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Commitment in Organizations: A Normative View

Author(s): Yoash Wiener

Source: The Academy of Management Review, Vol. 7, No. 3 (Jul., 1982), pp. 418-428
Published by: Academy of Management
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?Academy of Management Review 1982, Vol. 7, No. 3, 418-428

Commitment in Organizations:
A Normative View
Cleveland State University

A model of work attitudes, distinguishing between normative and in-

strumental processes as behavioral determinants, serves as the framework
within which commitment is conceptualized. Commitment is defined as
the totality of internalized normative pressures to act in a way that meets
organizational interests. Organizational identification and generalized
values of loyalty and duty are viewed as its immediate determinants. Thus
commitment can be influenced by both personal predispositions and
organizational interventions. The role of recruitment, selection, and
socialization in affecting members' commitment is discussed.

A model of commitment in work organizations, extension and reconceptualization of this approach.

like all useful theoretical models, should meet at
least three important criteria: definitional precision, The Identification Approach
theoretical integration with other relevant con-
structs, and predictive power. Existing models of The identification approach postulates commit-
commitment do not seem to satisfy these require- ment to be an attitudinal intervening construct,
ments. The need for a more coherent, comprehen- mediating between certain antecedents and out-
sive, and systematic conceptualization often has comes, and views this attitudinal process as primari-
been expressed (Salancik, 1977; Steers, 1977; Stev- ly affective, rather than cognitive-calculative.
ens, Beyer, and Trice, 1978). Buchanan's definition is typical: "Commitment is
This paper presents a model of individual com- viewed as a partisan, affective attachment to the
mitment in organizations that attempts to meet the goals and values of an organization, to one's role in
above criteria. Commitment is viewed as a norma- relation to goals and values, and to the organization
tive motivational process clearly distinctive from in- for its own sake, apart from its purely intrumental
strumental-utilitarian approaches to the explana- worth" (1974, p. 533). This process of accepting
tion of work behavior. To date, most explanations organizational goals and values and integrating
of work behavior have focused on behavior-out- them into a system of personal goals and values is
come contingencies models, such as expectancy and viewed by all researchers as "organizational iden-
reinforcement theories. A basic premise of this tification." Some writers equate identification with
model, however, is that a fuller explanation of indi- organizational commitment (Hall & Schneider,
vidual behavior in organizations requires a consid- 1972; Hall, Schneider, & Nygren, 1970; Kidron,
eration of internalized normative pressures, such as 1978; Lee, 1971). Others (Dubin, Champoux, &
personal moral standards, as well. Such pressures, Porter, 1975; Porter, Steers, Mowday, & Boulian,
once established, may have long term effects on 1974; Steers, 1977) include, in addition to iden-
behavior, independent of rewards or punishments. tification, other components in their conception of
The identification approach to the definition of commitment. However, theoretical justification for
commitment continues to be the most prevalent in such components often has been lacking.
guiding commitment research. The model of com- Research guided by the identification approach
mitment proposed in this paper is consistent with attempted, for the most part, to ascertain anteced-
the identification approach and can be viewed as an ents and outcomes of commitment. Essentially


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three classes of variables seem to emerge as standing of commitment as a unique and psycho-
antecedents of commitment. The first category in- logically meaningful phenomenon. The lack of a
cludes pesonality-need variables and value orienta- strong theoretical foundation probably is the major
tions (Brown, 1969; Dubin et al., 1975; Hall et al., reason for this state of affairs. Perhaps the most
1970; Kidron, 1978; Patchen, 1970; Steers, 1977). important conceptual deficiency has been the fail-
Such findings led Hall et al. to conclude "that some ure to specify theoretical relationships and links of
'right type' of person would be most likely to iden- commitment to other work attitudes and motiva-
tify strongly with a particular organization; the tional processes such as job satisfaction and moti-
specific component characteristic...would depend vation. The suggested model responds to such theo-
upon the particular goals and climate of the em- retical needs by offering a comprehensive attitu-
ploying organization" (1970, p. 187). Thus, an im- dinal-motivational system within which commit-
portant determinant of commitment seems to be ment is defined. The emerging concept of commit-
person-organization fit. ment remains consistent with the identification
The second category of antecedents includes job view, although it is broader in scope.
characteristics and work experiences such as job
challenge, feedback, opportunity for social interac- A Normative-Instrumental Framework
tion, task identity, group attitudes, and organiza-
tional dependability (Buchanan, 1974; Hall & As an intervening process, mediating between
Schneider, 1972; Lee, 1971; Porter & Steers, 1973; certain antecedents and behavioral outcomes, com-
Steers, 1977). A common theme linking many of mitment can be viewed as a motivational phenome-
these variables is their traditional role as non. Furthermore, the central element in most defi-
antecedents and correlates of other affective- nitions of commitment-the acceptance of organi-
motivational responses, such as job satisfaction zational expectations and values as guides to an in-
(Stone & Porter, 1975). It is possible, then, that job dividual's behavior, i.e., identification-represents
satisfaction serves as an intervening variable in the a form of normative control over a person's ac-
job characteristics-commitment relationship. Some tions. Thus, it seems useful to conceptualize com-
support for this possibility was found by Hall and mitment within a motivational framework that dis-
Schneider (1972). tinguishes between normative and instrumental pro-
A third category of antecedents of commitment cesses as determinants of human behavior. An im-
includes personal-demographic variables, par- portant model that can be adapted to provide such a
ticularly age and tenure (Hall et al., 1970; Lee, framework is Fishbein's behavioral intentions mod-
1971). Presumably the positive relationships of el (Fishbein, 1967; Fishbein & Ajzen, 1975).
these variables with commitment reflect processes
of growth and personal change involved in the Fishbein's Model
development of identification (Buchanan, 1974; The model deals primarily with the prediction
Hall et al., 1970). and understanding of behavioral intentions. Ac-
Research concerning outcomes of commitment cording to the model, an individual's behavior is a
indicates that the behavioral outcomes showing the function of the intention to perform that behavior.
strongest relationships with commitment have been His behavioral intention, in turn, is determined by
turnover and intention to stay in the organization two basic factors: (a) his attitude toward perform-
(Hom, Katerberg, & Hulin, 1979; Mowday, Steers, ing the act, that is, his evaluation or affect with
& Porter, 1979; Porter et al., 1974; Steers, 1977; respect to the act, and (b) his subjective norm, or
Wiener & Vardi, 1980). The relationship between his perception of the totality of the normative pres-
performance and commitment was found to be mix- sures concerning the behavior.
ed and modest (Mowday, Porter, & Dubin, 1974; The first component, or the person's attitude
Steers, 1977; Wiener & Vardi, 1980). toward performing a particular act, is a function of
Although some general trends could be discerned his beliefs concerning the consequences of the act
from the accumulation of research studies, the and their value to him. These can be referred to as
research effort as a whole has been too fragmented instrumental-cognitive beliefs. The second compo-
and unsystematic to provide a satisfactory under- nent, the subjective norm, is a function of a


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person's beliefs about what important referents and their underlying attributes (e.g., extent of per-
think he should do, weighted by his motivation to sonal sacrifice involved in the behavior).
comply with the referents. Referents may include
relevant others, a reference group, or the society at Cognitive-Instrumental Motivation
large. Such beliefs may be termed social-normative The attitudinal component in Fishbein's model is
beliefs. referred to as instrumental motivation (Figure 1). It
The Fishbein model as a whole, then, can be for- is evident that this component reflects processes
malized as a multiple regression equation in which similar to those involved in work motivation as rep-
there are two predictors, "attitude" and "subjec- resented by the expectancy/valence models (Lawler,
tive norm," and a criterion, the "behavioral inten- 1973; Vroom, 1964). The utilitarian, calculative,
tion" under consideration. The two components and self-oriented character of the attitudinal pro-
are given empirical weights in a prediction equation cess underlying the approach is apparent. Quite
proportional to their relative importance in the properly it has been referred to as "a sort of hedo-
determination of behavioral intentions. nism of the future" (Steers & Porter, 1979, p. 13).

The Overall Conceptual System Organizational Commitment

Figure 1 represents the attitudinal-motivational Definition. The second component in Fishbein's
system within which commitment is defined, as model, the subjective norm, can serve as the frame-
adapted from the Fishbein model. The core of the work for the definition of commitment. Several
relationships can be summarized as follows: inter- researchers (Fishbein, 1967; Jaccard & Davidson,
nalized normative beliefs and instrumental beliefs 1975; Pomazel & Jaccard, 1976; Schwartz & Tess-
concerning organization-related behaviors lead to ler, 1972) have suggested that the subjective norm is
organizational commitment and instrumental moti- determined not only by social normative beliefs
vation, respectively. Instrumental motivation and (i.e., a person's beliefs of how others expect him to
commitment, in turn, simultaneously determine or- act) but also by personal normative beliefs, that is,
ganization-related intentions and behaviors. The personal moral standards with respect to a given
analysis of behavioral outcomes is conducted in behavior. Personal moral standards concerning a
terms of both their specific type (e.g., attendance) particular mode of conduct are established when a
Figure 1
A Model Representing Relationships Between Organizationally-Related Behaviors,
Beliefs Concerning These Behaviors, and Commitment and Instrumental Motivation


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person internalizes expectations of others concern- calculative processes as commitment, especially
ing this behavior. When behavioral acts are guided when the construct of cognitive-instrumental moti-
by such internalized normative pressures, they are vation has been available all along for just such a
no longer dependent on their linkage with the rein- purpose.
forcements and punishments on which they were in- Behavioral Attributes. Consistent with the Fish-
itially based. For a detailed discussion of inter- bein model, commitment and instrumental motiva-
nalization, see, for example, Jones and Gerard tion may result in exactly the same types of specific
(1967). It is this aspect of the subjective norm that organization-related behaviors (e.g., effort, attach-
defines organizational commitment. ment, attendance). They differ, however, in the
Organizational commitment is viewed as the to- characteristics of a whole sequence or pattern of
tality of internalized normative pressures to act in a such behaviors. The defining elements of commit-
way that meets organizational goals and interests. ment-internalized normative pressures to meet the
The stronger the commitment, the stronger is the wishes and interests of the organization-imply that
person's predisposition to be guided in his actions a behavioral pattern resulting from commitment
by such internalized standards rather than by a con- must possess in varying degrees, depending on the
sideration of the consequences of these actions. strength of commitment, the following characteris-
Thus, committed individuals may exhibit certain tics: (1) It should reflect personal sacrifice made for
behaviors not because they have figured that doing the sake of the organization; (2) It should show per-
so is to their personal benefit, but because they sistence-that is, the behaviors should not depend
believe that it is the "right" and moral thing to do. primarily on environmental controls such as rein-
The above definition focuses specifically on inter- forcements or punishments; and (3) It should indi-
nalized normative pressures because such a defini- cate a personal preoccupation with the organiza-
tional focus helps to establish organizational com- tion, such as devoting a great deal of personal time
mitment as a distinct and unique construct. Social to organization-related actions and thoughts
normative pressures that have not become inter- (Wiener & Gechman, 1977).
nalized may be more readily subjected to the argu- A behavioral sequence may or may not possess all
ment that they control and maintain behavior or any of the above attributes. Furthermore, the
through linkages with rewards and punishments. achievement of a given level of performance effec-
Thus, they are seen by some as a special case of tiveness does not require such attributes. However,
cognitive-instrumental motivation. For a discussion when the attributes of sacrifice, persistence, and
of this issue, see Fishbein and Ajzen (1975). In con- preoccupation do characterize a behavioral se-
trast, the thrust of the model presented here is a quence, i.e., when commitment exists, the emitted
concept of commitment that is clearly distinct from behavior becomes stable, long term, and indepen-
instrumental-utilitarian processes. dent of environmental contingencies. The dashed
The distinction between instrumental-utilitarian line in Figure 1 represents such a relationship.
and normative processes is not entirely new in the The above attributes also enable inferences con-
commitment literature. Several researchers (Alutto, cerning the existence of commitment from behav-
Hrebiniak, & Alonso, 1973; Hrebiniak & Alutto, ioral sequences. Thus, when a person persists in
1972) explicitly espoused a utilitarian-calculative staying with an organization in spite of the avail-
concept (and measure) of commitment based on ability of better opportunities for himself and his
Homan's (1958) exchange notion and Becker's family elsewhere, commitment may be inferred.
(1960) "side-bets" formulation. Kidron (1978) and Merely having a long tenure in the organization is
Wiener and Vardi (1980) compared "calculative not sufficient to indicate commitment.
commitment" with "moral" and "normative" Advantages and Costs of Commitment. The ex-
commitment, respectively, as correlates of attitu- tent to which the impact of commitment, from the
dinal and behavioral work outcomes. Although organization's point of view, is likely to be positive
these formulations made clear distinctions between or negative depends primarily on the nature of the
calculative and normative processes, they still con- goals and expectations of the organization. When
sidered both processes as commitment types. How- goals are "improper," a high commitment level of
ever, it is not theoretically parsimonious to regard members may hasten the disintegration of the orga-

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nization. Members may exert a great deal of effort specific behavioral intentions. A more accurate pre-
and make personal sacrifices for the wrong reasons diction of specific behaviors can come from at-
and persist in doing so. On the other hand, when titudes and normative pressures concerning such
organizational goals are "proper," a high commit- behaviors. Therefore, instrumental motivation and
ment level is likely to result in effective behaviors, commitment are expected to be better predictors of
coupled with stable relationships of members with behaviors than is job satisfaction.
their organization, and the possibility of unob- This view of job satisfaction is fully consistent
trusive and inexpensive organizational control of with traditional definitions and measurements of
members' behavior. the construct (Smith, Kendall, & Hulin, 1969). In
Measurement. Commitment can be indicated by addition, it is supported by research findings that
a direct measurement of personal normative beliefs consistently show low relationship between job sat-
concerning a mode of conduct reflecting organiza- isfaction and various work behaviors. See the re-
tional interests. This can be operationalized by a views by Porter and Steers (1973) and Vroom
basic item format emphasizing a moralistic disposi- (1964), for example.
tion: "I have a moral obligation to perform the
behavior." See Hom et al. (1979) and Schwartz and
Tessler (1972).
Antecedents of
Organizational Commitment
Job Satisfaction
In the proposed conceptual system, commitment The processes and events that may lead to com-
constitutes a form of a subjective norm, and in- mitment in organizations are summarized in Figure
strumental motivation is viewed as an attitude 2. The immediate determinants of commitment are
toward an act. Job satisfaction also is an attitude. two types of internalized normative beliefs held by
However, it is an attitude toward an object, i.e., a members: (1) generalized loyalty and duty, and
work-related condition, facet, or aspect. The dis- (2) organizational identification. Identification can
tinction between attitude concerning an object and be affected by practices of selection and organiza-
attitude concerning an act has important implica- tional socialization. Loyalty and duty, however,
tions for the prediction of behavior. According to may be affected only by selection processes. Thus,
Fishbein and Ajzen (1975), an attitude toward an commitment is influenced by both personal predis-
object does not enable an accurate prediction of positions and organizational interventions.

Figure 2
A Flow Diagram of Processes and Events Leading to Commitment
i-// .
{I/ -.......
-rl ---I
I I ! Internalized I
l l UII / l u
Normative Beliefs I I Normative Beliefs I
I I of Members I
of Applicants I


Primary and


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Immediate Determinants cess-normative pressures to engage in a conduct
Commitment was shown to be a function of in- contrary to organizational interests-it is not view-
ternalized normative beliefs (Figure 1). These, in ed here as merely the other end of a commitment
turn, may be seen as comprised of two distinct types continuum. Therefore, a detailed discussion of this
of beliefs. First is the belief by an individual that he concept is beyond the scope of this paper.)
has a moral obligation to engage in a mode of con- Three qualitatively different types of commit-
duct reflecting loyalty and duty in all social situa- ment can be identified. When commitment is based
tions in which he has a significant personal involve- primarily on generalized loyalty and duty, it can be
ment. Such a person tends to believe that it is viewed as "blind loyalty." When value congruency
"right" to be loyal, for example, to his family, plays a major role in determining commitment, it
country, friends, and quite likely to his work orga- can be termed "moral obligation." The actual con-
nization as well. This type of normative pressure is tent of the two commitment types and the desirabil-
termed generalized values of loyalty and duty. The ity of resultant behaviors are dependent entirely on
second type of normative beliefs includes any inter- the specific expectations and value systems of the
nalized beliefs by a person that are consistent with referent. However, moral obligation implies that
organizational mission, goals, policies, and style of commitments can be broken as personal convictions
operations. As has been seen, such individual- change. Therefore, it is perceived as permitting
organization value congruency reflects the process more individual choice and initiative than does
of "organizational identification" (Hall et al., "blind loyalty." A "balanced" commitment type is
1970). In effect, generalized loyalty and duty and obtained when each of the two dimensions con-
identification can be viewed as two immediate tributes significantly to ultimate commitment.
determinants of organizational commitment. Figure 3 shows the combined effects of the two
dimensions on the type and strength (high, medium,
Strengths and Types no commitment) of the resultant commitment as
The two immediate determinants are largely, but well as the likelihood of "alienation." Because
not entirely, independent. As long as the dimension value congruency also may be affected by interven-
of value congruency is not negative, the two dimen- tions such as organizational socialization, commit-
sions should combine additively to determine the ment strength is presented for conditions of
strength of commitment. However, when the di- "socialization" and "no socialization" separately.
mension of value congruency is negative, regardless No existing research is available to help evaluate
of the level of generalized loyalty and duty, the in- the above propositions concerning the strength and
dividual may experience "alienation." (Although type of ultimate commitment. Future research
alienation can be defined as a normative pro- should address itself to these questions. Past find-
Figure 3
Strength and Type of Commitment (and the Likelihood of Alienation) as
Determined by Generalized Loyalty and Duty and by Value Congruencya
Generalized Loyalty and Duty

High Low
A) B)
Values Strength: High Strength: Medium
Congruent Type: Balanced Type: "Moral Obligation"
(No Change) (No Change)

Organization- C) D)
Individual Values Strength: Medium Strength: No Commitnient
Value Irrelevant Type: "Blind Loyalty"
Congruency (High) (Medium)

Values E) F)
Alienation Alienation

Strength of commitment if socialization occurs is shown in parentheses.


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ings, however, do shed light on the antecedents of organizations (Etzioni, 1961). Utilitarian organiza-
one of the immediate determinants of normative tions, on the other hand, do not tend to value such
commitment-organizational identification. These practices highly.
findings were summarized in the overview section The commitment predisposition typology pre-
above. Surprisingly, the other immediate determi- sented in Figure 3 provides some guidelines for
nant-values of loyalty and sense of duty-has not commitment-oriented recruitment and selection
received much attention. Abegglen (1958) demon- strategies. First, type E and F individuals should
strated the importance of culture in determining not be selected or recruited. Second, if the organiza-
loyalty among Japanese workers. Among American tion does not plan to carry out a significant sociali-
employees loyalty was found to relate positively to zation program subsequent to selection, only type A
age (Bureau of National Affairs, 1971). Such find- and B individuals should be recruited and selected.
ings are consistent with the view that cultural forces Finally, type C and especially type D individuals
and primary socialization patterns are the basic should be recruited only if socialization is planned.
determinants of all values. Within each culture, fac-
tors such as sex, age, social class, and race are im- Organizational Socialization
portant (Rokeach, 1973). One of the two basic determinants of com-
mitment-generalized values of loyalty and
A Personal Predisposition
duty-cannot be significantly modified by organi-
Little attention has been paid in previous theori- zational interventions. The second determinant,
zation and research to personal predisposition as a however, individual-organization value congruen-
factor in organizational commitment. The nor- cy, can be affected by organizational practices, par-
mative approach however, due to its focus on per- ticularly "expressive" organizational socialization.
sonal normative beliefs as basic determinants of Such socialization (Etzioni, 1961) refers to the pro-
commitment, explicitly recognizes that some people cess by which the values, norms, and beliefs of
are more likely to develop commitment toward a members are brought into line with those of the or-
particular organization than are other people. This ganization.
commitment predisposition, or "proneness," is Not all potential members of a given organization
determined by the particular configuration of the are likely to benefit equally from socialization. This
two dimensions-generalized loyalty and duty, and is indicated by the commitment predispositions
value congruency-prior to entry into the organiza- typology presented in Figure 3. Some individuals,
tion. The above analysis of strength and types of such as those in cells E and F, are not likely to
commitment suggests a typology of individuals in develop commitment under any conditions. For
terms of their commitment predispositions. Figure them, socialization is not a good solution. The
3 represents six such predispositions types. A con- socialization task would include not only the in-
sideration of such types may result in a more effec- stallation of new beliefs, but also the eradication of
tive recruitment, selection, and socialization prac- old deeply-rooted ones. This might be very difficult
tices. to accomplish in voluntary, noncoercive organiza-
tions. Other individuals, such as in cells A and B,
Recruitment and Selection do not need to go through a socialization process to
Because a particular type of person is more likely build commitment. Their values and beliefs are al-
than others to develop commitment toward an or- ready highly congruent with those of the organiza-
ganization, policies and practices of recruitment tion. Socialization processes, however, are neces-
and selection may have an impact on the ultimate sary to enhance the strength or quality of commit-
level of members' commitment. Commitment-ori- ment for individuals in cells C and D.
ented recruitment relies strongly on expressive com- The above definition of organizational socializa-
munications and appeals to values and beliefs. tion is consistent with the general definition of
Similarly, commitment-oriented selection focuses primary socialization as "the internalization by in-
on assessment of values and beliefs, and on the dividuals of values, beliefs and ways of perceiving
degree of their congruency with organizational the world that are shared by a group" (Jones &
values. Such an orientation is typical to normative Gerard, 1967, p. 718). Most researchers would

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agree that internalization depends on standard pro- process as affecting behavioral outcomes such as
cesses such as classical conditioning and instrumen- turnover, but most researchers-for example, Dore
tal learning (Jones & Gerard, 1967). Thus, the (1973) and Vogel (1963)-do view the "shared obli-
establishment of members' commitment in organi- gation" commitment model as a most important
zations cannot be viewed as independent of instru- factor in the very low rate of turnover in Japan (as
mental processes. Accordingly, at least two condi- compared to the United States).
tions should exist if socialization efforts are to be
effective in increasing commitment in organiza- Commitment and Instrumental Motivation
tions. First, at least in the initial stages of member-
ship in the organization, cognitive-instrumental and Because, in the conceptual system presented here,
affective evaluations of members should be posi- behavior is a function of both commitment and
tive. That is, the organization must carry out effec- instrumental-motivation, improved predictions of
tive instrumental-motivational programs and create work behaviors may result when the relative con-
conditions conducive to job satisfaction. A sociali- tribution of each component is known. Fishbein
zation process is not likely to result in success if and Ajzen (1975) dealt with a similar issue in their
organizationally relevant feelings and beliefs are model of behavioral intentions. The two com-
negative. In the long run, when the socialization ponents can be given empirical weights in a predic-
process is completed, the resultant commitment tion equation, proportional to their relative impor-
would make it possible for members to exhibit orga- tance in the determination of behavioral intentions
nizationally desired behaviors under adverse condi- and actions. The weights are affected by three types
tions or without the controlling effects of rewards of factors: (1) the attributes of the situation under
and punishments. which the behavior is to be performed, (2) the at-
A second, related condition that can enhance suc- tributes of the individuals performing the behavior,
cess of organizational socialization requires that and (3) the attributes of the behavior to be emitted.
utilitarian organizations consider the adoption of Four propositions reflect processes related to these
loyalty and duty into their own organizational value attributes:
system. This suggestion cannot be construed as a Proposition 1: The more the organization tends
prescription for action. Acceptance of new values, to apply symbolic and normative control on in-
especially ones that go against the dominant dividual behavior (i.e., a normative organization),
cultural grain, is not a matter of formal manage- the greater becomes the importance of commitment
ment decision or a policy statement. Nevertheless, in determining behavior. The more the organization
utilitarian organizations should recognize that they tends to apply material control (i.e., a utilitarian
cannot expect loyalty and duty from their members organization), the greater the importance of in-
when their own actions are not at all guided by these strumental motivation (Etzioni, 1961).
values. Some support for Proposition 1 comes from a
The Japanese experience can serve as a model of study by Wiener and Vardi (1980). Although they
employer-employee relationships based on loyalty did not compare commitment with motivation in
and duty. It includes a strong reciprocal set of the same design, they did find that commitment had
obligations between the organization and the em- predicted various work behaviors better in a sample
ployee. The company will not discharge the em- of staff professionals that in a sample of insurance
ployee, and the employee will not leave the com- salespersons. The former group was assumed to be
pany for employment elsewhere. Abegglen long ago characterized by a high level of normative control.
articulated these relationships in terms of normative The latter group was characterized primarily by
commitment: "The worker, whether laborer or utilitarian control. bound, despite potential advantage, to Proposition 2: The greater external-environmen-
remain in the company's employ [and] a system of tal threats are to the organization and its members,
shared obligations takes the place of the economic the greater becomes the importance of commit-
basis of employment of workers by the organiza- ment. The lesser such threats are, the greater is the
tion" (1958, p. 17). Some investigators-for exam- influence of instrumental motivation. In stress
ple, Marsh and Mannari (1977)-do not see this situations, dependency of individuals on others in-


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creases, as in Schachter's (1959) study. Therefore, model from the traditional identifcation view. First,
normative pressures become more salient. commitment has been presented as a unique con-
Proposition 3: The higher an individual's level of struct within a comprehensive motivational-atti-
generalized loyalty and duty, the more weight is tudinal system, clearly distinct from processes such
given to commitment in determining behavior. The as instrumental motivation and job satisfaction.
lower an individual's level of loyalty and duty, the Second, the concept of commitment itself has been
more weight is given to instrumental motivation. broadened to include, in addition to identification,
Proposition 4: The more specialized the behav- a second immediate determinant-possession of gen-
ioral act is, the greater will be the weight of instru- eralized values of loyalty and duty. This conceptual
mental motivation. The less specialized the act extension underscores the position that commit-
(e.g., attachment to an organization, effort ex- ment is viewed as a function of both situational-or-
erted), the greater the importance of commitment ganizational factors and personal dispositions.
(personal moral standards tend to guide general Finally, the model allows prediction of behavioral
modes of conduct rather than specific task-oriented outcomes from a simultaneous consideration of
acts). both instrumental and normative processes. The in-
This proposition is consistent with the line of clusion of the normative component should im-
research showing that the behavioral outcomes prove predictability of behavior.
most strongly associated with commitment are turn- In general, the suggested model attempts to
over and intention to stay in the organization refocus attention at an overlooked but potentially
(Mowday et al., 1979). useful approach to the explanation of work behav-
The above propositions deal with factors that ior. To date nearly all efforts to explain work be-
may increase or decrease the relative contribution haviors have concentrated on behavior-outcome
of either commitment or instrumental motivation to contingencies models, reflecting primarily instru-
behavior. They do not compare commitment and mental processes. Outside the cognitive consistency
motivation to each other with respect to the size of literature, very little attention has been given to
their contributions. It is suggested that, usually, in- behaviors that are not at all guided by their poten-
strumental processes make the stronger contribu- tial outcomes. The conceptualization of commit-
tions to behavior, particularly in the framework of ment in this paper is founded on the premise that
the current cultural climate that places such a high work behavior may be determined not only by
value on individual need gratification. This "ad- calculative-instrumental processes, but also by nor-
vantage" of instrumental processes is diminished, mative pressures such as personal moral standards.
and perhaps disappears, under the conditions speci- Such internalized pressures, once established, exert
fied in the above propositions. stable, long term influences on behavior that are in-
The scarcity of research reflecting directly on the dependent of situational circumstances and linkages
above propositions is not surprising. In general, to rewards or punishments.
there has been very little research attempting to On the practical level, the normative view of
assess the relative contribution of various motiva- commitment suggests a stronger focus on normative
tional-attitudinal processes to work behaviors control by organizations. They must be able to
under different conditions. For many years, re- define explicitly their own value system, to get
searchers have investigated separately the effects of members to accept it, and to attract potential
the basic processes of motivation, job satisfaction, members with compatible value systems and who
and commitment on work behaviors. No single also believe in the value of loyalty and duty. Such a
study, however, relates the three simultaneously task may not be easy for work organizations that
with work behaviors so that their relative contribu- find themselves trapped between their own tradi-
tion can be ascertained. tional utilitarianism and the pressures of a current
cultural climate highly valuing individual need
Summary and Conclusions
satisfaction. Yet, in light of recent productivity
Several basic features differentiate the suggested declines, this effort may be worthwhile.

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Yoash Wiener is Professor of Management and Labor at

Cleveland State University.


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