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Want to, need to, ought to: employee commitment to organizational change

Janet Turner Parish (McCoy College of Business Administration, Texas State University, San Marcos, Texas, USA)
Susan Cadwallader (College of Business and Economics, California State University, Fullerton, California, USA)
Paul Busch (Mays Business School, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas, USA)

Journal of Organizational Change Management

ISSN: 0953-4814

Article publication date: 15 February 2008



This study aims to focus on the role of employee commitment in the success of organizational change initiatives. The authors seek to propose and test a model that delineates antecedents and consequences of affective, normative, and continuance commitment to organizational change.


Data were collected via online survey from employees working in a large not‐for‐profit organization. A total of 191 responses (32 per cent) were obtained. The hypothesized model relationships were tested using structural equation modeling.


The results demonstrate that the antecedents: fit with vision, employee‐manager relationship quality, job motivation, and role autonomy all influence commitment to change (C2C). Notably, affective commitment, which in turn influences employee perceptions about improved performance, implementation success, and individual learning regarding the change, had the greatest impact.

Research limitations/implications

Limitations that could lead to future research include three primary issues. First, the data were collected from one organization. Second, data were collected at one point in time. Third, the proposed model is far from exhaustive. Other antecedents to C2C could include risk acceptance, organizational culture, and/or leadership style.

Practical implications

In addition, given affective commitment to change (AC2C) has the greatest influence on outcomes such as implementation success and improved performance, the antecedents of AC2C warrant management's attention. If managers can influence AC2C through such factors as those proposed here, outcomes such as individual learning, perceived implementation success, and perceived improved performance will be influenced.


The paper integrates two models evaluating employee reactions to change, an under researched area, to help uncover ways to improve the success of change initiatives.



Turner Parish, J., Cadwallader, S. and Busch, P. (2008), "Want to, need to, ought to: employee commitment to organizational change", Journal of Organizational Change Management, Vol. 21 No. 1, pp. 32-52.



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