Will they stay? Exploring mission attachment and organizational commitment among employees in a nonprofit organization

by Collins, Laurene E., Ph.D., CAPELLA UNIVERSITY, 2011, 140 pages; 3481002


This qualitative phenomenological study was conducted to explore how employees described their commitment to the organization and attachment to the mission in relation to their intent to stay. Hiring for mission has been loosely used in some organizations to attract prospective candidates who believe in the organization’s values and mission and want to remain there to achieve those goals. At the same time, current literature emphasizes that employees’ level of commitment determines their expectations and their willingness to remain with the organization. This study explored organizational commitment and mission attachment in a qualitative form through formulating open-ended, semi-structured questions capturing participants’ level of affective, continuance, and normative commitment adapted from The Organizational Commitment Scale by Allen and Meyers (1990) and open-ended, semi-structured questions adapted from Mission Attachment statements by Brown and Yoshioka (2003) which determined their awareness and understanding of the mission. Participants from a Southeast U.S.-based nonprofit company answered ten interview questions which addressed their personal experiences and feelings about their understanding and attachment to the mission and their commitment to the organization in relation to their intent to stay. Through various emerging themes, participants expressed a knowledge and attachment of the mission through their personal understanding of the mission and through the work they performed. The majority of participants were attached to the mission more so than the organization itself. Through the use of advocating for policy changes and other legislative changes, employees understood how this component supported the mission in saving and improving people lives. The emotional attachment to the mission came through they way they knew the work they performed touched the lives of their family, friends, co-workers, and others. Their intent to remain connected to the mission goals remained strong even through volunteer services if they left the organization. Their commitment to the organization varied based upon areas relating to financial and cost impact, cultural changes, and work related factors. Recommendations for future studies include using a larger diverse sampling of nonprofit employees and extending this study to for-profit companies to explore other implications that can possibly affect employee behavior and job retention.

AdviserApril Boyington Wall
Source TypeDissertation
SubjectsManagement; Organizational behavior
Publication Number3481002

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