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CEP discussion paper
Organizational Commitment: Do Workplace Practices Matter?
Alex Bryson and Michael White
July 2008
Paper No' CEPDP0881:
Full Paper (pdf)

JEL Classification: J28

Tags: high performance; organizational commitment; perceived organizational support

Using nationally-representative linked employer-employee data for Britain this paper considers whether employers are able to influence the organizational commitment (OC) of their employees through the practices they deploy. We examine the association between OC and two broad groups of HRM practices emphasised in two different strands of the literature, namely “High-Performance Workplace Practices” (HPWPs) and practices associated with “Perceived Organizational Support” (POS). We consider their associations with mean workplace-level OC and individual employees’ OC. Although employers may be able to engender greater OC on the part of their employees, the practices that do so are not those emphasized in the HPWP literature, with the exception of consultation and the involvement of employees in decision-taking. POS practices fare a little better but, again, the findings are far from unequivocal. Furthermore, those practices that are ‘effective’ in engendering higher OC such as tolerance of absence, recruiting on ‘values’ and allowing employees to make decisions, tend to have a fairly low incidence in British workplaces. There is, however, one finding which chimes with the ideas underpinning the HPWP literature, namely that there are returns to the use of practices in combination. Analyses of both mean workplace-level OC and individual employee OC find an independent positive association between OC and the deployment of multiple practices in combination. This evidence is consistent with practices having synergies, as emphasised in some of the HPWP literature.