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2006, 15 (1), 29 – 45

The relationships among commitment to change, coping with change, and turnover intentions
George B. Cunningham
Dept. of Health and Kinesiology, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX, USA

Recent research has adopted a micro, people-oriented focus to the study of organizational change, where the focus is on individual employee behaviours, attitudes, and cognitions. The purpose of this study is to integrate and expand this research by examining the relationship among commitment to change, coping with change, and turnover intentions. Data were collected from 299 employees of 10 organizations undergoing significant organizational change. Results from structural equation modelling indicate that (a) the relationship between affective commitment to change and turnover intentions was fully mediated by coping with change, (b) the relationship between continuance commitment to change and turnover intentions was only partially mediated by coping with change, and (c) normative commitment to change had a direct impact on turnover intentions. Results are discussed in terms of implications for managing organizational change.

As labour forces, technologies, and various environmental factors continue to change, so too do organizations. As a result, considerable research has been devoted to understanding the change and development process. Recent reviews of this literature have demonstrated that theories used to study change—such as population ecology (Hannan & Freeman, 1977), institutional theory (DiMaggio & Powell, 1983; Oliver, 1992), and resource dependence (Pfeffer & Salancik, 1978)—are principally macro focused (Cunningham, 2002; Van de Ven & Poole, 1995). As a result, this research largely focuses on organizational and systems-level variables, such as institutional pressures for change, environmental factors, the firm’s strategic orientation, age, and size, and various design factors. Of the studies that

Correspondence should be addressed to George B. Cunningham, Dept. of Health and Kinesiology, Texas A&M University, TAMU 4243, College Station, TX 77843-4243, USA. Email: Ó 2006 Psychology Press Ltd DOI: 10.1080/13594320500418766



have examined individual factors, almost all have focused on top managers (e.g., transformational leadership; Amis, Slack, & Hinings, 2004) or management teams (e.g., upper echelon theory; Hambrick & Mason, 1984). As an alternative perspective, researchers have begun to adopt a more micro focus of change by examining the individuals within the organization and the psychological factors influencing change efforts (Herscovitch & Meyer, 2002; Judge, Thoresen, Pucik, & Welbourne, 1999; Wanberg & Banas, 2000). For example, Judge et al. (1999) examined antecedents (i.e., personality) and outcomes (i.e., job performance, job satisfaction) associated with employees’ coping with organizational change, while Wanberg and Banas (2000) found that lower levels of change acceptance were related to less job satisfaction and stronger turnover intentions. More recently, Herscovitch and Meyer (2002) found validity evidence for a three-component model of commitment to change, as well as support for the linkage between commitment to change and subsequent behaviours associated with supporting change. These studies have contributed to the change literature by demonstrating the importance of psychological factors in the organizational change process. The purpose of this study was to integrate and extend these studies by further considering the relationship between commitment to change and coping with change, as well as the relationship of these variables to organizational turnover intentions. Specifically, it was expected that affective and continuance commitment to change would be significantly associated with coping with change, albeit in different directions, and that coping with change would be negatively associated with turnover intentions. The relationship between normative commitment to change and turnover intentions was thought to be direct. The framework and specific hypotheses are presented below.

Various scholars have discussed the importance of a commitment to the change initiative taking place in an organization. For example, Herscovitch and Meyer (2002) argued that ‘‘commitment is arguably one of the most important factors involved in employees’ support for change initiatives’’ (p. 474). Indeed, without such support, even the best-developed plans would fall by the wayside. Others have expressed similar notions. Huy (2002) commented that employees are more likely to collectively support organizational change programs when there is a sense of trust and attachment to the organization. Huy further commented that ‘‘wavering commitment among agents during implementation could . . . lead to organizational inertia’’ (p. 46;



see also Conner & Patterson, 1982). Finally, Conner (1992) argued that it was commitment to the change that connected employees with organizational goals for change. Despite the noted importance of commitment to organizational change, little research systematically attempting to measure the construct, its antecedents, and its outcomes. The work by Herscovitch and Meyer (2002) represents a notable exception. In drawing from Meyer and Herscovitch (2001), these authors described commitment to change as ‘‘a force (mind-set) that binds an individual to a course of action deemed necessary for the successful implementation of a change initiative’’ (p. 475). Consistent with their previous work (e.g., Meyer, Allen, & Smith, 1993), Herscovitch and Meyer further differentiated between three types of commitment to change: affective, normative, and continuance. Affective commitment to change entails supporting the initiative based on the belief that it will provide benefits to the organization. Normative commitment to change reflects a sense of obligation to the support the change programme. Finally, continuance commitment to change involves supporting the change initiative because of the recognition of the costs associated with failing to do so. Herscovitch and Meyer also demonstrated that (a) their commitment to change measure was empirically distinct from a multidimensional model of organizational commitment and (b) affective and normative commitment to change were related to various behavioural outcomes related to supporting change (i.e., championing change).

Coping with change
Another important factor in the change process is the employees’ coping behaviour when changes take place. Coping behaviour is generally defined as ‘‘conscious psychological and physical efforts to improve one’s resourcefulness in dealing with stressful events . . . or to reduce external demands’’ (Anshel, Kim, Kim, Chang, & Hom, 2001, p. 45). Research has suggested that coping is particularly important in the organizational context of change because such transformations are often accompanied by uncertainty, anger, stress, and conflict at work and at home (Ashford, 1988; Schweiger & DeNisi, 1991). Marchione and English (1982), for example, argued that ‘‘organizations must learn to cope with change’’ (p. 52), while Cunningham et al. (2002) suggested that employees who are confident in their ability to cope with change are likely better equipped to contribute to the change process. Indeed, empirical research provides support as to the importance of the ability cope with change. Cunningham et al. (2002), for example, found that confidence in the ability to cope with organizational change was positively related with readiness for change, participation in the change process, and



perceived contribution to the change. Additionally, Judge et al. (1999) found that the coping behaviour was associated with several career outcomes, including salary, organizational commitment, satisfaction, and job performance. These studies suggest that employees who successfully cope with the change initiatives are more likely to contribute to that process and to realize desired career outcomes.

Relationship between commitment to change and coping with change
Thus far, both commitment to change and coping with change have been presented as important factors influencing the change process. This study sought to integrate these findings by considering the relationship between the two factors. Herscovitch and Meyer (2002) suggested that two forms of commitment to change—affective and continuance—are likely to influence one’s coping behaviour. With respect to affective commitment, it is expected that persons with high levels of affective commitment to change will also be able to successfully cope with the changes taking place. Recall that people with an affective commitment to change believe in the value of the change, think that the change serves an important purpose to the organization, and view the change as an effective strategy (Herscovitch & Meyer, 2002). If people hold such positive attitudes toward the change process, it is likely that, although the change may be stressful at times, they will be able to cope with such transitions because it ultimately benefits the company. In this way, affective commitment serves to ‘‘buffer the effect of change-related stress on employee health and well-being’’ (Herscovitch & Meyer, 2002, p. 485). Related research in the area of affective organizational commitment has provided a similar rationale. Specifically, Antonovsky (1979) argued that affective organizational commitment allows employees to withstand the effects of tension in high-stress environments, and Begley and Czajka’a (1993) research provided empirical evidence for this contention. Based on this literature, the following hypothesis was advanced: Hypothesis 1: Affective commitment to change will be positively associated with coping with change. While affective commitment to change was expected to be positively associated with coping with change, the opposite was expected for continuance commitment to change. Recall that persons with a continuance commitment to change feel pressure to advocate the change, feel that they have little choice but to follow the change, and perceive high risk associated with not supporting the change (Herscovitch & Meyer, 2002).



Such pressures may be a source of stress themselves, in which case continuance commitment would be expected to intensify the potentially negative effects of the change rather than ameliorate them. Again, the related research in the area of organizational commitment has provided similar findings. In their study of organizations undergoing considerable change, Irving and Coleman (2003) found that continuance organizational commitment was positively associated with job tension. Meyer, Stanley, Herscovitch, and Topolnytsky (2002) provided similar findings in their meta-analysis, where continuance organizational commitment was positively associated with job stress. In all, these findings suggest the following hypothesis: Hypothesis 2: Continuance commitment to change will be negatively associated with coping with change. Although both affective and continuance commitment to change were expected to be significantly associated with the coping behaviour, there is little conceptual rationale to expect similar findings for normative commitment to change. According to Herscovitch and Meyer (2002), persons with a normative commitment to change perceive a sense of duty or obligation to work towards the change and believe it would be irresponsible to not support the change process. Based on this conceptualization of normative commitment to change, it is difficulty to envisage a manner by which such a commitment would influence one’s coping behaviour. Because of this, a specific hypothesis concerning the relationship between normative commitment to change and coping with change was not advanced.

Commitment to change, coping with change, and turnover intentions
One potential outcome of organizational change efforts is employee turnover; therefore, turnover intentions because of the change process was included an outcome of commitment to change and the ability to cope with change. Organizational change is oftentimes associated with several negative outcomes, such as stress, conflict, ambiguity, and anger (Ashford, 1988; Schweiger & DeNisi, 1991). To the extent that these change side effects are pervasive and employees do not feel they are able to cope with such effects, they may choose to leave the organization all together. Indeed, Judge et al. (1999) found a positive relationship between coping with change and several work outcomes, such as job satisfaction and job performance, thereby suggesting that persons who are able to cope with organizational change are also likely to adapt well in the workplace and realize positive career outcomes. Therefore, it was hypothesized:



Hypothesis 3: Coping with change will be negatively associated with organizational turnover intentions. In addition, it was also expected that affective, continuance, and normative commitment to change would also hold significant associations with organizational turnover intentions. Organizational turnover might be expected for persons who do not see the value in the change efforts (Shapiro & Kirkman, 1999) or who are only committed to the change because of the perceived costs of not doing so (i.e., continuance commitment). Indeed, if employees feel pressure to support change efforts and believe there is risk involved for not doing so, they might believe they are better off leaving the organization instead of remaining through the entire change process. On the other hand, employees who support the change because of its perceived value (i.e., affective commitment), or because of the sense of duty to do so (i.e., normative commitment), are unlikely to leave the organization because of the change process. For these persons, seeing the change through to completion and ensuring that the change is a success may serve as the focal point. Of course, as both affective and continuance commitment to change are expected to be positively related to coping with change, which in turn is expected to be negatively related to turnover intentions, the relationships between affective and continuance commitment and turnover intentions is likely to be mediated, at least partially, by employee coping behaviour. As Baron and Kenny (1986) note, seeking variables that partially, rather than fully, mediate relationships is a more realistic research endeavour ‘‘because most areas of psychology, including social, treat phenomena that have multiple causes’’ (p. 1176). Indeed, partial mediation is theoretically plausible because the effects affective and continuance commitment on turnover intentions could be direct (as outlined above) or observed through employee coping behaviour. On the other hand, because normative commitment is not expected to be associated with coping with change, the relationship between normative commitment to change and organizational turnover intentions is likely to be direct. This reasoning led to the following hypotheses: Hypothesis 4: Normative commitment to change will be negatively related to organizational turnover intentions. Hypothesis 5: Coping with change will mediate, at least partially, the negative relationship between affective commitment to change and organizational turnover intentions. Hypothesis 6: Coping with change will mediate, at least partially, the positive relationship between continuance commitment to change and organizational turnover intentions.



METHOD Participants
Participants were 299 employees of National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I-A athletic departments (n ¼ 10). The NCAA is the primary administrative body for university athletics in the United States, and Division I-A programmes are the largest and generally considered the most prestigious departments in the NCAA. The sample consisted of slightly more men (n ¼ 164, 54.8%) than women (n ¼ 135, 45.2%) and was largely Caucasian (n ¼ 267, 90.2%). There was a relatively even age distribution: 20 – 30 years (n ¼ 87, 29.1%); 31 – 40 years (n ¼ 75, 25.2%); 41 – 50 years (n ¼ 78, 26.1%); 51 – 60 years (n ¼ 49, 16.4%); 61 years or more (n ¼ 10, 3.3%). The mean organizational tenure was 9.01 years (SD ¼ 7.88).

Participants received a questionnaire requesting demographic information (as listed above) and to respond to items pertaining to coping with change, commitment to change, championing behaviour, and organizational turnover intentions. All items were measured using a 7-point Likert-type scale from 1 (‘‘strongly disagree’’) to 7 (‘‘strongly agree’’). Coping with change. Judge et al. (1999) developed a scale to measure problem-focused coping behaviour. Their instrument measured coping with 12 items; however, to reduce the space used on the questionnaire and the number of items to which participants had to respond (see, for example, Dillman, 2000), the scale was reduced to 6 items by selecting those items with the highest factor leadings from Judge et al.’s original research. A sample item is ‘‘I think I cope with change better than most of those with whom I work.’’ In the present study, the reliability (a) of the scale was .63— a value lower than was found in Judge et al.’s work. Further analyses revealed that the reliability was not improved through item deletion. That the reliability is under traditional cutoff limits (i.e., 70) presents a possible limitation to the study. Commitment to change. Commitment to change was measured with the 18-item scale from Herscovitch and Meyer (2002). Sample items include ‘‘this change is a good strategy for this organization’’ (affective), ‘‘I feel a sense of duty to work toward this change’’ (normative), and ‘‘it would be risky to speak out against this change’’ (continuance). In the current study, the affective (a ¼ .93), normative (a ¼ .74), and continuance (a ¼ .89) facets of commitment to change all demonstrated acceptable levels of reliability.



Organizational turnover intentions. Three items were used to measure organizational turnover intentions (e.g., ‘‘I plan on voluntarily leaving the department within the next year as a result of these changes’’). The reliability (a) of the measure was .96.

All data were collected from NCAA Division I athletic department personnel. Athletic departments were chosen for several reasons. First, major changes within the departments are made public through newspaper coverage, television coverage, and internet sites, thereby expediting identification of organizations undergoing significant change efforts. Second, and in a related manner, identification of athletic department personnel is publicly available through various sources, such as the department’s website and NCAA directories. The availability of the information made it possible to survey multiple persons within the department. Third, while athletic departments are housed within the university community, they are largely autonomous entities. Therefore, even absent change within the larger university, athletic departments can undergo significant transformation. Consequently, the study’s hypotheses were tested within the context of intercollegiate athletic departments. Change within all of the selected departments resulted from top management (i.e., athletic director) turnover, a strategic decision to realign the structure and processes of the department, or a combination of the two. These change processes had been made public, with considerable media attention devoted to them. All athletic department employees (excluding coaches and the head athletic director) from 10 NCAA Division I athletic departments (n ¼ 797) were sent a questionnaire packet, which included a cover letter explaining the purpose of the study, a questionnaire, and a postage-paid envelope. Athletic directors were excluded because it was expected that these persons were likely to be implementing the change initiatives; thus, their commitment and turnover intentions could be markedly different than other employees. Coaches were not included because their work experiences and point of attachment to the department are likely much different than that of other athletic department employees. A total of 236 persons responded to the first mailing. Three weeks after the initial mailing, a postcard was sent to all employees in the sample thanking them for their participation and encouraging nonrespondents to take part in the study. Three weeks later, an additional questionnaire packet was sent to all nonrespondents. Another 63 persons responded, bringing the total sample to 299 (37.5% response rate). Early and late respondents did not differ in their ability cope with change, their commitment to the change, or their turnover intentions. Further, there were no differences by school in the proportion of late and



early respondents. Given the lack of differences between early and late respondents, nonresponse bias is likely not a concern (Dooley & Linder, 2003).

RESULTS Degree of change
Two checks were made to ensure that the departments were undergoing significant change and to assess the extent to which there was agreement about that change. The first item read, ‘‘the changes that are being made will impact the entire department’’, and was anchored by a dichotomous response format including ‘‘agree’’ or ‘‘disagree’’. A strong majority (n ¼ 289, 97%) agreed that the changes being made would impact the entire athletic department. The interrater agreement for the measure was high, rwg ¼ .79, while the interclass correlation, ICC(2) ¼ .36, and eta-square value, Z2 ¼ .05, for the measure were both low. A second set of items examined the degree of change taking place within the department. The degree of change was assessed using three semantic differential scales in response to the following item, ‘‘For this department, the change currently taking place is . . . .’’ The three scales were significant – insignificant (reverse scored), considerable – trivial (reverse scored), and extremely minor – extremely major (a ¼ .82). The mean for the variable was high (M ¼ 5.46, SD ¼ 1.23) and significantly greater than the mid-point of the scale (4), t ¼ 19.26, p 5 .001. As with the other change variable, agreement among department employees was high, rwg ¼ .79, while variance between departments was low, Z2 ¼ .09, ICC(2) ¼ .64. Together, these results have several implications. First, participants believed that the change taking place in the department was considerable and would impact the entire entity, thereby indicating the appropriateness of the selected departments for inclusion in the study. Second, there was significant agreement among the members of the departments concerning the degree and impact of the change. Third, there was not significant variance among the departments, meaning that the degree and impact of the changes taking place was consistent across departments.

Harmon’s single-factor test
Because the data were collected on a single questionnaire, method variance becomes a potential concern. Therefore, Harmon’s single-factor test (e.g., Podsakoff & Organ, 1986) was computed through competing confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) procedures to inspect the severity of method variance. According to Korsgaard and Roberson (1995), ‘‘if method variance is a



significant problem, a simple model (e.g., single factor model) should fit the data as well as a more complex model’’ (p. 663). Therefore, three separate CFA procedures were carried out to test this possibility: (a) a single-factor model in which all items loaded to a single factor; (b) an alternative model, in which items from coping and turnover were specified as a single construct as were the items from the various facets of commitment; and (c) a hypothesized model, in which items from the turnover intentions, coping with change, affective commitment, continuance commitment, and normative commitment factors all loaded accordingly. The single-factor model was a poor fit to the data, w2(324) ¼ 3543.14, p 5 .001; root mean square residual (RMSEA) ¼ .20; comparative fit index (CFI) ¼ .71; normed fit index (NFI) ¼ .68. Results indicated that the alternative model had improved fit statistics, w2(318) ¼ 1122.13, p 5 .001, RMSEA ¼ .10; CFI ¼ .92, NFI ¼ .88. Further, the alternative model was a significantly better fit to the data than was the single-factor model, Dw2(6) ¼ 2421.01, p 5 .001. Finally, the hypothesized model demonstrated the best fit statistics, w2(314) ¼ 709.96, p 5 .001, RMSEA ¼ .07; CFI ¼ .95, NFI ¼ .92. This model was also a significantly better fit than the alternative model, Dw2(4) ¼ 412.17, p 5 .001. Therefore, results of the competing CFA procedures show that (a) the single-factor model was not a good fit to the data and (b) the hypothesized model provided the best fit to the data of the competing models. These results suggest that although the data were collected on the same questionnaire, method variance is not a significant concern.

Descriptive statistics
Means, standard deviations, and bivariate correlations are presented in Table 1. Mean scores for organizational turnover intentions were relatively low, while mean scores for coping with change and continuance commitment were moderate. Finally, the average scores for affective commitment and normative commitment were both generally high. As expected, affective
TABLE 1 Descriptive statistics Item 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Affective commitment Continuance commitment Normative commitment Coping with change Turnover intentions r  j.21j, p 5 .05. M 5.20 4.05 4.56 4.34 2.14 SD 1.32 1.66 1.07 0.89 1.70 a .93 .89 .74 .63 .96 1 – 7.45 .49 .51 7.49 2 3 4 5

– .01 7.41 .33

– .21 7.34

– 7.32



and continuance commitment to change both held significant, bivariate correlations with the coping behaviour. Finally, all forms of commitment and coping with change were significantly related to organizational turnover intentions in the expected directions.

Hypothesis testing
Structural equation modelling was used to test the study hypotheses. In line with the argument that partial mediation, rather than full mediation was possible, competing models were tested. In the first model (full mediation), the effects of affective and continuance commitment on turnover intentions are only seen through coping with change. This model was a close fit to the data, w2(317) ¼ 723.05, p 5 .001, RMSEA ¼ .07; CFI ¼ .95, NFI ¼ .91. In the second model (partial mediation), the effects of both affective and continuance commitment on turnover intentions were seen directly and through coping with change. This model was also a close fit to the data, w2(315) ¼ 710.25, p 5 .001, RMSEA ¼ .07; CFI ¼ .95, NFI ¼ .92. Further, the chi-square difference test showed that this model was statistically superior to the full mediation model, Dw2(2) ¼ 12.80, p 5 .01. Therefore, this model was accepted over the full mediation model. In the third model (affective commitment partial mediation), coping with change partially mediated the relationship between affective commitment and turnover intentions but fully mediated the relationship between continuance commitment and turnover intentions. This model was also a close fit to the data, w2(316) ¼ 719.71, p 5 .001, RMSEA ¼ .07; CFI ¼ .95, NFI ¼ .91. However, this model was a poorer fit than was the partial mediation model, Dw2(1) ¼ 9.46, p 5 .01. Thus, the partial mediation model was accepted relative to the affective commitment partial mediation model. Finally, the last model (continuance commitment partial mediation) specified coping with change as partially mediating the continuance commitment – turnover intentions relationship and fully mediating the association between affective commitment and turnover intentions. This model was a close fit to the data, w2(316) ¼ 710.65, p 5 .001, RMSEA ¼ .07; CFI ¼ .95, NFI ¼ .92. Furthermore, the model did not significantly differ from the partial mediation model, Dw2(1) ¼ 0.55, p 4 .05. Because the continuance commitment partial mediation model was the more parsimonious of the two models, it was accepted as the final model and used to test the hypotheses. The model explained 18% of the variance in organizational turnover intentions, and 58% of the variance in coping with change. An illustrative summary of the model is presented in Figure 1. For simplicity’s sake, factor loadings for each latent variable are not included in the figure. Hypothesis 1 predicted that affective commitment to change would be positively associated with the coping with change. The strong relationship



Figure 1. Illustrative summary of partially mediated model. w2(316) ¼ 710.65, p 5 .001, RMSEA ¼ .07; CFI ¼ .95, NFI ¼ .92. *p 5 .05, **p 5 .001.

between the two variables, b ¼ .72, p 5 .001, provides support to the hypothesis. Also, in support of Hypothesis 2, continuance commitment held a significant, negative association with coping with change, b ¼ 7 .17, p 5 .05. Hypothesis 3, which predicted that coping behaviour would be negatively associated with organizational turnover intentions, was supported, b ¼ 7 .36, p 5 .05, as was Hypothesis 4, which predicted that normative commitment to change would be negatively associated with organizational turnover intentions, b ¼ 7 .25, p 5 .001. Hypothesis 5 predicted that coping with change would mediate the relationship between affective commitment to change and organizational turnover intentions. This hypothesis was supported, as the effects of affective commitment on organizational turnover intentions were only seen through coping behaviour. Finally, Hypothesis 6, which predicted that coping with change would mediate the relationship between continuance commitment to change and organizational turnover intentions, received only partial support. The effects of continuance commitment to change on organizational turnover intentions were seen through coping with change and directly, b ¼ .29, p 5 .001, thereby supporting partial mediation.

Previous change research has predominantly adopted a macro approach, studying such elements as environmental factors, pressures for change,



strategic orientation, and the like (Cunningham, 2002; Van de Ven & Poole, 1995). In recognizing the potential limited nature of this emphasis, other authors have focused more on micro, people-oriented issues pertaining to change (e.g., Herscovitch & Meyer, 2002; Judge et al., 1999; Wanberg & Banas, 2000). The purpose of this study was to continue this micro focus on change by integrating and extending the previous research in this area. Specifically, this study examined the effects of the various forms of commitment to change on employee coping with change and, ultimately, organizational turnover intentions. Several points are noteworthy concerning the outcomes of the three forms of commitment to change. First, coping with change fully mediated the relationship between affective commitment to change and organizational turnover intentions. Recall that people with an affective commitment believe in the value of the change and view it as an effective organizational strategy; furthermore, employees with such a commitment are unlikely to leave the organization because of the change efforts taking place (see Table 1). However, results from the structural equation model show coping behaviour serves as an intervening variable in the negative relationship between affective commitment and turnover intentions. Specifically, employees who see the value in the change process are also likely to engage in problemfocused coping behaviour (Herscovitch & Meyer, 2002; Judge et al., 1999). And, although coping can sometimes lead to negative outcomes (Folkman & Moskowitz, 2004), in the current study, the coping behaviour resulted in low turnover intentions. Second, continuance commitment to change was related to organizational turnover intentions both directly and through coping with change. The negative relationship between continuance commitment to change and coping with change may indicate that the stress associated with pressures of continuance commitment contributes to feelings of tension and strain in the change process. Consequently, as feelings of tension and stress mount, employee coping behaviour is thought to decrease (Herscovitch & Meyer, 2002) and intentions to leave the organization increase. Finally, normative commitment to change held a significant, negative association with organizational turnover intentions. These findings suggest that as employees feel a sense of duty and obligation to support the change process, they will also be unlikely to leave the organization because of such initiatives. Given these findings, considering the possible antecedents of affective and continuance commitment to change may prove useful. In drawing from Meyer and Herscovitch (2001), affective commitment may increase when employees see the value of or participate in the change process. Indeed, others have also expressed the positive benefits of participation in the change process (Armenakis, Harris, & Mossholder, 1993). Furthermore, it is possible that change coalitions within the organization could champion the change and help others see the value of such efforts (Hirschhorn, 2002;



Kanter, 2004; Kotter, 2004). On the other hand, continuance commitment might develop when employees believe they have something to lose or feel they have few alternatives other than to support the change initiatives (Meyer & Herscovitch, 2001). It is possible that change coalitions could also influence pressures to ‘‘go along with’’ the change process. Furthermore, significant changes in one’s job or responsibilities within the organization could also influence levels of continuance commitment. Finally, according to Herscovitch and Meyer (2002), ‘‘normative commitment develops through socialization, the receipt of benefits that induces the need to reciprocate, or acceptance of the terms of a psychological contract’’ (p. 484). Additional research is needed to further explore these antecedents. Furthermore, results indicate that the coping with change was negatively associated with organizational turnover intentions. Of course, coping is not always effective and can lead to negative outcomes (for a review, see Folkman & Moskowitz, 2004). However, this finding, coupled with those of Judge et al. (1999) related to the positive career outcomes associated with coping behaviour, bring to light question of whether staffing decisions should be geared toward, at least in part, attracting persons to the organization who can effectively cope with change. Judge et al. identified two general personality characteristics that reliably predicted coping with change: positive self-concept and risk tolerance. Positive self-concept consists of an internal locus of control, high generalized self-efficacy, high self-esteem, and positive affectivity. Risk tolerance, on the other hand, is comprised of openness to experience, tolerance for ambiguity, and a low level of risk aversion. Not only are these personality characteristics reliably related to coping with change, but the elements of positive self-concept have also been shown to relate to organizational commitment (Judge et al., 1999), job satisfaction (Judge et al., 1999), and job performance (cf. Barrick, Mount, & Judge, 2001). Given these positive outcomes and the need to cope with a continually changing environment (Marchione & English, 1982), managers may do well to consider such characteristics, if only in part, when making staffing decisions. Finally, results indicate that the commitment and coping with change variables explained 18% of the variance in turnover intentions. While this portion of explained variance would certainly be meaningful to managers seeking to reduce turnover, there is still a considerable portion of unexplained variance. Research has demonstrated that several factors could also contribute to the participants’ turnover intentions, including dynamics specific to the organization, personal demographics (O’Reilly, Caldwell, & Barnett, 1989), work attitudes and affect (Meyer et al., 2002), and community-related factors external to the organization (Mitchell, Holtom, Lee, & Erez, 2001). While there were no differences in turnover intentions between the different departments’ employees, the other aforementioned



factors could contribute additional variance to the understanding of turnover intentions; thus, future researchers might consider incorporating these factors into future studies of change and turnover intentions.

It is also important to remain cognizant of the study’s limitations. First, while there were several reasons, as outlined in the Method section, for choosing the sample, that participants were all employees of athletics departments could potentially limit the generalizability of the results. However, it should be noted that there is little research to show that such employees react differently to change than do employees in other settings, and other authors have used similar samples to examine organizational behaviourrelated research questions (e.g., Cunningham & Rivera, 2001; Wolfe & Putler, 2002). Second, the cross-sectional nature of the study means that the results are simply correlational in nature, and statements of causality should be reserved. In a related way, because the data were collected on a single questionnaire, method variance is a potential concern. It should be noted, however, that these concerns are mitigated due to the encouraging results from Harmon’s single-factor test (e.g., Podsakoff & Organ, 1986). In addition, the self-report nature of the study opens the possibility for socially desirable responses. The latter two concerns could be alleviated by collecting data from multiple sources, as was done by Judge et al. (1999). Finally, as previously addressed, the low reliability (a ¼ .63) of the coping with change measure represents another limitation to the study. Future research in this area should consider using the 12-item measure developed by Judge et al. (1999) or revising the items to improve the reliability of the measure. In summary, while previous research has examined organizational change from predominantly a macro perspective, this study adopted a micro, people-oriented approach. Results indicate that coping with change at least partially mediates the relationships between affective and continuance commitment to change and turnover intentions. Further, the relationship between normative commitment to change and turnover intentions is direct. In short, this study integrates much of the previous research with a microfocus and further demonstrates the importance of garnering employee commitment to change.

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