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  • Fall 2016: Work and Organizational Commitment
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Introduction to Work and Organizational Commitment:

Work commitment is formed through the employee’s adherence to work ethic, commitment to a career/profession, job involvement, and their organizational commitment (Morrow, 1993).  Work ethic is simply defined as a person’s desire to work (Pinder, 2008). An employee’s job involvement can be simply defined as “the degree of daily absorption into everyday work experiences" (Pinder, 2008) however, it is similar yet distinct to an employee’s organizational commitment and job satisfaction. The level of job involvement is determinate by individuals needs. High job involvement can lead to workaholism, which is excessive work involvement, high drive to work, and lack of work enjoyment (Aziz & Zickar, 2006).

Organizational commitment as defined, is the extent to which an employee develops attachment and sense of allegiance to his or her employer (PSU WC, 2016). Similar to job satisfaction in that they both deal with the nature of an employee’s emotional reaction to work, some of the factors that affect job satisfaction also directly affect organizational commitment (PSU WC, 2016).  Although, organizational commitment and job satisfaction are distinct, job satisfaction refers to the specific job that a person holds, and organizational commitment applies more broadly to the whole organization (PSU WC, 2016).

There are three types of organizational commitment, affective, continuance, and normative. Each are different in the employee’s organizational involvement. Affective commitment is the employee's emotional attachment and identification with the organization. Employee’s that display high affective commitment typically accept the organization's goals and values, and have a stronger desire to stay with the organization (Mowday, Steers, & Porter, 1979) (PSU WC, 2016).  Employee’s with affective commitment perceive that they are treated fairly and have a supportive organization

Employees with continuance commitment typically stay with their organization because they feel they cannot afford to leave or be able to find a comparable salary and benefits package elsewhere. Some organizations might require employees develop a level of seniority before they can be vested in pension programs to receive matching contributions for retirement plans, which may foster continuance commitment in their employees. Employees that display high continuance commitment may stay with the company, but may not necessarily work harder (PSU WC, 2016).

Employees with normative commitment have feelings of obligation to remain with their organization because they feel it is morally right. Employee’s with high normative commitment don’t want to disappoint their employers and tend to worry that their coworkers may think poorly of them for leaving the organization (PSU WC, 2016).

Overall, affective commitment involves employees staying with the organization because they want to. Continuance commitment involves employees staying with their organization because they feel they have to and normative commitment involves employees staying with their organization because they feel they ought to (PSU WC, 2016). 

In the case study below, we introduce a group of six employees with a range of work and organizational commitment.

Details of the Case Study:

Umbrella Assistance Program: Umbrella Assistance Program (UAP) is a community outreach program for families in need of living assistance and counseling.  There are three employee levels within the program.  The first are directors of services, who manage the funds from the state and donations from the community.  They also inform the counselors of the allowances of each family. Another position at UAP are the collectors who are responsible for going to businesses and other parts of the community to ask for donations.  Employees in this position have choices in how they perform their job.  They can make calls or go in person.  The third position at UAP are the counselors.  Counselors are the employees who dispense donated goods to families, as well as provide counseling for families who request it.  They provide nutritional education when goods are dispensed to families, and can inform them of other places they can receive additional services if needed.


Zara – Zara has known that she wanted to work with people ever since she was a little girl.  She has been volunteering at different organizations in her community ever since she was in middle school.  Zara has worked at women’s shelters and has counseled veterans with PTSD.  She has a master’s in social work and has gained a lot of experience in counseling.  Whether Zara has one client or five, she feels that the work day goes by too quickly.  She will often stay late helping other employees finish their job, even if it is not part of her own.  Zara personally feels that it is our duty as human beings to help each other.  She treats her co-workers, and even some of her patients (especially the children she meets with) like family.  Zara feels that her job defines who she is.


YvonneYvonne is a director of services at UAP.  Many of her co-workers were surprised to find out that she has a family, since she is always at work before anyone else and leaves after everyone else.  She is always stopping by on the weekends and stays in the office for a few hours.  Yvonne will even call other employees to “double check” on information late at night and over the weekend.  Even though she is a very hard worker and gets a lot done for the program, she is typically in a bad mood and does not seem to enjoy what she does.  Yvonne started out as a collector and did so well that she was promoted to director of services.  Even though she was reluctant to take the job, she felt like she should because she knew that families in her community needed these services.  Yvonne also knew that she was the highest collector at the time, and did not want to let the program down either.


XavierXavier is a collector who has worked with UAP for a short time.  Despite this, he is the program’s top collector.  He is always creating new methods of how to convince people and businesses in the community to donate to UAP.  Xavier has also proposed many different new ideas for fundraisers to the directors.  His co-workers describe him as hardworking and innovative.  Xavier even sets his own daily and weekly goals for collection.  He believes that setting goals and working to obtain them helps make the work week go by faster.  While Xavier seems like he is very committed to UAP, his ultimate goal is to work in sales for a medical supply company in town.  He applied there, but they said he needed more experience, so he applied at a few other places.  UAP offered him a job that wasn’t exactly a sales position, but paid decently and offered a very good benefits package.  Xavier felt that working at UAP for the time being was his best option until he gained enough experience to work at the medical supply company.


WalterWalter is a director of services at UAP.  He was one of the original counselors when UAP was started.  While he was very involved as a counselor, he does not seem to find much passion or satisfaction from managing the funds and donations.  He feels that making calls to the state, checking the balances of resources available and dividing them among their expected number of dispersants makes the day seem longer than it is.  Even though he gets his tasks completed, sometimes they are not completed within the ideal time frame.  The counselors feel like Walter will procrastinate by inquiring about what cases are going on in the counseling center.  Walter has been with the program for a long time, and even though he does not like his job as a director, he feels as though he is needed there.  He understands the importance of his job, and feels that if he left someone else who did not have as much as experience with the program would be hired.  If Walter was not so concerned with how the program would run without him as a director, he would go back to counseling; his true passion.


Vivian -  Vivian is a collector for UAP.  She is a student who is currently in a counseling program at her local university.  She was very excited to work with UAP and gain experience in her field.  Even though she was aware that she was not going to be a counselor, she knew that working at UAP would be a good stepping stone for her and future career.  Vivian believes that what she is doing is important and is always talking to the counselors about new counseling methods that are being researched, and different aspects about family dynamics and mental health.  Despite her interest and passion for helping people, she does not seem to be an enthusiastic collector.  She typically canvases the same businesses and housing areas, but doesn’t go out to them very often.  When she is in the office and supposed to be making phone calls, she is usually on the internet looking up articles about counseling.  Vivian has stayed with UAP because she feels that this is the best job that she can get in her field until she graduates.

UptonUpton is a counselor at UAP.  Even though he has been a counselor for a while, some days he feels like he chose the wrong career path.  While he cares about his clients, he will typically make his meetings with them short, and refers just about every one of them to another service.  Upton realizes that his job is important, but he would much rather be spending time on his true passion; traveling and writing about his experiences.  He has used all of his sick days and vacation days.  Despite having appointments, there have been many Fridays when he called out sick, or left early and passed his clients on to another counselor.  While he should be typing up his reports, he often stares out the window daydreaming about his next endeavor.  He has stayed with UAP because he has not found a way to get paid for traveling.


Organizational Commitment:

Many people are prone to developing feelings of allegiance and loyalty to the organization for which they work. A number of the factors that affect an employee’s Organizational Commitment also double as the factors that influence Job Satisfaction. There is a correlative relationship between Job Satisfaction and Organizational Commitment, and although correlative relationships are not able to define causation, the suggested positive link between the two is high. Therefore, it is important to understand Organizational Commitment and Job Satisfaction as two separate areas: Job Satisfaction relates to an employee’s satisfaction of a specific job, Organizational Commitment is applicable to the entire organization. There are three forms of Organizational Commitment formed by employees (PSU WC, 2016). 

The three types of Organizational Commitment: 

1. Affective Commitment: Affective Commitment is the most highly researched form of commitment, and can be summed up as staying with an organization because you want to. It is related to an employee’s emotional attachment and connection to the organization. Employees who are affectively commitment to their employer likely develop this commitment from a fair, supportive work environment and are known to have a strong belief in the mission of the organization (PSU WC, 2016). 

As it relates to the case study:

Walter is an example of an employee with Affective Commitment. Walter has been a member of the UAP program since its foundation and feels an emotional attachment to the organization. First as a counselor, a job in which he found much passion. Then, he was promoted to a director of services, a job with which he finds little passion, however, understanding the importance of his job and his appreciation for the program, Walter remains in his director position.

Zara experiences Affective Commitment at UAP. She is satisfied with her job and believes she has meaning and purpose with the program. Zara wants to make a difference in people’s lives which is she is able to do at UAP. Zara stays with UAP because she believes in what the program does.

2. Continuance Commitment: The second most studied form of Organizational Commitment, Continuance Commitment is staying with an organization because you need to. Those who feel Continuance Commitment perceive an unlikelihood of finding a job elsewhere with competitive pay and benefits. Although employees with Continuance Commitment stay with their organization, they are not necessarily motivated to work hard, like affectively committed employees (PSU WC, 2016).

As is relates to the case study: 

Upton displays Continuance Commitment to UAP. If given the option, Upton would prefer to be traveling and writing than doing his job as a collector. He does not leave the company because without his job at UAP, he does not have an alternative method of paying for his aspirations to travel.

engages in Continuance Commitment to UAP. She is working at the UAP until she gets her degree in counseling. Vivian feels that being a collector at the UAP is the best job she can get until she graduates. She is using the job to fill time and make money while she is in school. She will likely leave once she finishes school and is able to obtain a better job using her degree.

shows Continuance Commitment to UAP. He is using his job as a collector to get work experience. His ultimate goal is to obtain a sales position with another company. Even though he is successful, Xavier sees his position with UAP as a way to reach his goal of becoming a salesperson with a medical supply company. Xavier will part ways with the company once he has gained enough experience to be hired as a salesperson.  

3. Normative Commitment
: The form of Organizational Commitment with the least known research is Normative Commitment—staying with an organization because you ought to. Normative Commitment focuses on an individual’s feelings of obligation toward their employer. Perhaps an employee with Normative Commitment does not want their employer to be disappointed with them or looked down upon by their coworkers if they were to resign (PSU WC, 2016).

As it relates to the case study: 

Yvonne expresses Normative Commitment to her organization. She is the director of services, and can be termed as a workaholic. When offered a promotion from collection to director, Yvonne hesitated accepting the position, but decided to accept it not wanting to let down the program or those who receive from it. 

Walter displays Normative Commitment to UAP. He was part of the organization when it was founded. Walter will not leave the organization as he feels he has spent a lot of time with UAP and they will be disappointed in him if he leaves.

Work Ethic

Every individual has a unique level of desire to work: for some that level is very high, for others it is very low, and for the rest, they have an in-between level of motivation to work. Work Ethic is defined as an individual’s desire to work, and because that degree of desire can vary from person to person, Work Ethic is usually considered to be a personality trait (PSU WC, 2016).  The idea of Work Ethic was first researched by Max Weber in the early 1900’s, and he believed it to be religiously affiliated with Protestants. Since, the definition of Work Ethic has been defined as a pattern of attitudes and beliefs that are related to work behavior and consist of six core characteristics: 1) Work Ethic is multidimensional 2) Work Ethic pertains to general work and work-related activity, not to any specific job 3) Work Ethic is learned 4) Work Ethic refers to attitudes and beliefs, not behavior 5) Work Ethic is a rooted in motivation, which is reflected in behavior and 6) Work Ethic is not affiliated with any one religion (PSU WC, 2016).

As it relates to the case study:

Xavier has a great Work Ethic. He is fresh, creative, and always thinking of news methods to improve donation reception. His co-workers describe him as hardworking and innovative. He sets daily and weekly goals for his collection achievements, feeling it helps his work week fly by.

Zara has a high Work Ethic. Whether she has one client or many she puts in the same amount of effort. She will stay late as needed to help anyone who needs it.

Yvonne has a very high Work Ethic. She shows up early and works until everyone else is gone. She calls or stops by to check in when she is not there.

Vivian has a moderate work ethic. She works hard, however, does not stay focused on the task. She will divert her attention to another subject when she should be making phone calls. Vivian does what she needs to do to maintain her position.

Walter has a low to moderate work ethic. He often gets work done, but he tends to procrastinate. He often completes projects and tasks after deadlines.

Upton has low work ethic. He tends to leave early or call in sick leaving other counselors to deal with his clients. He also uses all of his vacation time. He does a lot to get out of having to work.

Job Involvement and Workaholism: Job involvement is the level of engagement an individual feel toward their everyday work experiences. By many, it is also considered to the be the strongest component, if not synonymous, with an individual’s work identity. The degree of job involvement an employee experiences is based on the employee’s needs, in combination with the characteristics of their job and the environment in which they work (PSU WC, 2016).  Someone who feels such a high level of job involvement, it hinders their ability to maintain work-life balance and enjoy the personal aspects of their life, is termed a workaholic. Typically, a workaholic’s thoughts are always consumed by work related ideas and plans. Not only are workaholics unable to enjoy their lives outside of work, they also don’t often feel any satisfaction from the constantly work they do. Like an addiction, however, workaholics feel psychological compulsions to work, regardless of the effects to their health or relationships (PSU WC, 2016). 

As it relates to the case study:

Zara displays a heavy level of engagement toward her work, and a healthy degree of Job Involvement. A lifetime volunteer, it has always been Zara’s dream to help people and geared her education toward doing such. Her work identity is altruistic, and she values the needs of her coworkers and patients equally to that of her own. She considers work identity to be synonymous with who she is as a person.

On the upward extremist side of Job Involvement, Yvonne can be labeled a workaholic. As the first to arrive and the last to leave everyday, it’s speculated by many that Yvonne spends minimal time with her family. Her outside of work thoughts are always work related and this leads her to contact her coworkers at inappropriate hours to check up on work-related issues. Though her life and time are dedicated to her work, Yvonne is always in a bad mood and does not appear to feel enjoyment toward her work.

Commitment to Career/Profession:  Commitment to Career/Profession is a more modern idea than Organizational Commitment. Prior to the days of Commitment to Career, it was typical for an individual to remain with one employer for the duration of their work lives up until retirement. This made Organizational Commitment and Commitment to Career synonymous with one another. When the work force shifted from being dependent on employees to employees simply being an organizational resource, changes arose (PSU WC, 2016).  One of these changes is personnel modifications based on the financial status of the organization instead of interpersonal relationships. Logically, when having to decide who will be let go from the organization, employees who perform lower would be terminated and eventually replaced with higher performing employees who would improve efficiency of the organization. Although a system of improvement to the efficiency of the organization, without guaranteed job security, employees are not likely to form feelings of Organizational Commitment, another influential change. Since individuals no longer feel safe committing themselves to their organization, they commit themselves to their career/profession.  Commitment to Career/Profession places the greatest emphasis on self improvement as a member of a career, independent of an organization. Research has not been extensively conducted on Commitment to Career, but that will change is Organizational Commitment continues to fall. It is believed that professions have a need to be committed to something, in a world with lack of job security, it is much safer to become attached to a career over an organization.

As it relates to the case study:

Zara has a high commitment to career.  She has been involved with her career in different work settings, and claims that she has always known that she has wanted to work in this field.  She has been improving her self and her skills with all of her experience.

Yvonne has a high commitment to career; actually, overly committed to her career.  She is a workaholic, which can be considered the dark side of commitment to career/profession.  Yvonne is unable to enjoy other parts of her life because she is so committed.

Xavier has a high commitment to career.  Even though he may not be committed to the UAP, he is committed gaining experience to further his career.  He is attempting to improve himself and his skills with the goal of going to another job in his career this is more ideal for him.

Walter has a high commitment to career as a counselor, but not as a director of services.  In fact, his commitment and passion for counseling gets in the way of his success as a director of services.

Vivian has high commitment to career as a counselor, but not as a collector.  She lets her passion and interest for furthering her career in counseling get in the way of her job as a collector.  She believes that working for UAP now will increase her chances of having her dream job later.

Upton has low commitment to career.  He is not committed to his career as a counselor, like he thought he may have been at one point.  Upton is not involved with his work and does not wish to advance himself in his career.  He is actually unhappy with his current career, and would like to pursue something else.


This cases shows there are varying degrees of organizational commitment and job involvement. Each member of UAP displays their own level work commitment and work ethic. Each individual’s attitude toward their job is reflected in how they work and shows their commitment to UAP. The six employees that were analyzed present a level of commitment to the organization simply by being employed with them. However, each employee has a different reason to be committed. Their level of commitment is shown by the work and activities they do or do not engage in at work. Ultimately this commitment shows the employees attitude toward their job.

The study of work and organizational commitment is important in identifying the inter-correlation of work commitment and job attitudes (PSU WC, 2016). By identifying each individual's level of commitment, we can also address how it affects the employee and the organization.


Aziz, S., & Zickar, M.J. (2006). A cluster analysis investigation of workaholism as a syndrome. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 11, 52-62.

Morrow, P.C. (1993). The theory and measurement of work commitment. Greenwich, CT: JAI Press.

Mowday, R. T., Steers, R. M., & Porter, L. W. (1979). The measurement of organizational commitment. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 14, 224-247.

Pennsylvania State University World Campus. 2016. PSYCH 484, Lesson 11: Work and Organizational Commitment. Department of Psychology.   

Pinder, C. C. (2008). Work motivation in organizational behavior. New York: Psychology Press.

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