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What does “commitment” really mean? Views of UK and Swedish engineering managers

Val Singh (Cranfield School of Management, Cranfield, UK)
Susan Vinnicombe (Cranfield School of Management, Cranfield, UK)

Personnel Review

ISSN: 0048-3486

Article publication date: 1 April 2000



There is little research on managers’ meanings of commitment. Unprompted responses from interviews with 37 senior engineers in three major UK and Swedish engineering companies indicate a shift from the traditional conceptualisation of commitment as desiring to remain in, and identification with, the organisation, towards a meaning putting more emphasis on a highly proactive, innovative and challenging approach to work, as a mutually beneficial psychological contract between organisation and individual. Women responded with less visible meanings of commitment. When engineers are assessed on commitment for promotion, or for UK chartered engineer status, these differences may impact on the process differently for men and women. More Swedish than UK engineers identified task delivery, involvement, and ready for challenge, while more UK engineers mentioned creativity and innovative behaviour, as part of their meaning of commitment. These findings are indicative of the shift towards high performance, high commitment HRM in both countries.



Singh, V. and Vinnicombe, S. (2000), "What does “commitment” really mean? Views of UK and Swedish engineering managers", Personnel Review, Vol. 29 No. 2, pp. 228-254.




Copyright © 2000, MCB UP Limited

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