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Commitment to change: Structure clarification and its effects on change-related behaviors in the Chinese context

Cailing Feng (Ludong University, Yantai, China)
Mulyadi Robin (Alphacrucis College, Melbourne, Australia)
Lisan Fan (Shandong Technology and Business University, Yantai, China)
Xiaoyu Huang (Jack H. Brown College of Business and Public Administration, California State University, San Bernardino, California, USA)

Personnel Review

ISSN: 0048-3486

Article publication date: 18 December 2019

Issue publication date: 10 June 2020



Commitment to change is vital for the success of any organizational change initiative. However, despite a sustained increase in research interest on employees’ commitment to change, there is still no consistency about the unidimensional or multi-dimensional construct of commitment to change, and previous research tends to ignore the impact vocational drivers may have on it. The paper aims to discuss these issues.


Drawing on prospect theory, the authors extended Herscovitch and Meyer’s (2002) commitment to change construct by developing and testing an additional dimension of commitment to change centered on employees’ vocational commitment across two studies, adopting a longitudinal design within a Chinese context. As organizational change often has implications that impacts individual decision making, vocational development and work adjustments and attitudes within the workplace, the authors presented the case for vocational commitment to change as an important extension to the commitment to change literature. The authors first provided evidence for the internal consistency, factor structure and the validity of the commitment to change in the Chinese context. Subsequently, the authors examined the changes of employees’ commitment to change across time, and demonstrated its predictive validity by exploring the relationship between commitment to change and change-related behaviors.


The current research represents improvements in commitment to change measurement, provides construct clarification in the Asia context, and sheds light on theoretical and empirical evidence for how to support change in the Chinese context. Limitations, implications and directions for future research are further discussed.


The current study responds to a call for research to further investigate the mechanisms of commitment to change within non-Western contexts, specifically within the Chinese context. Through a rigorous scale development process, the authors clarified Herscovitch and Meyer’s (2002) commitment to change model and present an augmented model with a fourth dimension –vocational commitment to change. Furthermore, through a longitudinal study, the current study also demonstrates that the cultivation of commitment to change has great importance to improving employees’ change-supportive behavior and reducing their resistance to change. This is consistent with cross-cultural research, which shows that Chinese individuals are more likely to possess inconsistent attitudes toward an object, including themselves, compared to Western individuals (Spencer-Rodgers et al., 2004). The study also explained the change of commitment to change over time, showing the significant relationships among the commitment to change and change-related behaviors.



This paper was granted by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 71402067), the Humanities and Social Sciences Planning Project of the Ministry of Education (No. 19YJCZH029), Shandong Provincial Natural Science Foundation (No. ZR2019MG002) and Shandong Social Science Planning Project (No. 18CGLJ14).


Feng, C., Robin, M., Fan, L. and Huang, X. (2020), "Commitment to change: Structure clarification and its effects on change-related behaviors in the Chinese context", Personnel Review, Vol. 49 No. 5, pp. 1069-1090.



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