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Examining the relationship between managerial power and affective organizational commitment: An empirical study in the sport sector of Iran

Mohammad Reza Jalilvand (Faculty of Management, University of Tehran, Tehran, Iran, AND Sina Institute for Planning and Economic Studies, Tehran, Iran)
Leila Nasrolahi Vosta (Department of Social Sciences, University of Tehran, Tehran, Iran AND Faculty of Law and Social Sciences, University of Tabriz, Tabriz, Iran)

Sport, Business and Management

ISSN: 2042-678X

Article publication date: 14 September 2015



The purpose of this paper is to examine the impact of five dimensions of power (coercive, expert, legitimate, referent, and reward) on employees’ affective commitment in the sport organizations using social exchange theory.


Data were collected using a questionnaire including managerial power and affective commitment measures. A sample of 318 employees from a number of sport organizations operating in the Iran was used. Structural equation modeling was used to test the relationship between managerial power and affective commitment.


There are two major findings in this research. First, the relationships among expert power, legitimate power, reward power, referent power, and affective commitment are positive and significant. Second, the construct of coercive power was not associated with employees’ affective commitment. The findings suggest that managerial power relates with a social exchange relationship where employees exchange positive outcomes including strong affective commitment. When people perceive manager power, they feel more affectively attached to their organizations.

Research limitations/implications

Sampling was one of the limitations identified in this study. The fact that convenience sampling was used meant that results were not immediately transferable to the general working population. In addition, the sample subjects in this study were mostly employees who worked in the sport sector of Iran. Future research could look into extending the study population to include collect input from other types of organization. If samples were drawn from a wider range of demographics, then the results become more meaningful.

Practical implications

Power generally refers to the ability, capacity or potential to get others do something, to command, to influence, to determine, or to control the behaviors, intentions, decisions, or actions of others in the pursuit of one’s own goals or interests despite resistance, as well as to induce changes. By utilizing expert power, reward power, legitimate power, and referent power, managers can promote affective organizational commitment and, thus, individual and organizational performance. It is likely that this occurs because people react reciprocally toward an organization that satisfies their needs, makes them feel that they are valued as human beings and that they deserve respectful treatment, and allows them to experience senses of purpose, self-determination, enjoyment, and belonging.


The fact that power can be used as an effective tool to coordinate and manage others appears to be largely ignored in the literature. The paper contributes by filling a gap in the organization and management literature, in which empirical studies on managerial power as an antecedent of affective organizational commitment have been scarce until now.



The authors thank the two anonymous reviewers for their beneficial and constructive comments. Additionally, without the support of managers and supervisors and the participation of staff at the sport organizations, this study would not have been possible. The authors also wish to thank Sania Nejati, Sahand Nejati, and Sorena Nejati for their assistance in data collection.


Jalilvand, M.R. and Nasrolahi Vosta, L. (2015), "Examining the relationship between managerial power and affective organizational commitment: An empirical study in the sport sector of Iran", Sport, Business and Management, Vol. 5 No. 4, pp. 344-364.



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