Getting to the Heart of It: Commitment at Work

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organizational commitment
self-determination theory
work performance
work satisfaction
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Cormier, Grace E

Individuals are looking for purpose-driven work that resonates with who they are, is satisfying, and engaging. At the same time, organizations, necessarily driven by concerns over making profit, are looking to hire individuals who show up, perform consistently, and who have the organization’s best interests in mind. Though conceivably incongruent, what individuals and organizations are seeking is not dissimilar. Instead, when employees find work they can personally identify with and commit to, they are more likely to go above and beyond the call of duty, even when no one is watching. However, not all forms of commitment are created equal. Different forms of commitment arise from different sources of motivation, and lead to very different outcomes for both individuals and organizations. In this paper, I explore commitment and its various forms, and define how it is conceptualized in the organizational behavior literature. I then review the research on the outcomes and antecedents associated with each form of commitment and highlight important differences across forms. I then make sense of the pattern of results that emerges from this research by examining how self-determination theory relates to commitment. I then use the framework outlined by self-determination theory to offer strategies on how both organizations and individuals can cultivate the form of commitment that leads to the most affirmative outcomes.

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