Alienation matters: Validity and utility of Etzioni’s theory of commitment in explaining prosocial organizational behavior

Severin Hornung1
1The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong
Cite this article:  Hornung, S. (2010). Alienation matters: Validity and utility of Etzioni’s theory of commitment in explaining prosocial organizational behavior. Social Behavior and Personality: An international journal, 38, 1081-1096.

Volume 38 Issue 8 | e2051 | Published: September 2010 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.2224/sbp.2010.38.8.1081

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In this study assumptions of Etzioni’s (1975) theory of control and commitment are tested. Psychometric evidence is provided for the reliability and validity of the Organizational Commitment Scale (Penley & Gould, 1988), operationalizing Etzioni’s typology of so-called calculative, alienative, and moral commitment. In a sample of 172 hospital workers, these 3 dimensions were found to be empirically distinct. Structural equation modeling was used to confirm differential effects of distributive and procedural justice perceptions on calculative, alienative, and moral commitment, supporting the notion that different forms of attachment develop partly in response to organizational compliance systems. When investigating simultaneous effects on supervisor-rated prosocial behavior, only alienation had a significant (negative) impact. Findings indicate acceptable validity and utility of a commitment model grounded in social theory for explaining organizational behavior.

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