Multiple Affective Commitments and Salient Outcomes: The Improbable Case of Information Technology Knowledge Workers


  • Jeff Bagraim


affective commitment, knowledge workers, turnover intentions, helping behaviour, boosting behaviour


Knowledge workers in the information technology industry typically enjoy global labour mobility and are considered critical to economic growth in developing countries. Organizational commitment amongst these knowledge workers is widely considered to be both improbable and unobtainable. The purpose of this study was to examine the multiple commitments of information technology knowledge workers and to examine the potential outcomes of these multiple commitment. A total of 282 usable questionnaires from knowledge workers employed in senior information technology occupations in both the public and private sector were analysed using a variety of statistical techniques. Particular care was taken to ensure that strict criteria guided the statistical analyses. Affective commitment across three commitment foci (i.e., the organization, immediate manager, and co‑workers) were measured using South African commitment scales derived from the scale items proposed by Meyer and Allen (1993). Established scales were used to measure three outcomes (i.e., turnover intentions, boosting behaviour, and helping behaviour). To assess the contribution of commitment foci in explaining the proposed outcomes, block hierarchical multiple regression analysis was used with a set of control variables entered in the first step. The results of the regression analyses showed a clear pattern illustrating the importance of identifying, measuring and managing commitment foci proximal to matching salient outcomes. Affective commitment to the organisation was a significant predictor of the organizationally salient outcomes of turnover intentions and boosting behaviours. Affective commitment to the immediate manager was also significantly and negatively related to turnover intentions and affective commitment to co‑workers was the only significant predictor of helping behaviours. Overall, the results are both surprising and encouraging. Surprising given the evidence of higher than expected levels of commitment amongst information systems knowledge workers, and encouraging given the amount of variance explained in salient organizational outcomes such as helping co‑workers, lower turnover intentions and an increased propensity to promote the organization to others. The results challenge managers to review their assumptions about the organizational commitments of information technology knowledge workers. The results also suggest the importance of future research to uncover commitment mechanisms that will inform the development and implementation of management practices and policies that enhance commitment amongst information technology knowledge workers.



1 Oct 2010