The development and inter-relations of organisational and professional commitment : an empirical study of solicitors in large law firms.
This study concerns the relationship between organisational and professional
commitment over time. The study was conducted among solicitors In large commercial
practices. Reviewing the literature on organisational and professional commitment three
issues appeared salient. The first concerns the extent to which commitment Is time
related. The second concerns the extent to which professional and organisational
commitment are compatible. The third relates to the nature of commitment. Levinson's
(1978) theory of adult development provided the framework of analysis for the present
study. The core of Levinson's theory Is that people experience periods of stability and
transition during their lifetime. Moreover, these changes are to some extent predetermined.
The present study tests the Idea that commitment generally Increases with age. The
underlying assumption is that older people are generally more satisfied with life In
general than younger people. Another set of hypotheses relates to the relationship
between organisational and professional commitment. It Is expected that both forms of
commitment are complementary. Levinson suggests that at each life structure
individuals experience different Intensities of commitment. This Is shaped by personality
development as well as the processes of adaptation and socialisation. Finally, the
motives behind an Individual's decision to stay In the organisation or the profession
determines the nature of their commitments. It Is expected that professionals express
their commitments In terms of a positive attitude rather than Instrumental behaviour.
Organisational and professional commitment were measured using Meyer and Alien's
(1991) scale.The measuresof organisational and professional commitment differentiated
between attitudinal and behavioural dimensions. Attitudinal commitment was defined as
the psychological Identification and attachment to the firm and to the profession
(affective commitment), as well as a perceived moral duty to remain In the firm and
profession (normative commitment). Behavioural commitment wasdescribed aspersonal
sacrifices and the costs of quitting either the profession or the firm (continuance
commitment). The survey also measured Job Involvement (Lodahl and Kejner 1965).
professionalism (Hall 1968), and work values orientation (Shepard 1972; Popper and
Lipshizt 1992). A sample was drawn randomly from large solicitors' firms In London,
Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester. 403 usable replies were received. Data were
analyzed mainly by t-test and Oneway Analysis of Variance (A.N.O.V.A) and Duncan's
multiple-range test for multiple comparisons.
The results confirm the Initial hypotheses. Age was found to be a stronger predictor of
commitment than Individuals' experiences. Further, solicitors are more professionally
than organisationally committed. This finding Is, however, subjected to some
qualifications. The sense of 'wanting to stay' and 'needing to stay' Is higher for the
profession than the firms. Yet the 'obllgation to stay' Is higher for the organisation than
the profession. When results are analysed by age, professional commitment
predominates only among solicitors In the early career stage. Thereafter, no form of
commitment predominates until 'Mid-life Transition'. At this stage, organisational
commitment predominates. In the late career stage, there Is no significant difference
between both forms of commitment. Generally, affective commitment predominates over
calculative commitment. The theoretical and practical Implications of the findings of the
present study are discussed. The thesis Includes suggestions for future research.