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Investigating the effect of collective organizational commitment on unit-level performance and absence


Neil Conway, Department of Organizational Psychology, Birkbeck, University of London, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HX, UK (e-mail:


The relationship between individual-level organizational commitment and employee's performance has been the subject of considerable empirical investigation over several decades. However, few studies have examined the effect of collective organizational commitment on unit or organizational-level performance, even though available theory suggests commitment's effects may be stronger at the unit level. We present results of a study examining the effects of unit-level organizational commitment on the speed and quality of performance, and employee absence, drawing on a sample of 893 service sector employees (representing a 90% response rate) from 39 office units in a UK public sector organization. Results show that unit-level organizational commitment was statistically significantly associated with both unit-level performance quality (i.e., reduced customer complaints per service transaction) and performance speed (i.e., customer average queuing time). Collective organizational commitment was not significantly associated with a unit-level measure of the average time customers spent at service counters with the tellers, nor was it associated with unit-level employee absence.

Practitioner Points

  • • Bottom-line impact of organizational commitment: unit-level organizational commitment had substantial effects on unit-level performance.
  • • Managers must recognize that committed employees have a value beyond their immediate and individual performance as such individuals contribute to unit performance.
  • • Unit-level organizational commitment implies different managerial interventions.
  • • Our research indicates the value to organizations of analysing survey data at the unit-level: it is easier to ensure participant anonymity and confidentiality of responses and it provides information beyond individual level data.
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