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On the illusion of organizational commitment among finance professionals

Elfi Furtmueller (School of Management and Governance, University of Twente, Enschede, The Netherlands)
Rolf van Dick (Goethe‐University Frankfurt, Frankfurt am Main, Germany)
Celeste P.M. Wilderom (School of Management and Governance, University of Twente, Enschede, The Netherlands)

Team Performance Management

ISSN: 1352-7592

Article publication date: 23 August 2011

Abstract

Purpose

This paper seeks to question and discuss the relevance of organizational, customer and professional commitment for effectively managing financial service firms. In particular, it aims to study differences between employed and self‐employed finance professionals.

Design/methodology approach

The authors conducted in‐depth interviews with professionals in 30 finance firms in Austria. The interviews aimed to reveal professionals' notions of commitment as it pertains to each interviewee's specific work context, whether self‐employed or employed.

Findings

Although the financial services sector requires professionals to routinely display both high customer and professional commitment, it appears that organizational commitment is unrelated to performance. While employed finance professionals experience conflicts between organizational and customer commitment (e.g. selling in‐house products that may not perfectly match customers' needs), self‐employed professionals tend to clash between customers' best interests and their own self‐interest (e.g. selling products and services for which they receive the highest commission). All professionals noted that they work in a competitive environment with a focus on individual sales. Individual performance ratings were found to prevent the development of strong branch or team commitment.

Research limitations/implications

Although qualitative methods are a starting‐point for identifying serious issues, quantitative studies across larger samples are needed to evaluate the scope of the findings.

Practical implications

The findings imply that financial services may not benefit much from HRM efforts that strive to obtain firm‐wide or organizational commitment. In large financial service firms the routine turnover of good professionals can be curbed if management starts to pay attention to creating flexible work arrangements, and enabling professionals to commit to customers and their profession.

Originality/value

While prior research suggests fostering the organizational commitment of employees, this study finds the concept of organization‐wide commitment to be of less importance for managing finance firms. This lack of importance of organizational commitment was found to be independent of finance professionals' contractual status (employed or self‐employed); whereas customer and professional commitment were associated with high performance motivation.

Keywords

Citation

Furtmueller, E., van Dick, R. and Wilderom, C.P.M. (2011), "On the illusion of organizational commitment among finance professionals", Team Performance Management, Vol. 17 No. 5/6, pp. 255-278. https://doi.org/10.1108/13527591111159009

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited