The development of employee commitment to the supervisor : a case study in the Australian Public Service

  • Damian West

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    This research examines the relationship between the traditional components of affective, normative and continuance commitment, including the concept of side-bets on the foci of employee commitment to the supervisor. The research builds a deeper understanding of how commitment works in practice from the perspective of the employee and extends our understanding of how employee commitment is fostered and works in large public sector organisations. This research highlights that employees believe they invest considerable effort into the development of the relationship with their supervisor. It is demonstrated that the relationship between the employee and the supervisor is more important than previously recognised in large public sector organisations. According to side-bet theory, organisational commitment will increase with the accumulation of side-bets (Cohen and Gattiker,1992). Becker (1960) suggests that employees who devote time and effort in mastering tasks or skills are betting that the time and effort invested will pay off, but winning requires continued employment in the organisation. This research explores the concept that “side-bets” are transferable to the employee-supervisor relationship. What is found is that employees report a desire and willingness to invest in, and build, a strong relationship with their supervisor due to the fact that this investment is perceived to lead to positive outcomes for the employee. The research provides considerable new insight and knowledge on how commitment works by providing empirical evidence on how the concept of side-bets operate from the perspective of the employee. This research extends side-bet theory by introducing a two stage side-bet decision making process. The current paradigm of employee commitment is built on the concept that it is the relationship between the employee and the organisation that forms the basis of employee commitment. This research has demonstrated that the structure of the organisational and the people management policies used by the organisation can create the situation where the idea of a relationship or link between the employee and the organisation has been brought into question. As a result there has been a change in the way that employee commitment is developed and works.
    Date of Award2012
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorWahyu Sutiyono (Supervisor) & Deborah Blackman (Supervisor)

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