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  • Spring 2014 Team 5- Work and Organizational Commitment Case
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Organizational commitment “refers to the extent to which an employee develops an attachment and feels a sense of allegiance to his or her employer” (PSU WC, 2014, L12, p.5).  This commitment may have a strong correlation and may be influenced by job satisfaction; however, one’s satisfaction is not what is being addressed under the proverbial microscope in this case study evaluation.  This spectrum of analysis will evaluate the level of affiliation that is felt by the individual toward their company as a whole.  Analysis of this case study evaluation will focus on and provide an understanding toward affective commitment, continuance commitment, and normative commitment.  

Case Study

David began his employment at the restaurant as a dishwasher, making minimum wage, and learning to be a productive member of the American workforce.  As he eventually worked his way through various positions, his knowledge and familiarity with the cultural foundations of the small, privately owned group of restaurants, grew exponentially.  His journey began when he was sixteen years old, and now at the age of thirty-seven, he oversees four of the company’s twenty restaurants as a Director of Operations.

David believes in the values and morals of the company in which he has invested so much time and effort.  He knows the key to success in the business he has chosen is in truly valuing people.  He recognizes that his mentors have taught him that developing and maintaining a high level of hospitality is quintessential to the success of the company.

Until recently, his system of belief in his company was cyclical.  His value of success through hospitality and a people-oriented business has been both taught to him by the leadership of his company and lived through him in his daily operations.  His employees have fed off of his enthusiasm and attempt to emulate the same values and beliefs.  David’s customers also feed off of his enthusiasm giving him positive feedback and return frequently to his restaurant.

Rumors of an Initial Public Offering that began about two years ago have come to fruition, and the company “went public” about six months ago.  What began as a single restaurant that has grown through word-of-mouth promotion from satisfied customers and employees and has evolved into an organization of twenty restaurants.  Since the IPO, three of the four members of the senior management team have taken their retirement and have been quickly replaced by experienced senior managers from large national corporate restaurant entities.

The focus of the company structure brought by the new management is no longer people-centric, but rather, profit-centric.  In an effort to drive up the price of the stock the company focuses on the profitability per guest and emphasizes the importance of profitability for future growth opportunities for employees and the company.   


David understands the importance of profit in order to be and stay in business, but he finds himself often wondering to what extent the company will compromise their time tested standards of hospitality for the sake of growth.  The fundamental alignment of values that David has felt over the last twenty-one years has quickly deteriorated, and he often finds himself frustrated to the point of anger.  His employees have noticed the change, and they have begun to describe him as “having a bit of a temper.”

David has observed that the more the company grows, the more detached they become from the importance of people and hospitality. The more detached the company becomes, David has been led to feel less motivated, which also causes a change in his attitude and quality of work. David’s quarterly evaluations that were administered at three months and six months into the public company have reflected this change and David is now considered a sub-par employee.


As the name would suggest, organizational commitment refers to the allegiance or degree of loyalty that an employee feels toward the company for which they work (PSU WC, L12, p4).  A general correlation between organizational commitment and job satisfaction does exist, in that when job satisfaction is at a high level, typically so is the level of organizational commitment.  Organizational commitment is subdivided into three primary segments:

·         Affective Commitment is the level of commitment expressed by employees whose values and goals are fundamentally aligned with those of the company, and possess a zealous desire to retain their employment.  Individuals expressing this type of organizational commitment are most often happy with the overall company and feel a level of connection with it (PSU WC, L12, p5)

·         Continuance Commitment is the level of commitment expressed by employees who feel obligated to remain with their employer due to residual factors such as wage and benefits.  Individuals expressing this type of organizational commitment do not necessarily feel or express a zealous desire to remain with their employer, as with Affective Commitment, but rather feel that they lack other options (PSU WC, L12, p5)

·         Normative Commitment is the level of commitment expressed by employees that feel a moral obligation to remain with their employer.  Individuals expressing this type of obligation may feel anxiety toward the opinions of others if they were to leave, or they may feel an obligation to stay in order to not let others down (PSU WC, L12, p5)

Throughout the course of David’s career, he has felt each level of organizational commitment, showing that this can change throughout the course of an individual’s career.  As David begins his employment and grows with the small restaurant chain, he feels a strong level of Affective Commitment, and feels a strong allegiance toward his employer who shares his values.

As David’s career continues, his company around him changes, and so then does his type of commitment.  Tenure, wage, and benefit factors must be taken into account and are a measure of his level of Continuance Commitment.  The opinions of his family, friends, and coworkers influence David’s level of allegiance and translate into his level of normative commitment.


Link to Affective Commitment

Being a long time employee of the company and respecting the company’s values and goals, David has become personally vested in the company because he believed that the company’s goals aligned with his goals. Affective commitment is an employee’s acceptance of the organization's goals and values to the point that the employee desires to work hard for the organization due to the dual goal alignment (Meyer, Allen & Gellatly, 1990).  David felt like an important part of the organization and when the goals of the organization veered from the original goal, David felt dejected and angry. 

David strongly identifies with the organization and has involved himself in all elements of the organization.   When the values changed after the IPO, David went from high affective commitment to low affective commitment, which is reflecting poorly on the way others view his performance in the company.  The climate of the organization has changed, and in response to this change, David’s level of affective commitment towards the company has decreased (PSU WC, 2014, L12. p. 5).

Link to Continuance Commitment

Working for the same company since he was sixteen years old, David felt very comfortable and invested in his work.  As the company began to change structure from people-centric to profit-centric, David noticed how detached everyone became as the company grew.  This made him unhappy and affected his attitude as well as his work performance.  These changes made him wonder how much the company would alter their values for the sake of growth.

Employees with continuance commitment will stay with the organization, not necessarily because they are happy, but because they feel that they cannot afford to leave (PSU WC, 2014, L12, p.5).  Since David has invested so many years working for the company, he relies heavily on his income.  Even though he is unhappy with the company’s change of values, he feels that he has to stay to maintain his level of salary and benefits.  Since David has worked for the company since he was sixteen, he feels that maybe things will get better and he just needs to give the new organization time.  There are fewer and fewer small restaurants left and if David were to leave he may wind up working for another large national profit driven chain anyway to match his salary and benefits.

Link to Normative Commitment  

Having worked for the company for over twenty years, David has grown to become an asset to the company.  He has grown tremendously from working as a dishwasher making minimum wage, to being the Director of Operations of four of the company’s twenty restaurants.  David has always been happy with his job and his positive attitude and outlook has affected his employees and customers.  Now with the company being so profit-oriented David’s attitude towards his work has changed and is being noticed by his bosses, employees and ultimately the customers.  

When an employee has normative commitment to his or her organization, the employee feels a moral obligation to the company and does not want to disappoint their employers or coworkers (PSU WC, 2014, L12, p.5).  Due to the fact that David has worked for the company since he was sixteen years old, he feels morally obligated to his employees, his customers, and his family to continue to work for the company.  David may be struggling internally comparing the organizations previous people centered values with its new profit centered values that are eroding what has made the company successful to date.      


David is a thirty-seven year old male who has risen through the restaurant business throughout his twenty-one year career.  He has climbed the ladder of success within the restaurant from being a dishwasher to Director of Operations of four of the company’s twenty restaurants.  The company has become “public” six months ago, which changed David’s entire perspective and outlook on the restaurant.  He went from having high affective commitment to low affective commitment when this change took place because the company’s values no longer aligned with his own.  David feels a high continuance commitment due to his lack of experience in other lines of work as well as his current level of salary and benefits.  Lastly, being that David has given over twenty years of hard work, dedication, and time to the restaurant, he has high normative commitment and feels morally obligated to his employer, coworkers, and family to stay working for the company. 

Some researchers would argue that what David is experiencing is due to changes in the economy where people are viewed by organizations more as resources to be used rather than individuals to be committed to.  As organizations become larger people are hired and fired more for economic reasons and therefore have caused a decline in people’s organizational commitment (Baruch, 1998).  People still need to be committed to something and have focused on their own careers or professions rather than being committed to one particular organization (PSU WC, 2014, L12, p.7).  The decline in organizational commitment may be a problem for small businesses that rely on the commitment of few individuals to the values and mission of the business in order for it to be successful (Meyer & Allen, 1997).  David may need to focus his commitment on his career or he may need to find a smaller organization where his level of organizational commitment is appreciated and rewarded.





Baruch, Y. (1998). The rise and fall of organizational commitment.  Journal of Management Inquiry, 15, 255-273.

Meyer, J.P., & Allen, N.J. (1997).  Commitment in the workplace.  Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Meyer, J.P., Allen, N.J., & Gellatly, I. (1990). Affective and continuance commitment to the organization: Evaluation of measures and analysis of concurrent and time-lagged relations. Journal of Applied Psychology, 75(6), 710-720.

Pennsylvania State University World Campus (2014). Psych 484 Lesson 12: Work and Organizational Commitment: Am I attached to the organization? Retrieved from:

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