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Journal of Management Studies 36:3 May 1999





University of Melbourne


Templeton College


This study examines the multi-dimensionality of organizational commitment:

a€ective, normative and continuance (including the sub-components of low
perceived alternatives and high personal sacri®ce), and how these are di€erentially
related to a set of antecedents and consequences (i.e. turnover intentions, absen-
teeism and acceptance of change). The results, based on a sample of 505 Austra-
lian male ®re-®ghters, indicate that organizational commitment is best represented
by the four-factors of a€ective, normative, low perceived alternatives and high
personal sacri®ce. In addition, employees experience di€erent personal, job-related
and environmental causes of commitment depending on whether they feel they
want to, ought to, or need to remain with the organization. Further, not all facets of
commitment enhanced organizational e€ectiveness, with a€ective being the most
bene®cial (i.e. employees are less likely to leave, be absent and are more accepting
of change) and low perceived alternatives being the most detrimental (i.e. less
accepting of change). The implications of these ®ndings for the management of
desirable forms of commitment are discussed.


The link between organizational commitment and various e€ectiveness indicators

(such as turnover and absenteeism) has been well established (Mathieu and Zajac,
1990; Mowday et al., 1982). The literature suggests that individuals who are organi-
zationally committed are less likely to be absent and to voluntarily leave their
organizations. Following from this, it would seem that the implications for policy
choice are relatively straightforward: organizations should consider the determi-
nants of organizational commitment and ensure that these issues be addressed in
their human resource (HR) strategies. Indeed, there is a growing body of literature
highlighting the integral role of organizational commitment in the formulation of
HR strategies and policies (Becker et al., 1996; Coopey and Hartley, 1991; Deery et

Address for reprints: Roderick D. Iverson, Department of Management, University of Melbourne,

Parkville, Victoria, Australia 3052.

# Blackwell Publishers Ltd 1999. Published by Blackwell Publishers, 108 Cowley Road, Oxford OX4 1JF, UK
and 350 Main Street, Malden, MA 02148, USA.

al., 1994; Guest, 1987, 1995; Iles et al., 1990; Iverson, 1996; Meyer and Allen,
1997; Morris et al., 1993; Wood and Albanese, 1995). However, recent research
has highlighted the problem of conceptual and operational ambiguities in the
organizational commitment literature. This raises the question of whether it is
appropriate to apply blanket HR policies to obtain `organizational commitment'
without a complete consideration of the consequences for promoting di€erent forms
of commitment. The present study seeks to address this de®ciency by examining
both the determinants and consequences of three types of commitment. We begin
with a discussion of the conceptualization of commitment.


There is still disagreement among researchers over the de®nition of organizational

commitment (e.g. Cohen and Kirchmeyer, 1995; Dunham et al., 1994; Hackett et
al., 1994; Iverson and Roy, 1994; Jaros et al., 1993). Nevertheless, most
researchers consider commitment to comprise of two distinct but related concepts
or components: attitudinal and behavioural commitment. Attitudinal commitment (also
known as a€ective organizational commitment), represents the degree of loyalty an
individual has for an organization. This form of commitment emphasizes an
individual's identi®cation and involvement in the organization (Porter et al., 1974).
In contrast, behavioural commitment, re¯ects the process by which individuals link
themselves to an organization and focuses on the actions of the individuals. Becker
(1960) concentrated on what he termed the `side-bet-theory', which attempted to
explain the process by which employees attach themselves to organizations
through investments such as time, e€ort and rewards. These investments, however,
have costs which reduces to some degree an employee's freedom in his or her
future activity. That is, employees get `locked' into the organization because of the
costs incurred upon leaving (e.g. pension funds, ®rm speci®c knowledge, seniority).
Building on the side-bets tradition, Meyer, Allen and their colleagues (e.g. Allen
and Meyer, 1990; Meyer and Allen, 1984, 1991; Meyer et al., 1990; Meyer et al.,
1993; Meyer et al., 1989) viewed a€ective, normative and continuance commit-
ment as components of attitudinal commitment. They argued that previous
research had often confused attitudinal and behavioural commitment and that a
rigorous test of Becker's (1960) side-bet theory was not possible given the concep-
tual ambiguities. Accordingly, Meyer and Allen developed alternative scales for
a€ective and continuance commitment, as well as a third scale designed to
measure normative commitment. Although there is little support in the literature
for the existence of a normative commitment scale, it has been found to be distinct
from a€ective commitment (Meyer and Allen, 1997). Allen and Meyer (1990, p. 1)
de®ne a€ective commitment as an `employee's emotional attachment to, identi®ca-
tion with, and involvement in the organization', continuance commitment,
sometimes termed calculative commitment (Hackett et al., 1994; Mathieu and
Zajac, 1990), as `commitment based on the costs that employees associate with
leaving the organization', and normative commitment as an `employee's feelings of
obligation to remain with the organization'. In contrast to a€ective and continu-
ance commitment, normative commitment focuses on the `right or moral thing to
do' (Weiner, 1982, p. 421), and concentrates on the obligation and/or moral
# Blackwell Publishers Ltd 1999
attachment of employees which is produced by the socialization of employees to
the organization's goals and values (Allen and Meyer, 1990; Weiner, 1982).
Organizational commitment is thus considered to be multi-dimensional, which
has distinct policy implications for human resource management (HRM). In parti-
cular, that employees with strong a€ective commitment remain because they feel
they want to, those with strong normative commitment remain because they feel
they ought to, and those with strong continuance commitment remain because they
feel they need to (Meyer et al., 1993). As a consequence of the di€erences in
motives, these forms of commitment should have distinctive outcomes. That is, not
all types of commitment may be bene®cial for organizations (Konovsky and
Cropanzano, 1991; Meyer et al., 1989; Somers, 1995). Therefore, a greater under-
standing of the types of commitment with respect to their antecedents (i.e. HR
policies) and organizational outcomes (e.g. e€ectiveness) is required.
In this study we employ the three components of commitments (i.e. a€ective,
normative,[1] and continuance) as operationalized by Allen and Meyer (1990). Our
aim is three-fold. First, to examine the antecedents of the various measures of
commitment from an HRM perspective; and second to explore the notion that
di€erent types of commitment may be associated with disparate outcomes (i.e.
turnover intentions, absenteeism and the general acceptance of change since the
organization in the present study moved from under the control of a government
department to a statutory authority). Another objective is to examine the dimen-
sionality of the construct, continuance commitment. In contrast to the ®rst two
constructs, researchers have recently reported two cost-related subscales of the
continuance commitment: low perceived alternatives and high personal sacri®ce
associated with leaving the organization (Dunham et al., 1994; Hackett et al.,
1994; McGee and Ford, 1987; Meyer et al., 1990). High personal sacri®ce scale
parallels Becker's (1960) concept of `side-bets' (McGee and Ford, 1987). In their
analysis, McGee and Ford (1987) reported the two subscales to be signi®cantly
and di€erentially related to a€ective commitment. High personal sacri®ce
displayed a positive relationship and low perceived alternatives a negative relation-
ship with a€ective commitment. Hence, combining the two subscales into an
overall scale of continuance commitment may suppress the e€ects of each subscale
leading to spurious results. It is therefore necessary to test whether continuance
commitment is a valid component of organizational commitment, and if it is, to
examine its dimensionality.


Given the continuing debate in the literature regarding the psychometric character-
istics of continuance commitment, we therefore undertook a con®rmatory factor
analysis of the factor structure of organizational commitment employing the
technique of Linear Structural Relations (LISREL) VIII (JoÈreskog and SoÈrbom,
1993a). Essentially, this method involves specifying models with di€erent factor
structures and then examining the extent to which they `®t' the data. Consequently,
we specify four di€erent commitment models using a nested analysis (e.g. Hackett
et al., 1994). The ®rst model is a null model ± that is, a model that hypothesizes
that each of the items in the scale represent a single factor by itself. Estimating the
# Blackwell Publishers Ltd 1999

null model is useful since it provides a baseline with which other models are
compared in terms of the `®t' to the data. Second, we specify three other models
based on the previous research. Accordingly, the second model hypothesizes that
only one general factor underlies the commitment construct (i.e. the concept is
unidimensional). The third model comprises the original Allen and Meyer (1990)
model, which hypothesizes that three factors (i.e. a€ective, normative and continu-
ance commitment) best represent organizational commitment, while the ®nal
model is based on the four-factor solution (i.e. a€ective, normative, low perceived
alternatives and high personal sacri®ce) as suggested by current research (e.g.
Hackett et al., 1994; McGee and Ford, 1987). The con®rmatory factor analysis
procedure will allow us to address the third aim of the research.
This study was conducted in a publicly owned ®re rescue service in Australia.
Factors speci®c to that organization will be important in understanding commit-
ment. A brief description of the organization will follow, before discussion of the


The organization examined in this study consists of 16 ®re ®ghting and rescue
units associated with a larger statutory authority dealing with air transport. The
authority was created in 1988 to provide services required by the aviation industry
and to set Australia's safety and environmental standards. The authority is divided
into three core divisions (Rescue and Fire®ghting Service, Air Trac Services, and
Safety Regulation and Standards), as well as support and corporate divisions. The
body provides the aviation industry with air trac control, ¯ight advisory services,
communications, navigation and surveillance, rescue and ®re ®ghting at major
airports and aviation search and rescue. Each ®re ®ghting and rescue unit is
assigned to a major airport, where the role of employees is to `play a waiting
game'. Much of an employee's work time is idle; however, the job may potentially
be the source of much anxiety and stress (Douglas, 1994). In particular, employees
must remain in a constant state of readiness for any emergency. Investment in
training is signi®cant and incorporates practical training of response personnel to
aviation incidents; structural ®re ®ghting; vehicle incidents; industrial ®re ®ghting
and hazardous materials incidents. Group cohesiveness and identi®cation are
positively fostered by the nature of permanent rostering (over 24 hours in some
units). In addition, work teams along with the isolated nature of the work promote
dependency among employees. Given that all airports in Australia are controlled
by a central governing body and the nature of work (®rm speci®c skills related to
®re ®ghting and rescue), employees have limited job opportunities outside of the
authority. A discussion of relationships between the antecedents and consequences
of the three components of commitment follows.


The model has been tested in two stages. The antecedents of the three types of
commitment can be de®ned as personal, job related and environmental variables. The
# Blackwell Publishers Ltd 1999
second stage involves examining the relationship between each measure of commit-
ment on three e€ectiveness related outcomes: turnover intentions, absenteeism and
acceptance of organizational change. As will be outlined in the analysis subsection, both
antecedents and consequences are examined simultaneously within the same


Although there is an extensive literature on the determinants of attitudinal

commitment (which is similar to a€ective (Dunham et al., 1994)), there have been
relatively few empirical investigations examining the antecedents of normative and
continuance commitment. Given this, we have chosen to take an exploratory
approach by testing a fully recursive model. That is, we have incorporated the
same exogeneous variables for the three endogenous commitment measures, in
order to test for di€erences. This is not to suggest that we are not hypothesizing
particular relationships, but rather that it is of interest to control for similar
variables when predicting each measure of commitment. Variables (de®ned in
table I) that have been included in the model have been drawn from the literature
and contextual factors within the organization.
The antecedent variables can be categorized as:

Personal variables, comprising of the individual characteristics that employees bring

to, or experience in the organization. These consist of education, tenure in the
organization, tenure in a particular location, kinship responsibilities, job expecta-
tions, values, a€ectivity (positive and negative), and work motivation.
Job related variables, including job hazards, autonomy, co-worker and supervisory
support, job security, routinization, stress, promotional opportunities, pay, distribu-
tive justice, the relationship with management, and experiences of appreciation by
the public.
Environmental variables, relating to the nonwork setting, including industrial relations
(IR) climate and job opportunities.

These variables will be discussed in terms of hypothesized relationships between

the three forms of commitment.

Personal Variables
We expect the nine personal variables to di€erentially predict the various facets of
organizational commitment.
Education is hypothesized to be negatively related to a€ective, normative and
continuance commitment. As education is a measure of general, rather than
speci®c human capital, employees should have greater job options so that they are
not `locked' in the organization, weakening their moral attachment, while simulta-
neously raising job expectations that are unlikely to be met (Allen and Meyer,
1990; Hackett et al., 1994; Mathieu and Zajac, 1990; Mowday et al., 1982).
Tenure (organization and location) represents investments or sunk costs in the organi-
zation, and as such should exhibit positive relations with continuance commitment.
Mathieu and Zajac (1990) further assert that the number of years spent in the
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Table I. De®nitions of variables

Variable De®nition

Organizational commitment
A€ective commitment The degree of an employee's emotional attachment to, identi®cation
with, and involvement in the organization (Allen and Meyer, 1990)
Normative commitment The degree to which an employee feels some sense of obligation to
remain with the organization (Allen and Meyer, 1990)
Continuance An assessment of costs associated with leaving the organization (Allen
commitment and Meyer, 1990) comprising low perceived alternatives and high
personal sacri®ce (McGee and Ford, 1987)
Turnover intentions The degree of an employee's intention to leave an organization
Absenteeism The non-attendance of employees for scheduled work (Chadwick-Jones
et al. 1982; Johns, 1978)
Organizational change The degree of acceptance of organizational change (Iverson, 1996)
Personal variablesa
Kinship responsibilities Degree of an individual's obligation to immediate relatives in the
community (Iverson, 1992)
Job expectations Degree to which preconceived ideas are held by employees concerning
organizational life
Job values Degree of importance employees assign to characteristics associated
with the job (Iverson, 1992)
Positive a€ectivity Extent to which an individual feels enthusiastic over time and across
situations (Watson et al., 1987)
Negative a€ectivity Extent to which an individual experiences aversive emotional states
over time and across situations (Watson et al., 1987)
Work motivation Normative belief in the importance of work in general (Kanungo, 1982)
Job related variables
Job hazards Degree to which employees are exposed to harmful working conditions
Autonomy Degree to which an individual has in¯uence over his/her job
Co-worker support Degree of consideration expressed by co-workers (Blau, 1960)
Supervisory support Degree of consideration expressed by the immediate supervisor for the
subordinates (Michaels and Spector, 1982)
Job security Extent to which an organization provides stable employment for
employees (Herzberg, 1968)
Routinization Degree to which employees' jobs are repetitive (Price and Mueller, 1981)
Stress Degree of inability to complete job duties
Promotional Degree of movement between di€erent status levels in an organization
opportunities (Martin, 1979)
Pay Money and its equivalents which organizations give to employees for
their service (Lawler, 1971)
Distributive justice Degree to which an organization treats employees fairly
Management Extent to which management responds to employee needs
Public Extent of gratitude expressed by public
Environmental variables
IR climate Degree of harmony between management and the unions
(Dastmalchian et al., 1991)
Job opportunities Availability of alternative jobs outside the organization

Education and tenure have accepted de®nitions in the literature.

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organization also increases employees' psychological attachment, as well as the
internalization of norms (Hackett et al., 1994).
Kinship responsibilities refers to the number of dependents of employees. Employees
with greater kinship responsibilities are more reliant on the organization to ful®l
their ®nancial needs. This should lead to greater attitudinal, normative (due to the
need to reciprocate to the organization) and continuance commitment (Hackett et
al., 1994; Iverson, 1992).
Both job expectations and job values are expected to have negative e€ects on all
three facets of commitment. That is, the higher the expectations and values held
by employees the less likely they would be respectively met and realized by the
Although there is little empirical evidence on the relationship between the
personality traits of positive and negative a€ectivity and organizational commitment, we
envisage di€erential relationships based on the various characteristics that are
attributed to these types of individuals. Positive a€ective employees, for example,
report greater self-ecacy, an increased tendency to actively control their environ-
ment and seek task and informational support from supervisors and co-workers
(George, 1989, 1992; Judge, 1993), while negative a€ective employees are less
inclined to seek to control their work environment, are less likely to seek communi-
cations from supervisors and co-workers that o€er task and informational support,
and are more susceptible to events that result in negative experiences or emotions
(George, 1992; Iverson et al., 1998; Judge, 1993). Based on these characteristics,
positive a€ective employees would be expected to identify with and internalize the
norms of the organization, while at the same time displaying lower continuance
commitment. Negative a€ective employees, in contrast, would be less likely to
display attitudinal and normative attachment, but more likely to remain given the
perceived lower alternatives and high sacri®ce of leaving.
Employees high in work motivation tend to exert considerable e€ort (Mowday et
al., 1979), which is rewarded by the organization. Thus, employees' attitudinal
and moral commitment is increased; however, there is a simultaneous decrease in
continuance commitment as they are able to ®nd alternative jobs in the labour

Job Related Variables

Allen and Meyer (1990) argue that the most important antecedents of a€ective
commitment are job related. Employing Farrell and Rusbults's (1981) reward±cost
paradigm, rewards and costs are viewed as the discrepancy between the extent to
which individuals value certain job properties and what job properties they
actually receive on the job (rewards or costs). If individuals, for example, value
and obtain a speci®c job property (e.g. autonomy), this would be designated a
reward. Rewards include such aspects as autonomy, co-worker and supervisory support,
job security, promotional opportunities, distributive justice, management receptiveness and public
appreciation, whereas job hazards, routinization and stress are examples of costs (Deery
et al., 1994; Dunham et al., 1994; Iverson, 1996; Mathieu and Zajac, 1990).
Hence, a€ective commitment increases as the rewards of the job increase and the
costs decrease. There is limited research on the impact of these factors on
normative and continuance commitment (Dunham et al., 1994). None the less, it
is expected that the extrinsic job rewards and costs that are perceived to result
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from the organization would respectively increase and decrease a moral obligation
to reciprocate to the organization. Conversely, with the exception of autonomy
which is under managerial control to some extent, employees may perceive
intrinsic rewards and costs to derive from inherent aspects of the job (Dunham et
al., 1994). In this situation, we expect them to display little relationship with
normative commitment. Similarly, we hypothesize that with the exception of
perceived investments, such as pay, job security, and promotional opportunities, other job
related variables (which are not considered as a sunk cost) will not be related to
continuance commitment (Dunham et al., 1994).

Environmental Variables
In relation to IR climate, having a harmonious and co-operative union±manage-
ment relationship reduces the role con¯ict experienced by employees (Deery et al.,
1994). That is, employees are not required to make an either/or choice between
the unions and the organization (Iverson, 1996). In this situation, both a€ective
and normative commitment would be expected to increase, while IR climate is
unlikely to a€ect continuance commitment. We also envisage job opportunities to
have negative e€ects on a€ective and continuance commitment. Employees simul-
taneously re-evaluate their loyalty to the organization and perceive the costs
associated with leaving the organization as low when there are many alternatives
(Farrell and Rusbult, 1981; Iverson and Roy, 1994; Rusbult and Farrell, 1983;
Steers and Mowday, 1981). In terms of normative commitment, we anticipate that
the moral obligation to remain should also be weakened when alternative job
opportunities exist.


Meyer and Allen (1991) suggest that disparate outcomes or behaviours are
associated with the di€erent factors motivating employees to remain within organi-
zations. Accordingly, we hypothesize that a€ective commitment would have a negative
e€ect on turnover intentions and absenteeism, and a positive e€ect on the accep-
tance of change (Iverson, 1996; Mathieu and Zajac, 1990; Somers, 1995).
Employees high in a€ective commitment demonstrate emotional attachment,
identi®cation with and involvement in the organization. This would explain why
these employees are less likely to engage in withdrawal behaviour and more
willing to accept change (Meyer and Allen, 1997). Normative commitment is also
expected to have similar consequences as a€ective commitment. This type of
commitment focuses on moral obligation which derives in part from the socializa-
tion practices of organizations. Employees have an obligation to reciprocate to the
organization and therefore are less likely to leave, be absent, and be more
receptive of change (Hackett et al., 1994; Meyer et al., 1993; Somers, 1995). The
third form of commitment, continuance, is anticipated to have similar relationships
as a€ective commitment with both turnover intentions and absenteeism (Hackett
et al., 1994; Mathieu and Zajac, 1990), but to exhibit a negative impact on
change. As employees feel a sense of being `locked' into the organization due to
the high costs of leaving (Jaros et al., 1993) they would be less likely to leave and
be absent. The negative association with absenteeism may be explained by the
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self-justi®cation hypothesis, in which high levels of sunk costs spill over to a€ect
employees' emotional attachment (Meyer et al., 1990; Somers, 1995). However,
the possibility of losing their investments (e.g. speci®city of skills) would decrease
their acceptance of organizational change.


The site for this research was a ®re ®ghting and rescue service located at 16 bases
around Australia. The sample comprised 505 male employees, where the mean
age, tenure and education of employees were 38 (ranging from 20 to 57) years
(SD = 7.7), 12 (ranging from 1 to 34) years (SD = 7.3), and 11 (ranging from 6 to
16) years (SD = 1.4), respectively.

Data Collection
A joint consultative committee comprising management and the union was formed
to oversee the project. A multiple-item (positive and negatively worded) mail
survey was administered to all 618 male and two female employees across the 16
units. Participation was voluntary and responses were treated with con®dentiality;
505 employees returned the survey by the due date (response rate of 82 per cent).
Chi-square analysis was undertaken to assess the representativeness of the sample.
The results indicated that there were no di€erences between the sample and
population of employees across the 16 locations (w2(15) = 7.28, p 4 .05).

A ®ve-point Likert type scale was employed to measure employees' perception to
each item, ranging from strongly disagree (1) to strongly agree (5). The variables
were constructed from established scales where possible. As both management and
the union were endorsing the survey, some scales were modi®ed (e.g. shortened).
These modi®ed scales have displayed acceptable psychometric properties in
previous research (e.g. Iverson, 1996; Iverson and Erwin, 1997; Iverson and
Kuruvilla, 1995). Cronbach's alpha (1951) was calculated for all multiple

Organizational Commitment
Due to space and time restrictions and the appropriateness to the Australian
context, we selected twelve items (four for each component of commitment) from
the original 24 items as identi®ed by Allen and Meyer (1990). The 12 items were
selected based on the largest factor loadings reported for each component. The
three main and two subcomponents of organizational commitment are comprised
of a€ective (four items: M = 2.99; SD = 0.80; a = 0.79); normative (four items: M =
2.88; SD = 0.65; a = 0.69); continuance commitment (four items: M = 3.60; SD =
0.84; a = 0.81) and the two subscales of continuance commitment: low perceived
alternatives (three items: M = 3.60; SD = 0.89; a = 0.83) and high personal sacri®ce
(one item: M = 3.59; SD = 1.09). In the analysis and results section we examine
the factor structure of organizational commitment.
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Organizational Consequences
Turnover intentions (two items: M = 2.57, SD = 0.90, a = 0.73) was operationalized
using Porter et al.'s (1974) scale and is considered to be the immediate precursor
of turnover behaviour (Price and Mueller, 1986).
Absenteeism (one item: M = 1.41, SD = 1.55) was measured by the frequency of
one and two days of self-reported absence (Brooke and Price, 1989). This measure
assesses avoidable or voluntary absence (Erwin and Iverson, 1994). Although we
were unable to obtain frequency of one and two days absence information from
personnel records, we were able to examine total aggregate absence data. The
results indicate that there was no statistical di€erence between the total aggregate
absenteeism collected from archival records and that reported by employees
(t (504) = 1.31, p 4 .05). This method has previously been used to validate self-
report measures of absenteeism (Dalton and Mesch, 1991).
The scale of change, e.g. `In general the changes around here have been for the
best' (three items: M = 2.46, SD = 0.88, a = 0.83) focused on employees' accep-
tance and was formulated by the researchers.


Personal variables. The three variables of education, tenure (organization) and tenure
(location) were measured in years. Kinship responsibilities (four items: M = 3.34, SD =
1.00) was operationalized using the scale by Blegen et al. (1988). The measure of
job expectations, `When I ®rst started at the ®re ®ghting service I expected to have
opportunities such as variety on the job and involvement in decisions at work'
(one item: M = 3.80, SD = 0.74) and job values, `It is very important to me to have
opportunities such as variety on the job and involvement in decisions at work'
(one item: M = 3.97, SD = 0.72) were adapted from Iverson (1992). The personal-
ity traits of positive (three items: M = 3.67, SD = 0.64, a = 0.68) and negative (three
items: M = 3.01, SD = 0.86, a = 0.74) a€ectivity were assessed by a shortened scale
of the Multidimensional Personality Index obtained from David Watson (see Agho
et al., 1992, 1993). Work motivation (four items: M = 2.11, SD = 0.62, a = 0.76)
was measured by a modi®cation of the scale by Kanungo (1982).

Job related variables. Job hazards (four items: M = 3.04, SD = 0.80, a = 0.66) was
assessed by a scale developed by Iverson and Kuruvilla (1995), while autonomy (six
items: M = 2.85, SD = 0.86, a = 0.60) was operationalized by a scale adapted
from Tetrick and Larocco (1987). Social support comprised co-worker (three items:
M = 3.44, SD = 0.86, a = 0.84) and supervisory (three items: M = 3.37, SD =
0.96, a = 0.90) support as operationalized by a modi®cation of House's (1981)
scale. The variables of job security (six items: M = 2.87, SD = 0.79, a = 0.75) and
routinization (three items: M = 3.10, SD = 0.93, a = 0.80) were measured by
scales by Oldham et al. (1986) and Price and Mueller (1981, 1986), respectively.
Job stress (ten items: M = 3.82, SD = 0.53, a = 0.69) measured the psychological
symptoms of stress by focusing on the aspects of role ambiguity, role con¯ict,
work overload and resource inadequacy from the scales of Kahn et al. (1964),
Rizzo et al. (1970) and Caplan et al. (1975). Pay was assessed by the fortnightly
salary (after tax) (log) (one item: M = 9.90, SD = 1.55). Both promotional opportunity
(three items: M = 2.91, SD = 0.85, a = 0.72) and distributive justice (four items: M
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= 2.78, SD = 0.95, a = 0.90) were assessed using the scales by Price and
Mueller (1981). The two scales of management receptiveness, `I feel management
address my concerns' (one item: M = 2.78, SD = 0.98) and public appreciation, e.g.
`My job is appreciated by the travelling public' (two items: M = 2.67, SD =
0.97, a = 0.70) were formulated by the researchers.

Environmental variables. The variables of IR climate (ten items: M = 2.43, SD = 0.72,

a = 0.89) and job opportunities (three items: M = 2.25, SD = 0.87, a = 0.89) were
operationalized using the scales of Dastmalchian et al. (1989) and Price and
Mueller (1981, 1986), respectively.

The statistical techniques of multiple regression and LISREL were utilized in the
analysis. Both techniques were employed to assess and support the assumptions of
linearity, additivity, model speci®cation, multicollinearity and homoscedasticity (for
procedures, see Berry and Feldman, 1985; Iverson et al., 1998).
The statistical technique of LISREL was used to estimate the model. LISREL
VIII produces a structural equation model and a measurement model (JoÈreskog
and SoÈrbom, 1993a). The two major advantages of LISREL stem from the added
precision to the estimation of the model by correcting for attenuation in random
measurement error of manifest variables and, from the maximum likelihood
method employed in LISREL, which produces both a statistical measure of
goodness-of-®t and explained variance (R-square) of the model.
Anderson and Gerbing (1988) recommend that the measurement model be
assessed independently and precede that of the structural model. Because of the
problems associated with the non-normal sample distributions of absence measures
(e.g. skewed and truncated), we ®rst employed the PRELIS program (JoÈreskog and
SoÈrbom, 1993b) to `censor' (e.g. transform via normal scores) the variable. The
PRELIS correlation matrix was then used as the input to LISREL. In relation to
the measurement model the convergent validity (i.e. the degree of association
between measures of a construct) and the discriminant validity (i.e. the degree to
which measures of constructs are distinct) were tested by following the procedures
as recommended by Bagozzi and Yi (1988). First, in testing the convergent validity
we initially estimated the null model, then the one-factor, and ®nally the hypothe-
sized model. The hypothesized model was found to signi®cantly better ®t the data
than both the null and one-factor models. This provided support for the conver-
gent validity of the model. In addition, these results demonstrate that the
probability of common method variance occurring is minimized (i.e. in¯ating
relationship between constructs) (Podsako€ and Organ, 1986). This is armed by
the better ®t of the competing models as they increased in complexity (Iverson,
1996; Korsgaard and Robertson, 1995).
Second, the discriminant validity was tested by calculating the di€erence
between one model that allowed the correlations between the constructs to be
constrained to unity (i.e. perfectly correlated) and another model that allowed the
correlation between the constructs to be free (i.e. vary). This was carried out for
one pair of constructs (with multiple items) at a time. For example, in testing the
discriminant validity between positive and negative a€ectivity, the ®rst model
which allowed the correlations to be constrained to unity was estimated: w2 (17) =
# Blackwell Publishers Ltd 1999

267.62, p 5 .001. The second model which allowed the correlations between
positive and negative a€ectivity to be free was also estimated: w2 (16) = 66.32,
p 5 .001. The w2± di€erence test between the two models (wd2 (1) = 201.30,
p 5 .001) indicated that positive and negative a€ectivity exhibited discriminant
validity. The discriminant validity of all constructs in the model was con®rmed.
The ®ndings of the structural model, along with the test of the three component
model of commitment are contained in the results section following.


The following section presents three sets of results: ®rst, the con®rmatory factor
analysis of the organizational commitment scale; second, the antecedents; and
third, the consequences of a€ective, normative, and continuance commitment.

Con®rmatory Factor Analysis

The con®rmatory factor analysis results of the three-dimensional Allen and Meyer
(1990) scale are reported in table II. Given that the factors of commitment are
part of the general commitment construct, we allowed the di€erent factors to be
correlated in the parameter speci®cations. Four factors (a€ective, normative, and
continuance: low alternatives and high personal sacri®ce) of organizational
commitment provides the best ®t to the data in this sample. The goodness of ®t
indices of GFI, AGFI, CFI, NFI and PFI have values ranging from 0 to 1, with
higher values representing a better ®t. In contrast to the other indices, as the
RMSR approaches 0 it indicates a better ®t of the model to the sample data set.
Researchers tend to provide alternative ®t indices due to the lack of agreement on
the `best index' and because of some indices being confounded by sample size
(Gerbing and Anderson, 1993). Consistent with the convention in the literature we
provide alternative ®t indices, but focus on the CFI (Bentler, 1990) as it avoids the
underestimation of ®t and is less a€ected by sample size than chi-square (Gerbing
and Anderson, 1993). Relative to alternate factor models, the four factor model
provided a signi®cant improvement as demonstrated by all the goodness-of-®t
indicators. Each of the higher factor models is signi®cantly di€erent (via chi-square
di€erence tests), from the previous lower factor model. For example, the one-factor
model had a signi®cant improvement in ®t over the null model (Dw2 (12) =
927.30, p 5 .05), the three-factor model represented a better ®t of the data than
the one-factor model (Dw2 (3) = 805.84, p 5 .05) and the four-factor model was
signi®cantly di€erent from the three-factor model (Dw2 (2) = 25.28, p 5 .05), with
a much higher CFI of .907.[3] These results clearly indicate that the four-factor
solution best ®ts the data (e.g. the model exceeded Widaman's (1985) .01 criterion
for di€erences), and is consistent with current research (Dunham et al., 1994;
Hackett et al., 1994; McGee and Ford, 1987; Meyer et al., 1990).
The factor loadings along with the questions are contained in table III. In terms
of continuance commitment, the two subscales of low perceived alternatives and
high personal sacri®ce correspond to factors 3 and 4, respectively. McGee and
Ford (1987) employing the original eight items of Allen and Meyer's (1990)
continuance commitment scale reported the same three items to load on the
subscale of low perceived alternatives. They also observed three items to represent
# Blackwell Publishers Ltd 1999
Table II. Goodness-of-®t of alternate factor model speci®cations of organizational commitment


Null 1,980.70 66 000 .548 .466 .252 ± ± ±

1 factor 1,053.40 54 000 .712 .585 .166 .478 .468 .350
3 factor 247.56 51 000 .924 .883 .079 .897 .875 .838
4 factor 222.28 49 000 .928 .886 .069 .907 .885 .845

Goodness of ®t index (GFI) is a measure of the relative amount of variance and covariance jointly accounted for
by the model; the adjusted goodness-of-®t (AGFI) represents the amount of variance and covariance accounted
for by the model adjusted for the degrees of freedom in the model; the root mean square residual (RMSR) is the
subtraction of hypothetical covariance matrix from the sample covariance matrix (JoÈreskog and SoÈrbom, 1993a);
the normed comparative ®t index (CFI) is the preferred index for small samples which is a population measure
of comparative model misspeci®cation (Bentler, 1990); the normed ®t index (NFI) compares the ®t of the model
to the null model when all items are constrained to be independent of each other (Bentler and Bonnett, 1980);
and the parsimonious ®t index (PFI) corrects the NFI by adjusting for the degrees of freedom for the model
(James et al., 1982).

Table III. Organizational commitment items and factor loadings for the four factor solution

Organizational Commitment Items Maximum likelihood

Estimates of factor loadings Item
1 2 3 4 reliability

ACS1. I do not feel like `part of the family' at the .487 .338
ACS2. The organization has a great deal of .834 .696
personal meaning for me
ACS3. I do not feel `emotionally attached' to the .634 .403
ACS4. I feel a strong sense of belonging to the .856 .732
NCS1. I think that people these days move from .420 .417
organization to organization too much
NCS2. Jumping from organization to organization .377 .377
does not seem at all unethical to mea
NCS3. One of the major reasons I continue to .781 .609
work for the organization is that I believe
that loyalty is important and therefore I
feel a sense of moral obligation to remain
NCS4. Things were better in the days when .453 .305
people stayed with one organization for
most of their careers
CCS1. Right now, staying with the organization is .656 .431
a matter of necessity as much as desire
CCS2. I feel that I have too few options to .911 .830
consider leaving the organization
CCS3. One of the few serious consequences of .807 .651
leaving the organization would be the
scarcity of available alternatives
CCS4. It would be very hard for me to leave the 1.00 1.00
organization right now, even if I wanted to

ACS = A€ective Commitment Scale; NCS = Normative Commitment Sale; CCS = Continuance Commitment
Scale. aReverse coded.

# Blackwell Publishers Ltd 1999


Table IV. Goodness-of-®t of alternate factor model speci®cations of continuance commitment and job


Null 1,811.75 21 000 .474 .298 .373 ± ± ±

1 factor 765.89 14 000 .665 .330 .224 .580 .577 .365
2 factor 87.81 13 000 .965 .904 .069 .958 .952 .922
3 factor 77.43 12 000 .959 .896 .058 .963 .957 .925

high personal sacri®ce, including our item of CCS4. The psychometric limitations
of operationalizing the subscale of high personal sacri®ce by the single item of
CCS4 should be a consideration in subsequent analyses.
Deriving from the dimensionality debate surrounding continuance commitment,
we also examined the construct validity of the component of low perceived alter-
natives with that of the antecedent measure of job opportunities. Job opportu-

Table V. LISREL correlations

Determinants 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

1. A€ective Commitment
2. Normative Commitment .40
3. Low Perceived Alternatives ±.20 ±.01
4. High Personal Sacri®ce .08 .19 .51
5. Turnover Intentions ±.60 ±.24 .03 ±.27
6. Absenteeism ±.27 ±.11 .06 ±.04 .16
7. Organizational Change .38 .15 ±.18 .04 ±.23 ±.10
8. Education ±.12 ±.17 ±.08 ±.05 .07 .03 ±.05
9. Tenure (Organization) .08 .15 .17 .06 ±.05 ±.02 .03 ±.15
10. Tenure (Location) ±.01 .13 .13 .06 .01 .00 ±.00 ±.15 .63
11. Kinship Responsibilities ±.09 ±.09 .15 .05 .05 .02 ±.03 ±.02 .09 ±.03
12. Job Expectations .01 .12 .03 .01 ±.00 ±.00 .00 ±.04 ±.04 .03 ±.06
13. Job Values .11 .07 .07 .11 ±.06 ±.03 .04 ±.03 ±.02 ±.05 .03
14. Positive A€ectivity .23 .08 ±.20 ±.09 ±.14 ±.06 .09 ±.03 ±.05 ±.02 ±.05
15. Negative A€ectivity ±.17 .01 .23 .18 .10 .05 ±.06 ±.06 ±.01 ±.03 ±.01
16 Work Motivation .39 .27 ±.08 .07 ±.23 ±.11 .15 ±.14 .15 .08 .07
17. Job Hazards ±.15 .15 .11 .00 .09 .04 ±.06 .02 .15 .20 .02
18. Autonomy .39 .15 ±.09 .01 ±.23 ±.11 .15 ±.14 .25 .05 .04
19. Coworker Support .40 .03 ±.21 ±.01 ±.24 ±.11 .15 .01 ±.10 ±.08 ±.09
20. Supervisory Support .36 .02 ±.17 ±.01 ±.22 ±.10 .14 .01 ±.02 ±.03 ±.05
21. Job Security .28 ±.07 ±.25 ±.06 ±.17 ±.08 .11 ±.03 ±.09 ±.15 ±.19
22. Routinization ±.57 ±.21 .15 ±.03 .34 .16 ±.22 .07 ±.13 .01 .10
23. Stress ±.22 .07 .13 .04 .13 .06 ±.08 .08 .03 .07 .05
24. Promotional Opportunities .48 .10 ±.18 .05 ±.29 ±.13 .18 ±.12 ±.08 ±.10 ±.07
25. Pay (log) .06 .01 .11 .12 ±.03 ±.02 .02 ±.01 .29 .10 .10
26. Distributive Justice .42 .13 ±.10 .05 ±.25 ±.11 .16 ±.10 .01 ±.03 ±.01
27. Management Receptiveness .44 .13 ±.22 ±.07 ±.26 ±.12 .17 .01 .04 ±.08 ±.03
28. Public Appreciation .31 .04 ±.17 .04 ±.19 ±.09 .12 ±.09 .08 .02 ±.02
29. I. R. Climate .33 .06 ±.15 .01 ±.20 ±.09 .13 ±.04 .08 .01 .00
30. Job Opportunities ±.30 ±.16 ±.27 ±.28 .18 .08 ±.12 .07 ±.04 ±.03 ±.01


# Blackwell Publishers Ltd 1999

nities focuses on both the perceived number and availability of job vacancies as
operationalized by the ease to which respondents can ®nd a job as good, better,
or much better than their current one (Price and Mueller, 1981, 1986). This
contrasts with low perceived alternatives, which emphasizes the costs associated
with leaving the organization given the loss of side bets. This was measured by
respondents assessing the costs, options and consequences of leaving with such
statements as `Right now, staying with the organization is a matter of necessity as
much as desire'. Given the conceptual ambiguity with continuance commitment,
i.e. low alternatives and high personal sacri®ce, we investigated four-factor struc-
tures: null, one factor, two factor ± continuance commitment and job opportu-
nities; and three-factor model: low alternatives, high personal sacri®ce, and job
opportunities, using con®rmatory factor analysis (JoÈreskog and SoÈrbom, 1993a).
The results are presented in table IV, and indicate that the three-factor model
was best ®tting of the data. The one-factor model was a signi®cant improvement
in regard to the null model (Dw2 (7) = 1045.86, p 5 .05), while the two-factor
model was a better ®t than the one-factor model (Dw2 (1) = 678.08, p 5 .05).

Table V. LISREL correlations (continued)

12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29

.18 .15
.04 .05 ±.26
±.01 .04 .03 ±.03
.11 .12 .01 .12 ±.04
±.05 .06 .14 ±.08 .19 ±.23
±.12 ±.14 .05 ±.22 .10 ±.17 .20
±.12 ±.09 .03 ±.20 .12 ±.19 .26 .66
±.13 ±.09 .08 ±.16 ±.02 ±.34 .14 .28 .27
.11 ±.01 ±.14 .13 ±.24 .17 ±.51 ±.33 ±.35 ±.25
.15 .17 ±.08 .29 ±.02 .52 ±.19 ±.35 ±.35 ±.28 .12
±.15 ±.10 .16 ±.15 .20 ±.31 .33 .38 .38 .36 ±.50 ±.34
.04 .04 ±.01 ±.01 .10 ±.15 .29 ±.05 .04 ±.01 ±.11 ±.04 .02
±.23 ±.11 .03 ±.17 .22 ±.35 .37 .43 .43 .27 ±.41 ±.43 .51 ±.01
±.20 ±.07 .10 ±.19 .22 ±.30 .36 .44 .45 .24 ±.33 ±.35 .46 .05 .50
±.08 ±.12 .16 ±.11 .27 ±.09 .07 .24 .29 .27 ±.25 ±.25 .33 .04 .23 .28
±.19 ±.08 .06 ±.12 .22 ±.29 .28 .31 .28 .29 ±.26 ±.35 .44 .03 .39 .48 .32
.08 .01 ±.03 .00 ±.08 .18 ±.20 ±.17 ±.21 ±.18 .29 .20 ±.28 ±.04 ±.31 ±.20 ±.15 ±.26

# Blackwell Publishers Ltd 1999


Finally, the three-factor model was signi®cantly better able to ®t the data than the
two-factor model (Dw2 (1) = 10.38, p 5 .05), with a CFI of .963.[4] The results
demonstrate that low alternatives, high personal sacri®ce, and job opportunities
are distinct factors.
The correlations (LISREL) among all measures are contained in table V.

Personal variables. Overall, our results showed that personal variables are important
predictors of the di€erent forms of commitment (see table VI).
Employees with greater education experience decreased normative commitment (b
= ±.11, p 5 .05), while those with investments such as greater tenure in the organi-
zation feel low perceived alternatives (b = .17, p 5 .01).
Kinship responsibilities had di€erential impacts on normative commitment (b =
±.10 p 5 .05) and low perceived alternatives (b = .08, p 5 .05). The relationship
with normative commitment re¯ects the work/family con¯ict that employees
experience (Cohen and Kirchmeyer, 1995; Wiley, 1987). Employees with
increased family obligations display lower moral obligations to remain in the
organization. That is, employees may resolve their con¯ict by choosing to satisfy
family needs over organizational needs. However, employees are also more likely
to stay in the organization when they perceive low alternative employment oppor-
tunities. The costs of leaving (e.g. income, status, superannuation) tie employees to
the organization. In this situation, employees rely on the organization as a means
of ful®lling important kinship obligations (Iverson, 1992).
Both job expectations (b = .07, p 5 .05) and job values (b = .10, p 5 .01) had
positive impacts on a€ective commitment, with the former also displaying a
positive relationship with normative commitment (b = .14, p 5 .01), and the latter
demonstrating a positive in¯uence on high personal sacri®ce (b = .13, p 5 .01).
Employees identify and feel a moral obligation to remain with the organization
when their expectations are met, while having their values realized makes the loss
of investments great if they were to leave.
The personality traits of positive and negative a€ectivity were found to di€erentially
predict a€ective commitment, low perceived alternatives, and high personal
sacri®ce. Positive a€ectivity had a positive relationship with a€ective commitment
(b = .09, p 5 .05), while having a negative relationship with low perceived alter-
natives (b = ±.11, p 5 .05). In addition, negative a€ectivity was found to have a
positive relationship with both low perceived alternatives (b = .12, p 5 .01) and
high personal sacri®ce (b = .14, p 5 .01). Although research is scant, there is
some evidence to suggest that employees who perceive work experiences in a
generally positive and enthusiastic manner are more likely to identify with the
organization (Meyer and Allen, 1997). High positive a€ective individuals also
perceive the costs associated with leaving the organization as minimal. In contrast,
employees who perceive events in a generally negative and aversive manner
remain in organizations because of the perceived futility of searching for employ-
ment alternatives and the potential loss of investments.
Work motivation displayed similar relationships as job expectations, where
employees who believe in work in general both want to (b = .23, p 5 .001) and
feel an obligation to remain (b = .20, p 5 .001). The intrinsic rewards associated
with ®re ®ghting may explain this result.
# Blackwell Publishers Ltd 1999
Job related variables. As shown in table VI, we found general support for the
reward±cost perspective (Farrell and Rusbult, 1981) in explaining the various
facets of commitment.
In relation to job hazards there is little research linking it to normative commit-
ment (b = .19, p 5 .01). In one of only a few studies, Iverson and Roy (1994)
using a sample of blue-collar workers from a pulp and paper manufacturing plant,
report job hazards to have a negative impact on behavioural commitment (similar
to continuance commitment). This result is not unexpected given the dangerous
nature of ®re ®ghters' work. The public interest aspect of their job (i.e. ®re ®ghters
are willing to put their lives on the line for the travelling public) increases their
moral obligation to remain in the organization.
Co-worker support had a positive e€ect on a€ective commitment (b = .16, p 5 .01)

Table VI. LISREL (standardized coecients) for a€ective, normative and the continuance
commitment subscales of low perceived alternatives and high personal sacri®ce

Variables AC NC CC:LoAlt CC:HiSac

Personal variables
Education ±.03 ±.11* ±.06 ±.00
Tenure (organization) .03 .03 .17** .01
Tenure (location) ±.02 .03 ±.03 .03
Kinship responsibilities ±.03 ±.10* .08* .02
Job expectations .07* .14** ±.01 ±.03
Job values .10** ±.02 .05 .13**
Positive a€ectivity .09* .04 ±.11* ±.06
Negative a€ectivity ±.02 ±.00 .12** .14**
Work motivation .23*** .20*** ±.07 .03

Job related variables

Job hazards .05 .19** .02 ±.02
Autonomy .03 .03 ±.08 ±.04
Co-worker support .16** ±.03 ±.02 .07
Supervisor support ±.03 ±.06 ±.03 ±.04
Job security .09* ±.05 ±.16*** ±.08
Routinization ±.28*** ±.14* .10 .06
Job stress ±.02 .03 ±.00 .03
Promotional opportunities .10* .01 .01 .09
Pay (log) ±.01 ±.02 .09* .12**
Distributive justice .04 .10 .04 .06
Management receptiveness .14** .15* ±.11* ±.13**
Public appreciation .03 ±.07 ±.07 .06

Environmental variables
IR climate ±.00 ±.02 ±.06 ±.03
Job opportunities ±.10** ±.15** ±.38*** ±.29***

R2 .54 .24 .32 .16

AC = a€ective commitment; NC = normative commitment; CC = continuance commitment; CC:LoAlt = low
perceived alternatives subscale; CC:HiSac = high personal sacri®ce subscale.
* p 5 0.05 (one-tailed) for standardized coecients; ** p 5 0.01 (one-tailed) for standardized coecients;
*** p 5 0.001 (one-tailed) for standardized coecients.

# Blackwell Publishers Ltd 1999


(Iverson et al., 1995; Mathieu and Zajac, 1990; Price and Mueller, 1986). To
function e€ectively, ®re ®ghters require a high degree of group cohesion (Fullerton
et al., 1992). Speed, co-ordination, and team work are essential components. For
example, the rapid response required to attend emergencies is three minutes for
aircrafts that have crash landed.
Job security was also an important determinant of a€ective commitment (b = .09,
p 5 .05) and low perceived alternatives (b = ±.16, p 5 .001) (Iverson, 1996;
Morris et al., 1993). When employees consider they have stable employment, they
are more likely to identify with the organization, but at the same time view the
costs of leaving as low (even when there are limited perceived alternatives). The
negative result with low perceived alternatives is surprising given the relative low
opportunities and the ®rm speci®c skills associated with ®re ®ghting. However, this
result may be peculiar to the sample as many ®re ®ghters have trade quali®cations
and work second jobs.
The ®nding that the more routinized jobs are, the less employees want to (b =
±.28, p 5 .001) and consider they ought to stay (b = ±.14, p 5 .05) in the organi-
zation is supported in the literature (Mathieu and Zajac, 1990). Unfortunately, the
majority of a ®re ®ghter's time is spent on repetitive tasks (e.g. training and rehear-
sing drills) in preparation for emergencies. This weakens their emotional and
moral attachment to the organization.
Similar to co-worker support, promotional opportunities had a positive e€ect on
a€ective commitment (b = .10, p 5 .05) (Iverson and Roy, 1994; Morris et al., 1993).
Pay was found to have a positive relationship with low perceived alternatives (b
= .09, p 5 .05) and high personal sacri®ce (b = .12, p 5 .01). That is, when pay
is high, employees tend to be tied to the organization. This is explained by the
sunk costs of employees.
Finally, in terms of management receptiveness, when employees perceive manage-
ment as responding to their needs, they want (b = .14, p 5 .01) and ought to (b =
.15, p 5 .05) remain, but at the same time display a lower need to (i.e. low
perceived alternatives, b = ±.11, p 5 .05; high personal sacri®ce, b = ±.13, p 5
.01) remain in the organization. These results can be explained by the exchange
relationships between the organization and employees, although the negative
e€ects with the two subcomponents of continuance commitment was counter to
expectations. The more responsive management is to the needs of employees
(perhaps as these are high performers), the less likely they will be tied to the
organization because of a lack of alternatives. However, employees also perceive
that they are not making personal sacri®ces by leaving the organization. The
personal sacri®ce result seems puzzling. It may be that employees evaluate the
sunk costs in their present organization with the bene®ts and opportunities that
other organizations can o€er (Dunham et al., 1994). This ®nding requires further
investigation in future research.

Environmental variables. Job opportunities was found to have a negative e€ect on all
forms of commitment (Allen and Meyer, 1990; Iverson, 1996; Mueller et al.,
1994; Price and Mueller, 1986) (see table VI). That is, increased job opportunities
in the labour market leads to decreased a€ective commitment (b = ±.10, p 5
.01), normative commitment (b = ±.15, p 5 .01), low perceived alternatives (b =
±.38, p 5 .001), and high personal sacri®ce (b = ±.29, p 5 .001) of employees.
# Blackwell Publishers Ltd 1999
Table VII. LISREL (standardized coecients) of organizational commitment and e€ectiveness

Variables Turnover Organizational

intentions Absenteeism change

A€ective commitment ±.60*** ±.27*** .39***

Normative commitment ±.28*** ±.14** .02
Low perceived alternatives .03 .06 ±.18***
High personal sacri®ce ±.27*** ±.04 .04

R2 .17 .10 .40

* p 5 0.05 (one-tailed) for standardized coecients; ** p 5 0.01 (one-tailed) for standardized coecients;
*** p 5 0.001 (one-tailed) for standardized coecients.

In such labour market conditions, employees re-evaluate their attachment to the

organization (Mowday et al., 1982). Job opportunities was generally found to be
the most important determinant of organizational commitment.

Examining the outcomes of the three types of commitment (see table VII), we ®nd
that they have di€erential relationships with turnover intentions (17 per cent
explained variance), absenteeism (10 per cent explained variance), and change (40
per cent explained variance). In relation to a€ective commitment, the results
indicate that employees are less likely to leave (b = ±.60, p 5 .001) and to be
absent (b = ±.27, p 5 .001), and more accepting of change (b = .39, p 5 .001)
when they identify with the organization (Iverson, 1996; Mathieu and Zajac,
1990; Somers, 1995). Interestingly, employees exhibiting normative commitment,
display a lower propensity to leave (b = ±.28, p 5 .001) and to be absent (b =
±.14, p 5 .01) from the organization (Hackett et al., 1994; Jaros et al., 1993;
Somers, 1995). Employees who perceive low alternatives are also less accepting of
change (b = ±.18, p 5 .001), while those who perceive a high level of personal
sacri®ce are less likely to quit (b = ±.27, p 5 .001) (Hackett et al., 1994; Somers,
1995). These di€erent consequences have important implications for the manage-
ment of commitment.
In summary, a€ective commitment had the largest explained variance of all
dimensions with 54 per cent, followed by low perceived alternatives with 32 per
cent, normative commitment with 24 per cent, and high personal sacri®ce with 16
per cent. In addition, a€ective commitment predicted all three outcome variables,
while normative commitment was related to both turnover intentions and absen-
teeism, low perceived alternatives to the acceptance of change and high personal
sacri®ce to turnover intentions. A discussion of the implications of the antecedents
and consequences for organizational commitment follows.


The objectives of this paper were threefold: ®rst, to analyse the dimensionality of
commitment; second, to explore the antecedents of each dimension of commit-
# Blackwell Publishers Ltd 1999

ment, and third, to investigate the e€ects of each dimension on three outcome
variables (turnover intentions, absenteeism and acceptance of change). Four
separate dimensions of commitment were extracted from the data using a nested
approach: a€ective, low perceived alternatives, high personal sacri®ce, and
normative commitment, each with di€erent antecedents and outcomes. Not all of
the forms of commitment (namely, low perceived alternatives) were necessarily
found to have bene®cial consequences for the organization in question. These
®ndings raise a number of interesting issues relating to the formulation of HR
policies and the diculties (and relevance) of managing commitment.
Meyer et al. (1989) have argued that the value of commitment to an organiza-
tion necessarily depends on the nature of that commitment. The results from our
study con®rm the observation that a€ective and normative commitment are
associated with positive organizational outcomes (lower turnover intentions and
absenteeism, as well as a higher acceptance of change for a€ective commitment)
while low perceived alternatives (a subset of continuance commitment) lead to
greater organizational in¯exibility (lower acceptance of change). That is, extra
e€ort was forthcoming from employees who experienced an alignment of goals
with the organization compared with those who remained because of an inability
to ®nd alternative employment.
These results raise two important questions: (1) Can commitment be managed?
(2) If so, how can an organization develop the `right kind' of commitment? There
is some debate in the literature as to whether commitment is, indeed, manageable
(Coopey and Hartley, 1991; Guest, 1992; Legge, 1995; Meyer and Allen, 1997).
Guest (1992), for example, argues that organizations that attempt to manipulate
commitment potentially face a number of problems. An underlying assumption of
e€orts to `manage commitment' is the passivity and receptiveness of employees.
This ignores the possibility that employees may not be prepared to demonstrate
commitment to the organization, especially where there are ideological barriers.
Similarly, a second issue that is often ignored is the potential for trade union resis-
tance to HR policies and strategies that may be perceived as undermining the
union (i.e. participation schemes). A third contingency is the application of HR
policies via line managers who may have their own misguided assumptions about
what motivates employees, as well as how to manage them. Finally, although there
is a large body of literature on the importance of organizational commitment, until
recently there has been little empirical evidence on `how to' obtain a committed
workforce. A notable exception is Arthur's (1994) study which reported that
organizations pursuing a commitment strategy tended to `bundle' (based on cluster
analysis) certain HR strategies (e.g. employee participation, general training,
wages, and bonuses or incentives). This process of bundling signi®cantly reduced
employee turnover.
Meyer and Allen (1997) contributing to the debate argue that the empirical
literature supports the position that it is possible to manage commitment because
it `is indeed related to their [employees'] perception of HRM practices' (p. 69).
Nevertheless, managing the `right commitment' is dicult terrain as employees are
said to experience all components of commitment, in varying degrees, simulta-
neously (Meyer and Allen, 1991). Management of commitment then, requires
some knowledge of the e€ect of di€erent HR policies on its various dimensions. A
cursory glance over the results of our study reveals that, aside from job opportu-
# Blackwell Publishers Ltd 1999
nities (which are beyond management control), all other antecedents of a€ective
commitment either have no e€ect or a negative impact on low job alternatives.
Personal and job related factors can be managed to minimize perceived low alter-
natives and maximize a€ective commitment, without too much con¯ict.
Although it is beyond the scope of this paper to formulate speci®c HR policies, a
number of signi®cant factors in our study highlighted the importance of estab-
lishing a selection process that maintains a good organization±person ®t. First, our
®nding that high job values and expectations are positively associated with
a€ective commitment and personal sacri®ce suggest that organizations need to
provide accurate information about prospective jobs to applicants and new
employees so that they may develop realistic expectations and matched values
(Mowday et al., 1982). Second, the signi®cance of the personality traits, positive
and negative a€ectivity, raises the contentious prospect of selection based on
a€ective types. It is important to note, however, that the use of personality tests is
extremely problematic and has been criticized for a number of methodological
and theoretical problems (Hom and Gri€eth, 1995; Iverson and Erwin, 1997).
Our ®ndings raised interesting policy issues related to the job itself. In terms of
rewards and bene®ts, our study showed that merely introducing higher wages will
increase an individual's perception of low alternatives but has no e€ect on
improving the alignment of employee goals with the organization. While organiza-
tions obviously need to ensure that they have competitive compensation practices,
employers cannot merely buy the a€ective commitment of their employees. We
found that other rewards such as co-worker support, job variety, and promotional
opportunities are more important in terms of engaging employee loyalty than
wages. These rewards all proved unproblematic in terms of policy choice: each
were related to a€ective commitment without any secondary e€ects on other less
desirable forms of commitment.
Although management (in the current study and in other organizations) cannot
control speci®c personal and environmental factors, they are able to introduce
policies that minimize these e€ects. Kinship responsibilities was an important
personal variable that had a signi®cant e€ect on both normative (negative) and
low perceived alternatives (positive). There is a growing awareness by organiza-
tions regarding the bene®ts of providing more family-friendly policies (Abbott et
al., 1998; Grover and Crooker, 1995). These HR policies include ensuring
¯exibility and discretion in the management of non-work demands (Erwin and
Iverson, 1994), onsite child care facilities, and providing referrals to professional
services (i.e. employee assistance programmes). Interestingly, our results support
the continuance ®ndings of Cohen and Kirchmeyer (1995), and point to the need
for additional research on the relationship between normative commitment and
nonwork experiences.
The environmental variable of job opportunities was generally found to be the
most important determinant of all components of organizational commitment.
Moreover, in our con®rmatory factor analysis we observed it to be conceptually
and empirically distinct from the continuance commitment dimension of low
perceived alternatives. Mowday et al. (1982) argue that in times of high unemploy-
ment, the restricted availability of alternative jobs will in¯uence employee commit-
ment and behaviour. Although management has little in¯uence over the labour
market, it can ease the e€ects somewhat by providing timely feedback to
# Blackwell Publishers Ltd 1999

employees regarding such policies as HR planning and by ensuring organizations

are competitive in terms of compensation and advancement opportunities.
Finally, the argument that normative commitment is a discrete construct was
validated in this study. Future research should test this construct in other contexts,
as well as explore the question of di€erences between a€ective and normative
commitment. While we found some congruence between the antecedents of
a€ective and normative commitment (®ve of the ten determinants that predicted
a€ective commitment were found also to predict normative commitment), the
more salient explanatory variables were personal rather than job related. Does this
mean that the propensity to be normatively committed to an organization is deter-
mined by characteristics that employees bring to an organization (and therefore
beyond managerial intervention) or is it the nature of the work that matters?
Given that some researchers in the literature have argued that normative commit-
ment is a necessary precursor for organizational citizenship behaviour (Popper and
Lipshitz, 1992), greater understanding of the determinants of this construct would
be useful.

Limitations and Future Research

Although our ®ndings raise important considerations in the management of
commitment, there are a number of limitations that should be noted. First, the
generalizability of our results may be limited because our research was conducted
in a single site of an Australian public authority. Some of the ®ndings will be
peculiar to the sample of ®re ®ghters, although we argue that, for the most part,
they should be relevant to other similar occupations and professions. A second
limitation of the study is that it has been conducted at only one point in time.
Future research should employ longitudinal designs with objective performance
and e€ectiveness outcomes in order to establish causality and address the problem
of common method variance. Longitudinal design would also allow for tests of
reciprocal relationships between dimensions such as a€ective commitment and low
perceived alternatives. Recent studies have argued that employees who perceive
their side-bets to be permanent may display greater psychological attachment to
the organization (e.g. Dunham et al., 1994). Third, although we employed
rigorous tests for validity, we were somewhat psychometrically constrained in our
analysis because of the use of shortened scales (particularly for the continuance
commitment scale of high personal sacri®ce). Future research should replicate
Allen and Meyer's (1990) full continuance scale across other work settings to
establish the construct (i.e. convergent and discriminant) validity of low perceived
alternatives and high personal sacri®ce which have been found to range between r
= .53 to .64 in current research (e.g. Dunham et al., 1994; Hackett et al., 1994).


In spite of the limitations, this study raises some important issues with respect to
the construct dimensions and management of commitment. Conversely to Randall
(1990), who has invoked doubts regarding the ability of organizational commit-
ment to predict organizational outcomes, our results demonstrate that all four
types of commitment di€erentially predicted the three e€ectiveness outcomes of
# Blackwell Publishers Ltd 1999
intent to leave, absenteeism and change. Di€erent antecedents and consequences
for the four factors suggest that organizations need to focus more on obtaining
a€ective and normative commitment, rather than other components based on
cost. Further, our study shows that managing the forms of commitment do not
pose any inconsistencies in policy formation. Future research needs to be
conducted to test the generalizability of these results and explore further the
question of managing commitment in its various components.


*The authors would like to thank Stephen Deery, Catherine Maguire and three
anonymous JMS reviewers for their helpful comments on earlier versions of this paper.
[1] Meyer et al. (1993) revised the original normative commitment scale of Allen and
Meyer (1990) in response to the ®ndings that normative commitment tended to be
highly correlated, and displayed similar patterns in antecedents and outcomes with
a€ective commitment. However, the revised scale did not correct these problems
(Meyer et al., 1993). Given the large body of research using the original normative
commitment scale we employ this in the present study (see Allen and Meyer, 1996;
Meyer and Allen, 1997, for a review).
[2] Although the scales of normative commitment, positive a€ectivity, job hazards and
autonomy had alphas lower than .70, they were included in the analysis. First,
Cortina (1993) notes that some caution should be used when interpreting alpha,
where the number of items in a scale must be kept in mind. Consequently, we
examined the inter-item and item-total correlations for these four variables based on
Cortina (1993). These correlations were found to be higher than .30 for all scales.
The results arm that normative commitment, positive a€ectivity, job hazards and
autonomy display acceptable reliability. Second, as the convergent and discriminant
validity of the measurement model were supported, the issue of low reliability
appears not to pose a problem in this analysis.
[3] We also observed a root-mean-square error of approximation (RMSEA) of .046,
indicating a close ®t of the model (Browne and Cudeck, 1993).
[4] The RMSEA was found to equal .034, demonstrating acceptable ®t (Browne and
Cudeck, 1993).


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