Business contexts have changed considerably over the last two decades forcing changes (e.g., restructuring, downsizing) in many organisations. This has affected people's work lives and specifically their job security and organisational careers. The 'one employer for life' tradition has been replaced by different career patterns such as, the 'protean career' and the 'boundaryless career', which imply personal career responsibility, careers occurring across many organisations, and decreased organisational commitment. Accordingly, personal career commitment has become an important concept in explaining how people operate within this dynamic and uncertain work context. Furthermore, the organisation's career management practices ('career climate') now play an important role in the development of organisational commitment and other work-related outcome variables.
The main aim of this research was to investigate the interplay between career-related variables (career climate and career commitment) and organisational commitment (affective and normative commitment, high sacrifice and low alternatives) in explaining a range of outcome variables (career satisfaction, job satisfaction, well-being and turnover intentions). Based on the theoretical literature, a number of mediational models (e.g., organisational commitment as a mediator between career climate and outcome variables) and moderation models (career commitment as a variable moderating the relationship between career climate and organisational commitment) were specified.
Three cross-sectional survey studies were conducted with samples from different professional backgrounds. Study 1 (N=67) provided a preliminary assessment of the interrelationships among the variables and a test of the mediation and moderation models. Results showed that affective commitment mediated between career climate and turnover intentions. Also, career commitment moderated the relationship between career climate and high sacrifice such that the relationship was stronger for those employees who were lower in career commitment.
Study 2 (N=798) examined the research question within a large sample of employees from a variety of different professional backgrounds and hierarchical levels. The results showed that the relationship between career climate and career satisfaction was mediated by low alternatives. Similarly, the relationship between career climate and well-being was mediated by low alternatives as well as affective commitment. Lastly the relationship between career climate and turnover intentions was mediated by affective and normative commitment and high sacrifice. When testing the relationship between organisational commitment and job satisfaction it was found that job satisfaction mediated between career climate and the four components of organisational commitment rather than organisational commitment components mediating between career climate and job satisfaction. The proposed moderation model was also confirmed. Career commitment moderated the relationship between career climate and affective commitment, and between career climate and low alternatives.
Study 3 (N=288) was designed to replicate these findings in a sample of employees from one profession (teachers). In addition, this study was designed to introduce the concept of career entrenchment, which assesses people's perceptions of being 'stuck' in their career and job, and to evaluate its relationship with career-related variables (career climate and career commitment) and organisational commitment. The mediational results from this study replicated those from previous studies. The relationship between career climate and career satisfaction was mediated by high sacrifice, which also mediated the relationship between career climate and turnover intentions. The relationship between career climate and well-being was mediated by low alternatives and affective commitment, which also mediated between career climate and turnover intentions. Job satisfaction mediated between career climate and three of the four organisational commitment components. The moderation model was also confirmed. Career commitment moderated the relationship between career climate and affective commitment, and between career climate and high sacrifice. Further results confirmed the three-dimensional structure of career entrenchment, perceived career alternatives, emotional attachment to the career, and investments in the career, and its distinctiveness from career commitment. Moderated regression results revealed a two-way interaction. The relationship between career climate and high sacrifice was moderated by emotional career attachment whereby the relationship was more pronounced for the high emotional career attachment group. Furthermore, a significant three-way interaction occurred. The relationship between career climate and low alternatives was more pronounced for low career commitment and low investment employees. However, this relationship was less pronounced for the high career investment and low career commitment employees.
To summarise, a consistent pattern of results across all three samples indicated the stability of the proposed relationships between the variables. Results confirm the role of organisational commitment as a mediator between career climate and the outcome variables and job satisfaction as a mediator between career climate and components of organisational commitment. Furthermore, results confirmed that career commitment moderated the relationship between career climate and affective commitment, high sacrifice and low alternatives.
Overall, the results from this research provide an insight into the importance of career-related concepts in the prediction of organisational commitment. As such, these results expand our understanding of the antecedents of organisational commitment as they apply in a modern work context where individual careers are gaining in importance. ln terms of practical implications, these results show that organisations need to provide effective career management as a means of raising employees' organisational commitment and of deriving the benefits from an organisationally committed workforce.