In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Workplace Commitment

  • Introduction
  • General Overviews
  • Temporality of Commitment
  • Cross-Cultural Considerations

Management Workplace Commitment
Howard J. Klein, Bryce Linford
  • LAST REVIEWED: 09 March 2020
  • LAST MODIFIED: 24 May 2018
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199846740-0142


Commitment is one of the most frequently examined constructs in the study of workplace phenomena. This is likely because of the demonstrated impact commitment has on outcomes important to organizations and employees alike including absenteeism, turnover, motivation, performance, prosocial behaviors, career success, and well-being. This bibliography aims to provide the background necessary to understand the current status of the workplace commitment literature, areas requiring future research, and the primary areas of current debate. Voluminous empirical research and conceptual treatments over the past six decades have resulted in important advances in our understanding of commitment to various workplace targets. The term “target” is used to refer to the specific thing or foci to which someone is committed. For example, commitment to the employing organization, client organizations, professional associations, union, supervisor, work team, coworker, values, goals, decisions, plans, project, or career. Hence, this summary of “workplace commitments” covers the full array of commitments that employees may have at work, not just commitment to the employing organization or the organization for which work is being done—the two no longer necessarily being the same given changes to the nature of work and the employment relationship. That said, over the history of the study of workplace commitment, organizational commitment (i.e., commitment to the employing organization) has received the bulk of the conceptual and empirical attention. This bibliography covers how the study of workplace commitments has evolved, the different ways commitment is and has been conceptualized, the work on different commitment targets and multiple targets, commonly used measures of commitment, outcomes of commitment, the temporality of commitment, and cross-cultural considerations. A section outlining the antecedents of commitment is not explicitly included, as hundreds of antecedents have been examined and they are summarized in works reviewed, particularly in the General Overviews section.

General Overviews

A number of excellent reviews of the workplace commitment literature have been published over the years, and a selection of these books and journal articles is summarized in this section. These citations provide comprehensive reviews, at least at the time of publication, of commitment and are a good place to start as an introduction to the commitment literature. Some of these reviews, such as Mathieu and Zajac 1990, focus just on organizational commitment, whereas others, such as Meyer 2016, are broader and examine multiple workplace commitments. Review chapters and articles exist summarizing the state of research on other specific commitment targets (e.g., goals, occupation) and those are summarized in the subsequent section on Targets of Commitment.

  • Cooper-Hakim, A., and C. Viswesvaran. “The Construct of Work Commitment: Testing an Integrative Framework.” Psychological Bulletin 131.2 (2005): 241–259.

    DOI: 10.1037/0033-2909.131.2.241

    This meta-analysis updates and expands on previous quantitative reviews by examining the relationships among different forms of work commitment and the impact of those commitments on work outcomes, including job satisfaction, job performance, turnover intentions, and turnover. Concludes that the various forms of commitment are generally positively related.

  • Klein, H. J., T. E. Becker, and J. P. Meyer. Commitment in Organizations: Accumulated Wisdom and New Directions. New York: Routledge/Taylor and Francis, 2009.

    This edited compilation provides a comprehensive summary of commitment research and leading-edge thinking on the meaning and relevance of commitment, different commitment targets, efforts to build and maintain commitments, methodological and measurement issues, and future directions for theory and research.

  • Mathieu, J. E., and D. M. Zajac. “A Review and Meta-Analysis of the Antecedents, Correlates, and Consequences of Organizational Commitment.” Psychological Bulletin 108.2 (1990): 171–194.

    DOI: 10.1037/0033-2909.108.2.171

    This is the first effort to apply meta-analysis to systematically review the voluminous organizational commitment literature. Reviews the accumulated evidence at the time for the bivariate relationships between the antecedents, correlates, and/or consequences of organizational commitment. Examines and finds support for the psychological/attitudinal versus behavioral/calculative perspective as a moderator.

  • Meyer, J. P. The Handbook of Employee Commitment. Northampton, MA: Edward Elgar, 2016.

    DOI: 10.4337/9781784711740

    This is the most recent of several edited compilations, with experts on various aspects of workplace commitments contributing chapters summarizing what is known and the most pressing future research needs in their area.

  • Meyer, J. P., D. J. Stanley, L. Herscovitch, and L. Topolnytsky. “Affective, Continuance, and Normative Commitment to the Organization: A Meta-Analysis of Antecedents, Correlates, and Consequences.” Journal of Vocational Behavior 61 (2002): 20–52.

    DOI: 10.1006/jvbe.2001.1842

    This second major meta-analysis of the organizational commitment literature focused on studies using the three component model of affective, normative, and continuance commitment. The cumulative evidence supports the distinctiveness of the three mindsets and supports the hypothesized antecedents of the affective and continuance but not of the normative mindset. The accumulated evidence for the relationships between the three mindsets and commitment outcomes are also reported.

  • Mowday, R. T., L. W. Porter, and R. M. Steers. Employee-Organization Linkages: The Psychology of Commitment, Absenteeism, and Turnover. New York: Academic Press, 1982.

    This classic book comprehensively summarizes and integrates the research on commitment and attempts to reconcile the primary divide at the time—that between the attitudinal (i.e., psychological) and behavioral perspectives. Several of the issues raised, for example, there being little consensus on the meaning of the term, are still issues today. In addition, this book discusses several topics that have recently been “rediscovered,” including the development of commitment and potential negative consequences of commitment.

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