Do your Employees Care About your Organization?

Organizational Commitment
Knowledge Center

Best Practices
Anneke Zwart
Student (University), Netherlands

Do your Employees Care About your Organization?

What do you think: If employees feel their organization cares about their well-being, will they return the favor?

In daily management practice you probably hear people talking a lot about organizational commitment. But what is it really? And how can we increase it? Let's learn a bit more about its theoretical background.

First of all, you need to understand and distinguish 2 terms: 'Perceived Organizational Support' and 'Affective Organizational Commitment'. They are similar concepts in that both emphasize the relation between an employee and an organization. But even if they are similar and related, they are not the same; the terms are two distinct constructs. Marique et al. (2013) discuss the differences between the 2 concepts and how they are related.

- Perceived Organizational Support (POS) can be referred to as the degree to which employees think that the organization they work for appreciates employees’ work and is caring about their well-being. It is a perception.
- Affective Organizational Commitment (AOC) refers to... "an emotional attachment to, identification with, and involvement in the organization” (Meyer & Allen, 1991). It reflects a (favorable) attitude of employees towards the company.

In what way are the two terms related? Perceived organizational support is an antecedent, a predictor of affective organizational commitment. In short: POS leads to AOC.

This can be partially explained by social exchange theory (Rhoades et al., 2001). This theory proposes an individual that has done something in favor of another individual tends to expect the other person to do something in return. This is also referred to as the norm of reciprocity (Quid Pro Quo). In this way perceived organizational support generates feelings of obligation to care about the company’s welfare and to support the company to achieve its objectives: organizational commitment. In other words, the norm of reciprocity stimulates employees to reciprocate the company’s caring and valuing.

What do you think: does POS indeed lead to AOC? Always? In other words: If employees feel their organization cares about their well-being, will they return the favor? When? When not?

- Marique, G., Stinglhamber, Fl, Desmette, D., Caesens, G. and De Zanet, F. (2013) The Relationship Between Perceived Organizational Support and Affective Commitment: A Social Identity Perspective. Group and Organization Management Vol. 38 Iss.1 pp. 68-100
- Meyer, J.P., & Allen, N.J. (1991) A Three-Component Conceptualization of Organizational Commitment. Human Resource Management Review, 1, 61-89
- Rhoades, L., Eisenberger, R., & Armeli, S. (2001). Affective Commitment to the Organization: The Contribution of Perceived Organizational Support. Journal of Applied Psychology, 86, pp. 825-836

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