The chicken is involved; the pig is committed.  Martina Navratilova (n.d.)


The conceptual structure of an individual's work commitment is shaped by interacting attitudes such as work ethic, job involvement, organizational commitment, and career/professional commitment.  Motivation, performance, and job satisfaction can be positive byproducts of strong work commitment.  However, a potential pitfall of excessive job involvement can be the negative impact of workaholism (Work and Organizational Commitment, n.d.).





Introductory Concepts

Work ethic is an individual's desire or need to work, as well as their attitudes and beliefs related to work.  Often considered to be a personality trait, work ethic is learned and reflected in behavior.  Individual levels of work ethic fall along a continuum ranging from a very high need to work to a very low need to work (PSU WC PSYCH 484, 2014, L12. p.3).

Job involvement is the degree to which an individual is absorbed in daily work happenings.  Job involvement is a product of personal characteristics and environmental influences.  Job involvement suggests that the individual is motivated and challenged by their work, and is committed to both the work and the organization (PSU WC PSYCH 484, 2014, L12. p.4).

Organizational commitment is related to an individual's perceptions and emotional reactions to work.  It is the extent to which the individual is attached to and loyal to the employer (PSU WC PSYCH 484, 2014, L12. P.5).  A negative correlation between organizational commitment and employee turnover has been found (PSU WC PSYCH 484, 2014, L12. p.6).

  • "Affective commitment involves staying with the organization because you want to" (PSU WC PSYCH 484, 2014, L12. p.5).  The employee is emotionally attached to the organization including its goals and values.  Affective commitment indicates that the employee identifies with, likes, is loyal to, and works hard for the organization (PSU WC PSYCH 484, 2014, L12. p.5).
  • "Continuance commitment involves staying with the organization because you have to" (PSU WC PSYCH 484, 2014, L12. p.5).  The costs of leaving the organization outweigh the benefits.  The employee may not be able to find comparable work elsewhere and/or may have too much invested in the organization.  Continuance commitment predicts that the employee will most likely stay with the organization, but it does not guarantee that they will work hard for the organization   (PSU WC PSYCH 484, 2014, L12. p.5).
  • "Normative commitment involves staying with the organization because you ought to"  (PSU WC PSYCH 484, 2014, L12. p.5).  The employee feels obligated to remain with the organizition because it is the right thing to do.  They don't want to let their employers and/or coworkers down   (PSU WC PSYCH 484, 2014, L12. p.5).

Career and/or professional commitment is a relatively new concept.  Rather than being committed to a specific organization, the individual is committed to a career or professional path.  It has been estimated that the average American will have seven careers in their lifetime; all of which will contribute to their personal goals through the ongoing development of knowledge, skills, and expertise (PSU WC PSYCH 484, 2014, L12. pp.5).

Workaholism is job involvement taken to an extreme and negative level.  It has been referred to as "an addiction to work" (PSU WC PSYCH 484, 2014, L12. p.4).  Effects include poor work-life balance, failure to enjoy work, and low life satisfaction in general (PSU WC PSYCH 484, 2014, L12. p.4).


Case Study

Organizational Profile

ABC Flooring is a family-owned and operated retail flooring store that prides itself on high quality products and exceptional customer service. The organization is comprised of office, sales, installation, warehouse, and customer service personnel.  Each department must interact with the others professionally and cohesively in order to optimize job performance as well as employee satisfaction.

John started the company on his own 25 years ago. He is primarily in charge of installation and sales.  His wife, Mary, manages the office staff and the warehouse. They both take responsibility for overseeing the customer service department, because reputation is so important to their business.  ABC flooring is John's "baby" and he thinks of his employees as family.  John is passionate about his store and thrives on being a "hands-on" leader.  He is typically the first one in the store in the morning and the last to leave at night.  John is easy-going and always has a smile on his face. 

Mary married John 15 years ago and was initially excited to work side-by-side with him.  She continues to be supportive of John, but doesn't feel the same emotional attachment to the company that he does.  Mary comes and goes as she pleases, and rarely works on Fridays. Employees complain that she is hard to reach by phone and is constantly changing procedures in the office.  She can be impatient and short-tempered at times.

Debbie has been with the company since it opened and has never taken a sick day.  She manages inventory, prepares customer invoices, and pays the bills.  She painstakingly keeps accurate and thorough records.  Debbie and Mary do not always see eye to eye, and Debbie is frequently frustrated with the way she is treated by Mary.  Debbie cares about the store and is loyal to John.  She has given some thought to retirement, but doesn't want to abandon him.

Bob manages the sales department. He has worked at ABC for 10 years. Bob loves learning about new products and interacting with the customers, but hates recordkeeping.  It doesn't bother him when Debbie and Mary get upset about the quality and timeliness of his paperwork.  John often make excuses for him, which annoys Debbie and Mary even more.  Bob doesn't see the need to be meticulous; he is certain that the company couldn't survive without him.  He is the top salesman at ABC and rarely fails to earn a quarterly bonus.  He doubts that he would do as well elsewhere, and knows that other companies would hold him more accountable for getting his paperwork done.

Brad is a part-time installer and sometimes picks up a few extra hours in the warehouse. He is a full-time college student and has only been with the company for three months.  Brad does as he is told, but doesn't really interact much with any of the other employees.  He is happy to have a job that pays well and enables him to work around his classes.  Brad's major is Business and he believes that his experience with ABC will provide him with knowledge and skills that will be helpful in developing his future career path.

Jane has worked in customer service for 8 years.  She gets extremely frustrated by Mary's inconsistent procedural changes and doesn't pay much attention to her.  She does things the "right" way" and works at a faster pace than most of the other employees. She doesn't love her job, but her work performance is exceptional.  Jane's husband, Dick, is a busy executive with a large corporation.  Both Jane and her husband usually stay late at work or bring work home with them.  On the weekends they do things together, but Dick is interrupted by frequent work-related calls and Jane finds herself dwelling on her own work issues and responsibilities.  Jane 's hobby is cross-stitching.  Sometimes she finds it tedious, but she doesn't like to have a lot of "down time" and the projects keep her busy.



John demonstrates affective commitment and high job Involvement.  He is emotionally connected to the organization and takes pride in it.  John shows concern for the company, the customers, and the employees.  John chooses to work long hours because he enjoys what he does and has a strong work ethic (PSU WC PSYCH 484, 2014, L12. pp.3-5). 

Mary demonstrates normative commitment and low job involvement.  Her commitment is to John rather than to the organization.  Mary makes procedural changes at will and doesn't seem to have much interest in feedback from the other employees, as evidenced by her erratic availability.  Her work ethic is questionable on the job, but it may just be that she puts much more energy into activities and interests outside of the workplace (PSU WC PSYCH 484, 2014, L12. pp.3-5). 

Debbie demonstrates normative commitment, high job involvement, and strong work ethic.  She was there from the beginning to watch Bob "grow" the company and has considerable admiration for him.  Debbie has had perfect attendance throughout her career.  She personally developed most of the office procedures and she knows they are effective as well as efficient.  Mary's interference is disruptive and Debbie gets tired of arguing with her about it.  She would like to start planning for retirement, but worries that things will fall apart if she leaves.  Debbie doesn't think it would be right to do that to John (PSU WC PSYCH 484, 2014, L12. pp.3-5). 

Bob demonstrates continuance commitment.  He stays with ABC flooring because he doesn't think he can do better somewhere else.  He has invested 10 years in the company, is the head of the sales department, earns regular bonuses, and gets away with slacking off on paperwork.  Bob's job involvement and work ethic are high in the job areas that he enjoys, but low in the tasks that he doesn't.  It may be that the paperwork aspect of his job doesn't come easily to him and he avoids it because he isn't good at it (PSU WC PSYCH 484, 2014, L12. pp.3-5).

Brad demonstrates career and professional commitment.  This job is perfect for a college student, but it is certainly not what he wants to do for a living.  Brad sees his work with ABC flooring as a stepping stone, a learning experience, and a resume builder.  His job involvement is minimal, but his work ethic is high - it's not easy to balance work and school.  He is careful to follow directions and do his job well so that he will get a good reference from John when he leaves the company (PSU WC PSYCH 484, 2014, L12. pp.3-5).

Jane is clearly a workaholic.  Although she doesn't really enjoy her work, she is driven to do it.  Jane's work-life balance is exceptionally poor.  She is married to a workaholic, and both of them emphasize work over leisure.  They allow work to interfere with the time they spend together, which can't be very pleasurable.  Jane isn't even passionate about her hobby; she just works on cross-stitching projects to keep busy (PSU WC PSYCH 484, 2014, L12. pp.3-5). 


Evaluation of theory application 

The foundation of ABC flooring is the pride it places on offering high quality products to its clients with a highly customer friendly staff.

Each of the employees show some form of career/professional commitment to their job at ABC Flooring. Brad is a college student who is looking to learn new skills that can transfer to a new career after he graduates. Debbie shows a strong work ethic and believes in the vision of the company as well as the leadership Bob has displayed over the years. John the founder of the company, also has a strong work ethic and enjoys his work yet seems clueless to the varying degree of organizational commitment his team shows including his wife Mary. Each employee also shows a different and varying level of job involvement. 

John may need to reevaluate his team. Bob enjoys his job but hates bookkeeping, while Debbie keeps accurate records. Their roles can be switched since Bob does better with new inventory products and Debbie shows great affinity for the company and its clients. Brad as a college student studying business can offer new insights to John from a new generational perspective which may lead to better sales. Mary is showing signs of normative commitment to the company and John; therefore she should be working part-time or in the process of retiring. Her behavior and attitude can be seen as a detriment to the motivation of the overall team.


Organizational commitment can be related to employee turnover and is, thus, important to a small company like ABC Flooring (PSU WC PSYCH 484, 2014, L12. p.7).  However, the learning objective of this lesson is to identify and understand various work attiudes and their relationship to work and organizational commitment.  Therefore, we cannot provide John with specific strategies for increasing his employees' commitment.  John sets a good example by working long hours, acting as a "hands-on" leader, exhibiting pride in the organization, and showing concern for his customers and his employees.    

"Commitment is a complex and multifacted construct" that can take many forms (Work and Organizational Commitment, n.d.).  Despite their differences in perceptions and emotional reactions, each of the employees described in the case study has some degree of commitment to ABC Flooring.  Our case study clearly demonstrates that job attitudes are highly related and that they overlap to create a picture of how individuals perceive work (PSU WC PSYCH 484, 2014, L12. pp.3-5).  Although these factors contribute to overall job satisfaction, it will still be largely dependant on the extent to which the job meets the individual's needs (PSU WC PSYCH 484, 2014, L12. p.3).


Martina Navratilova Quotes. (n.d.). Retrieved November 17, 2014, from

Pennsylvania State University World Campus. (2014). PSYCH 484: Work Attitudes and Motivation. Lesson 12: Work and Organizational Commitment: Am I attached to the organization?  Retrieved on November 15, 2014 from

Work and Organizational Commitment (n.d.) In PSYCH 484: Work Attitudes and Motivation. Retrieved November 15, 2014 from


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