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Theories of Job Satisfaction and Organisational Commitment

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Psychology
Wordcount: 3342 words Published: 13th Apr 2018

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Job satisfaction

Job satisfaction can be described as a pleasurable or positive emotional state resulting from the individual’s job or job experiences (Locke, 1976). Job satisfaction is a topic of wide interest to both people who work in organisations and people who study them. It is a most frequently studied variable in organisational behaviour research, and also a central variable in both research and theory of organisational phenomena ranging from job design to supervision (Spector, 1997). Traditionally, job satisfaction focuses on the feelings that an individual has about their job. However, what makes a job satisfying or dissatisfying does not depend only on the nature of the job, but also on the expectations that individuals have of what their job should provide (Lu, While & Barriball, 2004).

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Organisational Commitment

Organisational commitment has been defined as the degree to which employees believe in and accept organisational goals and desire to remain with the organisation (Mathis & Jackson, 2000). Similarly, Wright and Noe (1996) defined organisational commitment as “the degree or extent to which employees strongly identify with the organisation and feel attached to it.” Although there are a variety of different definitions for organisational commitment, they all share the view that organisational commitment is a psychological state that characterises an employee’s relationship with their organisation and has implications for that employee continuing membership in the organisation (Meyer & Allen, 1997). However, what differs among these definitions is the nature of the psychological state being described (Mowday, Steers & Porter, 1979; Wiener, 1982). In order to acknowledge the different psychological states,Meyer and Allen (1991)developed a three-component model of organisational commitment. The first component is affective commitment, which refers to an employee’s “emotional attachment to, identification with, and involvement in an organisation” (Meyer & Allen, 1991). The second component is continuance commitment, which involves the employee’s perceptions of the costs associated with leaving an organisation. The last component is normative commitment, which refers to an employee’s feelings of obligation to stay in the organisation.

Organisational Citizenship Behaviours

Organisational citizenship behaviours (OCBs) are voluntary employee behaviours that are not formally rewarded by the organisation, but contribute to either the success of the whole organisation or to the well-being of other employees (Borman & Motowidlo, 1993). Examples of OCBs include: helping colleagues with their work, helping new members of staff, talking positively about the organisation to outsiders, and voluntarily going to functions that help the organisation’s image (Lee & Allen, 2002). Research on OCB’s have shown that they are important as they improve both individual level (Rotundo & Sackett, 2002) and organisational-level performance outcomes (Podsakoff, Whiting, Podsakoff, & Blume, 2009). It has been suggested that there are five different categories of OCBs including altruism, courtesy conscientiousness, civic virtue, and sportsmanship (Organ, 1988). Furthermore, OCBs have been divided into two different types. Williams and Anderson (1991) divided up the dimensions based on who the behaviours were directed towards. If the behaviour was directed towards other individuals in the workplace, there were classified as Organisational citizenship behaviour–individuals (OCBI), while behaviours directed at the organisation as a whole were classified as organisational citizenship behaviour-organisational (OCBO). For example, categories of OCBs such as altruism and courtesy are actions aimed at other employees and would therefore be classified as OCBIs.Whereas, conscientiousness, civic virtue, and sportsmanship are behaviours intended for the benefit of the organisation and would therefore be considered as OCBOs.

Core Self-Evaluation sub-traits and their relation to organisational citizenship behaviour, job satisfaction and organisational commitment.

There are a lack of studies linking the core self-evaluations factor to organisational citizenship behaviours. However, three of the core traits: self-esteem, locus of control, and emotional stability, are the most widely studied personality traits in personality and applied psychology (Judge & Bono, 2001). In total, self-esteem, locus of control, and emotional stability have been the subject of more than 50,000 studies (Judge et al, 2002).

Self-esteem is used to describe an individual’s overall self-evaluation of their competencies (Rosenberg, 1965). Simply put, self-esteem is a personal evaluation which reflects what people think of themselves as individuals. For example, Korman (1970) states that self-esteem reflects the degree to which the individual “sees themselves as a competent, need-satisfying individual”. Therefore, an individual with high self-esteem has a “sense of personal adequacy and a sense of having achieved need satisfaction in the past” (Korman, 1966). As well as the reflecting component of self-esteem, Pelham and Swann (1989) explain that self-esteem also consists of an affective (liking/disliking) component. For example, individuals with high self-esteem like who and what they are; agreeing with statements such as “I am a person of worth, on an equal plane with others” and “I am satisfied with myself” (Rosenberg, 1965). Overall, it is the self-evaluation and descriptive conceptualisation that individuals make and maintain about themselves.

Locus of control refers to an individuals’ perception of the main causes of events in life. It can be divided into two categories: internal locus of control and external locus of control. Individuals with an internal locus of control believe that they have control over the events and consequences associated with their lives, such as control over their own destinies. Therefore, they believe that the majority of their life experiences are determined by their own skills, abilities, and efforts. Whereas those with an external locus of control believe that life events are the result of circumstances outside their control. They believe that their destinies are controlled by external forces such as luck, chance, fate, or powerful others (Paulhus, 1983; Rotter, 1966).

Emotional stability or neuroticism is perhaps the most enduring personality concept in psychology, as it is one of the dimensions of the widely studied five-factor model of personality. There are thousands of studies on the topic and the entire field of psychoanalysis and clinical psychology might be traced to the study of neurotic symptoms (Freud, 1910). Emotional stability represents individual differences in the tendency to experience distress (McCrae & John, 1992). Typical behaviours associated with this factor include being anxious, depressed, angry, embarrassed, emotional, worried, and insecure (Barrick & Mount, 1991).

Generalised self-efficacy is described as an individual’s estimate of their fundamental ability to cope, perform, and be successful. This can be seen as the ability to persist and a person’s ability to succeed with a task. As an example, self-efficacy directly relates to how long someone will stick to a workout regime or a diet. High and low self-efficacy determine whether or not someone will choose to take on a challenging task or “write it off” as impossible.

Relation of Self-Esteem, Locus of Control, Neuroticism, and Generalised Self-Efficacy to Job Satisfaction.

Judge et al. (1997) hypothesised that core self-evaluations would be related to job satisfaction through both direct and indirect means. Indeed, Judge et al (1998) found that the four traits, treated as a single latent construct, were significantly related to job satisfaction. This study also found that self-esteem, generalised self-efficacy, locus of control, and neuroticism were each independently significantly correlated with job satisfaction. Therefore, suggesting both direct and indirect links with job satisfaction. Despite the vast amount of research on dispositions and job satisfaction, Judge and Bono (2001) found there were no meta-analysis of the relationship between any of the four traits and job satisfaction. The relationships of these traits to job satisfaction had been discussed in reviews of the literature with respect to self-esteem (Tharenou, 1979), locus of control (Spector, 1982), and emotional stability (Furnham & Zacherl, 1986), however the size and extent of these relationships, and the variability in these relationships across studies, had not been established. Therefore, Judge and Bono (2001) conducted a meta-analysis of 169 correlations. The found that the correlations of the core traits with job satisfaction ranged from 0.24 for emotional stability to 0.45 for generalised self-efficacy. All of these correlations generalised across studies (more than 90% of the individual correlations were greater than zero). Other research has also supported these finding, for example, studies have suggested that LOC is a significant predictor of job satisfaction (Judge, Erez, Bono, & Thoresen, 2003), whereby individuals with an internal LOC reported higher levels of job satisfaction (Martin, Thomas, Charles, Epitro & McNamara, 2005). Furthermore, several studies have shown that direct measures of neuroticism are negatively related to job satisfaction (Furnham & Zacherl, 1986; Smith, Organ, & Near, 1983; Tokar & Subich, 1997), indicating that individuals with high neuroticism have lower job satisfaction.

Moreover, there are theoretical reasons to expect a positive relationship between the four sub-traits and job satisfaction. In the case of self-esteem, Locke, McClear and Knight (1996) posited that, “A person with a high self-esteem will view a challenging job as a deserved opportunity which he can master and benefit from, whereas a person with low self-esteem is more likely to view it as an undeserved opportunity or a chance to fail”. Research has in fact supported this, suggesting that individuals with high self-esteem maintain optimism in the face of failure, which makes future success and future satisfaction more likely (Dodgson & Wood, 1998). Another theoretical mechanism linking these traits to job satisfaction is suggested by Korman’s (1970) self-consistency theory. Korman’s theory predicts that individuals with high self-esteem choose occupations consistent with their interests, which would lead to greater levels of job satisfaction. More generally, Korman’s theory predicts that high self-esteem individuals will engage in a broad array of behaviours and cognitions that reinforce their self-concept. Similarly, Spector (1982) suggested that individuals with an internal locus of control should be more job satisfied because they are less likely to stay in a dissatisfying job and are more likely to be successful in organisations. With respect to neuroticism, McCrae and Costa (1991) noted that neuroticism is related to lower well-being because individuals who score high on neuroticism are predisposed to experience negative affects. Negative affect, in turn, is negatively related to job satisfaction (Brief, 1998; Spector, 1997). Finally, Judge et al. (1997) argued that generalised self-efficacy should affect job satisfaction through its association with practical success on the job. Because individuals with high self-efficacy deal more effectively with difficulties and persist in the face of failure (Gist & Mitchell, 1992), they are more likely to attain valued outcomes and thus derive satisfaction from their jobs.

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Relation of Self-Esteem, Locus of Control, Neuroticism, and Generalised Self-Efficacy to Organisational Commitment.

The four sub-traits have also been studied independently with regards to their relationship with organisational commitment. In terms of self-esteem, a review of the literature by Pierce & Gardner (2004) identified several studies which report a significant and positive relationship between self-esteem and organisational commitment (Gardner & Pierce, 1998, 2001; Lee, 2003; Phillips & Hall, 2001; Ragins & Cornwell, 2000; Riordan, Weatherly, Vandenberg & Self, 2001; Tang & Ibrahim, 1998; Tang, Kim & O’Donald, 2000; Tang, Singer & Roberts, 2000; Van Dyne & Pierce, 2004). Correlations range between .12 and .64. These findings suggest that employees with high levels of self-esteem are more committed to their organisations than those individuals with low self-esteem.

There are also some studies relating an individual’s locus of control to organisational commitment. Coleman, Irving, and Cooper (1999) conducted a study on the relationship between locus of control and organisational commitment. The results revealed that internal locus of control was related to affective commitment, while external locus of control was associated with continuance commitment. Furthermore, a study by Igbeneghu & Popool (2011) provides empirical evidence to show that locus of control has a significant inverse relationship with organisational commitment. These findings are similar to research done two decades ago in which organisational commitment was found to be positively related to internal locus of control (Luthans, Baack, & Taylor, 1987).

Neuroticism has been found to be significantly related to organisational commitment (Erdheim, Wang & Zickar, 2006). Cui (2010) found that neuroticism was significantly related to the continuance commitment part of organisational commitment. It has been shown that neurotic individuals tend to experience more negative life events than other individuals (Magnus, Diener, Fujita, & Pavot, 1993). These findings directly relate to continuance commitment, which may develop out of an employee’s fear of the costs associated with leaving their current position (Meyer & Allen, 1997). This is to the extent that when negative events occur in a highly neurotic individual’s job, the individual may feel more apprehensive about facing a new work environment that could provide even harsher experiences. Therefore, they are more likely to have high levels of continuance commitment.

Once again, research found that self-efficacy was a significant predictor of organisational commitment (Bogler & Somech, 2004). Saleem, Saba & Adnan (2012) explored self-efficacy as a predictor of organisational commitment among bank employees. Correlational and multiple regression analyses indicated that self-efficacy was significantly positively correlated organisational commitment. Wu and Short (1996), who studied the relationship between teacher empowerment and teacher job commitment and job satisfaction, found that among the six subscales that compose the teacher empowerment scale (SPES), professional growth, self-efficacy and status were significant predictors of organisational commitment.

Relation of Self-Esteem, Locus of Control, Neuroticism, and Generalised Self-Efficacy to Organisational Citizenship Behaviour.

The four sub-traits have also been studied separately in relation to organisational citizenship behaviour. Again, Pierce & Gardner’s (2003) review found various studies showing that self-esteem was related to organisational citizenship behaviour. For example, Tang, Davis, Dolinski, Ibrahim, Sutarso & Wagner (2002) examined self-esteem and organisational citizenship behaviours with samples in the United States, Taiwan, Poland, and Egypt. In both their US and non-US samples they found significant and positive relationship between self-esteem and organisational citizenship behaviour. Van Dyne and Pierce (2004) who used both supervisor and peer ratings of citizenship behaviour, reported significant relationships between self-esteem and organisational citizenship behaviours. Self-esteem has been found to have significant relationships with both dimensions of organisational citizenship behaviours: altruism and compliance (Tang & Ibrahim, 1998). Chattopadhyay (1999) observed a positive and significant relationship between self-esteem and altruism. Chattopadhyay and George (2001) also observed a positive relationship between self-esteem and altruism in their study of employees in a computer manufacturer. Furthermore, studies such as Lee (2003) looked at the five dimensions of citizenship behaviour (i.e., altruism, conscientiousness, courtesy, sportsmanship, and civic virtue) and found significant relationships between self-esteem and acts of good organisational citizenship. Tang, Singer, & Roberts (2000) investigated the effect that public (other serving) and private (self-serving) motives on altruistic and conscientiousness acts of organisational citizenship, and found a positive relationship between public motives and self-esteem, and a negative relationship for private motives. They also report a positive relationship between self-esteem and both dimensions (altruism and conscientiousness) of citizenship behaviour. Overall, across this set of studies self-esteem correlated with organisational citizenship behaviour in the range between .23 for compliance and .83 for altruism, indicating that self-esteem has a more significant relationship with the altruistic dimension of OCBs.

Two studies have found empirical support for the relationship between locus of control and citizenship performance. Motowidlo and Van Scotter (1994) reported a significant correlation (r = .26) between internal locus of control and organisational citizenship performance. More recently, Funderberg and Levy (1997) found a .33 correlation between locus of control and self-reports on the altruism dimension of OCB, but a negative correlation of .34 with peer ratings on the same OCB dimension. Facteau, Allen, Facteau, Bordas & Tears, (2000) found low negative correlations between locus of control and citizenship performance.

Neuroticism (emotional instability) has a negative relationship with citizenship behaviour. Those who score high in neuroticism tend to be more preoccupied with their own anxieties and presumably do not have the emotional stamina to concern themselves with others’ problems or general system requirements unrelated to their own immediate needs (Smith, Organ & Near, 1983).

Bogler & Somech (2004) found that self-efficacy was a significant predictor of OCB. Their results showed that self-efficacy, significantly predicted organisational commitment. The importance of self-efficacy as a predictor of all three outcomes can be understood if we relate to the original concept of self-efficacy developed by Bandura (1977). According to Bandura, self-efficacy is based on two dimensions that he labelled ‘‘outcome expectancy’’ and ‘‘efficacy expectancy’’. ‘‘Outcome expectancy’’ implies that an individual estimates that a given behaviour will result in certain outcomes. ‘‘Efficacy expectations’’ refer to behaviours toward the expected outcomes. Not surprisingly, where teachers report higher levels of self-efficacy, they exhibit more organisational behaviours. Teachers who have high expectations of themselves to perform effectively and successfully in school will carry out extra functions beyond the formal ones and will feel more committed to their school and to the teaching profession.


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