Organizational commitment as symbolic process

Linda Larkey, Calvin Morrill

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


The concept of organizational commitment has been viewed traditionally as a single variable with manageable antecedents and predictable outcomes. In this paper, we review some of the core theoretical approaches and empirical work on organizational commitment, point out the strengths and weaknesses of traditional approaches, and suggest a processual approach better suited to the complex nature of commitment during times of radical change such as mergers, acquisitions, downsizing, and reorganizations. Our purpose in this paper is to suggest an alternative approach emphasizing commitment as communication processes which (1) are integrally tied to the creation of organizational cultures, (2) involve, to various degrees, identification via symbolic processes with multiple organizational structures and strategies by individual actors and groups, (3) encompass various degrees of linkages between organizational member roles and organizational goals and (4) can yield unintended consequences for individuals and organizations related to organizational change, individual self-definitions, organizational and individual uncertainty, and organizational inertia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)193-213
Number of pages21
JournalWestern Journal of Communication
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1995
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Communication


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