Doctor of Philosophy
Meyer, John P.
Organizational commitment is a force that binds individuals to their company through their desire, obligation, and need to stay. Employees who are committed to the organization are more likely to demonstrate higher engagement, greater satisfaction, and fewer intentions to leave their company. Research has also demonstrated that investigating how each of the three forms of commitment – affective, normative, and continuance – interact allows for better prediction of employee outcomes. Using person-centred approaches, previous research has shown that there are typically five to seven profiles of commitment, and that membership in these profiles has implications for employee behaviours. However, little research has examined how these profiles emerge and develop over time in samples of newcomers.
The current research used archival data collected by the Canadian Armed Forces to investigate the development of commitment over the first year of employment with the military. Two samples were analyzed – one cross-sectional sample of employees at the end of their Basic Training experience (N = 3998) and one longitudinal sample of participants undergoing Occupational Training (N = 636). A person-centred approach to data analysis was adopted.
Latent profile analyses demonstrated a four-profile solution in the Basic Training sample and a six-profile solution in the Occupational Training sample. Further, a latent transition analysis in the longitudinal data showed that membership in commitment profiles was relatively stable over the six-month time lag. These profiles were examined in relation to a number of antecedents and outcomes, with results indicating that value fit and social support were significant predictors of profile membership, and that turnover intentions and levels of well-being differed across profiles.
These results have implications for person-centred commitment research. First, the differences in the profiles extracted in the Basic Training and Occupational Training samples suggest that time may be an important factor in the development of commitment. Further, results for the longitudinal sample suggested that, once profiles form, they become stable. This research validated previous findings on commitment profiles in military samples. Practical implications, limitations, and future directions are discussed.
Summary for Lay Audience
Organizational commitment is a force that binds individuals to their company. It can be expressed in different ways, and previous research has shown that individuals can have different mindsets when committing to their organization. Feelings of desire, obligation, or need to stay with the organization can combine within an individual to create a complicated, nuanced expression of commitment that is related to employee behaviors, attitudes, and outcomes. This research sought to investigate those combinations of commitment – called commitment profiles – in newcomers to an organization. Until now, little research has been done to understand how commitment develops in new employees and if this commitment is stable over time.
Participants in this study were new recruits to the Canadian Armed Forces. The first sample was collected at the end of Basic Training, and the second sample was collected at two time points during Occupational Training, which followed Basic Training. All data were gathered within the first year of employment.
This results of this research found four commitment profiles in the Basic Training sample. These profiles were different from those seen in past research on more tenured employees. However, in the Occupational Training sample, six profiles were extracted. These profiles were in line with those found in other studies, suggesting the standard commitment profiles may develop after only a few months with an organization. Further, results showed that these commitment profiles were relatively stable over a six-month period.
These results have implications for our understanding of commitment profiles. The differences in the profiles extracted in the Basic Training and Occupational Training samples suggests that commitment develops quickly, but not immediately, in new personnel. Further, the results demonstrate that once commitment forms, it is fairly stable for military recruits. These findings have implications for future research, and can be used to inform interventions that seek to foster positive forms of commitment in new employees.
Anderson, Brittney K., "A longitudinal person-centred investigation of commitment in newcomers to the military" (2020). Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository. 7024.