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Researchers have assumed that employee support programs cultivate affective organizational commitment by enabling employees to receive support. Using multimethod data from a Fortune 500 retail company, we propose that these programs also strengthen commitment by enabling employees to give support. We find that giving strengthens affective organizational commitment through a "prosocial sensemaking" process in which employees interpret personal and company actions and identities as caring. We discuss theoretical implications for organizational programs, commitment, sensemaking and identity, and citizenship behaviors. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR] Copyright of Academy of Management Journal is the property of Academy of Management and its content may not be copied or emailed to multiple sites or posted to a listserv without the copyright holder's express written permission. However, users may print, download, or email articles for individual use. This abstract may be abridged. No warranty is given about the accuracy of the copy. Users should refer to the original published version of the material for the full abstract. (Copyright applies to all Abstracts.)
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GIVING COMMITMENT: EMPLOYEE SUPPORT PROGRAMS
AND THE PROSOCIAL SENSEMAKING PROCESS
ADAM M. GRANT
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
JANE E. DUTTON
BRENT D. ROSSO
University of Michigan
Researchers have assumed that employee support programs cultivate affective organ-
izational commitment by enabling employees to receive support. Using multimethod
data from a Fortune 500 retail company, we propose that these programs also
strengthen commitment by enabling employees to give support. We find that giving
strengthens affective organizational commitment through a “prosocial sensemaking”
process in which employees interpret personal and company actions and identities as
caring. We discuss theoretical implications for organizational programs, commitment,
sensemaking and identity, and citizenship behaviors.
Changing employment landscapes have weak-
ened employees’ physical, administrative, and tem-
poral attachments to organizations (Cascio, 2003;
Pfeffer & Baron, 1988). Employees are more mobile,
more autonomous, and less dependent on their or-
ganizations for employment than ever before. To
address these challenges, organizations are in-
creasingly seeking to strengthen employees’ psy-
chological attachments by cultivating affective
commitment—an attitude of emotional dedica-
tion—to organizations (Mathieu & Zajac, 1990;
Meyer & Allen, 1991). Extensive research has dem-
onstrated that affective commitment to organiza-
tions is linked to important behavioral outcomes
ranging from decreased absenteeism and turnover
to increased job performance (Cooper-Hakim & Vi-
swesvaran, 2005; Riketta, 2002; Somers, 1995). Ac-
cordingly, scholars and practitioners continue to
share a deep interest in understanding how affec-
tive commitment to organizations develops. This
pursuit is a foundational task for organizational
scholarship (Mowday & Sutton, 1993).
Searching for new ways to strengthen employees’
affective commitment, many organizations have
adopted employee support programs (Hartwell,
Steele, French, Potter, Rodman, & Zarkin, 1996).
Employee support programs are formalized prac-
tices designed to improve employees’ experiences
at work by providing emotional, financial, and in-
strumental assistance beyond the scope of standard
HR pay, benefit, recognition, and training and de-
velopment programs. These increasingly common
programs, ranging from employee assistance pro-
grams to work-family programs such as child care
and elder care, provide employees with various
forms of help and aid (Cascio, 2003; Edwards &
Rothbard, 2000; Goodstein, 1995). Scholars typi-
cally assume that employee support programs cul-
tivate commitment by enabling employees to re-
ceive support (Johnson, 1986; Perry-Smith & Blum,
2000; Trice & Beyer, 1984). When employees be-
come aware of or utilize the services offered by
support programs, they are more likely to feel that
their work organizations value their well-being and
thus reciprocate by developing affective commit-
ment to these organizations. For example, the liter-
ature on perceived organizational support suggests
that when employees feel supported by their organ-
izations, they develop beliefs that their organiza-
tions care about their welfare, which further moti-
vate them to strengthen their affective commitment
to their organizations (Rhoades & Eisenberger,
2002). Scholars writing within this literature draw
on social exchange theory (Blau, 1964; Emerson,
1976; Homans, 1958) to propose that employees
form attachments to reciprocate what they have
For helpful feedback and suggestions, we are grateful
to Associate Editor Brad Kirkman, three anonymous re-
viewers, Jeff Edwards, Nancy Rothbard, and Jim West-
phal. For their assistance with data collection and cod-
ing, we offer special thanks to our project liaisons (Thom
Bales, Sarah Baumann, Barbara Kinzer), research assis-
tants (Alex Jaffe, Shanna Goldenberg, Brett Lavery,
Heather Ross, Jana Bek, Katie Benedetto, Emily Feldman,
Caroline Martin, Krista Wagner, Adrienne Waller), and
survey and interview participants. We also thank Ben
Rosen and members of the Relationships Reading Com-
munity for their advice and encouragement.
Academy of Management Journal
2008, Vol. 51, No. 5, 898–918.
898
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received from organizations. However, researchers
have noted that there are additional pathways
through which commitment develops, calling for a
broader understanding of the underlying mecha-
nisms (Fuller, Barnett, Hester, & Relyea, 2003). In
particular, researchers have criticized social ex-
change perspectives for relying on the assumption
of rational self-interest (Meglino & Korsgaard,
2004): employee support programs are assumed to
strengthen commitment by fulfilling employees’
self-interested motives to receive. Researchers have
yet to explore the possibility that employee support
programs may strengthen commitment by fulfilling
employees’ other-interested motives to give.
Our objective in this article is to fill this gap by
offering an expanded view of the other-interested
mechanisms through which employee support pro-
grams cultivate affective organizational commit-
ment. Although employee support programs were
initially formed to allow employees to receive sup-
port, it is increasingly common for these programs
to allow employees to participate in giving as well
as receiving (Cascio, 2003; Pfeffer, 2006). For exam-
ple, through support programs in the airline, auto,
construction, and railroad industries, employees
are provided with opportunities to volunteer as a
means of supporting coworkers (Bacharach, Bam-
berger, & McKinney, 2000). At Southwest Airlines
and DaVita, employees are able to donate money to
programs supporting fellow employees facing med-
ical and financial emergencies (Pfeffer, 2006). Sim-
ilar programs exist at Domino’s Pizza, The Limited,
Jackson Hospital, and First Energy Corporation,
where employees can give financial and emotional
support to fellow employees in need. Our focus in
this article is on these types of internal employee
support programs, which are structured so that em-
ployees have the opportunity to give as well as
receive.
We propose that the act of giving to support
programs strengthens employees’ affective commit-
ment to their organization by enabling them to see
themselves and the organization in more prosocial,
caring terms. We examined the specific processes
through which giving-based commitment unfolds,
using a combination of qualitative and quantitative
data from a Fortune 500 retail organization that
manages an employee support program providing
financial, material, and educational assistance to
employees. In Study 1, we developed theory from
interview data to deepen knowledge about the
mechanisms through which giving builds commit-
ment. In Study 2, we used quantitative survey data
to conduct an exploratory test of these mechanisms
as mediators of the relationship between giving
behavior and commitment. Our research offers a
novel framework for explaining how support pro-
grams cultivate affective organizational commit-
ment, introduces giving as a new antecedent of
affective commitment, identifies two “prosocial
sensemaking” mechanisms to account for this rela-
tionship, and addresses calls to move beyond social
exchange theory as a means of understanding ante-
cedents of affective commitment.
EMPLOYEE SUPPORT PROGRAMS
AND COMMITMENT
Commitment is a key concept for explaining re-
lationships between individuals and organizations
(Mathieu & Zajac, 1990; Mowday & Sutton, 1993).
We focus on organizations as commitment targets
for both theoretical and practical reasons. From a
theoretical perspective, we seek to deepen existing
knowledge about how organizational programs af-
fect employees’ psychological attachments to their
work organizations. From a practical perspective,
organizational commitment is a strong predictor of
decreased absenteeism and turnover (for a review,
see Meyer, Stanley, Herscovitch, and Topolnytsky
[2002]). Understanding how organizational com-
mitment develops can assist organizations in ef-
forts to increase employee retention, which is im-
portant in industries in which organizations
struggle to retain employees, such as the retail and
service industries (Cascio, 2003).
Recognizing that organizational commitment can
take multiple forms, we focus specifically on affec-
tive organizational commitment. Many organiza-
tional commitment researchers distinguish among
three commitment forms: affective, normative, and
continuance (Meyer & Allen, 1991). Whereas nor-
mative and continuance commitment often involve
feelings of obligation or pressure to be attached,
affective commitment involves feelings of intrinsic
motivation and self-determination (Meyer, Becker,
& Vandenberghe, 2004). As a result, affective com-
mitment is likely to be more consistently associated
with constructive attitudes and behaviors than con-
tinuance and normative commitment. In a meta-
analysis of the organizational commitment litera-
ture, Meyer et al. (2002) found that relative to
normative and continuance commitment, affective
commitment is associated with the most favorable
outcomes for both employees and organizations,
such as high job performance, attendance, and or-
ganizational citizenship behavior, as well as low
turnover, stress, and work-family conflict. In light
of these benefits of affective organizational commit-
ment, it is theoretically and practically important
to understand how employee support programs
may facilitate it.
2008 899Grant, Dutton, and Rosso
How Employee Support Programs Cultivate
Affective Organizational Commitment
The prevailing theoretical perspective for ex-
plaining how employee support programs cultivate
affective organizational commitment is based on
the central tenet of social exchange theory: individ-
uals reciprocate what they receive (Blau, 1964; Em-
erson, 1976; Homans, 1958). Researchers studying
perceived organizational support have drawn on
this theory to explain the development of affective
commitment to organizations, proposing that in ex-
change for receiving support from organizations,
employees reciprocate with emotional dedication
(Rhoades & Eisenberger, 2002). When organizations
offer help and assistance through employee sup-
port programs, employees are assured that the or-
ganization is willing to meet their material and
socioemotional needs (Rhoades & Eisenberger,
2002). Employees interpret this support as a signal
that the organization values and cares about their
well-being, and following the norm of reciprocity,
they are motivated to reciprocate by developing a
stronger emotional bond with the organization.
Corroborating this hypothesis, cross-lagged longi-
tudinal research indicates that earlier perceptions
of support from an organization predicted increases
in affective commitment to the organization, but
not vice versa (see Rhoades & Eisenberger, 2002).
This evidence suggests that when support pro-
grams enable employees to receive support, they
are likely to respond with increased affective com-
mitment to their organization.
From Receiving to Giving
We suggest that there is a second plausible path-
way, which has not been previously examined,
through which employee support programs may
strengthen commitment. The rise of support pro-
grams designed to allow employees to give as well
as receive provides an opportunity for scholars to
understand an other-interested process through
which support programs may strengthen commit-
ment. We propose that the act of giving has the
potential to strengthen employees’ affective com-
mitment to an organization by changing the way
that employees see themselves and the organiza-
tion. Previous research suggests that many employ-
ees hold prosocial identities—they define them-
selves as giving, caring individuals (Aquino &
Reed, 2002)—and often describe constructing and
maintaining these prosocial identities as one of
their most important motives, values, and guiding
principles in life (see Grant, 2007, 2008a).
Building on this evidence, we explore how the
act of giving to employee support programs
strengthens employees’ affective commitment to
their organization, over and above the gain in com-
mitment that might derive from the experience of
receiving support from these programs. Studies of
individual helping suggest that the act of giving to
a recipient can increase the giver’s commitment to
that recipient: individuals make sense of giving
behaviors by inferring that they like and value the
recipient (Aronson, 1999; Flynn & Brockner, 2003).
We draw on this tradition in our efforts to elaborate
the mechanisms through which giving to others
through organizational programs strengthens affec-
tive organizational commitment. We also seek to
investigate whether giving strengthens commit-
ment when an organizational program manages the
giving process. To accomplish these goals and ad-
dress this gap in knowledge about whether and
how giving to employee support programs in-
creases affective organizational commitment, we
conducted multimethod research at a Fortune 500
retail corporation, which we have given the pseud-
onym “Big Retail.”
Research Context
Big Retail manages an internal support program,
which we have named the “Employee Support
Foundation” (ESF), and which operates as an inde-
pendent not-for-profit arm of the company to sup-
port employees in need. This charitable foundation
serves employee needs beyond the scope of tradi-
tional employee assistance programs (EAPs), which
provide informational and emotional assistance to
employees experiencing personal problems affect-
ing their work (Johnson, 1986). The ESF is also
unlike many charitable foundations in that its mis-
sion is to strengthen the Big Retail community
through internally focused programs that support
employees rather than external stakeholders or re-
cipients. In particular, the ESF provides an outlet
for Big Retail employees to help each other in times
of financial need.
The ESF’s two primary initiatives are financial
grants and educational scholarships. Big Retail em-
ployees are encouraged to contribute to the ESF to
help fellow employees, and also to seek support
from the ESF when facing financial difficulties
themselves. The potential tie between the em-
ployee and the ESF begins when employees are
first hired at Big Retail. During orientation, training
sessions include the distribution of information
about the ESF, as well as discussion of the ESF by
orientation leaders. The policies surrounding in-
volvement with the ESF leave considerable free-
dom for whether and how employees can partici-
900 OctoberAcademy of Management Journal
pate. The company allows employees to seek
support from the ESF by approaching their manag-
ers directly, by visiting the ESF website, or by call-
ing an ESF phone number. The company also al-
lows employees to give support to other employees
via the ESF by donating money from their pay-
checks and organizing fundraisers. However, the
direct recipient of employees’ donations is the ESF,
which disburses funds to qualified recipients.
Thus, as is common in employee support programs,
employees’ experiences of giving to the ESF in-
volve interactions with the company rather than
direct interactions with recipients, who remain
anonymous.
Overview of Research
We collected qualitative and quantitative data at
Big Retail’s ESF to build and test theory about the
mechanisms through which giving to a support
program enhances employees’ affective commit-
ment to the organization. In Study 1, we used qual-
itative data from 40 interviews with Big Retail man-
agers and associates to identify two prosocial
sensemaking mechanisms through which giving
cultivates commitment by enabling employees to
see themselves and the company in more caring
terms. In Study 2, we utilized quantitative survey
data from 249 Big Retail employees to provide an
initial test of the giving-commitment relationship,
as mediated by the two prosocial sensemaking
mechanisms identified in the qualitative data. The
theoretical model that we developed and tested
suggests that after giving to a support program,
employees interpret their actions and the compa-
ny’s actions as caring, which reinforces both their
personal prosocial identities as caring individuals
and the company’s prosocial identity as a caring
organization. As a result of feeling gratitude to the
company for reinforcing their personal prosocial
identities and pride in the company for holding a
collective prosocial identity, employees develop
stronger affective commitment to the company.
STUDY 1 METHODS
Sample
We conducted 40 semistructured interviews at
Big Retail in February and March 2006. We chose to
conduct interviews so that we could gather quali-
tative data, which are particularly appropriate for
constructing and elaborating theory (Lee, Mitchell,
& Sablynski, 1999). Participants were 20 store man-
agers and 20 store associates (16 male, 24 female) at
20 Big Retail stores across the United States. At
each of the 20 stores, we interviewed two employ-
ees by telephone: one manager and one associate.
Managers were responsible for overseeing store op-
erations, coordinating and delegating tasks, super-
vising associates, communicating with regional
supervisors, and administering the store budget.
Associates were responsible for product sales, cus-
tomer service, merchandising, inventory process-
ing, and distribution.
With the help of the human resources depart-
ment, we strategically sampled from Big Retail
stores to achieve proportional representation of the
company’s geographic locations, store types, and
store contributions to the ESF. In terms of geogra-
phy, we interviewed employees from stores in 23
states across the United States. In terms of store
types, 14 were large free-standing buildings, and 6
were smaller mall stores; this distribution was pro-
portional to the representation of these store types
in the corporation. In terms of store contributions
to the ESF, we selected the 10 highest-contributing
stores and the 10 lowest-contributing stores in the
company, basing these clarifications on the per-
centage of employees donating to the ESF from
their paychecks. We expected that the variations in
geographic location and store type would increase
the generalizability of our sample, and that the
variations in store contributions would provide a
valuable contrast between employees who were fre-
quently engaged versus infrequently engaged in
giving through the ESF.
Data Collection
Our interviews focused on understanding em-
ployees’ relationships with the ESF and Big Retail.
We introduced the interviews by explaining that
we were conducting a needs assessment for the ESF
and were also interested in learning about how the
ESF affected employees’ feelings about the com-
pany. We collected employees’ accounts (Orbuch,
1997), or explanations, of how they thought, felt,
and acted in their encounters and relationships
with the ESF and the company. We focused partic-
ular attention on two interrelated types of accounts:
accounts of exchange, in which employees de-
scribed giving to and receiving from the ESF, and
accounts of organizational commitment, in which
employees described their feelings of dedication
and attachment to Big Retail. The interviews were
divided into three core phases. In the first phase of
the interviews, we opened with an icebreaker ques-
tion about employees’ responsibilities and typical
workdays. In the second phase, we inquired about
employees’ relationships with the company. We
asked employees to describe why they work for the
2008 901Grant, Dutton, and Rosso
company, how attached they feel to the company,
what the company’s mission and values are, and
how their identities relate to the company’s iden-
tity. In the third phase, we explored employees’
experiences with the ESF, asking them to discuss
what they know about the ESF’s activities, what
involvement they have had with it, how important
it is, what impacts it has had, and whether they
have benefited from or contributed to it. The inter-
views lasted between 25 and 70 minutes, and we
tape-recorded and transcribed them for data
analysis.
Data Analysis
We identified themes by utilizing an inductive
approach in which we iteratively traveled back and
forth between the interview transcripts and our
emerging theoretical understandings (Glaser &
Strauss, 1967). All three authors began by reading
through all of the transcripts and generating initial
lists of categories for classifying participants’ re-
sponses. We integrated our lists with a coding
scheme specifying that statements would be classi-
fied as receiving when employees described the
ESF in terms of receiving help and support, and as
giving when employees described the ESF in terms
of giving help and support. Using this coding
scheme, two independent raters blind to the re-
search questions coded all of the interview tran-
scripts for mentions of receiving and giving. The
overall agreement rate between the two coders was
81.94 percent, and discrepancies were resolved by
a third coder.
With these codes, we sought to address our re-
search question about how employees explain why
giving to an employee support program cultivates
affective organizational commitment. The key data
for this analysis consisted of a set of passages
culled by the two independent raters in which em-
ployees mentioned giving. The first author read
through these passages to generate first-order infor-
mant codes, or open codes, which comprised
words used by employees to describe why they
were committed to the company. We then met as a
group to revise the first-order codes and generate
aggregate codes to encapsulate the first-order codes
under key themes. Through discussions, we ab-
stracted these aggregate codes into core theoretical
categories, which are displayed in Figure 1.
STUDY 1 FINDINGS
Our findings suggest that giving initiates a pro-
cess of prosocial sensemaking, in which giving
leads employees to judge personal and company
actions and identities as caring, and thereby
strengthens their affective commitment to the com-
pany. Figure 1 depicts our findings in the form of
an emergent conceptual model, which draws on the
following tenets of theoretical perspectives on sen-
semaking (Weick, 1995) and self-perception (Bem,
1972): (1) Actions trigger efforts to interpret and
explain the actions, (2) employees generalize these
interpretations to form inferences about the identi-
ties of the actors, and (3) identities provide a basis
for forming and changing attitudes toward the ac-
tors. As revealed in this context, our findings sug-
FIGURE 1
Study 1 Prosocial Sensemaking Model of Giving-Based Commitment
902 OctoberAcademy of Management Journal
gest that giving behavior triggers a particular form
of sensemaking—prosocial sensemaking—about
oneself and one’s company, that changes an em-
ployee’s feelings toward the company. We unpack
our findings with illustrative quotations that indi-
cate the presence of prosocial sensemaking and the
process through which it links giving to affective
commitment.
1
As a preview, our findings suggest that the act of
giving to the ESF cultivated affective organizational
commitment by strengthening employees’ percep-
tions of both personal and company prosocial iden-
tities—images of the self and the organization as
helpful, caring, and benevolent (Grant, 2007; see
also Mayer, Davis, & Schoorman, 1995). First, at a
personal level, when employees gave to the ESF,
they engaged in prosocial sensemaking about the
self: they interpreted their contributions as caring,
and then generalized this interpretation to their
self-concepts, reinforcing their prosocial identities
as caring individuals. As a result of gratitude to the
company for the opportunity to affirm a valued
aspect of their identities, they developed stronger
affective commitment to the company. Second, at a
company level, when employees gave to the ESF,
they engaged in prosocial sensemaking about the
company: they judged the company’s contributions
as caring, and then generalized this interpretation
to their views of the company, reinforcing the com-
pany’s prosocial identity as a caring organization.
As a result of pride in the company as a humane
organization, they developed stronger affective
commitment to the company. In the following sec-
tions, we present testable hypotheses that elaborate
how this prosocial sensemaking process unfolds to
link giving and commitment through both personal
and company pathways.
Prosocial Sensemaking about the Self
Our data suggest that giving to the ESF strength-
ened affective organizational commitment by trig-
gering prosocial sensemaking about the self—a pro-
cess through which employees interpreted their
personal actions and identities in more caring
terms. In contrast to the dominant construction of
corporate life as self-interested (Miller, 1999), giv-
ing to the ESF provided employees with an oppor-
tunity to interpret their actions as caring. The com-
pany legitimated concern for others by formalizing
and institutionalizing an employee support pro-
gram, signaling that helping, giving, and contribut-
ing behaviors are valid, acceptable, and encour-
aged. As one manager explained, “Donating myself
[helps me to see that] business can make you very
focused on [making] money, and this kind of re-
leases you from that, to think about other people, to
reach out to others in need” (manager 7). An asso-
ciate elaborated, “I have money taken out every
paycheck to help with the ESF . . . it benefits a lot of
people that really are in need....Ifeel real good
that it’s available. I feel good that it can be taken out
of my paycheck” (associate 16).
Employees discussed how they had often felt
motivated to help coworkers and give their time
and energy to the company, but lacked an appro-
priate means for doing so, as well as a compelling
explanation for why they would do so. They felt
that the ESF provided them with both a means and
a rationale: they were able to give money to the ESF
as part of regular donation campaigns and payroll
deductions, and they were able to explain this giv-
ing behavior as part of a legitimate standard prac-
tice. Employees were also able to give time to the
ESF as part of their roles as concerned managers
and associates. For example, a manager described
how the ESF provided her with the ability to help
an employee in need:
I have an employee . . . she was a young single
mother.... During the pregnancy, she switched
from full-time to part-time, and in the process lost
her insurance because she didn’t read the packet
completely....When we found out, I grabbed the
ESF paperwork and started calling the ESF, and it
was just the ability to help her through her preg-
nancy.... It was good that there was somebody
there that I could call and say, “Hey, this is what I’ve
got, and can I help?” and to know that I was going to
be able to help my employee.... Because of the
help that they’ve been to the employees . . . I feel
good, because I know that there’s somebody out
there that it’s helping. (manager 11)
As a result of judging their contributions as car-
ing, employees were able to generalize these inter-
pretations to reinforce their prosocial identities.
They made sense of who they were through what
they did (Bem, 1972; Weick, 1995), coming to see
themselves as caring, helpful individuals. Employ-
ees discussed how the act of giving time and money
to the ESF reinforced their prosocial identities by
enabling them to contribute more than they could
have on their own. They appreciated the steps that
1
Although our theory-building efforts drew heavily on
both manager and associate interviews, our quotations
focus primarily on managers because, compared to asso-
ciates, they tended to have more experience with giving
to the ESF, and thus offered richer responses for illus-
trating the themes that inform our hypotheses. We bal-
ance this limitation in Study 2, where our sample is
comprised of over 80 percent associates and we measure
job level (manager vs. associate) as a control variable.
2008 903Grant, Dutton, and Rosso
the company took to match and extend their finan-
cial contributions in order to help others in need.
For example, one manager spoke about how giving
to the ESF reinforced her prosocial identity as a
caring person by expanding the impact of her do-
nations on coworkers in New Orleans affected by
Hurricane Katrina in August 2005:
I’m a pretty caring person . . . it’s important for me to
get involved in my staff’s lives....During the Hur-
ricane Katrina relief, my partner and I discussed it
and decided that, you know, that would be some-
thing we did, because then . . . people we knew were
gonna be helped.... Feeling that I could give my
hundred dollars to the ESF, they turned it into two
hundred dollars, and then they helped fellow em-
ployees. You know, they got them jobs elsewhere.
They . . . helped them get back into their homes.
They were able to do small things that meant a lot to
those people . . . it’s better than I could’ve done
myself. I wasn’t gonna be able to go down there and
help, so that’s how I contribute. I wanted to help
out . . . my money essentially was doubled.... I
feel like I’ve done something good....I’ve spent my
money in a smart way, knowing that it’s gonna be
matched. You know, I think that’s really an impor-
tant thing, not just that the ESF collects everyone
else’s money, but also that there’s the matching fac-
tor in there, so it makes me feel like what I donate
can go further. And, you know, that it’s adminis-
tered in such a way that they’re not gonna be taken
advantage of, and that they’re gonna be very good
help to someone at a very specific time. I always feel
good when I do it....Anytime I do stop to give it
some thought, I think things like . . . “It’s a good
thing that I’m a part of this,” and, you know, “This
really is a good thing that my company has.”
(manager 4)
Another manager described how giving led him
to include caring actions as part of his role on the
job, which affirmed his identity as someone who
helped others:
It’s my job, too, to raise the awareness . . . that we
have this great ESF. I think that’s my role now....I
am involved as a company spokesperson on my
store, being a leader, letting people know that it’s
available. . . . I have a payroll deduction and then I
also did the extra one for the Katrina Fund. I also
have bought some items that they have sold, T-shirts
to give to the staff, that I know a percentage of the
proceeds went to the ESF. So those are ways that I
can think of that I’ve helped. . . . I think it’s good to
give. (manager 12)
Our understanding of the process of prosocial
sensemaking about the self is based on theories of
self-affirmation and self-verification, which suggest
that employees are motivated to reinforce and au-
thenticate valued aspects of their identities
(Shamir, 1990; Swann, Polzer, Seyle, & Ko, 2004).
As we illustrate below, employees felt grateful to
the company for providing an opportunity to rein-
force their prosocial identities through giving, and
this gratitude to the company strengthened their
affective commitment to the company. In the lan-
guage of attribution theory (Weiner, 1985), employ-
ees attributed the opportunity to reinforce their
prosocial identities to the company, and became
more committed to the company as a result. For
example, an associate explained how the company
strengthened her attachment by providing her with
a way to donate to Katrina victims through the ESF,
reinforcing her prosocial identity as a giving per-
son: “We raised money and raised money with the
Katrina disaster....Itmakes you feel good to try
and help other people. . . . I didn’t even have to
think about it. People needed help; they were of-
fering a way to help send money and do something
to help them . . . it’s good for morale, for the way
people feel about the company that they work for”
(associate 10).
Thus, giving to the ESF enabled employees to
judge their actions and identities in more prosocial,
caring terms. By providing the opportunity to en-
gage in giving behavior, the ESF qualified other-
interested behavior as normal and accepted and
provided employees with means and rationales for
giving. Employees experienced the opportunity to
give as a psychological benefit provided by the
company. As predicted in social exchange theory
(Blau, 1964), employees reciprocated by strength-
ening their affective commitment to the company.
Our qualitative data thereby uncover a process of
prosocial sensemaking about the self that helps to
explain the giving-commitment relationship. We
capture this process in the following set of
hypotheses:
Hypothesis 1a. The higher an employee’s level
of giving to a support program, the greater the
employee’s interpretations of personal actions
as caring.
Hypothesis 1b. The greater an employee’s in-
terpretations of personal actions as caring, the
stronger the employee’s personal prosocial
identity.
Hypothesis 1c. The stronger an employee’s per-
sonal prosocial identity, the higher the employ-
ee’s level of affective commitment to the
company.
Hypothesis 1d. Prosocial sensemaking about
the self (judging personal actions and identi-
ties as caring) partially mediates the associa-
tion between giving and affective commitment.
904 OctoberAcademy of Management Journal
Prosocial Sensemaking about the Company
Giving to the ESF also strengthened affective or-
ganizational commitment by triggering prosocial
sensemaking about the company—a process
through which employees interpreted the compa-
ny’s actions and identity in more caring terms. Our
data suggest that giving to the ESF counteracted
employees’ skepticism about the company’s inten-
tions by increasing employees’ awareness of the
company’s efforts to do good. Some employees
were cynical about the company’s motives, perhaps
because the company is situated in the retail indus-
try and accordingly tends to offer low monetary
compensation. However, through giving, employ-
ees observed the company’s efforts to match their
contributions and encountered stories about how
the funds were being utilized to help employees in
need. Employees explained that through giving to
the ESF, they encountered firsthand evidence that
the company was taking action to help its people,
which enabled them to see the company’s actions
as caring. For example, one manager described how
contributing to the ESF’s efforts to donate bereave-
ment baskets to employees who lost family mem-
bers led her to interpret the company’s actions as
family-oriented: “We support each other . . . a cou-
ple of employees who had lost family members got
gift baskets because I called the ESF to let them
know about it....Itgives that sense of caring from
the company, that sense of, you know, we’re there
to help you out in your times of need, that sense of
family” (manager 11). Another manager said, “This
ESF thing is a great example of trying to keep it a
family....It made mefeel good to know that the
money that I give out of my paycheck, well, it
primarily goes to help someone . . . within this
company” (manager 5).
Giving to the ESF provided employees with re-
peated exposure to the company’s caring actions,
enabling employees to generalize these actions to
the company’s identity as a caring, humane organ-
ization. As one associate explained, “It’s given me a
little bit of faith in our corporate structure that I
didn’t have before.... [In] major corporations to-
day . . . it’s all about the bottom line. . . . I under-
stand that way of thinking, but, you know, it’s
always nice to . . . break out of that and, you know,
add a little bit of heart” (associate 8). Another man-
ager elaborated on how giving and contributing to
these humane efforts bolsters employees’ confi-
dence that the motives behind the ESF were genu-
ine and benevolent:
I have had, during my time as general manager,
about three employees that I’ve put in contact with
the ESF for emergency assistance. Yeah, I’ve had
one employee who was having a lot of medical
issues that were impacting his ability to work, and
therefore to, you know, pay his bills and things like
that. . . . I was able to put him in touch with the ESF
to ask for additional assistance. I know another . . .
person who got help through an unexpected preg-
nancy and . . . financial stress relating to that, and
they helped her out as well. And so I think it’s a
really neat program for the company to have. It’s one
of those things that highlights to me the fact that this
company really does care about their employees.
(manager 6)
Our understanding of the process of prosocial
sensemaking about the company draws on theory
and research on corporate social responsibility and
organizational compassion, which suggest that em-
ployees are attracted to, and take pride in, organi-
zations that aim to do good (Bansal, 2003; Lilius et
al., 2008; Turban & Greening, 1997). As a result of
seeing the company’s identity in more prosocial
terms, employees experienced greater pride in the
company, and thereby felt more affectively com-
mitted to it. For instance, an associate who made
regular financial donations to the ESF explained
that giving strengthened her feelings of pride in
being part of a caring company:
I do feel very attached to the company.... I al-
ways feel proud that the company [supports the
ESF], and . . . I think my money’s being put to very
good use. So I’m always happy to do it. I think
companies should give back. . . . I feel proud that
our company does that . . . and is in that kind of
space where they’re like, you know, let’s give back.
Let’s help others. So it does make me feel proud
that, you know, my company does that.
(associate 11)
Similarly, a manager discussed how the experi-
ence of giving to the ESF solidified her affective
commitment to the company by enabling her to see
the company in caring, humane terms: “The fact
that the ESF exists is something that impresses me
about the company. . . . I just think it’s a good,
humanitarian effort....Improud that I can say I
work for a company that has something like this . . .
it kind of makes it a little more personal for me”
(manager 4). Three other managers who gave to the
ESF expressed parallel sentiments:
It just makes [the company] kinder in my eyes....
They recognize that there’s a need, and that they’ve
done something about it....Itwasvery generous of
them to even think of putting it together, to go out of
their way to develop it....Howattached do I feel to
the company? Very attached. (manager 7)
It makes you feel good that you work for a company
that chooses to do something like this, that has
something available for its employees. . . . I have a
2008 905Grant, Dutton, and Rosso
sense of pride in the company. . . . I think it’s good
to give and, you know, it definitely makes me feel
. . . that I’m working for a company that shares in
some of my sensibilities and cares about people.
(manager 12)
Its fundamental purpose is to help any employee of
Big Retail to alleviate the difficulties that they face
when they’re in a catastrophic situation. . . . I think
it’s important because I think it really reflects a kind
of set of core values that the company has . . . if
you’re trying to put something concrete on what
makes Big Retail a compassionate company, or a
caring company . . . the ESF is something concrete
that really reflects that. . . . I believe that Big Retail
really sets the bar for what a good company is to
work for . . . that’s the fundamental [basis] of my
strong attachment to Big Retail. (manager 1)
Thus, giving to the ESF enabled employees to
judge the company’s actions and identity in more
prosocial, caring terms. By exposing employees to
the company’s efforts to do good, giving counter-
acted common skepticism about the company’s in-
tentions and motives, strengthening employees’ affec-
tive commitment to the company by cultivating
feelings of pride in the company. We capture the
process through which prosocial sensemaking about
the company explains the giving-commitment rela-
tionship in the following set of hypotheses:
Hypothesis 2a. The higher an employee’s level
of giving to a support program, the greater the
employee’s interpretations of company actions
as caring.
Hypothesis 2b. The greater an employee’s in-
terpretations of a company’s actions as caring,
the stronger the company’s prosocial identity.
Hypothesis 2c. The stronger a company’s
prosocial identity, the higher an employee’s
level of affective commitment to the company.
Hypothesis 2d. Prosocial sensemaking about a
company (judging company actions and iden-
tities as caring) partially mediates the associa-
tion between giving and affective commitment.
STUDY 1 DISCUSSION
Our emergent model suggests that giving to Big
Retail’s ESF strengthens affective commitment to
the company by triggering prosocial sensemaking
about the self and the company. Giving enables
employees to see personal and company actions
and identities in more caring terms, resulting in
increased affective commitment to the company.
Having used qualitative data to identify these
prosocial sensemaking processes, we sought to con-
duct an exploratory quantitative investigation of
their ability to explain the relationship between
giving and commitment.
STUDY 2 METHODS
We collected survey data from Big Retail employ-
ees that allowed us to provisionally test the model
depicted in Figure 1. Our objective was to lend
further grounded support, using a different sample
and quantitative rather than qualitative data, to our
Study 1 hypotheses.
Sample
We collected surveys from 249 employees at Big
Retail in July 2006. Sixty-eight percent of the respon-
dents were female; their mean age was 29.08 years
(s.d. 2.50 years), and their mean tenure at the com-
pany was 5.52 months (s.d. 3.83 months). The
company operated several hundred retail stores
throughout the United States, and 3,000 participants
were asked to volunteer to complete an anonymous
web survey about the ESF and their feelings about the
company. As an incentive to participate, participants
were offered entry into a drawing to win a $1,000 gift
certificate redeemable at any Disney resort, park, or
store. Potential respondents were selected by a com-
puter generator that randomly drew employee
identification numbers.
Company policies prohibited the use of many
standard response facilitation approaches, includ-
ing prenotifying, publicizing, sending reminder
notes, providing multiple response formats, moni-
toring survey response, and fostering survey com-
mitment (Rogelberg & Stanton, 2007). Employees
were not given time to complete the survey at work,
and because many of the stores were undergoing
changes in physical layout, HR managers informed
us that it was likely that a substantial proportion of
the 3,000 mailings had failed to reach potential re-
spondents. Nevertheless, since the response rate of
8.3 percent was quite low, we undertook several steps
recommended by Rogelberg and Stanton (2007) to
assess nonresponse biases. First, we conducted an
archival analysis comparing respondents with the to-
tal Big Retail employee population on available de-
mographic data. Proportions of respondents were
quite similar to the population in terms of job level,
gender, tenure, and age (see Table 1). The distribution
of respondents also matched the total employee pop-
ulation in terms of geographic locations. Thus, the
sample appeared to be representative on demo-
graphic dimensions. In addition, the proportion of
Big Retail’s population that had donated to the ESF
(56.0%) nearly perfectly matched the proportion of
906 OctoberAcademy of Management Journal
our respondents that had donated to the ESF (56.1%).
This evidence minimizes the concern that employees
who gave to the ESF would have been more likely to
respond to the survey, suggesting that we have suffi-
cient (and representative) variance on our indepen-
dent variable of giving behavior.
2
Second, we conducted a wave analysis compar-
ing early to late respondents, finding no significant
differences between early and late respondents on
the measured variables (see Table 1). This finding
does not conclusively rule out the possibility of
response bias, but it decreases its likelihood by
suggesting that responsiveness was not influenced
by the variables being investigated (Rogelberg &
Stanton, 2007). Together, although these steps can
only reduce but not eliminate concerns about re-
sponse biases, they suggest that the sample is suf-
ficiently representative of the population on key
demographic and ESF dimensions—and that there
is sufficient variance in the variables of interest—to
warrant an exploratory test of our model.
Measures
Unless otherwise indicated, all items used a seven-
point Likert-type response scale anchored at 1 “dis-
agree strongly,” to 7, “agree strongly”.
2
We were also concerned that employees who were
familiar with the ESF may have been more likely to re-
spond. To assess this concern, two independent coders
rated participants’ responses to an open-ended question at
the start of the survey: “To the best of your knowledge, what
services does the ESF provide?” The two coders demon-
strated 100 percent agreement, and the resulting data indi-
cated that 18.5 percent of respondents had never heard of
the ESF. This suggests that we received a reasonable re-
sponse from employees who were unfamiliar with the ESF.
TABLE 1
Study 2 Nonresponse Bias Impact Assessment
(a) Archival Analysis
Category Big Retail Population Respondent Sample
Job level: Manager 19.6% 19.4%
Job level: Associate 82.8 80.6
Gender: Male 41.0 33.5
Gender: Female 59.0 66.5
Tenure: 0–1 years 35.8 25.4
Tenure: 1–3 years 24.2 24.2
Tenure: 3–5 years 12.4 16.5
Tenure: 5years 28.5 33.9
Age: 25–34 25.4 25.2
Age: 35–44 17.2 24.0
Age: 45–54 12.5 12.4
Age: 55–64 7.4 11.2
Giving behavior: Has donated to the ESF 56.0 56.1
Giving behavior: Has not donated to the ESF 44.0 43.9
(b) Wave Analysis
a
Variable Day 1–3 (23%) Day 4–6 (30%) Day 7–9 (21%) Day 10(26%)
ESF giving behavior 2.42 (1.32) 2.13 (1.46) 1.97 (1.40) 2.28 (1.27)
Interpretations of personal ESF
contributions as caring
0.34 (0.48) 0.32 (0.45) 0.33 (0.53) 0.41 (0.53)
Interpretations of company ESF
contributions as caring
0.64 (0.75) 0.55 (0.64) 0.48 (0.61) 0.41 (0.64)
Personal prosocial identity 5.99 (0.80) 5.95 (0.84) 6.11 (0.61) 5.81 (0.86)
Company prosocial identity 4.12 (1.57) 4.24 (1.74) 4.59 (1.66) 4.10 (1.60)
Affective company commitment 4.70 (1.59) 4.61 (1.71) 4.62 (1.55) 4.44 (1.44)
Job satisfaction 5.22 (1.46) 5.14 (1.69) 5.69 (1.25) 5.27 (1.54)
Anticipation of receiving ESF support 1.01 (0.77) 0.94 (0.76) 0.91 (0.74) 0.94 (0.77)
Past ESF support received 0.11 (0.36) 0.11 (0.31) 0.02 (0.14) 0.14 (0.39)
Age 38.64 (13.24) 36.25 (13.32) 36.22 (12.78) 35.47 (14.00)
Company tenure 5.36 (5.25) 4.44 (4.75) 3.94 (4.38) 5.30 (5.20)
Job level 0.14 (0.35) 0.15 (0.36) 0.21 (0.41) 0.28 (0.45)
a
The wave analysis shows variable means by response category, with standard deviations in parentheses. Scheffe´’s multiple compar-
ison test showed no statistically significant differences between any of the day categories on any of the measured variables.
2008 907Grant, Dutton, and Rosso
Affective commitment to the company (self-re-
port). We measured affective commitment to the
company with five of the six items from the affec-
tive commitment scale reported by Meyer, Smith,
and Allen (1993), which includes items such as “I
really feel as if this company’s problems are my
own” and “This organization has a great deal of
personal meaning for me” (
.94). We excluded
the item “I would be very happy to spend the rest of
my career with this organization” because this item
reflects “turnover intentions” rather than the atti-
tude or feeling of affective commitment to the or-
ganization (Pittinsky & Shih, 2004).
ESF giving behavior (self-report). We measured
ESF giving behavior with two items developed in
collaboration with ESF managers. The first item
asked employees if they had ever donated from
their paycheck to the ESF and if they had ever
volunteered for ESF fundraising campaigns (0,
“neither”; 1, “yes to one”; 2, “yes to both”). The
second item asked them to indicate their agreement
with the statement, “I donate to the ESF on a reg-
ular basis” (
.74).
Interpretations of personal and company ESF
contributions as caring (independent coders). To
measure employees’ interpretations of personal
and company ESF contributions as caring, we en-
listed two independent coders. The coders rated
employees’ qualitative responses to four open-
ended questions in the survey: “In a few sentences,
please describe what the ESF means to you,” “In a
few sentences, please describe what you think the
ESF means to the company,” [for those who donate]
“What are the reasons that you donate to the ESF?”
and “What do you see as the strengths of the ESF?”
The two coders rated whether or not each response
from employees mentioned (1) their own contribu-
tions to the ESF as caring and/or (2) the company’s
contributions to the ESF as caring. Statements were
coded as caring when they described personal or
company actions as “generous,” “benevolent,”
“good,” “humane,” “concerned,” “compassionate,”
“having heart,” or “intending to help.” Table 2
displays sample statements for each of the two cat-
egories. We summed the ratings for each coder into
an overall score for each employee, representing a
count of the number of times (0 4) that each em-
ployee mentioned interpreting personal and com-
pany contributions, respectively, as caring. These
scores provided us with measures from a different
source, using a different rating method than the
self-report data. The coders demonstrated strong
agreement. Using a two-way mixed model with
consistency agreement, the intraclass correlation
coefficients (ICCs) for personal ESF contributions
were .62 (p.001) for single-measure reliability
and .77 (p.001) for average-measure reliability,
and the ICCs for company ESF contributions were
.61 (p.001) for single-measure reliability and .76
(p.001) for average-measure reliability.
Personal prosocial identity and company
prosocial identity (self-report). Drawing on com-
monly used phrases in our interview data, we de-
veloped three items each to measure employees’
perceptions of their own prosocial identities and
the company’s prosocial identity. The items for
personal prosocial identity were “I see myself as
caring,” “I see myself as generous,” and “I regu-
larly go out of my way to help others” (
.84).
The items for company prosocial identity were “I
see this company as caring,” “I think that this
company is generous,” and “I see this company
as being genuinely concerned about its employ-
ees” (
.94).
Control variable 1: Job satisfaction (self-
report). Because job satisfaction is strongly related
to affective organizational commitment (Harrison,
Newman, & Roth, 2006; Mathieu & Zajac, 1990),
and also because common method and source bi-
ases were potential concerns, we measured job sat-
isfaction as a control variable. Job satisfaction re-
flects general positive attitudes toward one’s work
and thereby serves as a filter through which other
work judgments are made (Brief & Weiss, 2002). We
thus expected that controlling for job satisfaction
would allow us to more rigorously assess the rela-
tionships among the constructs by adjusting these
relationships for general positive attitudes (Podsa-
koff, MacKenzie, & Lee, 2003). We used the job
satisfaction scale developed by Quinn and Shepard
(1974), which includes items such as “All in all, I
am very satisfied with my current job” (
.92).
Control variable 2: Anticipation of receiving
ESF support (independent coders). Because antic-
ipating support from the ESF might influence affec-
tive organizational commitment, we again enlisted
two independent coders to rate employees’ re-
sponses to the four open-ended questions about the
ESF listed above. The two coders rated whether or
not each response from employees mentioned that
the ESF might provide them with support in the
future; Table 2 provides sample statements. We
summed the ratings for each coder into an overall
score for each employee, representing a count of
the number of times (0 4) that each employee men-
tioned the possibility of receiving support from the
ESF in the future. The coders once again demon-
strated strong agreement. In a two-way mixed
model with consistency agreement, the ICCs were
.52 (p.001) for single-measure reliability and .68
(p.001) for average-measure reliability.
908 OctoberAcademy of Management Journal
Control variable 3: Past ESF support received
(self-report). Because having received support
from the ESF in the past could also influence affec-
tive organizational commitment, we asked employ-
ees to report whether they had ever received assis-
tance from the ESF (0, “never”; 1, “once”; 2,
“twice”).
Control variables 4 6: Demographic charac-
teristics. In their seminal meta-analysis, Mathieu
and Zajac (1990) examined a number of demo-
graphic correlates of organizational commitment,
finding that the three strongest demographic corre-
lates were age, organizational tenure, and job level.
Accordingly, we asked employees to report their
age (years), company tenure (years), and job level
(1, “managerial role”; 0, “associate”).
STUDY 2 RESULTS
Because the sample was sufficient in size and
respondent-to-item ratio, we analyzed the data
with structural equation modeling (SEM), using
EQS software (version 6.1) with maximum likeli-
hood estimation procedures. Missing data was not
a significant problem, as all items had less than 3
percent of cases missing. Following recommenda-
tions from Anderson and Gerbing (1988), we began
by conducting a confirmatory factor analysis spec-
ifying a 12-factor solution, which displayed excel-
lent fit with the data according to the rules of
thumb in the literature (Hu & Bentler, 1999) (
2
[237] 345.83, NNFI .96, CFI .97, RMSEA
.04, RMSEA confidence interval .03, .05). Factor
TABLE 2
Study 2 Sample Statements for Coding Categories
Interpretations of Personal ESF
Contributions as Caring
Interpretations of Company ESF
Contributions as Caring Anticipation of Receiving ESF Support
I feel a sense of goodness by doing so.
I donate what I can...Icare about creating a
sense of community and looking out for
others. So I give what I am able to.
It makes me feel good knowing that I am able
to help a fellow employee get back on their
feet.
I donate as a way to help others who might be
less fortunate than I.
I like to know that I had a small part of
helping someone else out when needed.
I donate because I want to be a blessing to
others.
I donate because every dollar makes a
difference. It’s a good cause.
I like helping employees who are in need.
In order for the ESF to continue to help others
there must be people that can contribute. I
feel that I am a person who will give as
much as I can.
I appreciate the opportunity to contribute
through my paycheck to those fellow
employees in need.
I like helping others.
It’s nice to feel that we can contribute.
Helps those employees who donate feel good
about themselves/feel they are doing
something useful.
Employee contributions give us a feeling of
being directly involved in helping each
other.
It makes people feel good to donate.
It’s nice to feel that I’m contributing to
something.
Gives employees an opportunity to think of
and help each other.
Helping someone in need makes people feel
good. It makes people feel as though
something they did matters.
It’s a great way to show my employees that
not only do I care about them, but their
company cares about them. When Big
Retail helps one of my employees it
reminds me that I work for a great
company.
It helps to build a community for Big
Retail employees and shows that the
company cares about its employees.
I’m proud to work for a company that has
taken the time and resources to form an
ESF to help people in need.
I think it means it cares for employees.
What this program does demonstrates
the value the company states it feels for
employees.
It gives the employees a better outlook
toward the company. It seems like more
than a cold business.
It shows that the company cares about its
employees.
It’s a way to show the human side of
business. It’s an extra arm that can reach
out and give comfort when people need
it most.
It strengthens employee loyalty. It
humanizes the public image of the
corporation.
I think it shows that Big Retail cares and
looks out for its employees.
The ESF represents a commitment of
caring and concern toward all
employees.
It is a way for the company to show its
concern for its employees.
It puts a more human face on a
corporation. It means the company cares.
Helping employees through difficult times
shows that a large company has a heart.
It makes you feel good to work for a
company who helps its employees
through tough times.
I know if I need financial assistance due to
a life changing event, the ESF may be
able to help me.
I feel secure they are there. If I ever need
assistance, I know they are a stepping
stone for me to go to for help.
It’s nice to know in a worst case scenario
that it’s there—a safety net for some of
the things benefits doesn’t cover.
Having been a recipient several years ago, I
can honestly say the ESF means there
may be help available. It’s kind of like a
friend...it’s nice to know they’re here.
It means that if something were to happen
to me such as a death in the immediate
family, I can ask for help. Also may help
with college expenses.
The ESF gives us all the assurance that
should something arise with a
significant financial impact that we are
unable to handle on our own, we will
have a partner in the company to deal
with the situation...thecompany is
willing to invest in our lives.
If I need financial assistance, I can apply
for a grant.
I have heard the ESF would provide
financial aid for school. I...would like
to take advantage [of this] in the future.
If I am ever in need of its assistance I will
take advantage of it.
A service that issues grants to Big Retail
employees who truly are in need [is] one
that I may need to take advantage of
someday.
I hope to benefit from it with a scholarship
stipend for my children in the future.
2008 909Grant, Dutton, and Rosso
correlations, along with means and standard devi-
ations, are displayed in Table 3.
To examine whether this was the most parsimo-
nious solution, we compared this 12-factor model
with two plausible alternative models. The corre-
lations in Table 3 indicate four high correlations:
ESF giving behavior and interpretations of personal
ESF contributions as caring (F1 and F2; r.60),
company prosocial identity and affective commit-
ment (F5 and F6; r.69), prosocial company iden-
tity and job satisfaction (F5 and F7; r.67), and
affective commitment and job satisfaction (F6 and
F7; r.62). These correlations suggest two plausi-
ble alternative models. The first, an 11-factor model
with ESF giving behavior and interpretations of
personal ESF contributions as caring loading on the
same factor, displayed poorer fit on all indices (
2
[248] 444.30, NNFI .93, CFI .95, RMSEA
.06, RMSEA confidence interval .05, .07). A chi-
square difference test showed that the fit of the
12-factor model was significantly superior to that of
this alternative model (
2
[11] 98.47, p.001).
The second, a ten-factor model with prosocial com-
pany identity, affective commitment, and job satis-
faction loading on a single factor, displayed very
poor fit on all indices (
2
[258] 1062.91, NNFI
.72, CFI .78, RMSEA .12, RMSEA confidence
interval .11, .12). A chi-square difference test
showed that the fit of the 12-factor model was sig-
nificantly superior to that of this alternative model
(
2
[19] 717.08, p.001). Thus, the 12-factor
model displayed significantly better fit than both of
the plausible alternative models.
Structural models. We then tested full structural
models both with and without control variables.
The model without control variables (Figure 2)
demonstrated excellent fit with the data according
to Hu and Bentler’s (1999) cut-off values (
2
[111]
169.42, NNFI .97, CFI .98, RMSEA .05,
RMSEA confidence interval .03, .06).
3
As de-
picted in Figure 3, the model still displayed good
fit after we added the control variables as exoge-
3
To examine the possibility of reverse causality, we
tested an alternative model in which affective commit-
ment led to giving behavior, which led to interpretations
of personal and company ESF contributions as caring,
which in turn led to personal and company prosocial
identity. This model involved moving affective commit-
ment from its position as the final dependent variable to
a position as the only exogenous independent variable.
On all indices, the model displayed poorer fit and failed
to achieve Hu and Bentler’s (1999) cutoff values:
2
(112) 288.11, NNFI .92, CFI .94, RMSEA .08,
RMSEA confidence interval .07, .09. A chi-square dif-
ference test demonstrated that our initial model dis-
played significantly superior fit to this alternative model:
2
(1) 118.69, p.001.
TABLE 3
Study 2 Means, Standard Deviations, and Disattenuated Correlations at the Index Level
a
Index Mean s.d. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11
1. ESF giving behavior 2.20 1.37 (.74)
2. Interpretations of personal
ESF contributions as
caring
0.35 0.50 .60*** (.77)
3. Interpretations of
company ESF
contributions as caring
0.52 0.66 .32** .25** (.76)
4. Personal prosocial
identity
5.96 0.79 .21* .14 .11 (.84)
5. Company prosocial
identity
4.25 1.65 .20* .13 .32** .31** (.94)
6. Affective company
commitment
4.59 1.58 .26** .16* .28** .37** .69*** (.94)
7. Job satisfaction 5.31 1.52 .11 .06 .15 .40*** .67*** .62*** (.92)
8. Anticipation of receiving
ESF support
0.95 0.76 .36** .16* .40*** .22* .25** .23* .12
9. Past ESF support received 0.10 0.32 .20* .06 .06 .03 .03 .10 .00 .17*
10. Age 36.59 13.35 .13 .02 .06 .00 .04 .05 .06 .04 .09
11. Company tenure 4.77 4.92 .25** .17* .10 .01 .07 .03 .02 .05 .12 .42***
12. Job level 0.19 0.40 .24** .21* .20 .05 .12 .13 .02 .14 .04 .12 .31**
a
Internal consistency statistics (Cronbach’s alphas) for each index are displayed in parentheses on the diagonal.
*p.05
** p.01
*** p.001
910 OctoberAcademy of Management Journal
nous influences on affective commitment (
2
[270] 548.86, NNFI .91, CFI .92, RMSEA
.07, RMSEA confidence interval .06, .08). In
both models, supporting our hypotheses, there
were statistically significant paths from ESF giv-
ing behavior to interpretations of personal ESF
contributions as caring (Hypothesis 1a) to per-
sonal prosocial identity (Hypothesis 1b) to affec-
tive commitment (Hypothesis 1c), and from ESF
giving behavior to interpretations of company
ESF contributions as caring (Hypothesis 2a) to
company prosocial identity (Hypothesis 2b) to
affective commitment (Hypothesis 2c).
4
Mediation analysis. The previous analyses dem-
onstrated that the mediators were significantly re-
lated to both the independent and dependent vari-
ables. To examine whether the intervening
variables mediated the relationship between giving
behavior and affective commitment to the com-
pany, we followed the procedures recommended
by James, Mulaik, and Brett (2006).
5
We estimated
the indirect effects with the coefficients from the
full model and then used bootstrapping methods to
construct confidence intervals based on 1,000 ran-
dom samples with replacement from the full sam-
ple (Stine, 1989).
6
The coefficient for the prosocial
4
To examine whether giving explained variance over
and above the six control variables in predicting affective
commitment, we conducted a hierarchical regression
analysis. Even with all six control variables included,
giving behavior was a significant predictor of affective
commitment (
.14, t[239] 2.61, p.01), increasing
variance explained significantly (from R
2
.40 to R
2
.42, F[1, 232] 6.81, p.01).
5
We also examined whether the mediated paths im-
proved model fit by testing a nested model in which we
added a direct path from giving to commitment and re-
moved the mediating prosocial sensemaking paths. Despite
the decrease in parsimony, the mediated model displayed
significantly superior fit (
2
[1] 57.52, p.001).
6
Because this is a two-stage mediation model rather
than a traditional one-stage mediation model, each indi-
rect effect is the product of three paths ([F13F2]
[F23F4] [F43F6] for prosocial sensemaking about the
self and [F13F3] [F33F5] [F53F6] for prosocial
sensemaking about the company), rather than the stan-
dard two paths. Accordingly, the path coefficients for the
indirect effects are substantially lower than would be
observed for a traditional one-stage mediation model.
This is merely a scaling artifact of the standardized paths
being represented on a scale from 0 to 1. The standard
errors are affected in the same direction, resulting in an
accurate estimate of the confidence intervals.
FIGURE 2
Study 2 Structural Model
a
a
2
(111) 169.42, NNFI .97, CFI .98, RMSEA .05, RMSEA confidence interval (.03, .06). All reported relationships are
statistically significant at the p.05 level. Asterisks indicate that the factor correlations are freely estimated.
The prosocial individual and company identity factors explained a total of 48 percent of the variance in affective organizational
commitment. Because common causes may have been omitted, we allowed two residual disturbances to correlate freely: d1–d2 and d3–d4.
2008 911Grant, Dutton, and Rosso
sensemaking about the self path was .02, and the 95
percent confidence interval excluded zero (.01, .02).
The coefficient for the prosocial sensemaking about
the company path was .07, and the 95 percent confi-
dence interval excluded zero (.07, .08). Since media-
tion is present when the size of an indirect effect is
significantly different from zero (Shrout & Bolger,
2002), these confidence intervals suggest that each of
the two pathways was a partial mediator: the link
between giving to the ESF and affective commitment
was partially mediated by prosocial sensemaking
about the self (Hypothesis 1d) and prosocial sense-
making about the company (Hypothesis 2d).
STUDY 2 DISCUSSION
This provisional quantitative test provided sup-
port for our theoretical model. We found that giving
behavior explained significant variance in affective
organizational commitment, even after controlling
for past support received from the ESF and ex-
pected future support received from the ESF, as
well as job satisfaction, age, company tenure, and
job level. We further found that each of the two
prosocial sensemaking mechanisms identified in
the qualitative study partially mediated the asso-
ciation between giving and commitment. These
findings suggest that giving to an employee sup-
port program is associated with higher levels of
affective commitment to one’s organization
through employees’ interpretations of personal
and organizational actions and identities in
prosocial, caring terms.
GENERAL DISCUSSION
We used qualitative and quantitative data to
build and test theory about the relationship be-
tween giving to an employee support program and
affective commitment to the organization that man-
ages the program. Taken together, our findings sug-
gest that giving triggers a process of prosocial sen-
semaking about the self and the company that
strengthens employees’ affective commitment to
the company. The two studies provide convergent
evidence for our claims that giving strengthens af-
fective commitment by enabling employees to in-
terpret personal and company actions in more car-
ing, prosocial terms. Our findings extend previous
research by introducing giving as a novel anteced-
ent of commitment and as a novel, other-interested
process through which employee support programs
FIGURE 3
Study 2 Structural Model with Control Variables
a
a
2
(268) 533.08, NNFI .91, CFI .93, RMSEA .07, RMSEA confidence interval (.06, .07). All paths from the original model are
statistically significant at the p.05 level, but of the six control variables, only the path from job satisfaction was significant. We allowed
ESF giving behavior to correlate freely with all of the control variables, which also correlated freely with each other.
912 OctoberAcademy of Management Journal
cultivate commitment. Our findings also extend
previous research by identifying two prosocial sen-
semaking mechanisms through which giving culti-
vates commitment, drawing attention to the impor-
tance of prosocial interpretations of personal and
organizational actions and identities as sources of
commitment.
Theoretical Implications
Below, we elaborate on how our studies contrib-
ute to theory and research on organizational pro-
grams, commitment, sensemaking and identity,
and citizenship behavior.
Organizational programs. Our research makes
two contributions toward understanding the organ-
izational and individual benefits of support pro-
grams. First, as noted earlier, scholars have tradi-
tionally assumed that support programs cultivate
commitment through the self-interested pathway of
enabling employees to receive support (e.g., Good-
stein, 1995; Johnson, 1986; Trice & Beyer, 1984).
Our findings suggest that support programs also
cultivate commitment through the other-interested
pathway of enabling employees to give support. We
thus provide researchers with a wider conceptual
lens for examining how support programs assist
organizations in increasing employee commitment
by facilitating both giving and receiving. Second,
with respect to individual benefits, scholars have
focused primarily on the experiences of employees
who receive support, giving less attention to the
experiences of employees who provide support
(Bacharach et al., 2000). Our findings underscore
the potential benefits of support programs for sup-
port providers, in terms of seeing their personal
identities and the company’s identity in more
prosocial, caring terms. Our findings bolster evi-
dence that support can benefit givers as well as
receivers (Penner, Dovidio, Piliavin, & Schroeder,
2005). Our research thus provides scholars with a
new window for investigating and understanding
the organizational and individual benefits of sup-
port programs.
Our research also informs scholarship on the
psychological processes through which a broader
class of organizational programs, not only support
programs, cultivates commitment. The prosocial
sensemaking process that we proposed is applica-
ble to any organizational program that provides
employees with opportunities to give and contrib-
ute, including corporate volunteer programs and
corporate social responsibility initiatives. Whereas
scholars often understand these programs as pro-
viding image benefits to organizations (e.g., Els-
bach, 2003), our research suggests that these pro-
grams can enable employees to contribute to, and
thus attach to, the organizations. Our research sug-
gests that by providing opportunities to give, organi-
zational programs can facilitate employees’ efforts to
construct prosocial identities as caring individuals, as
well as to see their organization as a more prosocial,
caring institution. These findings are applicable to a
wide variety of programs in which an organization
provides a valued giving opportunity: when employ-
ees act on the opportunity to give, they are able to see
themselves and the organization as more caring,
which is likely to strengthen their commitment to the
organization that manages the program.
Commitment. Our research answers recent calls
to explain commitment using alternative theoreti-
cal mechanisms that transcend self-interest (Meg-
lino & Korsgaard, 2004). We find that behaviors
directed toward giving and contributing can
strengthen employees’ emotional bonds with their
work organizations. Our discovery of prosocial sen-
semaking processes suggests that affective commit-
ment can be shaped in powerful ways by prosocial
interpretations of the self and the organization as
caring entities, advancing existing theory toward a
more complete understanding of the antecedents of
affective organizational commitment. Indeed, in
their meta-analysis, Meyer et al. (2002) found
that work experiences in which employees re-
ceive positive treatment from an organization—in
the form of perceived organizational support,
transformational leadership, organizational jus-
tice, and clearly defined, well-structured roles—
are the strongest known predictor of affective
organizational commitment. Our research sug-
gests that in addition to the treatment that em-
ployees receive from the organization, the giving
behaviors in which employees engage toward the
organization have important implications for
their affective commitment to the organization.
Our research further fills a gap in existing
knowledge about the role of emotions in affective
organizational commitment. Although affective
organizational commitment is by definition an
emotion-laden attitude, little research has exam-
ined the role of discrete emotions in guiding this
commitment (e.g., Brief & Weiss, 2002). Although
we were unable to test these mechanisms in our
quantitative model, our qualitative findings shed
light on the relationship between the discrete emo-
tions of gratitude and pride and affective commit-
ment. Our results suggest that when employees en-
gage in prosocial sensemaking about the self, their
commitment is based on gratitude to their organi-
zation for facilitating their own giving behaviors
and caring identities. When employees engage in
prosocial sensemaking about the organization, their
2008 913Grant, Dutton, and Rosso
commitment is based on pride in the organization
for being a giving and caring institution. These
findings illuminate how giving can foster commit-
ment through two distinct emotional pathways.
Sensemaking and identity. Our research adds
novel content to the traditionally process-focused
theories of sensemaking and identity. Sensemaking
theories emphasize the processes through which
individuals interpret actions and identities, paying
less attention to the content of these interpreta-
tions—the type or nature of understandings formed
(Maitlis, 2005; Pratt, 2000; Weick, 1995; Weick,
Sutcliffe, & Obstfeld, 2005). Similarly, identity the-
ories emphasize the processes through which indi-
viduals develop and maintain personal and collec-
tive self-concepts (e.g., Dutton, Dukerich, &
Harquail, 1994), giving less attention to the content
of these self-concepts—the descriptive adjectives
that characterize the identity (Wrzesniewski, Dut-
ton, & Debebe, 2003). Our research points to the
importance of other-interested, prosocial content in
employees’ sensemaking and identity construction
efforts. It also highlights that sensemaking is more
than a cognitive process, generating and being af-
fected by the emotions of gratitude and pride that
prosocial sensemaking evokes.
Citizenship behavior. Our research enriches ex-
isting knowledge about organizational citizenship
behavior, acts directed toward contributing to other
people and an organization. Research has demon-
strated that affective organizational commitment is
a robust predictor of citizenship behaviors (Harri-
son et al., 2006; Meyer et al., 2002). Our research
reverses the causal arrow by suggesting that citizen-
ship behaviors are not only influenced by, but can
also strengthen, organizational commitment. By
contributing to their organization, employees are
internally and externally signaling their investment
in the organization, creating private and public
conditions for enhanced commitment. Our re-
search thus enters the long-standing debate about
whether attitudes cause behaviors and/or vice
versa. Although there is now clear evidence that
causality flows in both directions (e.g., Judge,
Thoresen, Bono, & Patton, 2001; McBroom & Reed,
1992), researchers have primarily assumed that be-
haviors are a consequence of affective commitment,
paying little attention to the possibility that behav-
iors are also a cause of affective commitment (see
Meyer et al., 2002). We have taken a step toward
balancing this literature by suggesting that giving
behaviors can cause, not only result from, affective
organizational commitment. Our research thereby
identifies fresh questions for researchers to inves-
tigate concerning how the act of contributing
shapes employees’ organizational commitment.
Our research also advances this literature by
shedding new light on the motives that underlie
citizenship behavior. Organizational scholars have
debated about whether citizenship behavior is
driven by self-interested or prosocial motives (Bo-
lino, 1999; Meglino & Korsgaard, 2004), and our
findings suggest that this debate contributes to a
false dichotomy. Rather than pitting self-interested
and prosocial motives against each other, our find-
ings suggest that giving can serve both sets of mo-
tives simultaneously. We find that organizations’
efforts to facilitate the experience of giving and
contributing to a support program indirectly serve
employees’ self-interests by enabling them to see
themselves and the company in more prosocial,
caring terms. Our research thereby answers recent
calls to explain attitudes and behaviors through
theoretical perspectives that blend, rather than di-
chotomize, self-interest and other-interest (De
Dreu, 2006; Grant, 2007).
Managerial Implications
Our findings suggest that managers can achieve
both individual and organizational benefits by pro-
viding employees with opportunities to give and
contribute. This advice to managers is somewhat
counterintuitive: we propose that organizations can
cultivate commitment not only by enabling em-
ployees to receive support, but also by enabling
employees to give support. By designing programs
that enable employees to help others, managers
may improve the quality of employees’ experiences
while simultaneously promoting the welfare of re-
cipients and benefiting from increased affective
commitment from employees. Our findings may
motivate managers to achieve these benefits by en-
gaging in the following specific behaviors: (1) in-
troducing employee support programs, (2) design-
ing these programs to allow employees to give as
well as receive, (3) communicating to employees
about the range of ways in which they can give time
and money to these programs, (4) dismantling
norms of self-interest by modeling the appropriate-
ness and legitimacy of giving to these programs,
and (5) subtly highlighting the organization’s con-
tributions to these programs. By taking these ac-
tions, managers may facilitate employee giving be-
haviors that trigger the prosocial sensemaking
process.
Limitations and Future Directions
Our research is subject to a number of limita-
tions. First, although both of our studies suggest
that giving contributes to affective organizational
914 OctoberAcademy of Management Journal
commitment, our cross-sectional data do not rule
out the possibility of alternative causal pathways.
For example, it is likely that affective commitment
is a cause, as well as a consequence, of giving. This
is suggested by meta-analyses linking identification
and affective commitment to higher levels of citi-
zenship (Harrison et al., 2006; Meyer et al., 2002),
as well as by evidence that individuals define their
roles more broadly to include citizenship behaviors
when they are more affectively committed (Morri-
son, 1994; Tepper, Lockhart, & Hoobler, 2001). Re-
search using experimental or longitudinal designs
is necessary to substantiate our causal inferences
and examine these issues of reciprocal causality.
Second, the low response rate in Study 2 raises
questions about selection and response biases. We
used strategic sampling in Study 1 to obtain a more
representative sample, but future research is neces-
sary to examine the generalizability of our findings,
which are likely circumscribed to internal rather
than external giving behaviors, as well as to em-
ployees who want to give.
Third, researchers have emphasized that organi-
zational commitment takes multiple forms (e.g.,
Meyer et al., 2002), but we focused only on affec-
tive commitment. We encourage researchers to in-
vestigate how giving influences continuance and
normative forms of organizational commitment.
We expect giving to strengthen continuance com-
mitment by increasing the perceived costs of with-
drawing from the organization. Because giving
privately and publicly demonstrates employees’
dedication to their organization, employees may
feel that they will lose the credit gained for their
donations if they leave the organization, and will
thus display stronger continuance commitment in
order to avoid these costs. On the other hand, we
envision competing hypotheses for the effects of
giving on normative commitment. Through a dis-
sonance or self-perception mechanism (Bem,
1972), giving may increase normative commitment:
employees may justify or interpret their giving be-
haviors as driven by perceived duty, and will there-
fore display stronger normative commitment as a
result of feeling obligated to the organization. Con-
versely, through a psychological contract mecha-
nism, giving may decrease normative commitment:
employees may see their giving behaviors as fulfill-
ing their obligations, reducing feelings of further
obligation. We hope researchers will explore the
effects of giving on continuance and normative
forms of organizational commitment.
Fourth, in focusing on affective organizational
commitment, we did not examine whether giving
and receiving are related to distinct psychological
and behavioral outcomes. We believe it will be
fruitful for researchers to move beyond attitudinal
consequences of giving toward a broader examina-
tion of behavior and performance effects. By
strengthening affective commitment, giving is
likely to reduce absenteeism and turnover (Cooper-
Hakim & Viswesvaran, 2005; Meyer et al., 2002),
and it may also increase productivity by improving
employees’ reputations as dedicated, competent
contributors (e.g., Flynn, 2003). Fifth, researchers
have observed that giving behaviors take multiple
forms (Penner et al., 2005), but we did not theoret-
ically or empirically differentiate forms of giving
such as giving time versus money, emotional ver-
sus instrumental support, and formal versus infor-
mal peer support, which may have divergent effects
(Penner et al., 2005). Sixth, ESF recipients are
anonymous, but in settings in which giving is di-
rected toward identified recipients, researchers
should examine whether employees’ propensities
to give and feel affectively committed are linked to
their relational proximity and intimacy with in-
tended or potential recipients (Grant, 2007).
Seventh, giving may strengthen affective com-
mitment through additional mechanisms that are
complementary to prosocial sensemaking. We en-
courage researchers to investigate the possibility
that through giving, employees become engaged in
community building, increasing their attachment
to a community to which they feel they have con-
tributed (e.g., Bacharach, Bamberger, & Sonnen-
stuhl, 2001). Eighth, we assumed that all employ-
ees value personal prosocial identities as caring
individuals and company prosocial identities as
caring organizations. It will be worthwhile for fu-
ture research to investigate whether our model
holds for all individuals, or whether individuals
with high levels of agreeableness, strong prosocial
motives and values, and salient moral identities are
more likely to seek and construct prosocial expla-
nations for personal and organizational actions
(Aquino & Reed, 2002; Grant, 2008b; Penner et al.,
2005). Ninth, we treated prosocial sensemaking
about the self and the company as independent
pathways through which giving strengthens com-
mitment, but it is possible that these two pathways
may interact. Future research should address
whether commitment is highest when employees
experience “prosocial fit,” or congruence between
personal and organizational prosocial identities.
Finally, there are likely several “dark sides” to
the present research that do not appear in our data.
One risk is that the opportunity to give may elicit
high expectations that, if unfulfilled, lead employ-
ees to feel that their psychological contracts have
been breached and violated (e.g., Thompson &
Bunderson, 2003), generating attributions of hypoc-
2008 915Grant, Dutton, and Rosso
risy and feelings of disenchantment (Cha & Ed-
mondson, 2006). Such reactions may be particu-
larly likely when giving is forced rather than
merely facilitated (Grant, 2008a). A second risk is
that employee support programs may harm the very
employees they are designed to help, leaving em-
ployees financially and emotionally dependent on
receiving contributions from others and the organ-
ization. A third risk is that managers may take
advantage of giving as a cheap alternative to receiv-
ing: instead of providing support to employees,
managers may simply provide employees with op-
portunities to give support to others. As such, giv-
ing-based commitment may be misappropriated as
a form of managerial manipulation, where manag-
ers attempt to get more from employees in ex-
change for less. Critical theorists have expressed
concerns about similar risks of empowerment prac-
tices (Fineman, 2006), and it will be important for
future research to examine the conditions under
which giving opportunities are undermined by
pressure, cynicism, distrust, and ill intentions.
Conclusion
As employees continue to become less physi-
cally, administratively, and temporally attached to
organizations (Cascio, 2003; Pfeffer & Baron, 1998),
scholars need new lenses for understanding how
and why organizational commitment develops, and
practitioners need new resources for cultivating
commitment. Our theoretical perspective on pro-
social sensemaking indicates that support pro-
grams cultivate stronger affective organizational
commitment not only by enabling employees to
receive, but also by enabling employees to give.In
Weick’s (1995) terms, the traditional assumption is
that employees judge their affective commitment to
organizations by asking, “How can I know how I
feel until I see what I get?” Our research suggests
that employees also judge their affective commit-
ment to organizations by asking, “How can I know
how I feel until I see what I give?”
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Adam M. Grant (agrant@unc.edu) is an assistant profes-
sor of organizational behavior at the University of North
Carolina at Chapel Hill. He received his Ph.D. from the
University of Michigan. His research focuses on job de-
sign, work motivation, prosocial and proactive behav-
iors, and employee well-being.
Jane E. Dutton (janedut@umich.edu) is the Robert L.
Kahn Distinguished University Professor of Business Ad-
ministration and Psychology at the University of Michi-
gan. Her current research focuses on generative meaning
processes in organizations, high-quality relationships,
and compassion in organizations. These interests are all
related to a focus and interest in positive organizational
scholarship.
Brent D. Rosso (brosso@umich.edu) is a doctoral candi-
date in the Departments of Organizational Psychology
and Management & Organizations at the University of
Michigan. His research focuses on human flourishing in
the workplace and on flourishing organizations, with
particular emphasis on prosocial behavior, meaningful
work, and creative teams.
918 OctoberAcademy of Management Journal
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... We found OC to be positively related to EV . This is in accordance with prior studies (Grant et al ., 2008;Nisar et al . 2020) . ...
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Remember when everyone was talking about organizational culture and the idea of building strong cultures to achieve competitive advantage (e.g., Kotter and Heskett 1992; O’Reilly 1989; Tushman and O’Reilly 1997, chapter 5)? Remember Theory Zand Ouchi’s (1981) argument that Williamson’s (1975) description of possible organizing arrangements was incomplete? Ouchi maintained that in addition to achieving coordination and control through market-like mechanisms such as prices and contracts on the one hand, and hierarchies or bureaucracies on the other, there was yet another way of organizing and managing employees, and that was through clan-like relationships among people (e.g., Ouchi and Jaeger 1978), characterized by high levels of trust and stability. More recently, Gittell’s (2003) description of Southwest Airlines is consistent with the idea of achieving coordination through interpersonal trust and mutual adjustment of behavior (Thompson 1967). Gittell argued that Southwest’s extraordinary level of productivity and performance has come through high levels of coordination and control achieved through interpersonal relationships rather than simply through relying on either formal mechanisms or incentives.