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185

Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology (2007), 80, 185–211 q 2007 The British Psychological Society

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Employee commitment and support for an organizational change: Test of the three-component model in two cultures
John P. Meyer1*, E. S. Srinivas2, Jaydeep B. Lal3 and Laryssa Topolnytsky4
1 2

The University of Western Ontario, Canada Xavier Labour Relations Institute (XLRI), Jamshedpur, India 3 Sasken Communication Technologies Limited, India 4 Korn/Ferry International
Although commitment is commonly identified as an essential element for the effective implementation of organizational change, little empirical evidence exists to support this claim. We conducted two studies to replicate and extend findings pertaining to Herscovitch and Meyer’s three-component model of commitment to an organizational change. In the first study, we examined relations within and across time between employees’ commitment (affective, normative and continuance) and level of support for a strategic initiative undertaken by a Canadian utility company in response to deregulation. In the second study, we tested the model in a sample of managers in an Indian organization undergoing major restructuring. In both studies we found considerable support for the relations between commitment and support predicted by the model. However, we also found evidence for potential culture differences. Implications for theory, research and change management practice are discussed.

If there is one generalization we can make about leadership and change it is this: No change can occur without willing and committed followers. Bennis (2000, p. 117)

The sentiments expressed in this simple but bold statement appear to be shared by many change experts (e.g. Connor, 1992; Kotter, 1996). Change theorists have also acknowledged the importance of commitment by featuring it prominently in models of the implementation process (e.g. Armenakis, Harris, & Field, 1999; Klein & Sorra, 1996). It is perhaps surprising, therefore, that very little empirical research has been conducted to date to examine the nature and implications of employee commitment to organizational change. Indeed, it is only recently that measures of commitment to
The research was supported in part by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. * Correspondence should be addressed to John P. Meyer, Department of Psychology, University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada N6A 5C2 (e-mail: meyer@uwo.ca).
DOI:10.1348/096317906X118685

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186 John P. Meyer et al.

change have been developed and used to examine its relation to change-relevant behaviour and performance (Herscovitch & Meyer, 2002; Neubert & Cady, 2001). While they confirm that commitment and behavioural support are related, these preliminary studies suggest that the relations might be more complex than is commonly acknowledged. Consequently, there is a need for a systematic empirical evaluation of the role played by commitment in explaining employee support for change, which, according to Bennis and others, is crucial for effective implementation. Herscovitch and Meyer (2002) recently developed a model of commitment to organizational change initiatives that could serve to guide such a systematic investigation. They proposed that commitment could take different forms and have different implications for the nature and level of employees’ behavioural support for a change. Although they provided support for their hypotheses in two studies, both involved cross-sectional designs and were conducted with a relatively unique sample (i.e. hospital nurses). The purpose of the present research was to replicate and extend these findings with different samples and in different change contexts. We conducted two studies. The first was a longitudinal investigation of the relation between commitment and behavioural support in managerial and non-managerial employees in a Canadian utility company undergoing a strategic change in response to deregulation. This study allowed us to examine relations between commitment and support both within and across time. The second was a cross-sectional study of managerial employees from a large Indian organization undergoing a major restructuring initiative. Thus, it allowed us to test Herscovitch and Meyer’s model in a different cultural context. In this second study, we also introduced a refinement to the behavioural support measures used by Herscovitch and Meyer, which we believe affords a better test of some of their hypotheses. In the following section, we provide a summary of Herscovitch and Meyer’s (2002) model of commitment to an organizational change. We then summarize their findings and develop related hypotheses to be tested in the present research. Hypotheses that are unique to the current research and extend the test of Herscovitch and Meyer’s model are presented in the introductions to the specific studies.

Herscovitch and Meyer’s model of commitment to an organizational change
Herscovitch and Meyer (2002) based their model of commitment to an organizational change on Meyer and Herscovitch’s (2001) general theory of workplace commitment. They defined commitment to a change as ‘a mindset that binds an individual to a course of action deemed necessary for the successful implementation of a change initiative’, and argued that this mindset ‘can reflect (a) a desire to provide support for the change based on a belief in its inherent benefits (affective commitment to the change), (b) a recognition that there are costs associated with failure to provide support for the change (continuance commitment to the change), and (c) a sense of obligation to provide support for the change (normative commitment to the change)’ (Herscovitch & Meyer, 2002, p. 475). Moreover, they offered a set of hypotheses concerning the relations between the components of commitment, individually and in combination, and two forms of change-relevant behaviour: compliance and discretionary support. These hypotheses and relevant research findings are summarized below and served as the basis for the development of hypotheses to be tested in the current research.

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Commitment and organizational change 187

As a first step in the test of their model, Herscovitch and Meyer (2002) developed sixitem measures of affective (AC), normative (NC) and continuance (CC) commitment to a change. They administered these measures, along with measures of organizational commitment and behavioural support for the change, to two samples of hospital nurses (predominantly female) experiencing varying forms of organizational change (e.g. mergers of departments, introduction of new technologies, modifications to shift schedules). Using confirmatory factor analyses, they demonstrated that the components of commitment to the change were distinguishable from one another and from corresponding components of commitment to the organization. Behavioural support for the change was assessed in two ways. The first involved multi-item measures of (a) compliance and (b) two forms of discretionary support (cooperation and championing). The compliance measure tapped employees’ willingness to do what was required of them by the organization in the implementation of the change. The cooperation measure assessed employees’ acceptance of the ‘spirit’ of the change and willingness to do little extras to make it work. Finally, the championing measure addressed employees’ willingness to embrace the change and ‘sell’ it to others. The second method of assessment involved the use of a behavioural continuum anchored at one end by active resistance and at the other by championing, with compliance in the middle. Participants indicated the point along the continuum that best described their level of support for the change. The multi-item measures were used to test hypotheses concerning (a) relations between the components of commitment and behavioural support and (b) interactions among the commitment components in the prediction of compliance (i.e. non-discretionary support). The behavioural continuum measure was used in analyses comparing levels of support across commitment profiles.

Relations between the commitment components and behavioural support for a change Herscovitch and Meyer (2002) predicted that all three forms of commitment would relate positively to compliance with the requirements for organizational change, but that only AC and NC would relate positively to higher levels of support. These predictions were based on the premise that any form of commitment binds an individual to the behaviours defined within the ‘terms’ of that commitment (cf. Brown, 1996; Meyer & Herscovitch, 2001). These behaviours are considered non-discretionary and, in the context of change, include all forms of support required of employees by the organization (e.g. implementing a new sales strategy). Based on previous commitment theory (Meyer & Allen, 1997; Meyer & Herscovitch, 2001), Herscovitch and Meyer argued that the nature of the commitment becomes important in explaining employees’ willingness to go beyond these minimum requirements. Employees who believe in the change and want to contribute to its success (strong AC) or who feel a sense of obligation to support the change (strong NC) should be willing to do more than is required of them, even if it involves some personal sacrifice (e.g. working extra hours to learn new sales procedures). In contrast, employees whose commitment to the change is based primarily on the perceived cost of failing to support the change (strong CC) should do little more than is required. As expected, Herscovitch and Meyer (2002) found that all three components of commitment to the change correlated positively with compliance. However, only AC and NC correlated positively with cooperation and championing – CC correlated negatively,

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188 John P. Meyer et al.

albeit not significantly, with both forms of discretionary behaviour. These findings not only support Herscovitch and Meyer’s hypotheses, they are also consistent with results observed in the organizational commitment literature. In the latter context, staying with the organization is the behaviour most clearly defined within the terms of the commitment, whereas work behaviours, particularly organizational citizenship behaviours, are considered discretionary. AC, NC and CC have all been found to relate negatively with turnover intentions and turnover, but only AC and NC commitment relate positively to citizenship behaviour (see Meyer, Stanley, Herscovitch, & Topolnytsky, 2002). Employees with strong AC and NC are likely to see value in the course of action they are pursuing and are therefore willing to do whatever is required to benefit the target of that action (e.g. organization, change initiative). In contrast, employees with strong CC might resent their loss of autonomy and react by restricting their behaviour to the minimum requirements (Deci & Ryan, 1985; Gagne & Deci, 2005; Meyer, Becker, & Vandenberghe, 2004). Therefore, we tested the following hypotheses in the current studies:
Hypothesis 1. AC, NC and CC to an organizational change correlate positively with compliance with the behavioural requirements for change. Hypothesis 2. AC and NC to an organizational change correlate positively with discretionary forms of behavioural support (cooperation and championing), whereas CC correlates negatively with these behaviours.

To demonstrate the value of considering change as a unique focus of commitment, Herscovitch and Meyer (2002) also tested to see whether commitment to a change initiative accounted for variance in behavioural support beyond that explained by commitment to the organization. Based on findings in the broader workplace commitment literature (e.g. Becker, Billings, Eveleth, & Gilbert, 1996; Becker & Kernan, 2003; Siders, George, & Dharwarkar, 2001), they argued that relations between commitment and behaviour should be stronger when the focus of the commitment and behaviour are consistent. For example, Becker and colleagues have demonstrated that behaviour can be influenced by commitments to multiple foci (e.g. organization, supervisor, team), but the commitment that exerts the strongest influence is that which has the greatest ‘psychological proximity’ (Lewin, 1943) to the behaviour. Therefore, not surprisingly, Herscovitch and Meyer found that, although commitment to the organization (particularly AC) related positively to support for the change, commitment to the change initiative accounted for considerably more criterion variance. In light of these findings, we tested the following hypothesis:
Hypothesis 3. The three components of employee commitment to the organization and to the organizational change account for variance in behavioural support for the change, but commitment to the change accounts for a greater proportion of the variance than does commitment to the organization.

Combined influence of commitment components In their general theory of workplace commitment, Meyer and Herscovitch (2001) argued that (a) AC, NC and CC should interact to influence behaviour and (b) these interaction effects will be reflected in different patterns of behaviour for employees with different commitment profiles. Based on earlier theory (Meyer & Allen, 1991) and the results of the few studies that examined interactions among the component measures (e.g. Jaros, 1997; Randall, Fedor, & Longenecker, 1990; Somers, 1995), Meyer and

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Commitment and organizational change 189

Herscovitch offered a set of propositions concerning the nature of the interaction and the profile differences. One of their basic predictions was that the strength of the relation between any one component of commitment and commitment-relevant behaviour, particularly those behaviours specified within the terms of the commitment, would be greater when the other components are weak than when they are strong. They reasoned that, because any form of commitment is sufficient to produce these nondiscretionary behaviours, the correlation between any one component of commitment and behaviour will be attenuated by the fact that the behaviour is likely to occur even at low levels of that component as long as one or both of the other components is strong. Herscovitch and Meyer (2002) tested this hypothesis as it pertains to the relations between commitment to a change and non-discretionary support for that change. Although they did not find support for the three-way interaction implied by Meyer and Herscovitch’s (2001) proposition, they did find evidence for a two-way interaction between AC and CC. As expected, the relation between each of the two components and compliance was greater when the other component of commitment was weak as opposed to strong. With one exception (Gellatly, Meyer, & Luchak, 2006), most of the evidence for interaction effects involving components of organizational commitment has also been limited to two-way interactions. Nevertheless, we tested for the three-way interaction implied in Meyer and Herscovitch’s original proposition.
Hypothesis 4. The relation between any one component of commitment to a change and compliance will be stronger when the other components are weak than when they are strong.

Meyer and Herscovitch (2001) also predicted that non-discretionary behaviour would vary across profile groups, but that the probability of behaviour would be quite high as long as one form of commitment is strong. In contrast, they proposed that the probability that employees would engage in discretionary behaviour would be low when continuance commitment alone is strong, but relatively high when AC and/or NC are strong. (Note, consistent with Meyer and Herscovitch, hereinafter we will refer to profiles with one dominant component as ‘pure’ profiles.) Moreover, because CC involves an awareness of constraints on behaviour, they argued that the impact of strong AC might be weakened when combined with strong CC. That is, when individuals perceive that they have to do something that they would normally want to do, they might be less likely to follow through on their commitment than if the constraints were not present. The presence of external influences can reduce feelings of autonomy (Deci & Ryan, 1985) and lead to a shift from a promotion focus to a prevention focus (Higgins, 1998), both of which can result in reduction of discretionary effort (Meyer et al., 2004). Herscovitch and Meyer (2002) tested these predictions using the behavioural continuum measure described earlier. They created profile groups by performing median splits on the three commitment scales and compared means on the behavioural continuum. They found that (a) the means for the pure CC group fell in the compliance range on the scale, whereas the means for all groups with high AC and/or high NC fell within the cooperation range or higher on the continuum. Moreover, the mean score for the group with high AC, high NC and high CC was lower, albeit not significantly, than that for the corresponding group with low CC. Although Herscovitch and Meyer were the first to test Meyer and Herscovitch’s (2001) profile predictions, recent studies comparing behaviour patterns across profiles of organizational commitment also provided some support (Gellatly et al., 2006; Sinclair, Tucker, Cullen, & Wright, 2005; Wasti, 2005). Therefore, we tested the following hypotheses:

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190 John P. Meyer et al.

Hypothesis 5a. Employees comply with the requirements for change as long as one component of commitment to the change is strong. Hypothesis 5b. Employees with strong AC or NC go beyond compliance (i.e. cooperating with, or championing, the change), whereas those with strong CC do not. Hypothesis 5c. CC tempers the likelihood that employees will engage in discretionary forms of support behaviour, particularly for employees with strong AC.

STUDY 1
In this study, we collected data just prior to and 8 months after the official launch of an organizational change. The collection of longitudinal data allowed us to conduct duplicate within-time analyses to test many of the hypotheses described above. In addition, it allowed us to examine relations between commitment and behavioural support over time. Because this is the first attempt to examine relations between changes in the three components of commitment and changes in behavioural support, our hypotheses were based on earlier findings pertaining to within-time relations described earlier, commitment theory and an evaluation of the conditions surrounding the change itself. The research site was a moderate-sized Canadian energy company undergoing a planned structural and cultural transformation (from a bureaucracy to a profit-oriented and innovative company) to remain competitive in a newly deregulated environment. Although the impact on individual employees varied, the changes involved adjustments to the nature of jobs, reporting relationships and levels of accountability. In the time between the two surveys, approximately 200 permanent employees were laid off and a slightly greater number of contract workers were hired. In addition, senior management undertook a number of initiatives to promote the change within the organization (e.g. ‘town hall’ meetings, site visits, management training). We expected that these events would influence the nature and strength of employees’ commitment to the change over the course of the study. For example, we expected that concerns about future layoffs might have made CC more salient for some. Others might have experienced increases in AC or NC because the organization was moving in a desired direction or because they were persuaded by senior management’s efforts to promote the change. Assuming that commitment of any form would lead to greater compliance, but that only increases in AC and NC would lead to greater discretionary support, we tested the following hypothesis:
Hypothesis 6. Changes in employees’ AC, NC and CC to the change initiative over time relate to changes in their level of behavioural support for the initiative. As AC and/or NC increase (decrease), employees’ willingness to provide discretionary support for the change will increase (decrease), whereas the reverse will be true for changes in CC.

Method
Participants and data collection procedures The first survey was administered 1 month prior to the official launch of the planned change. At this point, employees were generally aware that a major change was planned for the organization. The entire workforce (N ¼ 1,041) was asked to participate and 699 (67%) responded. The second survey was administered 8 months later. Again, the entire

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Commitment and organizational change 191

workforce (N ¼ 1,075) was invited to participate and 640 (60%) responded. For present purposes, data obtained from the executive group involved in planning and overseeing the change initiative were not included in the analyses. Within-time analyses were conducted on data from all of the remaining respondents (Ns ¼ 686 and 630); timelagged analyses were conducted using the data from those who responded to both surveys (N ¼ 337). At Time 1, 33% of respondents were male, 77% worked full time, 11% were managers with direct reports, 21% were managers without direct reports and 67% were frontline workers. At Time 2, 31% of respondents were male, 76% worked full time, 11% were managers with direct reports, 21% were managers without direct reports and 66% were frontline workers. In the longitudinal sample, 33% of respondents were male, 78% worked full time, 14% were managers with direct reports, 24% were managers without direct reports and 62% were frontline workers. Surveys were distributed via interoffice mail. Participation in the survey was voluntary and anonymous. Employees were given 2 weeks to return the surveys. Reminders were e-mailed and posted on bulletin boards a few days before the deadline for return. We were able to match Time 1 and Time 2 surveys by having employees put a self-generated code number on each. The measures included in the survey were identical for both administrations. Measures Because this study was part of a larger investigation of organizational change, our measures differed slightly from those used by Herscovitch and Meyer (2002). Specifically, to reduce the length of the survey, we included only the behavioral continuum measure of support and used an abbreviated form of the commitment to change measure. All measures included in this study had acceptable reliabilities (see Table 1) and, unless specified, used five-point (1 ¼ strongly disagree; 5 ¼ strongly agree) Likert-type scales. Organizational commitment AC, NC and CC to the organization were measured using a revised 18-item (six for each component) version of Allen and Meyer’s (1990; Meyer, Allen, & Smith 1993) scales. Sample items are, ‘This organization has a great deal of personal meaning for me’, ‘I would feel guilty if I left my organization now’ and ‘I believe I have too few options to consider leaving this organization’, respectively. Commitment to the change AC, NC and CC to the change initiative were measured using 12 items (four for each form) derived from the measure developed by Herscovitch and Meyer (2002). Sample items are, ‘I believe in the value of this change’, ‘I feel a sense of duty to work toward this change’ and ‘I have no choice but to go along with this change,’ respectively. Behavioural support for the change Behavioural support for the change was assessed using the 101-point behavioural continuum developed by Herscovitch and Meyer (2002). The continuum reflects a range of support behaviours that can be exhibited toward a change. Points along the continuum were labelled as follows: active resistance (i.e. demonstrating opposition in response to a change by engaging in overt behaviours that are intended to ensure that the change fails), passive resistance (i.e. demonstrating opposition in response to a

192 John P. Meyer et al.

Table 1. Means, standard deviations, reliabilities and correlations among the Study 1 variables
2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14

Variables

M

SD

1

2.92 (.85) .07 .18** .29** 2.02 .44** .55** (.72) 2.20** .19** .23** (.66) 2.22** (.87) (.83)

.89

(.85)

2.17

.78

.60**

2.68

.84

2.15**

3.42

.73

.32**

3.22

.66

.23**

3.21

.72

2.14**

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1. Affective commitment – org. (T1) 2. Normative commitment – org. (T1) 3. Continuance commitment – org. (T1) 4. Affective commitment – change (T1) 5. Normative commitment – change (T1) 6. Continuance commitment – change (T1) 7. Support for change (T1) .24** 2.18** .47** .21** – 2.16**

71.11

15.86

.39**

Table 1. (Continued) 2 .39** .61** .06 .04 .17** .13* .12* .48** .30** .14* .25** .30** .12** .17** (.65) 2.37** .50** .04 .36** .35** .15** (.89) 2.27** 2.30** .73** 2.24** .20** .45** .06 (.83) 2.22** 2.19** .01 .14* .16** 2.08 .18** .60** (.86) 2.20** .30** .13* .26** (.86) 2.14* 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14

Variables

M

SD

1

3.04

.88

.64**

2.25

.78

.47**

2.66

.83

2.14*

3.45

.73

.26**

3.22

.66

.14**

3.14

.71

2.00 .12* .38** .41** .53** .00 .09* .41**

2.09

2.06

2.24**

.58**

(.72)

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8. Affective commitment – org. (T2) 9. Normative commitment – org. (T2) 10. Continuance commitment – org. (T2) 11. Affective commitment – change (T2) 12. Normative commitment – change (T2) 13. Continuance commitment – change (T2) 14. Support for change (T2) .06 2.36** .38** .12* .42** .41** .25** 2.23** 2.25** .58** .24** 2.08 –

72.83

15.51

.30**

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Commitment and organizational change 193

Note. Reliabilities are presented on the diagonal in parentheses. Sample size ranges from 679 to 684 for correlations among Time 1 measures, from 623 to 627 for correlations among Time 2 measures and from 336 to 337 for correlations between Time 1 and Time 2 measures. For support for change, 1 ¼ extreme active resistance and 100 ¼ full championing of the change. *p , .05; **p , .01.

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194 John P. Meyer et al.

change by engaging in covert or subtle behaviours aimed at preventing the success of the change), compliance (i.e. demonstrating minimum support for a change by going along with the change, but doing so reluctantly), cooperation (i.e. demonstrating support for a change by exerting effort when it comes to the change, going along with the spirit of the change and being prepared to make modest sacrifices) and championing (i.e. demonstrating extreme enthusiasm for a change by going above and beyond what is formally required to ensure the success of the change and promoting the change to others). A written description of each of the anchors was provided. Participants placed a slash through the portion of the continuum that best characterized their change-relevant behaviour. Scores from 0 to 20 corresponded to active resistance, scores from 21 to 40 corresponded to passive resistance, scores from 41 to 60 corresponded to compliance, scores from 61 to 80 corresponded to cooperation and scores from 81 to 100 corresponded to championing.

Results
The means, standard deviations, reliabilities and correlations among the variables are reported in Table 1. In absolute terms, organizational commitment, commitment to the change and behavioural support for the change were fairly consistent across the 8-month period; t-test comparisons of means revealed no significant differences. However, inspection of the correlations between corresponding measures reveals considerable change in the rank ordering of employees’ ratings over time (rs range from .42 to .73).

Relations between the commitment components and behavioural support for the change Because we only included the behavioural continuum measure of support in this study, we could not test hypotheses pertaining to relations with specific forms of focal (compliance) and discretionary (cooperation and championing) behaviour. Instead, we examined the within-time correlations between the three components of commitment and the behavioural support continuum reported in Table 1. High scores on the continuum measure reflect high levels of discretionary behaviour in support of the change. Consistent with hypothesis 2, AC and NC correlated positively with behavioural support on both occasions (r ¼ :38 and .12 at Time 1; r ¼ :58 and .24 at Time 2), whereas CC correlated negatively on both occasions (r ¼ 2:23 and 2 .08), albeit not significantly at Time 2. Thus, employees with stronger AC and NC tended to report higher levels of discretionary support than did those with weaker commitment, whereas those with stronger CC tended to report lower levels of support than those with weaker commitment. To test the hypothesis that commitment to the organization and to the change initiative would both relate significantly to behavioural support, but that commitment to the change would account for a greater proportion of the variance than would commitment to the organization, we conducted two hierarchical regression analyses. In the first, we entered the three components of organizational commitment as predictors in Step 1, and the three components of commitment to the change in Step 2. In the second, we reversed the order of entry. The changes in R 2 at each step in these analyses are reported in Table 2. Commitment to the organization accounted for 16 and 20% of the variance at Time 1 and Time 2, respectively, when entered first, and

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Commitment and organizational change 195 Table 2. Hierarchical regression analyses: predicting behavioural support prior to and following the change from organizational commitment and commitment to the change initiative (Study 1) Discretionary support Time 1 R2 Order 1 Step1 Organizational commitment Step 2 Commitment to the change Order 2 Step 1 Commitment to the change Step 2 Organizational commitment DR2 R2 Time 2 DR2

.16** .30**

– .13**

.20** .40**

– .20**

.25** .30**

– .04**

.35** .40**

– .05**

Note. The predictors were measured at the same time as the criterion variables. *p , .05; **p , .01.

accounted for an additional 4 and 5% of the variance, respectively, when entered second. In contrast, commitment to the change accounted for 25 and 35% of the variance at Time 1 and Time 2, respectively, when entered first, and accounted for an additional 13 and 20% of the variance, respectively, when entered second. Thus, hypothesis 3 is supported. Profile comparisons To test the hypothesis that support for the change initiative would vary across groups with differing profiles of commitment to the change (hypotheses 5a–c), we created eight profile groups (i.e. high AC, high NC, high CC; high AC, high NC, low CC; etc.) by performing median splits on each of the three commitment scales. We then compared the mean behavioural support scores across groups by conducting a one-way ANOVA, followed by post hoc comparisons of means (Bonferonni t tests). The ANOVAs confirmed that behavioural support did vary across profile groups at both Time 1 (F½7; 678Š ¼ 23:82, p , .01) and Time 2 (F½7; 622Š ¼ 33:56, p , .01). The results of the individual profile comparisons are summarized in Figure 1. In support of our prediction that employees would comply with the change as long as one component of commitment was strong (hypothesis 5a), mean scores on the support continuum for all profile groups with one or more high scores exceeded 40 (i.e. the minimum score in the compliance range) at both Time 1 and Time 2. Contrary to expectation, however, the means for the uncommitted group also exceeded 40 on both occasions. To test our hypothesis that strong AC alone or strong NC alone is sufficient to induce employees to go beyond compliance (i.e. cooperating with or championing the change), whereas strong CC alone is not (hypothesis 5b), we first examined the means for the three pure commitment groups (profiles 4, 6 and 7) to determine whether they exceeded 60 (the minimum score in the cooperation range). At Time 1, the means for the pure AC group (78.7) and the pure NC group (72.5) exceeded 60, but the mean for

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196 John P. Meyer et al.

Figure 1. Means on the behavioural continuum for commitment to change profiles, Study 1. Note. Means denoted by different letters are significantly different at p , .01.

the pure CC group (57.5) did not. At Time 2, the means for all three pure commitment groups exceeded 60, although the mean for the pure CC groups exceeded it only slightly (62.1) and did not differ significantly from the mean for the uncommitted group (60.5). The mean for the pure AC group (81.0) was significantly higher than the means for both the pure CC and uncommitted groups. Indeed, the mean for the pure AC group exceeded the minimum score in the championing range (i.e. 80). Although the mean for the pure NC group (68.7) was also higher than that for the pure CC and uncommitted groups, the difference was not significant. Thus, our findings provide partial support for hypothesis 5b. To test hypothesis 5c, that CC tempers employees’ willingness to engage in discretionary forms of support behaviour, particularly for employees with strong AC, we

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Commitment and organizational change 197

compared profiles in which AC and CC were both high with corresponding profiles in which CC was low. Although not significant, the differences were in the expected direction in three of four comparisons; the only reversal was at Time 2 where we found that support for fully committed employees (i.e. those for whom all three forms of commitment were strong) was almost identical to that for employees with strong AC and NC commitment but weak CC (80.1 vs. 79.3). Therefore, there is some, albeit weak, support for hypothesis 5c. Time-lagged relations between commitment and support We tested the hypothesis that change in commitment to the change initiative would be associated with change in the level of behavioural support (hypothesis 6) using data obtained from the 337 non-executives who completed both surveys. We conducted multiple regression analyses with behavioural support at Time 2 as the criterion variable. The predictors were entered in three steps. First, we entered Time 1 support to control for any stability in the criterion over time. Next, we entered the Time 1 commitment variables. Finally, we entered the Time 2 commitment variables. Strong support for our hypothesis requires that, for each form of commitment, the regression coefficient for the Time 1 measure be significant and negative, the regression coefficient for the Time 2 measure be significant and positive and the two regression coefficients be approximately equal in magnitude. Edwards (1994; Edwards & Parry, 1993) demonstrated that this pattern of coefficients justifies the inference that it is the algebraic difference between two measures that is associated with the criterion. Weaker support is provided if the Time 2 measures of commitment are associated with Time 2 behavioural support, even with the Time 1 measures controlled. The results of this analysis are reported in Table 3. As expected, behavioural support at Time 1 accounted for significant variance in support at Time 2 (R 2 ¼ :17, p , .01). Thus, there was some stability in support over time. The change in R 2 was significant at both Steps 2 (DR 2 ¼ :09, p , .01) and 3 (DR 2 ¼ :18, p , .01). In Step 2, AC and NC related positively to support at Time 2, even with support at Time 1 controlled, whereas CC related negatively. Of particular interest are the regression coefficients at Step 3. For AC and NC, the unstandardized regression coefficients at Time 2 were significant and positive (B ¼ 9:20, p , .01 and 4.90, p , .01, respectively) and therefore provided weak support for hypothesis 6. Controlling for support and commitment at Time 1, those employees with stronger AC and NC at Time 2 reported stronger support for the change at Time 2. Interestingly, CC at Time 1 and Time 2 were negatively related to the change in support, but only the coefficient for the Time 1 measure was significant (B ¼ 23:33, p , .01 and 2 1.10, ns, respectively). Thus, those employees who perceived greater cost associated with failing to comply with the change initiative at Time 1 were less likely to increase their level of discretionary support for the change once it was in place.

Summary In this study we were able to replicate many of the findings reported by Herscovitch and Meyer (2002) using a very different sample in a different change context. Thus, we provide some evidence for the generalizability of their model of commitment to an organizational change. Perhaps more importantly, our findings provide some evidence that changes in commitment relate to changes in the level of behavioural support during the early stages of implementation. Specifically, we found that with Time 1 measures of

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198 John P. Meyer et al. Table 3. Hierarchical regression analysis: predicting Time 2 behavioural support for the change from Time 1 support and Time 1 and Time 2 commitment to the change (Study 1) Unstandardized coefficients Step 1 Behavioural support (T1) R2 Adjusted R2 Step 2 Behavioural support (T1) Affective commitment to the change (T1) Normative commitment to the change (T1) Continuance commitment to the change (T1) DR2 R2 Adjusted R2 Step 3 Behavioural support (T1) Affective commitment to the change (T1) Affective commitment to the change (T2) Normative commitment to the change (T1) Normative commitment to the change (T2) Continuance commitment to the change (T1) Continuance commitment to the change (T2) DR2 R2 Adjusted R2 Note. T1 ¼ Time 1; T2 ¼ Time 2. *p , .05; **p , .01. Variance explained

.40** .17** .17 .24** 3.60** 3.75** 25.12** .09** .25** .25 .17** .10 9.20** 1.68 4.90** 23.33** 21.10 .18** .44** .43

support and commitment controlled, the Time 2 measures of AC and NC related positively to the residual Time 2 support measure. Interestingly, although CC related negatively to change in support as expected, it was the Time 1 rather than the Time 2 measure that related significantly. We discuss the implications of these findings in more detail in the General discussion.

STUDY 2
One of our primary objectives in this study was to replicate the findings of Herscovitch and Meyer (2002) in a different societal culture. Admittedly, the opportunity to collect data in India was one of convenience, and this study was not intended to provide a true cross-cultural comparison. Therefore, we did not test any specific hypotheses. However, it is important to consider ways in which Indian culture differs from that of Canada, where our Study 1 and Herscovitch and Meyer’s data were collected, and how these culture differences might affect generalizability. When compared on the culture dimensions identified by Hofstede (2002) and the Global Leadership and Organizational Behavior Effectiveness (GLOBE) project (House, Hanges, Javidan, Dorfman, & Gupta, 2004), the most notable differences are on the individualism/collectivism (particularly in-group collectivism) and power distance dimensions. India scores higher than Canada

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Commitment and organizational change 199

on in-group collectivism (i.e. the degree to which individuals express pride, loyalty and cohesiveness in their organizations or families) and power distance (i.e. the extent to which a community accepts and endorses authority, power differences and status privileges). In their meta-analysis of organizational commitment research, Meyer et al. (2002) found considerable support for the three-component model in studies conducted both inside and outside North America. In a more recent follow-up to this analysis, Stanley et al. (2007) provided further support for the generalizability of the model, but also found some evidence for moderating effects of the GLOBE culture dimensions, including in-group collectivism and power distance. For example, they found that NC related more strongly with thoughts of quitting (negatively) in countries with higher ingroup collectivism practice scores. They also found a stronger negative relation between NC and thoughts of quitting in countries with higher power-distance practice scores. In addition, recent studies have reported significant correlations between the components of commitment and individual differences in the internalization of cultural values, including individualism/collectivism and power distance (e.g. Clugston, Howell, & Dorfman, 2000; Wasti, 2003). In light of the strong evidence for generalizability in the case of organizational commitment, we expected to find evidence for the generalizability of Herscovitch and Meyer’s (2002) model of commitment to a change. However, we were also sensitive to the potential for culture differences and therefore scrutinized our findings carefully for evidence of such differences. A second objective in this study was to introduce a refinement to the measurement of behavioural compliance to allow a more complete test of some of the predictions made by the model. Compliance can be conceptualized in two ways: (a) willingness to do what is asked and (b) willingness to do only what is asked. The measure used by Herscovitch and Meyer (2002) reflects the first of these. When defined and operationalized as a willingness to do what is asked, compliance does not preclude higher levels of support. It is perhaps for this reason that Herscovitch and Meyer found that all three forms of commitment to change correlated positively with compliance. In this study we also included a measure to reflect the second conceptualization, which we labelled mere compliance. Including this measure allowed us to test Meyer and Herscovitch’s (2001) suggestion that employees with a strong CC would restrict their behaviour to the terms of the commitment, whereas those with strong AC or NC would be more flexible. Specifically, we tested the following hypothesis:
Hypothesis 8. CC to change correlates positively with mere compliance, whereas AC and NC correlate negatively.

Method
Research setting This study was conducted in one of the largest and oldest (96 years) private sector organizations in India and was part of a larger study on organizational restructuring. This organization had established a strong reputation for its orientation toward employee welfare and continued to enjoy good labour relations even after restructuring. Despite downsizing its workforce by about 30%, the organization was continuing to improve in terms of productivity, profits and modernization. Initial cutbacks involved mostly unionized employees. Consequently, the organization found itself with too many

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200 John P. Meyer et al.

managers (approximately 5,000) and layers of management (15). Problems were also identified with the ways in which management designations were assigned. Managers were often promoted (i.e. given new titles) without much change in their job profiles, and the assigned designations often did not reflect the relative worth or impact of the job on the business. Therefore, in the year 2000, the company embarked upon a new restructuring programme. As part of the restructuring, all managers were evaluated in assessment centres and the results were used in making placement decisions. Based on these assessments and an evaluation of past performance, relations with some managers were severed. In addition to continued downsizing, the organization delayered by a third. At the time of this study, the manager assessment part of the restructuring exercise was completed and managers were redeployed. However, many of the changes necessary to support this restructuring (e.g. changes to training and development, and performance management systems) were still in progress. Sample and procedures One of the objectives of the broader research programme was to examine organizational commitment as a potential antecedent of commitment to change; hence, data were collected in two phases. Data on organizational commitment were collected in phase I in May 2003. In this phase, a survey was administered to managers from different departments of the company. Participation from all major departments and management levels (except the top-level managers) was invited in order to make the sample representative. Approximately 900 copies of the survey were sent through organizational channels, but about 60 of them were returned due to non-availability of the respondents or incorrect addresses. Of the remaining 840, 383 managers (45%) responded, with 379 providing usable data. Of these 379 respondents, about 280 who were identifiable by means of a survey code were asked to complete a second survey in August 2003. This second survey included the commitment to the change and behavioural support measures and was completed by 129 managers (46% response rate). For the purposes of this study, analyses were conducted using data from the 129 respondents who completed both surveys. The majority of the 129 respondents were from the two lower levels (levels 4 and 5) of management (approximately 35% from each). The sample was predominantly male (95%). The average age was approximately 42 years and the average tenure with the company was 18.4 years. To determine whether this sample differed from the 151 identifiable respondents who completed the first survey only, we conducted independent group t tests on the available demographic and Time 1 study variables (i.e. organizational commitment scales). None of the differences was statistically significant. Measures All measures included in this study had acceptable reliabilities (see Table 4) and, unless specified, used seven-point (1 ¼ strongly disagree; 7 ¼ strongly agree) Likert-type scales. Commitment We used the Meyer et al. (1993) 18-item measure of organizational commitment. Commitment to the change was measured using the 18-item scale developed by

Table 4. Descriptive statistics, reliabilities and correlations among the Study 2 variables SD 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

M

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. (.83) 2.11 2.30** .14 2.30** 2.36** .42** 2.11 2.23* 2.37** (.67) .19* 2 .06 .18* .46** 2 .39** .23** .54** .57** (.77) .11 .59** .14 2 .13 .12 .25** .28** (.86) .28** 2.19 .13 2.12 2.12 .004 (.82) .08 2 .04 .09 .16 .22* – 2.45** .25* .61** .62** (.90) 2 .09 2 .30** 2 .41** (.78) .56** .42** (.71) .74**

Affective commitment – change Continuance commitment – change Normative commitment – change Affective commitment – org. Continuance commitment – org. Normative commitment – org. Behavioral continuum Mere compliance Compliance Cooperation Championing

5.18 4.27 4.85 5.28 4.48 4.47 72.57 3.62 5.98 5.48 5.80

1.54 1.38 1.00 1.17 1.44 1.36 18.42 1.50 0.81 0.70 0.89

(.94) 2 .55** .59** .39** 2 .05 .37** .66** 2 .46** .36** .59** .68**

(.91)

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Commitment and organizational change 201

Note. Reliabilities (coefficient alpha) are presented in the diagonal in parentheses. A – indicates a single item. *p , .05; **p , .01.

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202 John P. Meyer et al.

Herscovitch and Meyer (2002). Both instruments include six items for each of the AC, NC and CC components (see Study 1 for sample items). Behavioural support for the change We used the two measures of behavioural support developed by Herscovitch and Meyer (2002). The first measure was the same 101-point behavioural continuum used in Study 1. The second measure used was a set of multi-item scales intended to reflect compliance (three items: e.g. ‘I accept role changes’), cooperation (eight items: e.g. ‘I work toward the change consistently’), and championing (six items: e.g. ‘I encourage the participation of others in the change’). In addition, we included a five-item measure of mere compliance for this study. Three of the items were adapted from Herscovitch (1999) and the authors developed two additional items. A sample item is, ‘I will only do what is absolutely necessary when it comes to this change’.

Results
Because this study was conducted in a different societal culture, we began by examining the factor structure of the commitment to change scales. We conducted a principal axis factor analysis with a direct oblimin rotation that allowed for correlations among the factors. The analysis revealed three factors with eigenvalues greater than 1.0 and accounting for 62.3% of the common variance. A scree plot also suggested three factors. Although the three factors were primarily defined by AC, NC and CC items, respectively, several of the NC items loaded more highly on, or cross-loaded on, the AC factor. Therefore, although AC and CC were clearly distinguishable from one another, AC and NC were not. For purposes of hypothesis testing, we treated NC as a separate scale, but note that findings concerning this scale must be interpreted with caution. The means, standard deviations and reliability estimates for all of the study variables are reported in Table 4. Relations between the commitment components and behavioural support for a change To test our hypotheses concerning the relations between the components of commitment to the change and both non-discretionary and discretionary support for the change, we examined the relevant correlations in Table 4. As expected, AC and NC to the change correlated positively with self-reported compliance (r ¼ :36 and .23, respectively), cooperation (r ¼ :59 and .54, respectively) and championing (r ¼ :68 and .57, respectively), and negatively with mere compliance (r ¼ 2:46 and 2 .39, respectively). Although CC to the change did not correlate significantly with compliance (r ¼ 2:11), it did correlate significantly with mere compliance (r ¼ :42) and with cooperation and championing (r ¼ 2:23 and 2 .37, respectively) as expected. Thus, hypotheses 1, 2 and 8 are largely supported. To test the hypotheses that commitment to the organization and to the change initiative would both relate significantly to behavioural support, but that commitment to the change would account for a greater proportion of the variance than would commitment to the organization, we conducted hierarchical regression analyses similar to those in Study 1. The results are reported in Table 5. Commitment to the organization accounted for a significant portion of the variance for two of the five support measures (cooperation and championing; R 2 ¼ :09 and .08, respectively) when entered first, but did not account for significant incremental variance in any of the analyses when entered second. In contrast,

Table 5. Hierarchical regression analyses: predicting behavioural support prior to and following the change from organizational commitment and commitment to the change initiative (Study 2)

Compliance DR2 R2 DR2 R2 DR2 R2 DR2 R2 DR2

Mere compliance

Cooperation

Championing

Behavioural continuum

R2

.04 .12** .33* .29** .41** .33** .52** .43**

.04

.09*

.08* .48**

.06 .41**

.15**

Order 1 Step1 Organizational commitment Step 2 Commitment to the change Order 2 Step 1 Commitment to the change Step 2 Organizational commitment .30** .02 .33** .03 .41** .01 .52** .40** .52** .01 .44** .48**

.14**

.15**

.04

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Commitment and organizational change 203

*p , .05; **p , .01.

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204 John P. Meyer et al.

commitment to the change accounted for significant variance in all five criteria when entered first (R 2 ¼ :14 to .52) and accounted for significant incremental variance in all five analyses when entered second (R 2 ¼ :12 to .43). Thus, hypothesis 3 is supported. It is interesting to note that, despite their failure to separate in the factor analysis, AC and NC to the change both accounted for unique variance in analyses involving discretionary support (cooperation and championing) as the dependent variable. Interactions among the commitment components To test hypothesis 4 concerning the interaction of the three commitment components in the prediction of compliance behaviour, we conducted moderated multiple regression analyses using the compliance measure as the dependent variable. We entered the commitment to change variables in Step 1, the two-way interaction terms in Step 2 and the three-way interaction term in Step 3. Following recommendations by Aiken and West (1991), the commitment measures were centered by subtracting the mean and the interaction terms were created by multiplying the centred values. We found that the three components of commitment to change accounted for 14% of the variance in compliance, but we found no evidence for significant two- or three-way interactions. Thus, hypothesis 4 was not supported. Profile comparisons Finally, to test the hypotheses regarding differences in support behaviour across profile groups (hypotheses 5a–c), we created subgroups with different commitment profiles by performing median splits on the three commitment to change scales. As in Study 1, we then compared the mean scores for these profile groups on the continuum measure by conducting a one-way ANOVA, followed by post hoc comparisons of means (Bonferonni t tests) (see Figure 2). There were not enough individuals in one of the profile groups (the high AC, high CC and low NC group) to be included in the analysis. Therefore, we conducted the analyses with the remaining seven groups. The one-way ANOVA revealed a significant difference in means across the seven profile groups (F½6; 87Š ¼ 10:11, p , .001). Consistent with hypothesis 5a, we found that the means for the pure AC group (80.6), the pure NC group (77.2) and the CC group (52.4) all exceeded the minimum score in the compliance range (40) on the continuum. As predicted in hypothesis 5b, the mean scores for all profile groups involving high AC and/or high NC fell within the cooperation range of the continuum or higher (i.e. above 60). We also obtained modest evidence for the predicted tempering effect of CC (hypothesis 5c). Although not significantly different, the mean support score for employees with high scores on all three components was lower than it was for employees with high scores on AC and NC commitment and low scores on CC. An unexpected finding was that the uncommitted group had a mean score (68.8) that fell within the cooperation range of the continuum. Interestingly, the mean support score for this uncommitted group was significantly higher than for the pure CC group.

Summary In this study we were able to replicate many but not all of the findings reported by Herscovitch and Meyer (2002). For example, the pattern of relations between the

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Commitment and organizational change 205

Figure 2. Means on the behavioural continuum for commitment to change profiles, Study 2. Note. Means denoted by different letters are significantly different at p , .01.

three components of commitment to the change and the non-discretionary and discretionary behavioural support measures was very similar to that observed by Herscovitch and Meyer. Similarly, behaviour varied across commitment profiles in much the same way as it did in Herscovitch and Meyer’s study. We also found that commitment to the change was a better predictor of behavioural support for the change than was commitment to the organization. However, this was not a completely fair test in this study because commitment to the organization was measured 3 months before the commitment to the change and behavioural support measures were obtained. The most notable differences in our findings compared to those of Herscovitch and Meyer (2002) was (a) our failure to provide evidence for a clear distinction between AC and NC to the change; (b) our lack of evidence for the interaction of the components of commitment in the prediction of compliance behaviour; and (c) our finding that the uncommitted group had support scores in the cooperation range. Although these discrepancies might be due to culture differences, it is important to note that we also found that the uncommitted group scored in the cooperation range in Study 1. Moreover, the fact that we did not find evidence for interactions could be due to our small sample (McClelland & Judd, 1993). Therefore, of the three differences in findings, the failure to find a clear distinction between AC and NC is perhaps the most likely candidate for a culture explanation. We explore this possibility in great detail in the General discussion below. Finally, this study demonstrates the value of distinguishing between compliance and mere compliance as outcome measures. Mere compliance implies a restriction of support to those behaviours that are required of employees. Our findings suggest that employees with strong CC are more likely to restrict their behaviour than those with weaker commitment.

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206 John P. Meyer et al.

GENERAL DISCUSSION
The results of our studies were generally consistent with prediction and with previous findings. Like Herscovitch and Meyer (2002), we found that AC and NC to a change initiative relate positively to both non-discretionary (compliance) and discretionary (cooperation and championing) support behaviour, whereas CC relates positively with compliance and negatively with discretionary support. We also found that commitment to a change accounts for more variance in support for the change than does commitment to the organization. The fact that we obtained results similar to Herscovitch and Meyer with very different samples and change contexts provides some evidence for the generalizability of their model. In addition to replicating earlier findings, our research extends previous research in several respects. First, in Study 1 we examined relations between commitment and behavioural support for a change over time. Although we did not find strong evidence for a link between change in commitment and change in level of support, we did find that (a) levels of commitment going into the change related significantly to the level of support reported 7 months into the change and (b) AC and NC to the change at Time 2 related significantly and positively to level of support, even with the Time 1 measures of the predictors and criterion controlled. Interestingly, we also found that CC to the change at the outset was negatively related to support 8 months later, even when the Time 1 measure of support was controlled. We discuss this and other findings pertaining to CC in more detail below. Although still falling short in their ability to allow us to draw conclusions about causality, these findings provide stronger evidence than has been available previously (Herscovitch & Meyer, 2002; Neubert & Cady, 2001) for dynamic relations between employee commitment and support as an organizational change unfolds. Second, the findings from Study 2 allowed us to examine the generalizability of the commitment to change model to at least one non-western societal culture. This is an important consideration because management theories developed in North America are often adapted in other cultures without due consideration to their generalizability (Boyacigiller & Adler, 1991). Although there were some exceptions to be discussed below, the findings we obtained with a sample of Indian managers were very similar to those obtained by Herscovitch and Meyer (2002) with Canadian nurses. Thus, while much more work needs to be done, the model shows some promise for generalizability outside North America. Finally, the results of Study 2 also extend those of Herscovitch and Meyer (2002) by demonstrating relations between the components of commitment and ‘mere compliance’ to the requirements for change. Herscovitch and Meyer demonstrated that all three forms of commitment correlated positively with willingness to do what is minimally required by the organization to implement the change (i.e. compliance). Our findings go beyond this by demonstrating that employees with a strong CC are more likely to restrict their behaviour to what is absolutely required. In contrast, those who have strong AC and/or NC state a willingness to go beyond minimum requirements and do what is require to make the change work, even if it requires some sacrifice on their part. Cross-cultural generalizability of the commitment to change model Although our findings in Study 2 with Indian managers were similar in many respects to those reported in Study 1 with Canadian energy-sector employees and by Herscovitch

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Commitment and organizational change 207

and Meyer (2002) with Canadian nurses, there was one particularly notable exception – the results of our factor analysis failed to provide clear evidence of a distinction between AC and NC to the change. It should be kept in mind, however, that despite this evidence for distinctiveness, AC and NC to the change both accounted for unique variance in regression analyses predicting discretionary support for the change (i.e. cooperation and championing). Moreover, we cannot rule out the possibility that other factors, including the nature of the sample and/or the nature of the change initiative, may have contributed to the stronger relation between AC and NC in the Indian sample. Nevertheless, we speculate here on ways that differences in societal culture might have contributed to this finding. Our objective is to identify potential limits to cross-cultural generalizability to be explored in future research. As noted earlier, a comparison of the Canadian and Indian cultures reveals differences on the individualism/collectivism and power distance dimensions (Hofstede, 2002; House et al., 2004). Compared with Canadians, citizens of India are more likely to express pride, loyalty and cohesiveness in their organizations or families, and to accept and endorse authority, power differences and status privileges. These differences could affect the nature of commitment across the two cultures, as well as its relations to behaviour. It is perhaps not surprising that the most notable difference across studies involved the relation between AC and NC. These components are generally positively related, but the relation has been found to vary considerably across studies. In their meta-analysis, Meyer et al. (2002) reported an overall corrected correlation of .63 between AC and NC to organizations. They also found that the correlation was greater in studies conducted outside North America (r ¼ :69) than in studies conducted within North America (r ¼ :59). Studies in collectivist cultures such as China (Cheng & Stockdale, 2003), South Korea (Chen & Francesco, 2003; Ko, Price, & Mueller, 1997) and Turkey (Wasti, 2005) have reported particularly strong correlations between AC and NC. Wasti (2002) suggested that the strong societal norms that exist in collectivist cultures not only make NC a particularly salient component of commitment, but might also affect its relations with AC and CC. Recent findings by Gellatly et al. (2006) might help to explain why the correlation between NC and the other two components vary with context, including societal culture. They noted that the obligation characterizing NC could take two forms: moral imperative and indebted obligation. In the former, obligation tends to be accompanied by desire (AC), such that the individual wants to do what he or she believes ought to be done (i.e. because it is the right thing to do). In the latter, the obligation is based on others’ expectations and failure to fulfill their obligation is seen as a cost (CC). Although Gellatly et al. found that the ‘two faces’ of NC could be seen within an organization and therefore within cultures, it is possible that the prevalence of the each will vary across cultures. For example, Janoff-Bulman and Leggatt (2002) recently found that Latino students (collectivists) were more likely that American students (individualists) to experience both a sense of ‘want’ and ‘should’ with regard to the fulfilment of social obligations. American students tended to believe that they should fulfil their social obligations, but were much less likely than Latinos to want to do so. Thus, desire (AC) and obligation (NC) might be more strongly related in a collectivist culture like India. In light of the foregoing discussion, it is interesting to note that the correlation between NC and AC to the organizational change was stronger in our Indian sample than in our Canadian sample, whereas the correlation between NC and CC was stronger in the Canadian sample than in the Indian sample. This might suggest that the Indian mangers were more accepting of their obligations than were the Canadian employees, perhaps

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208 John P. Meyer et al.

because of their greater acceptance of authority in general (power distance) or their desire to do what is in the best interests of the organization (collectivism). In contrast, Canadian employees might have been more inclined to focus on the costs of failing to fulfill their obligations. However, it is important to note that the correlations between NC and AC in Herscovitch and Meyer’s (2002) samples of Canadian nurses were more in line with that for our Indian managers than for our Canadian energy-sector employees. The correlations between NC and CC for the Canadian nurse samples fell between the correlations observed in our two studies. Arguably, nurses as a group display a greater collectivist orientation than other employee groups, even within individualist societies. Therefore, if societal culture does affect the relations among the components of commitment, this effect is likely to be moderated by other factors, including the extent to which the dominant values within a culture are internalized (cf. Clugston et al., 2000; Wasti, 2003). Researchers who test the cross-cultural generalizability of the threecomponent model in future research would be well advised to assess the extent to which culture values have been internalized by the samples under consideration.

Limitations As we noted earlier, the two studies reported here both make a contribution to our understanding of the link between commitment and support for an organizational change. However, these studies are not without limitations. Some of these limitations were alluded to above, including the fact that we did not conduct a true cross-cultural comparison and that even our longitudinal analysis does not allow us to draw firm conclusions about causality. Moreover, there are many differences in the samples and settings in our studies and those conducted by Herscovitch and Meyer (2002). Although this is helpful in making judgments about generalizability when the findings converge, it makes it difficult to explain differences. Perhaps the other most notable limitation in the present research was our reliance on self-report measures of both commitment and behavioural support. This creates a potential common-method bias problem that makes the interpretation of zero-order correlations more difficult. However, common method bias is less problematic for tests of hypotheses concerning incremental, interaction or time-lagged effects because the variance explained by common method is partialled out in the first step of the regression analysis. The fact that we have only self-report measures of support might also raise concerns about self-serving bias. We attempted to minimize this concern by ensuring anonymity in both studies. Our decision to use self-report measures was driven in part by the fact that objective measures of support would be difficult to attain given the variability in the way the changes would affect participants and in the nature of their responses. We also recognized that ratings made by others (peers, supervisors) could be inaccurate. For example, supervisors and peers might have little opportunity to observe the participants’ change-related behaviours. Indeed, resistant behaviours might be intentionally hidden from others. Nevertheless, we acknowledge that it might be useful to obtain multi-source data in subsequent research.

Implications for change management
Our findings, in conjunction with the few other empirical studies of the relations between commitment and support for organizational change (Herscovitch & Meyer, 2002;

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Commitment and organizational change 209

Neubert & Cady, 2001), are consistent with the claim that employee commitment is a key to the successful implementation of organizational change (e.g. Bennis, 2000; Connor, 1992; Klein & Sorra, 1996). Commitment to the organization itself would appear to be beneficial, but commitment to the change initiative might be even more important. However, not all commitments are alike. Not surprisingly, AC was found to have the strongest positive relations with both non-discretionary and discretionary support, both within and across time, and in both North American and Indian organizations. NC was also positively related and made an incremental contribution to the prediction of support in the Canadian sample, but was not distinguishable from AC in the Indian sample. Neither our research nor that conducted by Herscovitch and Meyer (2002) specifically addressed the antecedents of AC or NC, but based on commitment theory (e.g. Meyer & Allen, 1997; Meyer & Herscovitch, 2001) and studies addressing related reactions to change, including openness (e.g. Wanberg & Banas, 2000), readiness (Armenakis, Harris, & Mossholder, 1993) and coping (Judge, Thoreson, Puckic, & Welbourne, 1999), we can speculate that among the important antecedents will be fairness in the implementation of the change (Daly & Geyer, 1994), trust in management (Mishra & Spreitzer, 1998), communication (Schweiger & DeNisi, 1991) and effective leadership (Sagie & Koslowski, 1994). These are relations that need to be examined in future research. Finally, our findings provide very strong evidence to indicate that CC does not substitute for AC or NC commitment to a change initiative. Although few change managers might claim to use strategies specifically intended to foster CC, we suspect that it might become a strategy of default if careful attention is not paid to finding ways to develop AC or NC. The latter strategies (e.g. building trust, communication) take time, and time is often in short supply under conditions of change. Consequently, in the absence of clear signs of justice, support and leadership, employees might view management as having a ‘do it or else’ attitude, particularly if the changes involve layoffs or cutbacks that signal to employees that their jobs are in jeopardy. Our findings suggest that employees who comply with the requirements for change primarily because of the perceived costs of failing to do so will do little more than what is required of them. The uncertainties surrounding change often make it difficult for management to anticipate all of the things that employees will need to do to make the change work. They must therefore rely on employees to buy into the change and to determine what they need to do to be effective. Employees with strong AC and/or NC are likely to do so. Those with a strong CC alone are not.

References
Aiken, L. S., & West, S. G. (1991). Multiple regression: Testing and interpreting interactions. Newbury Park, CA: Sage. Allen, N. J., & Meyer, J. P. (1990). The measurement and antecedents of affective, continuance and normative commitment. Journal of Occupational Psychology, 63, 1–18. Armenakis, A. A., Harris, S., & Field, H. (1999). Paradigms of organizational change: Change agent and change target perspectives. In R. Golembiewski (Ed.), Handbook of organizational behavior. New York: Marcel Dekker. Armenakis, A. A., Harris, S. G., & Mossholder, K. W. (1993). Creating readiness for change. Human Relations, 46, 681–703. Becker, T. E., Billings, R. S., Eveleth, D. M., & Gilbert, N. L. (1996). Foci and bases of employee commitment: Implications for job performance. Academy of Management Journal, 39, 464–482.

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