A public-private comparison of organizational commitment

Johnny Louis White, Tennessee State University


This study compared organizational commitment in public and privately owned electrical systems employees. The research replicated work by Balfour and Wechsler in the late 1980s. Balfour and Wechsler created a survey instrument to sample organizational commitment. This instrument was based upon responses gathered during interviews with government employees. Their survey indicated that the government employees they tested exhibited different types of organizational commitment. The three most important factors of organizational commitment they identified were: (1) exchange commitment, (2) affiliation commitment, and (3) identification commitment. These same factors were used in this study as well as three other factors which appeared to be significant: (1) direct service to the public/customer, (2) political interference, and (3) participation in decision-making. This research project extended Balfour and Wechsler's original work by exploring responses in the private sector. Electrical companies were chosen as research sites due to the fact that each sector engages in the same work in delivering electrical service to customers. Therefore, any differences discovered in responses between public and private employee commitment was believed to have more to do with sector influences than differences in tasks or operations. This research project found that private sector employees were just as committed to their organizations as public workers and that in many instances they appeared to exhibit stronger associations than did public employees. Exchange and identification commitment were not as prominent in private employees as Balfour and Wechsler had reported in public employees, but affiliation commitment appeared as important to employees in this study as in Balfour and Wechsler's original work. A total of 1333 survey instruments were distributed, 555 of which were completed and returned. No significant differences between public and private employees' organizational commitment were discovered in this research.

Subject Area

Public administration|Labor relations|Management

Recommended Citation

Johnny Louis White, "A public-private comparison of organizational commitment" (1995). ETD Collection for Tennessee State University. Paper AAI9806597.