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Corporate Communications: An International Journal

Constructing corporate commitment amongst remote employees: A disposition and
predisposition approach
Glenda Jacobs

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In doing so.1 Constructing corporate commitment amongst remote employees 42 A disposition and predisposition approach Downloaded by CHARTERED INSTITUTE OF PUBLIC RELATIONS At 04:56 13 April 2015 (PT) Glenda Jacobs Unitec Institute of Technology. Auckland. Weick. 2008 pp. it facilitates debate and discussion regarding the ways the range of influences on behaviours identified as “committed” interrelate. Hamilton. The study of commitment in relation to teleworking Teleworking[1] studies recognise both the perceived importance of securing the commitment of remote workforces. if not more useful than identifying types of commitment. Originality/value – This study and the framework it proposes for understanding commitment adds to existing research into remote workforce commitment in that it suggests new ways in which to conceptualise and examine what studies to date have identified as its constituent elements and antecedents. quality management and employee empowerment and motivation (Linstead et al. Keywords Job satisfaction.emeraldinsight. Consequently.1108/13563280810848184 Introduction Commitment noticeably underpins contemporary management goals of organisational learning.The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available at www. Design/methodology/approach – The approach to data collection and analysis is qualitative and interpretive. 2004. as well as what fosters or undermines it.htm CCIJ New Zealand and University of Waikato. Remote workers Paper type Research paper Corporate Communications: An International Journal Vol. New Zealand Abstract Purpose – This paper aims to propose a framework for examining and understanding corporate commitment amongst teleworking employees that deconstructs and expands upon approaches to date. at least additionally useful in understanding how organisational commitment in remote workforces is constructed and perpetuated. with primary data obtained by means of semi-structured interviews subsequently analysed using both open and focussed coding. Tourish and Hargie. Findings – This study illustrates the significance of distinguishing between the needs that underpin employees’ choosing to continue the relationship and their readiness to act in the organisation’s interests. 1. This method was selected because the dimensions and implications of communication practices in this particular context were largely unknown. 1995. as well as regarding the way employees’ disposition may alter the perceived meaning of such behaviours. a significant amount of research attention has focussed on exploring and understanding what commitment means. It also demonstrates that categorising the nature of the organisational relationship by identifying employees’ mental relationship models may be. studies and theoretical analyses to date have proposed a range of approaches to and ways of discussing the notion of organisational commitment. 13 No. It seeks to propose a perspective from which apparent tensions highlighted in existing studies can be understood and explored. 42-55 q Emerald Group Publishing Limited 1356-3289 DOI 10. as well as the particular challenges that doing . 2004). In particular. and to suggest new relationships and combinations of conditions that impact on the communication practices and assumptions of both managers and employees.

Staples. Hoeffling. there is a reliance on computer-mediated (supplemented by opportunities for face-to-face) communication to provide the necessary opportunities for co-incidental as well as deliberate knowledge and value sharing. 1998. What all these strategies have in common is an emphasis on employees identifying themselves as part of a group despite their physical separation from each other. as well as list serves. Jarvenpaa and Leidner. This paper. teleworkers may come to view themselves as independent contractors. For example. Ironically. Wiesenfield. collaboration and indirect forms of control are vitally dependent (Lipnack and Stamps. Nilles. These are employees whose work conditions. neglected group – that of “field-based” mobile service technicians and engineers field service engineers (FSEs). while analysis of remote working circumstances reveal the likelihood of an enhanced need for fostering employees’ commitment to their organisation. Hertel. 1999. apparent tensions highlighted in existing studies may be understood and explored. 2004). Within this framework. recognition and reward systems that emphasise collaboration. Postmes et al. discussion boards. A sense of belonging is also perceived to be the foundation for (and generator of) trust on which knowledge sharing. Connaughton and Daly. Mirchandani. 1999. “chat rooms” and similar online informal social communication arenas (Applegate. 2001. 1998). 1999. (2001) add to this condition the requirement that identification with and loyalty to the organisation (as opposed to a work team) is dependent on vertical communication with management. 1997. deals with a particular. productivity and reliability (Mirchandani. None of this is particularly problematic when teleworkers work from home. 2001. Pinsonneault and Boisvert.. work opportunities requiring team interdependence and collaboration. needs and responsibilities demand re-examination of strategies suggested to date for engaging the commitment of teleworking employees and indeed also the strategies used by researchers and practitioners for examining and explaining commitment in corporate environments. 2001. Examples of suggested strategies for fostering commitment in teleworkers include the provision of regular opportunities for face-to-face meeting and information sharing. however. 2004. by way of contrast. 1999). It is argued that without exposure to physically and spatially shared structures and systems that reinforce and maintain organisational identification. information and communication technologies facilitating group work and organised virtual meeting. Staples. and new Commitment amongst remote employees 43 . 1998). 2001. Postmes et al. Aim of this paper Studies to date raise a number of unresolved issues and questions relating not only to the nature of commitment but also to the way it can be meaningfully studied and explained. studies show that a strong bond with their organisation is considered essential to securing such employees’ motivation. Jackson. 1999. 2001). 1998. In all cases. and in doing so it proposes an alternative framework for examining and understanding corporate commitment amongst remote workforces that deconstructs and expands upon approaches to date.Downloaded by CHARTERED INSTITUTE OF PUBLIC RELATIONS At 04:56 13 April 2015 (PT) so presents. it is these very working circumstances that potentially raise the barriers to achieving it (Depickere. This paper focuses on two such perspectives as particularly relevant to the study of remote working. operating autonomously and without consideration for or motivation to pursue the goals and values of organisation that employs them (Wiesenfield.

the way attitudinal commitment is enacted and communicated could create behavioural patterns to which individuals or groups might arguably also subsequently feel bound (Brown. 1993. 1981).1 Downloaded by CHARTERED INSTITUTE OF PUBLIC RELATIONS At 04:56 13 April 2015 (PT) 44 relationships and combinations of conditions are revealed that impact on the communication practices and assumptions of both managers and employees. in which they define identification as a state of mind and the behaviour that expresses that state of mind. Brown. to a professional community). which they define as a modality: a form in which organisational identification is manifested. For example..g.. professional identification.. On the other hand. while employees’ work habits may illustrate and reinforce particular attitudes toward the organisation. Morrison and Robinson. there is a substantial body of literature that defines different types of organisational commitment. the values-based form appears most discussed and its antecedents most frequently investigated in teleworking studies. Scholl. and reinforced by present action (Linstead et al. That is. 1999) which would be of particular interest to managers of remote workforces. This would be particularly relevant in the study of remote workforces. The commitment typologies perspective In addition to studies that illustrate and examine the attitudinal/behavioural distinction. 1997. 1997. respectively. it is equally evident that particular behavioural patterns cannot in themselves be regarded as evidence of particular attitudes. However. 1982. 1996). e. these approaches can be viewed as related. by a sense of obligation (most frequently referred to as normative commitment) or by an expectation of mutual exchange (most frequently referred to as psychological contract commitment) (Meyer and Allen. Of these. The behavioural/attitudinal perspective A number of organisational studies approach commitment from a behavioural perspective. by habit or perceived cost of alternatives (most frequently referred to as continuance or calculative commitment).g. 1997). Scholl. according to which researchers define it as a state of mind: a way in which individuals think about the organisation and their role in it (Mowday et al. 1982. commitment is also approached from an attitudinal perspective.g.CCIJ 13. Cheney and Tompkins (1987) illustrate both of these perspectives in their theoretical analysis of identification and commitment. they may just as easily also be illustrating and reinforcing something else.. 1996). 2004. 2002). and also possibly because it is associated with facilitating concertive control (Barker. 2003. Adami. inspired and sustained by: emotional attachment to and identification with organisational values (most frequently referred to as affective commitment). For example. Herriot et al. Clearly. Abrahamson. who are potentially exposed to a more overtly present range of extra-organisational relational and situational distracters than their on-site colleagues. arguably because it is the form of commitment which organisations are most likely to want in their employees (Meyer and Allen. mindless habit (Cheney and Tompkins. Their analysis illustrates and reinforces not only the proposition that behaviour identified as illustrating commitment may not be the expression of identification only. Linstead et al. 1997. Mowday et al. as opposed to commitment. 2004. or historical routine). commitment is defined and examined as a process conditioned by obligation to past choices and behaviour patterns. These types are identified as. but also a form in which other structures can be actioned as well (e. but also the assumption . 1987) or other commitments (e..

a significant amount of organisational communication research and theoretical insight has focussed on the essentially communicative nature of the identification process (Cheney and Tompkins.e. Commitment amongst remote employees Downloaded by CHARTERED INSTITUTE OF PUBLIC RELATIONS At 04:56 13 April 2015 (PT) 45 Issues and questions raised by existing approaches Firstly. since the conditions for affective individual-organisation commitment are dependent on communication. since their remote work environment .that identification is the most interesting and valuable context within which to examine and understand commitment. 2003. Since. 2001. and the significance they attach to both the behaviours and attitudes that constitute and construct it. 1998. 1998. 2001. Staples. The significance and relevance of this distinction can be illustrated in terms of the difference between talking about employees being committed to the organisation (i. 1987. Barker and Camarata. the importance of organisational commitment is variously described by both scholars and practitioners in terms of employees’ willingness to remain with the organisation and be relied upon to promote and act in its interests (Postmes et al. to pursuing the interests of the organisation itself). Mowday. 2005). 1987). exploring how and whether these interrelate could be instructive in understanding how any such congruence could be assumed or achieved – and even whether congruence is necessary. and indeed of the other commonly-recognised forms of commitment. the role of communication in negotiating alternative “types” of commitment – or indeed.e. Both situations could be simultaneously be true. In such contexts. 1979. alternative constructions of commitment per se – has tended to be downplayed.e. This is particularly significant in contexts where employees’ opportunities for face-to-face (formal and informal) communication with both management and peers are eliminated or significantly reduced. 2001). Scott and Stephens. the pertinence of identification. Scott and Corman. Larson and Pepper. Scholl. Secondly. commitment describes a willingness to pursue a relationship. Meyer and Allen. might require revision and even reconceptualisation. Sometimes the focus is on one (Cheney and Tompkins.e. Staples. 1997.. it also appears that little attention has been paid to the influence on organisational commitment of the way members perceive and rationalise it.. of course: an individual could be committed to the relationship (i. given the prevailing research focus on affective commitment and organisational identification. Cheney and Tompkins. it says nothing about the type or intent of the relationship). 1987.. 2001) or sometimes both (Mowday et al. commitment describing relating to the organisation in such a way that promoting and pursuing its interests makes sense) and being committed to any relationship with – in other words. Indeed. Lastly. 2001. This study of how commitment is understood and negotiated by FSEs and their managers is useful in addressing these issues. to maintaining and pursuing the relationship as a useful means to some end) as well as being committed to the organisation (i. remaining with – the organisation (i. 1998. 1981) but frequently discussion occurs without a perceived need to distinguish between the two and/or to explain why one rather than the other is being discussed in the context of that study (Postmes et al. field service engineers – who have the choice to work as independent contractors or as organisational members – explicitly make both decisions. McCloskey. and where physical distance requires a degree of independence from the organisation.

Furthermore. however. being on the road and/or working in conditions that limit access even to e-mail. face-to-face meetings are logistically problematic because the engineers work shifts. and the researcher selected names “blind” from those lists. Selected individuals were provided with information and consent documentation a month in advance of the interviews. The purpose of this investigation was to understand. and have customer demands to meet in inelastic timeframes. and their reporting routines are as – or more – stringent and time-consuming as those found in office-based contexts. job locations and client environments. are called out unpredictably to geographically far-flung venues. The site visits were intended to acquaint the researcher. but also by wide variations in work schedules. Field service engineers’ communication options are limited not only by distance and reduced frequency. For example. finding the time to use them while working constitutes a challenge. Even where these technologies are accessible. Interview data was supplemented by site visits. the work accompaniment (minimum two days per organisation) was intended to provide insight into participants’ daily work context and in that way allow . In fact. supervision and surveillance (frequently digital) is tight. Field-based service engineers were used in this study because their work situation illustrates and in many cases exacerbates the challenges associated with remote working. FSEs have no choice as to when or where they work. and direct observation. Unlike sales personnel. These were the venues used by the respective companies for team meetings. 46 Method This paper is based on a two-year investigation into the commitment practices and perceptions of field service engineers and their managers. firstly. FSEs are valued by their companies for being self-reliant and independent problem-solvers.Downloaded by CHARTERED INSTITUTE OF PUBLIC RELATIONS At 04:56 13 April 2015 (PT) CCIJ 13. their tasks are not group tasks and despite administratively belonging to a “team” they seldom if ever need to work together. 1994). too. The participant companies provided the researcher with lists of their engineering teams and managers. Primary data was obtained by means of semi-structured interviews with 16 engineers and eight managers from two UK-based corporates. FSEs and their team managers are unable to tap into commonly-used digital communication channels. to allow them to decide whether to participate. with the organisations’ physical presence and the values that may be inferred by FSEs in their experience of it. given that these have to be deliberately and explicitly pursued in the light of the extra effort they require. Importantly. how the relationship between remote field service engineers and their employing organisation is mutually constructed and negotiated. This method was selected because the dimensions and implications of communication practices in this particular context were largely unknown (Yin.1 draws particular attention to and permits focussed examination of the function and significance of organisational ties and of the interactions that develop and sustain them. Secondly. Interviews were conducted at the regional head office (Company A) and at a leisure centre (Company B). who enjoy considerable independence and flexibility as long as they meet their targets. The managers then arranged for those individuals to be available for interviews.

interpreted and facilitated. making a special effort. Actions accounted for as maintaining the relationship. Participants in their stories and examples identified commitment to the organisation as involving acting in the organisation’s interests (for example.. accounting for doing so in terms that had much to do with the way the connection served their personal needs. in other words. cynicism and apathy. the expectations appeared to persist. immediate personal relationships. examples and preferences expressed by interviewees during the interviews. Taylor et al. and marked differences between them and perceived reality were explicitly described by FSEs as justifying feeling of hostility. This is further discussed in the following section. On the one hand. The manner in which they were prepared to conduct the relationship (e.Downloaded by CHARTERED INSTITUTE OF PUBLIC RELATIONS At 04:56 13 April 2015 (PT) for a more insightful understanding and interpretation of stories. remaining with the organisation was not identified as an expression of commitment to it. in which evidence of the one does not appear necessarily to constitute evidence of the other. For example. followed by focussed coding concentrating on key emergent themes associated with communication systems and commitment.g. However. expectations of belonging. Analysis included attention to participants’ modes of expression as illustrative of attitudes and interpretive responses of which they may not express direct awareness (McPhee and Tompkins. in their choices regarding expenses. In the context of this study. and/or security) may well change in response to experience[2]. as well as how and under what conditions it might vary. Bivalent definitions of commitment The first significant finding emerging from this study related to the way participants defined commitment. or by enhancing their performance by making a special effort). for these engineers. A further defining element in their descriptions appears to be that commitment involves a predisposition to such behaviour as a consistent pattern (rather than as one-off ad hoc decisions). Data analysis initially involved open coding. mutual exchange. 1985. Issues raised by research findings Findings of this study elaborate on and enhance in a number of ways our understanding of how commitment is defined. the expectations on which FSEs base their decision to remain with the organisation (for example. Remaining with the organisation was described as a function of work preferences. Distinguishing between the two accepted interpretations of organisational commitment therefore emerges as particularly significant in remote work environments. Being able to consider these choices separately allows consideration of a further distinction. However. ambition and convenience. did not appear to necessarily imply commitment to the organisation – on the contrary. making choices in the organisation’s interest) was portrayed as a separate issue from willingness to remain with it. and nothing whatsoever to do with advantaging or considering the organisation’s interests. since that is the way the Commitment amongst remote employees 47 . engineers who illustrated open hostility to the organisation nevertheless still described themselves as diligently complying with their contractual obligations. some engineers claimed to have replaced a need to belong with appreciation of material benefits. therefore. 2001). their expectations relating to how the relationship should appropriately be conducted do not seem to be altered by experience – rather. in fact.

normative. the organisation. Types of commitment A further challenging finding was that the engineers’ stories and examples did not suggest any immediate way of differentiating types of organisational commitment behaviour. Where classification does appear useful. 48 Recognition of “committed” behaviours A primary challenge raised by the research data in relation to examining and explaining the participants’ commitment to the organisation lay in the difficulty associated with defining what constituted evidence of it. In such cases. the FSEs described themselves as being disposed (or not) to pursue the organisation’s interests based on how they perceived the organisation to be treating them within that relationship. Any one of these associations could account for behaviours that benefit the organisation (Figure 1). or indeed to what they believed prioritising the organisation’s interests might involve. These include customers. While FSEs drew on different rationales to justify maintaining a relationship with the organisation. However. calculative. the organisation would want to be certain that the interests the FSEs prioritise through their choices and behaviour are its own. This meant that enacting these behaviours would not necessarily either demonstrate or indeed reinforce in the engineers any sense of their being bonded to. whether they described themselves as identifying strongly with the organisation. their self-image as dogged problem-solvers. as distinct from their willingness to act in the interests of preserving any relationship at all. compliance with organisational policies. When asked for examples or illustrations of commitment to the organisation. and readiness to be available in emergencies at the expense of their personal lives.1 participants understood the term. occasions are described (for example. therefore. For example. and even allegiance to the customer rather than to the organisation. Rather. suppliers and their own peer community. collegial norms. In this respect. or ready to pursue the interests of. it was also evident that these behaviours could also be accounted for in terms of the engineers’ personal sense of professionalism. commitment to the organisation is defined as participants’ predisposed willingness to promote and act in the interests of the organisation. or contractual) as important to their understanding and interpretation of commitment. participants generally agreed about what commitment to the organisation could entail and how it might be demonstrated. the participants consistently identified behaviours such as dedication to doing the job well. is in explaining variations in what . perseverance beyond the call of duty in ensuring tasks were completed.Downloaded by CHARTERED INSTITUTE OF PUBLIC RELATIONS At 04:56 13 April 2015 (PT) CCIJ 13. equally. in ordering new or used parts) where the FSEs feel required to choose between relationships in terms of whose interests they most wish to promote. affective. There also appeared to be no evidence that they considered underlying relationship rationale (for example. or whether they described themselves as regarding the organisation as little more than a pragmatic convenience. it is significant that in the course of their remote work the engineers are exposed to a range of relationships with interests that complement or compete with those of the organisation. these rationales did not appear directly related to whether or not the engineers considered themselves predisposed to prioritising the organisation’s interests.

Doing overtime Cost choices benefiting orgn Going the extra mile Sharing knowledge Pro-active participation Expectations of themselves in terms of the model Predisposition to behaviour Organisational commitment Behaviour promoting the organisation’s interests Disposition toward organisation: Engaged. alienation e. hostile Downloaded by CHARTERED INSTITUTE OF PUBLIC RELATIONS At 04:56 13 April 2015 (PT) Commitment amongst remote employees 49 Figure 1.Relationship conduct model Historical pattern of behaviour Peer relationships Customer relationships Professional standards Self-image Expectations of the organisation in terms of the model Met or not met in interactions with organisation Disinclination Apathy Dissociation. benign OR Frustrated.g. Influences on the construction of organisational commitment . cynical.

These influences and conditions are shown in Figure 1. evidence of the organisation taking the relationship seriously could involve being treated collegially as members of a professional partnership. in meeting or frustrating engineers’ expectations . In this way. to the customer or to colleagues. when describing and evaluating their own practices and those of management. their past experiences. It is also apparent that organisational policies and practices. while identifying readiness to do emergency overtime as showing commitment. an engineer whose expectations of the relationship as a reciprocal partnership are frustrated by organisational policies and practices. for example. depending on the participants’ mental model(s) active at any one time. customers or self-esteem) is described as reinforcing dissociation from and/or hostility toward the organisation and its interests. and to the significance they attribute to those behaviours. including individuals’ self-image. Finally. It also appears that the participants’ expectations implicit in these models are not altered when they are not met. For example. In this regard. or in the interests of colleagues. as well as potentially strengthening competing relationships. the engineers who most emphatically stressed the importance of a sense of community and belonging were ones who claimed the organisation did not allow it. some engineers evaluated the relationship in terms of it being conducted as partnership amongst equals. and/or being included and allowed to participate as members of the organisational community. the FSEs illustrate a range of different ways of understanding and evaluating the way they are treated within their relationship with the organisation – mental paradigms or models of what appropriate conduct of a working relationship involves. They also do not appear exclusive of each other – during interviews the participants at times drew on more than one model. the engineers’ relationship models appear to persist even in the face of organisational norms that in practice dishonour them. instead. still others believed it appropriate that their relationship with the organisation be conducted as nothing more than a dispassionately functional arrangement. Actually doing that overtime in that context (for example because coerced. Organisational policies and practices as conditions As mentioned above. For example. depending on the experiences under discussion. others viewed it as requiring their integration as members of a community. the FSEs’ accounts illustrate that their disposition toward the organisation (caring/engaged or uncaring/hostile) in response to their relationship model expectations being met/not met is closely related both to their predisposition to engaging in behaviours that promote the interests of the organisation. and/or being practically looked after and efficiently resourced. Relationship paradigms These mental relationship models that suggest how the organisational relationship should be enacted can be ascribed to a combination of personal and situational factors. and their immediate needs. For example.CCIJ 13.1 Downloaded by CHARTERED INSTITUTE OF PUBLIC RELATIONS At 04:56 13 April 2015 (PT) 50 they recognise and interpret as evidence of an appropriately-enacted working relationship. the expectations associated with engineers’ mental relationship models appear to persist and are even strengthened when frustrated. nevertheless describes himself as reluctant to do so when asked. as identified above in the section on bivalence.

. participants’ descriptions of and justifications for their responses to organisational systems and practices not only support the notion that a predisposition to behaviours that promote the interests of the organisation is a function of satisfied relationship models. 7) themselves to pursuit of its interests both within the organisation and when representing it in their interactions with customers.g. go beyond the computer-mediated communication modes on which employers of remote workers tend to rely most heavily. regular field visits. computer-mediated communication is also easy to ignore and can also encourage or entrench predispositions toward isolation and self-reliance (Brown and Duguid. Indeed. collaboration and inter-organisational networking. Commitment amongst remote employees 51 . Achieving this emerges as dependent on well-developed communication and feedback systems that. with the cost in immediate task completion defined as an investment). 2004. rostering task groups. although management practices that contradict the engineers’ relationship models do not appear to alter them. change and improvement as norms enacted at all levels of the organisation (e.. mentoring or initiative-taking. mobile training units). be it in the form of risk-taking. practices consistent with those paradigms do appear to influence and develop them. cynical. . routinely trialling and eliciting feedback on new systems for improving work relations and the work environment). but they also address (and to some degree answer) the question of how engineers’ relationship models develop. 2006). 1987. from the FSEs’ descriptions of their experiences in one of the participating companies in particular. the organisation can through their policies and practices effectively influence what is construed as evidence of relationship models being enacted. For example. Policies and practices observed in this study to not only satisfy. it seems likely that by proactively seeking to understand FSEs’ relationship models and collaboratively inventing and trialling ways of accommodating the associated expectations. if not exclusive) use of communication systems that enable and require continuous oral/audio and face-to-face modes of interaction that are immediate.Downloaded by CHARTERED INSTITUTE OF PUBLIC RELATIONS At 04:56 13 April 2015 (PT) of the way an appropriate relationship is enacted. this study suggests. . Morgan and Symon. Engage and elicit contribution from the FSEs in wider organisational knowledge sharing and problem-solving activity (vertical as well as horizontal) despite their being remote (e. include practices that: . O’Kane et al. apathetic.g. considerate and engaged) and their willingness to “pledge” (Cheney and Tompkins. p. 2006 for a full discussion of examples). but also to enhance and even embellish engineers’ perceptions of what enactment of relationship models might involve. 2000.g. Proactively model and reward learning. However. participative and combine social and task functions (see Jacobs. Demonstrate organisational readiness to invest the required management time and effort demanded in a remote work environment by these modes of interaction (e. affect their attitude toward the organisation (hostile. Establish self-evaluation. The findings of this study suggest that identifying and enhancing FSEs relationship models is associated with (at least additional. strategy workshops. Valuable as it is. Jacobs. 2002.

legitimise.g. online) terms. at least additionally useful in understanding how organisational commitment in remote workforces is constructed and perpetuated. The advantage of the proposed approach is that it both supports studies to date that identify types of relationship-building management practices that foster commitment in remote work contexts. belonging. suppliers. if not more useful than identifying types of commitment. family) – becoming a kind of “one stop relationship” in which behaviours accommodating the interests of other relationships also reinforce the organisational relationship. which they may well subsequently rationalise to be consistent with what they experience. the needs that underpin employees’ choosing to continue the relationship (for example. mutual support. as well as relationship integration and interdependence. this paper proposes that categorising the nature of the organisational relationship by identifying employees’ mental relationship models may be. how “positively” they feel toward the organisation) may alter the perceived meaning of such behaviours. . as well as regarding the way employees’ disposition (in Wiesenfield’s (1998. and in so doing. alternate and potentially competing relationships (customers. Furthermore. the mental models of how the relationship should be enacted (for example as a team. In summary. In doing so. playing golf) into rosters. “doing the right thing” by customers or colleagues as the ultimate justification for any action. a partnership. Incorporate. “deliver” as the verb for what managers do when interacting with the engineers). it appears that organisational communication practices and systems can activate and enhance engineers’ relationship models (and in so doing establish a foundation for organisational commitment) when they reinforce continuous organisational learning. Downloaded by CHARTERED INSTITUTE OF PUBLIC RELATIONS At 04:56 13 April 2015 (PT) 52 Model and reinforce discourse norms that establish mutual support and service as the essence of honouring organisational relationships (e. proactive supportiveness and personalisation. and .1 . security). This study further suggests and illustrates the significance of distinguishing between: . opportunities for networking with and building personal relationships with suppliers and customers into the FSEs digital knowledge bases and “shortcuts”. it facilitates debate and discussion regarding the ways the range of influences on behaviours identified as “committed” interrelate. and is also able to explain variations in the success of these practices. Implications This study and the framework it proposes for understanding commitment adds to existing research into remote workforce commitment in that it suggests new ways in which to conceptualise and examine what studies to date have identified as its constituent elements and antecedents. service. incorporation of family demands (taking the kids to the swimming pool) and personal activities (going to the gym. In particular. therefore. it is aligned with scholarly opinion that .CCIJ 13. which underpin employees’ readiness to act in the organisation’s interests and which appear to persist despite what they experience. For example. or a purely functional arrangement).

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Academy of Management To purchase reprints of this article please e-mail: reprints@emeraldinsight. Idea Group. International Communication Association. “The crisis of management and the role of organisational communication”. and Stephens. “Communication and commitment in organisations: a social identity approach”. New Zealand and a Postgraduate Supervisor for the School of Communication. pp. Tanis. and Corman. Sensemaking in Organisations. N. Weick. R. in Tourish. 298-336. L. Scott.Downloaded by CHARTERED INSTITUTE OF PUBLIC RELATIONS At 04:56 13 April 2015 (PT) Postmes. (1995). .).. (2001). 589-99. “A structurational model of identification in the organisation”. Groleau. O. Communication Theory. Vol. Sage. pp. Telecommuting and Virtual Offices: Issues and Opportunities. (1981). It Depends Who you’re Talking to . K. Group Process and Intergroup Relations. E. T. “Making remote workers effective”. London. She is an Academic Dean at Unitec Institute of Technology in Auckland. 3. London. (1998). Scholl. (Eds). Glenda Jacobs can be contacted at: gjacobs@unitec. and on the relationship between knowledge management and commitment in dispersed working contexts. London. New York. Vol. and van Every. 6. B. Staples. Yin. NY. B. Sage. (2001). and Commitment amongst remote employees 55 . PA. K. D. Tourish. (2001). Scott. “Commitment and control approaches to workforce management”. (1998). O. (2004).. “Differentiating organisational commitment from expectancy as motivating force”. New Zealand. (1994). D. Or visit our web site for further details: www. D. (Ed. Predictors and Outcomes of Situated Measures of Organisational Identification. (2003). in Johnson. and Dewit. C. S. 227-46. p. “Communication patterns as determinants of organizational identification in a virtual organization”. 4. R. Heaton.J. Taylor.S. (2005).emeraldinsight. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication. Vol. M. . Wiesenfield. London. Hershey. and Hargie. The Computerisation of Work – A Communication Perspective. 8. Key Issues in Organisational Communication. Her research interests as reflected in recent publications have focussed on the role of communication in the development and management of organizational creativity. pp. C. J. C. on the use of communication technology in organizational networking. R. Case Study Research: Design and Methods.. Routledge. About the author Glenda Jacobs is a PhD candidate at the University of Waikato.

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