Validation of the Organizational Commitment Questionnaire (OCQ) in six Languages

by Uwe P. Kanning & Anka Hill

International research on a construct presupposes that the same measurement instruments are implemented in different countries. Only then can the results of the studies be directly compared to one another. We report on a study in which the English-language original of the Organizational Commitment Questionnaire (OCQ) as well as a German-language version of the OCQ was adapted into four further languages (Polish, Hungarian, Spanish, Malay) and validated. The employees of an international company were surveyed in seven countries (USA, Canada, Germany, Poland, Spain, Hungary and Malaysia). For purposes of validation, the job satisfaction, the self-rated job performance and the support of the employees in implementing the company values were used. The results show that the translations proceeded successfully. In all cases, a reliable scale emerges, which correlates positively with the validity criteria. Key words: organizational commitment questionnaire, job satisfaction, performance, support of company values

1 Introduction

The progress of knowledge in psychology depends substantially on the quality of the measurement instruments used. Only when we are in a position to measure defined constructs in a broadly objective, reliable and valid manner can the value of these constructs in empirical studies become apparent. At the same time, such scales often provide an important tool for the practical work of psychologists. Due to the increasing internationalisation of psychological research, an adaptation of measurement instruments into many languages would appear to be imperative. In the framework of the current study, an adaptation of the Organizational Commitment Questionnaire (OCQ; Porter & Smith, 1970) was undertaken and validated in terms of an employee survey in an international company in seven countries (six languages).

2 Organizational Commitment

The construct of commitment has been receiving wide attention in organizational psychological research for many years (Gutierrez, Candela & Carver, 2012; Huang, You & Tsai, 2012; Meyer, 1997; Meyer, Stanley, Jackson, McInnis, Maltin & Sheppard, 2012; Cohen, 1993; Mathieu & Zajac, 1990; Tett & Meyer, 1993; Wayne, Casper, Matthews & Allen, 2013). Organizational commitment refers to the extent to which the employees of an organization see themselves as belonging to the organization (or parts of it) and feel attached to it (Meyer, Kam, Goldenberg & Bremner, 2013; van Dick, 2004). According to Allen and Meyer (1990), three forms of organizational commitment can be distinguished:

Affective commitment expresses the emotional attachment of the employees. Those employees who show a high degree of emotional commitment feel integrated into the organization and identify themselves with it (Mowday, Steers & Porter, 1979; Porter, Crampon & Smith, 1976; Meyer, Kam, Goldberg & Bremner, 2013; Meyer, Stanley, Herscovitch & Topolnytsky, 2002; van Dick, 2013). In detail, there are three aspects that together constitute the affective commitment: a) a strong belief in the goals and values of the organization and the employees’ acceptance of these, b) the readiness to lend one’s support to the organization, and c) a strong need of the employees to maintain their membership in the organization (Mowday, Porter & Steers, 1982).

Normative commitment, by contrast, does not correspond to any individually felt attachment of the organization members, but rather reflects their moralethical obligation towards the organization (Meyer et al., 2002, 2013; Wiener, 1982; Wiener & Vardi, 1980). In this way, for instance, an individual’s attachment arises from the fact that the employer regularly pays his wages or that in economically difficult times, the employee cannot weaken his own company further by changing to a rival company.

Continuance commitment results from the motivation to avoid impending costs that would be linked to a possible change of employer (Allen & Meyer, 1990; Meyer et al., 2002, 2013). The commitment of the employees is higher the greater they perceive the costs of such a change to be (e.g. relocation, wage losses, loss of personal contacts to former colleagues). In this regard, the previous investments that an employee has made in the organization (e.g. specialist knowledge acquired) and the possible benefits gained through these (“side bets”, e.g. extra pay, pension claims) play an important role. The continuance commitment consequently corresponds to the result of a cognitive evaluation process, and is not emotionally coloured (Meyer et al., 2002).

Numerous studies have examined the correlates of commitment. Central to most of the analyses is the examination of affective commitment (Mathieu, Burvold & Ritchey, 2000; Mathieu & Zajac, 1990; Meyer & Allen, 1997; Meyer et al., 2002). In several meta-analyses, negative associations were found between affective commitment and absences and fluctuation. Positive associations were found between affective commitment and motivation, organizational citizenship behavior, job satisfaction, performance and productivity (Davila & Garcia, 2012; Dello Russo, Vecchione & Borgogni, 2013; Gutierrez, 2012; Huang, et al., 2012; Mathieu & Zajac, 1990; Meyer & Allen, 1997; Meyer, et al., 2002; Vecina, Chacon, Marzana & Marta, 2013). The association between commitment and performance was apparent both in terms of self-assessments of the employees (e.g. Bycio, Hackett & Allen, 1995; Lee, 2005; Leong, Randall & Cote, 1994; Meyer Allen & Smith, 1993) and in the performance appraisals by superiors (e.g. Mayer & Schoorman, 1992), as well as with regard to objective performance indicators (Bashaw & Grant, 1994; v. Dick, 2004). In addition, affective commitment correlates positively with organizational citizenship behaviour (OCB; Meyer et al., 2002; van Dick, 2001) and job satisfaction (Friedoon & Masrin, 2009), and negatively with employees’ propensity to leave the firm (Lee, 2005). For normative commitment, the associations with performance and OCB lie in the same direction, but turn out to be clearly smaller (Meyer & Allen, 1997; van Dick, 2001). Furthermore, negative associations have been shown with fluctuation and absenteeism. In contrast, significant associations were only found between continuance commitment and fluctuation, and not between continuance commitment and performance, absenteeism or OCB (Meyer & Allen, 1997; van Dick, 2001). Affective commitment is positively associated with transformational leadership, organizational support, ethical climate, person-organizational fit, as well as interactional, distributive, and procedural justice. It is negatively correlated with age discrimination, role ambiguity and role conflict (Gutierrez et al., 2012; Huang et al., 2012; Meyer et al., 2002; Rabl & Del Carmen Triana, 2013). Family-supportive organizations produce higher affective commitment by reducing family conflicts and enhancing work-to-family enrichment (Wayne et al., 2013). People with high affective and normative commitment report favourable work conditions, intentions to stay in the organization and well-being whereas people with high continuance commitment look for a new job and score high in anxiety and depression (Meyer et al., 2013).

Altogether, commitment – and in particular affective commitment – therefore proves to be an important construct of organizational psychological research. The extent to which employees feel attached to their organization correlates significantly with important variables of performance-related behavior. In general, from the organization’s point of view, the interest therefore is to foster a high commitment on the part of the employees. Nevertheless, there are also negative side effects that should not be disregarded. For instance, a very high commitment can conflict with the employees’ private obligations therefore result in stress and conflicts (Randall, 1987). That’s especially true for multiple commitments in international joint ventures (Johnson, 1999). Moreover, if a high commitment is accompanied by a strong pressure for uniformity, it can have a negative effect on the creativity of work groups (Six & Felfe, 2004) and in the sense of an extreme “groupthink” foster obedience and fanaticism within the group (Moser, 1996).

Some studies investigate whether organizational commitment is liable to cultural influence (Felfe, 2008; Wasti & Öder, 2009). Also, it has yet to be inquired if the structure of commitment or its correlates are influenced by culture. This study’s results indicate that the structure of commitment does not vary (Fridoon & Nasrin, 2009; Lee, 2005; Maier & Woschée, 2002; Yousef, 2003). Concerning commitment’s correlates there often are no serious differences either (e.g. Meyer et al., 2002; Sommer, Bae & Luthans, 1996). A meta-analysis (Meyer et al., 2002) compared samples from North America with those outside North America. The correlation patterns were very similar in reference to organizational support, role ambiguity, role conflict, distibutive and procedural justice. Merely the correlations concerning continuance commitment are sometimes non-significant (organizational support, role ambiguity) in the outside North American sample. The meta-analysis conducted by Meyer et al. (2012) was able to show that particularly normative commitment is influenced by cultural values, but much less affective and continuance commitment. Jackson, Meyer and Wang (2013) found a moderating influence of culture concerning the relation between different managing styles and commitment in their meta-analysis. The effects here were overall rather small.

3 Organizational Commitment Questionnare (OCQ)

Central to our study is the Organizational Commitment Questionnaire (OCQ; Porter & Smith, 1970), which relates to the measurement of affective commitment and counts among the most frequently used measurement instruments (Mathieu et al., 2000; Mathieu & Zajac, 1990). The OCQ consists of 15 items, of which 6 are negatively poled (cf. table 1). Most studies revealed a one-factor structure for the OCQ (e.g. Ferris & Aranya, 1983; Maier & Woschée, 2002; Mathieu et al., 2000; Morrow & McEllroy, 1986; Mowday, Steers & Porter, 1979; Tayyab, 2007). Several investigations, however, suggest a two-factor structure, in which the positively and negatively poled items load on different, albeit highly correlated, factors (Lee, 2005; Tetrick & Frakas, 1988; Caught, Shadur & Rodwell, 2000; Yousef, 2003). From the available results, Caught et al. (2000) draw the conclusion that a second factor of negatively poled items does not deliver any important epistemic value, but rather represents a methodological artefact that emerges from the linguistic poling of the items. Against this background, they argue in favour of keeping the one-factor solution (where necessary excluding the negatively poled items; see also Tetrick & Farkas, 1988). The reliability of the OCQ is well documented. The Cronbach’s Alpha values lie between .82 and 93 (Mowday et al., 1992). In addition, Lam (1998) was able to show a retest reliability of .59 over a period of 10 weeks. Examinations of validity also show a generally positive result. For instance, positive associations were found with job satisfaction (Caught et al., 2000) and with the readiness to remain in the organization (Steers, 1977), and negative correlations were found with the intention to leave the organization (Cooke, 1997; Ferris & Aranya, 1983; Pierce & Dunham 1987; Stumpf & Hartman, 1984). Moreover, Maier and Woschée (2002) prove the construct validity of the OCQ with the help of a confirmatory factor analysis by showing that the OCQ represents a construct that can be empirically distinguished from other work attitudes (job satisfaction and job involvement).

4 Hypotheses

The goal of our investigation was the translation and validation of the OCQ. With the help of the validation, the aim was to examine whether the contents of the scale retain their meaning following the translation. The validation ensued through three variables: job satisfaction, performance and support of company values by the employees. The literature review (see above) shows that positive associations can be expected between commitment and job satisfaction (e.g. Caught et al., 2000; Maier et al., 2002; Meyer et al., 2002) and performance (Bashaw & Grant, 1994; Bycio, Hackett & Allen, 1995; Leong, Randall & Cote, 1994; Mayer & Schoorman, 1992; Meyer Allen & Smith, 1993; Meyer et al., 2002). In the case of the third variable, a positive association is also expected here, as the support of company values represents an integral component of the construct of commitment. Consequently, three hypotheses can be formulated:

1. Each version of the OCQ is positively correlated with the job satisfaction of the participants.

2. Each version of the OCQ is positively correlated with the performance of the participants.

3. Each version of the OCQ is positively correlated with the support of company values.

5 Method

Measures; The starting point for the study was firstly the English-language original (Porter & Smith, 1970), and secondly a German-language translation of the scale (Maier, Rappensprenger, Wittmann & v. Rosenstiel, 1994; Items: Maier & Woschée, 2002). In the current study, both questionnaires were presented to four translators, who in addition to these two languages were also translators for one further language (Polish, Hungarian, Spanish and Malay). Their task consisted of translating the items into the respective third language, analogously but not necessarily word-for-word (cf. table 1). The selection of languages resulted from the general framework of the data collection. The study ran in cooperation with an international company that has branches in Germany, the USA, Canada, Poland, Hungary, Spain and Malaysia. All items for measuring the OCQ were dealt with on a five-point Likert scale (1 = “totally disagree” to 5 = “totally agree”).

The validation criteria (job satisfaction, performance and commitment) were also measured with the help of a questionnaire through a self-description of the participants. To measure the variable job satisfaction, we drew on a questionnaire that is regularly used in the company for employee surveys. With 33 items, it measures eight facets of satisfaction: Satisfaction with the direct managers (4 items) and colleagues (7 items), opportunities for development in the company (3 items), workload (5 items), opportunities for co-determination (3 items), wage system (3 items), work contents (2 items) and the company organization (e.g. regulation of breaks and holidays; 6 items). The reliability of the individual scales is satisfactory (cf. table 3). In addition, the scales showed a high content validity, as it was always directly asked: “How satisfied are you with…?”. Across the individual scales on job satisfaction, a general value of job satisfaction was calculated. This scale also showed a very good reliability (cf. table 3). Furthermore, the general satisfaction with a single item scale was measured (“On the whole, how satisfied are you with everyday professional life in your company?”). All items were recorded on a five-point scale (1 = “very dissatisfied” to 5 = “very satisfied”).

To measure performance, a single-item scale was used: “How do you rate your professional performance in comparison to your colleagues?”. The employees were provided with seven response categories for this purpose, from 1 = “below average” through 4 = “average” to 7 = “above average”.

The support of company values of the employees was operationalized through their support of the company values. The company has given itself six company values: flexibility, independence, innovation, partnership, passion to achieve top-rate performances, and quality. With one item for each value, the employees were asked to what extent they actively engage in realising the corresponding company value (five-point scale from 0 = “not at all” to 4 = “very much”). Across the six items, the scale “support of company values” was calculated. The scale showed a very satisfactory reliability (cf. table 3).

Sample & Procedure; Participants in the survey were employees of an internationally operating company that manufactures industrial products. The survey referred to all employees from production, administration and service. In total, 2812 questionnaires were distributed in seven countries (Germany, USA, Canada, Poland, Hungary, Spain, Malaysia). The response rate for the total sample amounted to 52.6% (1478 questionnaires). The highest response rate was achieved in Malaysia, with 91.6%, and the lowest was in Spain, with 36.4%. As the questionnaires distributed in the USA and Canada were the English-language original, the two samples were combined in the further analyses. In absolute figures, the following sample sizes were achieved: Germany 503, USA/Canada 348, Poland 208, Hungary 113, Spain 55 and

Malaysia 251. For reasons of anonymity, the gender of the employees as well as other demographic variables were not recorded. Based on the gender distribution in the company, however, it can be assumed that samples consisted highly predominantly of men. The questionnaires were sent by post with the monthly payslip in order to ensure that all employees actually received a questionnaire. The completed questionnaires were collected in an urn in the respective location of the company

6 Results

In a first step, the six versions of the OCQ were tested in terms of their homogeneity and reliability. In each sample, first of all a confirmatory factor analysis was carried out with the help of a structural equation model. In all six samples, the one-factor structure of the OCQ could be confirmed (cf. table 2; Bentler & Bonett, 1980). For the samples Germany, Poland, USA/Canada and Malaysia, the Chi² test was significant, which is not surprising in view of the sample size (Bentler & Bonett, 1980).

The examination of internal consistency resulted in a satisfactory reliability value in each case (Cronbach’s Alpha between .72 and .93, cf. table 4). The mean values range above the middle point of the five-point response scale.

Table 2: Results of structural equation analyses

Results of structural equation analyses

Table 3: Factor loading

Factor loading

Table 4: Mean values, standard deviation and reliability of the scales (Cronbach’s Alpha)

Mean values, standard deviation and reliability of the scales (Cronbach’s Alpha)

In a second step, the validation was carried out. To this aim, for each of the six variants of the OCQ, the correlation with the validity criteria was calculated. The results are presented in table 5. The association with job satisfaction could be confirmed both for the 8 facets of job satisfaction and for the complete scale as well as for the single items scale in all six samples. In accordance with hypothesis 1, significant positive associations between OCQ and job satisfaction were found. The testing of the hypothesis with the help of the single item scale for the measurement of job satisfaction was also consistently positive.

The testing of hypothesis 2 was also widely positive. For four of the six variants of the OCQ, a positive association with the self-rated work performance was demonstrated. The higher the commitment, the greater the performance shown by the employees at the workplace, by their own
account. Exceptions to this were the German and the Polish scales, which showed no significant associations.

Hypothesis 3 was also confirmed. For all six variants of the OCQ, a significant, positive association with the support of company values could be demonstrated. The greater the commitment, the more intensively the employees engage in realising the company values, according to their own report.

Table 5: Correlation between OCQ and job satisfaction, support of company values, performance

Correlation between OCQ and job satisfaction, support of company values, performance

7 Discussion

The translation of the OCQ was widely successful. In all six versions, the one-factor structure could be confirmed, and the reliability proved to be satisfactory.

The results of the validation underline the meaningfulness of the OCQ in all six language variants. Commitment is accordingly accompanied by job satisfaction, an active support of the company values as well as an increased work performance. The latter, however, could not be confirmed for the Polish or the German version.

The current study cannot make any statements about the direction of the association between commitment and the three validity constructs. For instance, it might well be the case that job satisfaction is the consequence of commitment or else by the same token, that commitment is the consequence of job satisfaction. Further research needs to be carried out to provide information in this regard.

On a critical note, it should be pointed out that all validity criteria only reflect the subjective point of view of those surveyed. For the construct of job satisfaction, this is not a problem as job satisfaction represents, by definition, a subjective experience of the employees. With regard to performance and support of company values, however, third-party assessments by managers and colleagues would appear to be desirable, or in terms of performance also objective measurements such as productivity. In the framework of our cooperation with the company, there was unfortunately no opportunity to record such measures. Here, too, further research is required.

Also, it was not possible to investigate statements concerning effects of demographic variables (gender, age, length of affiliation with the organization) due to
anonymity. On the other hand, the study had the advantage of probands’ possibly smaller inclination to answer in a socially desirable way. Therefore the results should be less biased.

Furthermore, at this point we cannot compare across cultures because the samples were too small and not representative for the cultures. This is another ground to conduct further research.

Another weakness of the study is the use of a single item scale for the measurement of job performance. There is no information about the reliability of this scale. However, single item scales have by no means in principle a low reliability. By now there has been a variety of studies proving a satisfactory reliability and validity of single items scales (eg. Shamir & Kark, 2004, Woods & Hampson, 2005).

Using a variety of data sources (self description, behavioural data, assessment by others) would furthermore be helpful in guarding against the problem of common method variance (eg. Johnson et al., 2011: Lindell & Withney, 2001). If data from only one source are correlated, there is always a risk that the correlations are at least partly accounted for by common method variance. In this, our work is no exemption from all the other studies using only self-descriptions. Future examinations must show if our results can be confirmed by using other sources of data in addition. Moreover, there is a need of longitudinal studies to estimate the relation of cause and effect.

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Table 1: Items of the Organizational Commitment Questionnaire

Items of the Organizational Commitment Questionnaire

Table 1: Items of the Organizational Commitment Questionnaire (continued)
Items of the Organizational Commitment Questionnaire

Correspondence address:

Uwe P. Kanning
University of Applied Science Osnabrueck
Caprivistrasse 30a
D-49076 Osnabrueck