To read the full version of this content please select one of the options below:

Who commits? Who engages?

John Sutherland (Scottish Centre for Employment Research, Department of Human Resource Management, Strathclyde Business School, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, UK)

Employee Relations

ISSN: 0142-5455

Article publication date: 2 January 2018




The purpose of this paper is to address two questions: who commits? And who engages? For example, does an individual’s likelihood of committing/engaging vary with his/her age; or with the level of his/her qualifications; or with his/her occupation? Of what consequences are the characteristics of the workplace at which the individual is employed?


The investigation uses the Skills and Employment Surveys Series Data set to construct the indicators of commitment and engagement. Using an ordered-logit model and an OLS model, these indicators are analysed to identify their covariates.


Who commits and who engages depends upon the indicator used to measure the attitude/behaviour in question. Changing these indicators sometimes means that an individual no longer commits/engages. Further, even for the same indicator of commitment/engagement, who commits/engages varies across individuals.

Research limitations/implications

The indicators of commitment and engagement examined are derived from the responses in a pre-existing data set which has its origins in survey instruments which had quite comprehensive terms of reference. Owning to the cross-sectional nature of this data set and the statistical methodology applied, the statistical results are correlations between some possible indicators of commitment and engagement and some variables which denote the personal characteristics of individuals and the characteristics of the organisations with which they are employed. Causation cannot be inferred from these correlations.


Commitment and engagement are central to many models of the management of human resources. However, the likelihood that an individual commits and/or engages differs across the workforce has rarely been examined. This paper addresses this research lacuna using a data set which is rich in detail about an individual’s personal characteristics.



The Skills and Employment Survey, 2012 was financially supported by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), the UK Commission for Employment and Skills Strategic Partnership and the Wales Institute for Social and Economic Research, Data and Methods for the Welsh boost. The Skills Survey, 2006 was supported by the Department for Education and Skills, the Department of Trade and Industry, the Learning and Skills Council, the Sector Skills Development Agency, Scottish Enterprise, Futureskills Wales, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and the East Midlands Development Agency. The Skills Survey, 2001 was funded by the Department for Education and Skills. The Skills Survey, 1997 and the Social Change and Economic Life Initiative Surveys, 1986-1987 were supported by the ESRC. Employment in Britain, 1992 was supported by the Leverhume Trust and an industrial consortium of funders. The author acknowledges constructive comments from two referees on earlier drafts of this paper.


Sutherland, J. (2018), "Who commits? Who engages?", Employee Relations, Vol. 40 No. 1, pp. 23-42.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2018, Emerald Publishing Limited

Related articles