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Purpose In this study, we investigated the commitment of cultural minorities and majorities in organizations. We examined how contextual factors, such as pressure to conform and leadership styles, affect the commitment of minority and majority members. Design/Methodology/Approach A field study was conducted on 107 employees in a large multinational corporation. Findings We hypothesize and found that cultural minorities felt more committed to the organization than majority members, thereby challenging the existing theoretical view that cultural minorities will feel less committed. We also found that organizational pressure to conform and effective leadership increased the commitment of minorities. Implications Our findings indicate that organizational leaders and researchers should not only focus on increasing and maintaining the commitment of minority members, but should also consider how majority members react to cultural socialization and integration processes. The commitment of minority members can be further enhanced by effective leadership. Originality/Value In this study, we challenge the existing theoretical view based on similarity attraction theory and relational demography theory, that cultural minorities would feel less committed to the organization. Past research has mainly focused on minority groups, thereby ignoring the reaction of the majority to socialization processes. In this study, we show that cultural minorities can be more committed than majority members in organizations. Therefore, the perceptions of cultural majority members of socialization processes should also be considered in research on cultural diversity and acculturation.
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Commitment of Cultural Minorities in Organizations: Effects
of Leadership and Pressure to Conform
Joyce Rupert ÆKaren A. Jehn Æ
Marloes L. van Engen ÆRene
´e S. M. de Reuver
Published online: 1 September 2009
The Author(s) 2009. This article is published with open access at Springerlink.com
Abstract
Purpose In this study, we investigated the commitment of
cultural minorities and majorities in organizations. We
examined how contextual factors, such as pressure to
conform and leadership styles, affect the commitment of
minority and majority members.
Design/Methodology/Approach A field study was con-
ducted on 107 employees in a large multinational
corporation.
Findings We hypothesize and found that cultural minor-
ities felt more committed to the organization than majority
members, thereby challenging the existing theoretical view
that cultural minorities will feel less committed. We also
found that organizational pressure to conform and effective
leadership increased the commitment of minorities.
Implications Our findings indicate that organizational
leaders and researchers should not only focus on increasing
and maintaining the commitment of minority members, but
should also consider how majority members react to cul-
tural socialization and integration processes. The commit-
ment of minority members can be further enhanced by
effective leadership.
Originality/Value In this study, we challenge the existing
theoretical view based on similarity attraction theory and
relational demography theory, that cultural minorities
would feel less committed to the organization. Past
research has mainly focused on minority groups, thereby
ignoring the reaction of the majority to socialization pro-
cesses. In this study, we show that cultural minorities can
be more committed than majority members in organiza-
tions. Therefore, the perceptions of cultural majority
members of socialization processes should also be con-
sidered in research on cultural diversity and acculturation.
Keywords Cultural minorities Socialization
Organizational commitment Leadership
Pressure to conform Acculturation
In the last decade societies and organizations have become
increasingly multicultural and growing attention is being
paid by business practitioners as well as scientists to the
integration of cultural minorities into organizations (Che-
mers et al. 1995; Cox 1993). Organizations are becoming
increasingly aware of the impact of diversity in the work-
place and the need to manage this diversity to sustain their
competitive advantage (Jehn and Bezrukova 2004; Thomas
and Ely 1996). Past research on the impact of diversity in
the workplace has mainly focused on the effects of team
diversity on group processes, such as conflict and infor-
mation processing, on workgroup and individual outcomes
like performance, commitment, satisfaction, and turnover
(e.g., Ely and Thomas 2001; Jehn et al. 1999; Pelled et al.
1999). This past research has mixed results, some studies
indicating that diversity can increase creativity and prob-
lem solving, others showing that diversity can lead to
conflict and decreased performance (for reviews and meta-
analyses see Jackson et al. 2003; Mannix and Neale 2005;
Stewart 2006; Webber and Donahue 2001; Williams and
O’Reilly 1998). However, research on cultural minorities
Received and reviewed by former editor, George Neuman.
J. Rupert (&)K. A. Jehn
Department of Social and Organizational Psychology, Leiden
University, Wassenaarseweg 52, 2300, RB, Leiden,
The Netherlands
e-mail: JRupert@fsw.leidenuniv.nl
M. L. van Engen R. S. M. de Reuver
Tilburg University, Tilburg, The Netherlands
123
J Bus Psychol (2010) 25:25–37
DOI 10.1007/s10869-009-9131-3
and the integration of cultural minority members with the
majority group in organizations is comparatively lacking
(c.f. Williams and O’Reilly 1998; c.f. Jackson et al. 1992).
Also in research on heterogeneity and relational demog-
raphy, cultural diversity is examined less extensively than
other demographic variables, such as gender, age, and
tenure (c.f. Williams and O’Reilly 1998).
In this study of 107 employees in a large multinational
in the field of electronics, located in the Netherlands, we
use a social identity and acculturation framework to
examine the effect of cultural diversity on organizational
outcomes. Specifically, we focus on differences in orga-
nizational commitment of cultural majorities versus cul-
tural minorities, the latest defined as individuals that were
born in or that have at least one parent born in a country
other than the country of the majority group (Arends-To
´th
and Van de Vijver 2001). These differences in organiza-
tional commitment can have a tremendous impact on
organizational outcomes in turn, as organizational com-
mitment has behavioral consequences that are of high
importance to organizations. For example, Mathieu and
Zajacs’ (1990) and Riketta and Van Dicks’ (in press) meta-
analyses showed that committed employees are more
motivated and loyal to the organization, more satisfied with
the organization, are less likely to leave the organization,
and under most circumstances will perform better than
employees who are not committed. Therefore, organiza-
tional commitment is an important predictor of positive
organizational outcomes and an important condition to
facilitate a successful integration of minority members into
the organization and, in the end, in society as a whole.
As this study includes both cultural minorities as
majority members in an organization, the study of differ-
ences in organizational commitment is particularly inter-
esting. Commitment to an organization may be shaped by
the socialization process, in which the organization teaches
employees about values and norms (Allen and Meyer
1990b; Caldwell et al. 1990). This socialization experience
may affect the commitment of the individual toward the
organization (Buchanan 1974; Louis 1980). Individuals
with different cultural backgrounds often have different
value systems acquired from varying socialization experi-
ences (Dougherty 1992), which can lead to different con-
ventions regarding social relationships at work and task
accomplishment (Jehn et al. 1999; Von Glinow et al. 2004).
Therefore, we expect that feelings of organizational com-
mitment will be different for cultural minorities than for
cultural majority members.
Furthermore, we also propose two moderators that we
believe are important to explain the relationship between
cultural dissimilarity and commitment. First, we will study
whether commitment to the organization will be facilitated
through strong socialization practices in the organization.
More specifically, we will study the moderating impact of
pressure to conform to the organizational norms as a
measure of socialization practices. A strong corporate
culture may hamper the socialization of employees from
cultural minority groups (e.g., Benschop 2001). Secondly,
we will study the impact of leadership styles on the orga-
nizational commitment of minority versus majority mem-
bers. Leaders have shown to influence employee outcomes,
such as follower’s job satisfaction and work motivation
(Judge and Piccolo 2004), which are likely to influence
employee’s organizational commitment as well. We pro-
pose that since minority members have different social-
izations than majority members, leadership styles will
differentially impact various types of organizational com-
mitment for these two groups.
Cultural Minorities and Organizational Commitment
To our knowledge, there is hardly any research yet on the
relationship between cultural dissimilarity and organiza-
tional commitment (for exceptions see Riordan and Shore
1997; Tsui et al. 1992). Research on dissimilarity and
relational demography often draws on social identity theory
and similarity-attraction theory to argue a negative rela-
tionship between demographic dissimilarity and organiza-
tional outcomes (e.g., Chatman et al. 1998; Chattopadhyay
1999; Riordan 2000; Tsui et al. 1992; Tsui and O’Reilly
1989). Similarity-attraction theory states that individuals
feel attracted to people who are similar to themselves,
which leads to more frequent communication and higher
social integration within a group (Berscheid and Walster
1987; Byrne 1971). Consequently, dissimilarity will lead to
lower integration and commitment to the group. In general,
social identity theory is congruent with the similarity-
attraction paradigm, proposing that individuals identify
with several social groups from which they derive a positive
social identity and build self-esteem (Tajfel and Turner
1979,1986; Turner 1982). An individual who is demo-
graphically dissimilar to the majority of other organiza-
tional members, may perceive that his or her identity is
being threatened and will have an increased awareness of
the characteristics of his or her own demographically dis-
similar group (Riordan and Shore 1997). Riordan and Shore
(1997) and others (e.g., Chattopadhyay 1999; Tsui and
O’Reilly 1989) propose that this will cause negative atti-
tudes toward others and will prevent dissimilar individuals
from feelings of commitment to the organization.
Thus, according to the similarity-attraction paradigm
and social identity theory, cultural dissimilarity can have
negative effects on attitudes and performance. However,
there is a lack of empirical evidence addressing the ques-
tion to what extent minority versus majority members
26 J Bus Psychol (2010) 25:25–37
123
would feel committed to their organization. In line with the
literature on relational demography, Tsui et al. (1992)
found that increased demographic dissimilarity in work-
groups was associated with lower levels of organizational
commitment. However, larger negative effects were found
for majority members than for cultural minorities. Thus,
contrary to what is commonly assumed in much race and
gender research, it seems that majority members might
suffer more from this increased dissimilarity than the
minority members (c.f. Tsui et al. 1992). Other research on
majority–minority influence in a gender-related context
showed the same pattern; men in male-dominated occu-
pations reacted very strongly to the entering of women,
which they perceived as a threat to their higher prestige
identity (e.g., Hewstone et al. 2001). These studies illus-
trate that the effects of increased demographic dissimilarity
are not necessarily mostly felt by the minorities, as is often
assumed (c.f. Tsui et al. 1992), but in fact that the effects
seem to be more detrimental for majority members.
These and other studies (Hewstone et al. 2001; Over-
beck et al. 2004) emphasize the importance of considering
social identity and the relative status of cultural groups.
The membership of a minority group is often associated
with low status (Hewstone et al. 2001). Being viewed as
dissimilar and being a member of a low status group in
society, cultural minorities have relatively more difficulty
in finding jobs, experience relatively more discrimination
than majority members (Oskamp and Schultz 1998), which
can lower their career chances in organizations (Cox 1993).
In the Netherlands, which is the setting of our study, about
a quarter of the employers prefer not to hire ethnic
minorities as employees (Kruisbergen and Veld 2002).
Indeed, test cases of job candidates those were similar in all
respects, except for their ethnicity, revealed discrimination
against ethnic minorities by employers in the Netherlands
(Bovenkerk et al. 1995). So cultural minorities have to
overcome more barriers to become an accepted member of
the organization. This low status identity is likely to be
unsatisfactory for its members (Overbeck et al. 2004;
Ellemers 1991), since research has shown that individuals
have a desire to belong to a high status group (c.f. Rijsman
1983). Based on the basic assumptions of social identity
theory (Tajfel and Turner 1979; Turner 1982) it can be
proposed that if a low status group cannot make a positive
contribution to the social identity of its members, these
members will try leave this low status group (i.e., indi-
vidual mobility, Tajfel and Turner 1979) or start to identify
with another group with more positively valued charac-
teristics (Overbeck et al. 2004).
Social identity research shows that individuals can
identify with two different groups at the same time (Lip-
ponen et al. 2003; Gaertner et al. 1999). Employees in an
organization can for instance identify with their workgroup,
but also with the organization as a whole, which is seen as a
higher level, ‘superordinate identity’ (Brewer 2000; Lip-
ponen et al. 2003). Since the workgroup identity is part of
the organizational identity, this identity is nested within the
superordinate organizational identity. Minority members in
an organization have a similar situation, in which they can
identify with their own cultural group, but also with the
organization as a whole. Research shows (Hornsey and
Hogg 2002) that when individuals consider their subgroup
identity as low status, they are more likely to identify with a
superordinate identity. Therefore, we expect that when the
identification of cultural minorities with their own low
status cultural group is unsatisfactory, they will more
strongly start to identify with the organization, as the high
status superordinate identity that provides them with a
positive social self. This will strongly increase their feelings
of commitment to the organization.
In sum, drawing on social identity theory, we expect that
minority members have to put more effort in finding a job
and becoming a respected member of the organization,
because they are member of a low status group. To
improve their low status membership, they will be highly
motivated to identify with the organization and feel com-
mitted to this organization. Majority members, in turn, can
experience the presence of minority members as a threat to
their own superior identity (Tsui et al. 1992; Hewstone
et al. 2001), which can tone down their feelings of com-
mitment to the organization. Therefore, we expect that
minority members in the organization will feel relatively
more committed to the organization than majority mem-
bers. This leads us to propose that:
Hypothesis 1 Cultural minority group members will
feel more committed to the organization than majority
members.
Cultural Minorities and Majorities: Different
Socializations
We now draw onto socialization and acculturation theories
to explain different commitment bases of cultural minority
versus majority members to the organization. Socialization
and acculturation research examine tactics used by organi-
zations, as well as organizational members, to integrate
members into the organization (c.f. Lopez and McMillan-
Capehart 2003). When newcomers are socialized into an
organization, they learn the organization’s goals, norms,
and preferred ways of doing things and come to understand
what values and expected behaviors are important to be able
to participate as an accepted member (Louis 1980; Jones
1986; Van Maanen and Schein 1979). Research has shown
that this socialization process is an ongoing process, which
J Bus Psychol (2010) 25:25–37 27
123
is not limited to the first few months or first year of mem-
bership, but continues long into the average member’s
tenure (Kramer and Noland 1999; Waldeck et al. 2004).
Acculturation research, in turn, explores how individuals
accommodate to new cultures (Berry 1992), and thereby
explains what strategy individuals can choose to adapt to an
organization with a specific culture (Lopez and McMillan-
Capehart 2003). In the next sections we will discuss these
two different theoretical frameworks, to explain the dif-
ferent sorts of commitment of cultural minority versus
majority members, depending on their different socializa-
tions in the organization.
Past research on socialization has approached sociali-
zation from the organizations’ point of view (Allen 2006;
Allen and Meyer 1990b; Ashforth and Saks 1996; Myers
and McPhee 2006), and often neglected to consider the
organizational member’s perspective as a participant in this
process (c.f. Lopez and McMillan-Capehart 2003). Orga-
nizations engage in activities or tactics to learn individuals
identifying and adapting to their new role as an organiza-
tional member (Chao et al. 1994), and socialization
research has focused on this process of adjustment. How-
ever, it is important to also consider how a member of the
organization member experiences this process, since the
socialization process is likely to be even more stressful for
members who are different from the majority group in the
organization (Lopez and McMillan-Capehart 2003). For
instance, research has shown that members who are a
minority in terms of culture, gender, or ethnicity, are pro-
vided with less information about the politics of the orga-
nization and the organization’s operations (Ferris et al.
1996), have more difficulty to adapt and attain organiza-
tional norms and values created by the majority (Hood and
Koberg 1994), are less likely to be tolerated when they
express criticism (Hornsey et al. 2002) and have fewer and
less-established networks within the organization (Ibarra
1995), than majority members. Therefore, minority mem-
bers need to put relatively more effort in the process of
becoming an accepted and respected member of the orga-
nization than majority members need to do.
But what are the consequences for their commitment
toward the organization? Research shows that successful
socialization results in higher commitment levels in general
(Allen and Meyer 1990b; Chao et al. 1994; Cooper-Tho-
mas and Anderson 2002,2005). However, literature on
organizational commitment shows that members can feel
committed to an organization out of different reasons. In
this study, we want to distinguish different types of com-
mitment and explain how we think strong socialization
practices, manifested by a pressure to conform to organi-
zational norms, activate different types of commitment for
minority versus majority members. The two types of
commitment we distinguish in this study originate from
two separate bases (Allen and Meyer 1990a). Normative
commitment originates from the responsibilities and obli-
gations employees feel they have toward the organization
and is based on a sense of loyalty toward the organization
(Allen and Meyer 1990a; De Gilder et al. 1997). Affective
commitment reflects the emotional attachment of the
employee to the organization, such that a strongly com-
mitted employee identifies with the organization and
enjoys the membership of the organization (Allen and
Meyer 1990a). Consequently, ‘employees with strong
affective commitment remain because they want to ()
and those with strong normative commitment because they
feel they ought to do so.’ (Allen and Meyer 1990a, p. 3).
Allen and Meyer (1990a,b) state that commitment types
can develop independently from each other. It is possible
that an employee who feels a moral obligation to the
organization does not feel emotionally attached to the
organization (De Gilder et al. 1997).
When socialization processes in the organization are
strong, members will experience a pressure to conform to
the organizational norms, originally set by the majority.
Based on research showing that minority members react
differently toward socialization practices than majority
members (e.g., Ferris et al. 1996; Hornsey et al. 2002), we
expect that cultural minorities and majorities will differ in
their level and type of commitment to the organization. As
we argued earlier, research has shown that for minority
members it is more difficult to adjust to the organizational
culture than for majority members (Ferris et al. 1996; Hood
and Koberg 1994; Ibarra 1995). When organizational
norms are created by a group of majority members and
members from the minority group feel a pressure to con-
form and adjust themselves to the norms of this group, they
will feel their social identity is being threatened (Brans-
combe et al. 1993; Ellemers et al. 2002; Ethier and Deaux
1994), since they are outgroup members adjusting to a
majority, having little space to live up to their own norms.
Consequently, they will feel less emotionally attached to
this group and identify less with the group than majority
group members. Therefore, we expect that when cultural
minorities experience a pressure to conform, they will feel
lower levels of affective commitment to the organization
than majority members.
This leads us to propose the following:
Hypothesis 2a Pressure to conform moderates the effects
of cultural minority membership on affective commitment,
such that minority members will perceive relatively lower
levels of affective commitment than majority members,
when they experience a pressure to conform.
However, as research has shown, strong socialization
practices often do result in a certain attachment toward the
organization (e.g., Allen and Meyer 1990b; Chao et al.
28 J Bus Psychol (2010) 25:25–37
123
1994). We will now draw on acculturation theories to
explore how the individual’s strategy of adapting oneself to
the organization can influence the individual’s attachment
base toward the organization. Specifically, we will argue
how a perceived pressure to conform to organizational
norms can positively influence the normative commitment
of minority versus majority members.
Acculturation involves a process of cultural change and
adaptation between cultural groups, especially when a
group is being merged into a larger, more dominant group
(Berry 1992). Berry (1992,1997) has distinguished four
acculturation strategies: assimilation, marginalization, sep-
aration, and integration. When organizational members
change their behavior to match that of the majority group,
they have chosen to adopt an assimilation strategy. When
organizational members choose not to participate in the
organization’s majority culture, neither in their own back-
ground identity, they adopt a marginalization strategy.
Members who are strongly identifying and embracing their
own culture practice separation. And organizational mem-
bers who try to balance the two cultures they are living in,
by embracing the majority culture and at the same time
maintaining the background identity adopt an integration
strategy.
When individuals conform to norms from a dominant
group, adopting the values, norms, and beliefs of this
dominant group, while suppressing the own cultural iden-
tity, they adopt an assimilation strategy (Berry and Sam
1997). In an organization with strong socialization prac-
tices, cultural minorities will experience a strong pressure
from the organization to conform to the norms of the
organization. In this situation, cultural minority members
will be more likely to adopt an assimilation strategy.
However, acculturation research shows that adopting this
strategy can have more detrimental effects on various
indicators of mental health than adopting for instance the
integration strategy (Berry 1997; Berry and Kim 1988).
Cultural minorities who feel that they only can become an
accepted member of the organization when they have to
assimilate to the norms and values of the majority, may feel
they have to suppress their ‘background identity’ (Lopez
and McMillan-Capehart 2003), consisting of personal val-
ues, attitudes, behaviors, or beliefs derived from the indi-
viduals’ cultural background. Denying this cultural
background and conforming to the majority group can have
negative effects on problem solving and creativity, since
this cultural background of individuals forms an important
part of the self and affects behaviors and feelings from
early childhood on (c.f. Van der Zee et al. 2004). There-
fore, we expect that when cultural minorities feel a pres-
sure from the organization to assimilate to the norms of the
majority group in the organization, they will commit to the
organization because they feel obligated to do so. They do
not commit to the organization because they identify
themselves with the organization, but out of a sense of
loyalty. They will do this more strongly than the majority
members in the organization, who commit out of reasons of
identification with the organization rather than out of
feelings of obligation. This leads us to propose that cultural
minority members who feel a pressure to conform will feel
more normatively committed than majority members.
Hypothesis 2b Pressure to conform moderates the effects
of cultural minority membership on normative commit-
ment, such that minority members will perceive relatively
higher levels of normative commitment than majority
members, when they experience a pressure to conform.
Effective Leadership
What can leaders do to facilitate higher employee com-
mitment? We propose that leaders can play an important
role in stimulating the commitment of cultural minorities in
organizations. Leaders can support cultural minorities by
showing confidence in their capacities, thereby stimulating
their perceived self efficacy. In addition, leaders who show
respect for cultural minorities make them feel that they are
being accepted by the organization. Consequently, per-
ceived inequity and unfairness promoted by a less effective
leader can decrease the confidence of employees in the
organization, which can have a negative effect on the
effectiveness of the organization and the commitment of
members (Van Breukelen 2004).
However, leaders are not always consistent in their
behaviors to different employees they supervise. Leader-
Member-Exchange (LMX) theory states that leaders
develop different relationships with their subordinates,
thereby displaying different behaviors to different mem-
bers (Yukl 1998) or even discriminate between them
(Dansereau 1995). This often leads to the emergence of a
favorite ingroup of employees that are highly respected,
having a close relationship with their leader and an out-
group of employees who do not (Van Breukelen 2004;
Yukl 1998). Research shows that employees who are
similar in demographic characteristics have a better rela-
tionship with their leader than employees who are not
similar (Ashkanasy and O’Connor 1997; Tsui and O’Reilly
1989; Tsui et al. 1995). Therefore, dissimilar individuals in
an organization in which majority members represent the
management, will have a lower chance of building a good
relationship with their supervisor and this may conse-
quently lower their commitment to the organization. Thus,
for maintaining the commitment of cultural minorities in
organizations it is important that leaders prevent that their
cultural minority members become part of this less favorite
J Bus Psychol (2010) 25:25–37 29
123
outgroup by treating these members as equal to members of
the majority group. As we argued earlier, we expect cul-
tural minorities to be highly motivated to become valued
members of the organization and to be accepted as orga-
nizational members. Therefore, they will be more sensitive
to influence from the organization that indicates to what
extent they are being accepted and valued. Leaders in the
organization can make cultural minorities feel respected
and valued (or not) and provide them with information
about how successful they are in acting and performing as
an organizational member. Therefore, we expect leadership
to have a different impact on minority members versus
majority members. We propose that in general, leaders will
have a stronger impact on cultural minority members than
on majority members and expect a stronger relationship
between effective leadership and commitment for cultural
minorities than for majority members. We will develop
specific hypotheses below, for different leadership styles
and how they influence the different sorts of commitment
of minority versus majority members.
Similar to the moderating effect of pressure to conform,
we expect different types of leadership to be associated
with different types of commitment. Past research on
leadership defined two broad categories of leadership
behaviors, which were labeled ‘consideration’ and ‘initi-
ating structure’ (Chemers 1984; Yukl 1998). Consideration
is the degree to which leaders display supportive behaviors,
i.e., they act in a friendly manner, are concerned with their
subordinates and their welfare, consult subordinates when
important decisions have to be made, find time to listen to
subordinates’ problems, and treat subordinates equally
(Yukl 1998). Initiating structure is the degree to which
leaders structure their own roles and the roles of their
subordinates to attain formal goals. This includes criticiz-
ing poor work, emphasizing the importance of meeting
deadlines, and monitoring the degree to which subordinates
follow rules and procedures (Yukl 1998). These categories
of leadership correspond to the distinction between task-
and people-oriented leadership that was first introduced by
Bales (1958). Leadership behaviors that are associated with
‘consideration,’ such as people-oriented leadership, stress
the acceptance of individuals as organizational members
and their equality to other members. In a meta-analysis,
Judge et al. (2004) showed that consideration is related to
leader and job satisfaction, and employee motivation. We
expect that leader consideration behaviors will affect
employees’ feelings of acceptance as an organizational
member and therefore their feelings of belonging to the
organization. Consequently, we expect that this will
increase the affective commitment of employees, since
affective commitment is highly associated with feelings of
identification with and belonging to the organization (Allen
and Meyer 1990a).
Another leadership style that can highly influence the
affective commitment of employees is charismatic leader-
ship. Charismatic leaders can have an extraordinary impact
on subordinates by articulating ideological goals that are
related to the mission of the organization (House 1977).
They often provide an appealing future vision to subordi-
nates, which can give more meaning to their work and can
make them feel inspired and enthusiastic. A meta-analysis
by Judge and Piccolo (2004) on the predictive value of
transformational leadership (of which charisma is concep-
tualized as a subdimension) and transactional leadership
shows that charismatic leadership is related to follower job
satisfaction, leader satisfaction, and employee motivation,
all of which can contribute to employee commitment.
Charismatic leaders stimulate the emotional involvement
of followers with the mission of the organization and
thereby make them more committed to the organization.
Since charismatic leadership impresses followers and
appeals to feelings of identification with the leader, we
expect that charismatic leadership has a positive effect on
the affective commitment of especially minority members.
Therefore, we hypothesize that:
Hypothesis 3aPeople-oriented leadership and charis-
matic leadership moderate the effects of cultural minority/
majority membership on affective commitment, such that
people-oriented leadership and charismatic leadership
increase affective commitment more for cultural minorities
than for majority members.
In contrast, leadership behaviors that are more focused
on initiating structure stimulate employees to perform
better, to follow the rules and procedures that are stated by
the organization and thereby emphasize the obligations
employees have to the organization. From the meta-anal-
ysis by Judge et al. (2004), we see that initiating structure
more strongly relates to performance measures and less
strong (although still significant) to leader and job satis-
faction and employee motivation than consideration. Ini-
tiating structure is aimed to provide role clarity and explicit
behavioral norms for employees. As cultural minority
members have more difficulty socializing in the organiza-
tion than majority members (Ferris et al. 1996; Hood and
Koberg 1994), they have more to gain by a leadership style
that more explicitly clarifies prescribed behaviors and roles
as to be able to participate as an accepted member (Louis
1980; Jones 1986; Van Maanen and Schein 1979). As role
clarity may increase organizational commitment, we argue
that a leadership style characterized by initiating structure
is thus especially helpful for cultural minorities in com-
parison to majorities. Because this type of leadership
behavior provides the employee with clear guidance and
role clarity we expect task-oriented leadership to be more
associated with normative commitment, since normative
30 J Bus Psychol (2010) 25:25–37
123
commitment represents employees’ loyalty and responsi-
bility to the organization (Allen and Meyer 1990a). This
leads us to propose the following:
Hypothesis 3bTask-oriented leadership moderates the
effects of cultural minority-majority membership on nor-
mative commitment, such that task-oriented leadership
increases normative commitment more for cultural
minorities than for majority members.
Method
Participants and Procedure
We conducted a field study in a Dutch multinational in the
field of electronics. In total, we distributed 280 question-
naires; 109 questionnaires were returned, of which we were
able to use 107 (2 were discarded due to missing data).
This response rate of 39% is considered as a good response
rate in field research (Baker 1994). The anonymity of
respondents was guaranteed. The educational level of half
of the participants (50.5%) was high school level and the
other half (49.5%) had technical/vocational training. The
average tenure of employees was 5 years, mainly consist-
ing of men (94.4%) between 21 and 54 years of age
(mean =33.6). Almost 79% (78.5%) of the participants
were cultural-majority members (Dutch nationality), 20.6%
were cultural minorities (0.9% was missing). This per-
centage of cultural minorities corresponds with the national
percentage of cultural minorities that is employed in
organizations in the Netherlands (CBS 2007) and is thereby
a representative proportion relative to the proportion of
majority members in organizations. The cultural minorities
in our sample came from the following regions: Turkey
(6.6%), Morocco (3.8%), Africa (non-Maghreb) (3.7%),
Western-Europe (2.8%), Antilles (1.9%), Balkan (1.9%).
Measurements
We used existing scales to measure the concepts in our
study and for pressure to conform we created our own
measurement. We asked participants to answer all items on
a 1–5 Likert scale.
Commitment
For the measurement of affective and normative commit-
ment, we used the Dutch translation and edition (De Gilder
et al. 1997) of the original instrument of Allen and Meyer
(1990), as all participants were Dutch speaking. The scales
consisted of 5 items for affective and 5 items for normative
commitment. Sample items for affective commitment
were: ‘I enjoy discussion organization X with other people’
and ‘I feel a strong sense of belonging to organization X’.
For normative commitment we used: ‘I believe that a
person should be loyal to his or her organization’ and ‘I
find it important to be loyal to organization X’. The internal
consistency of the two types of commitment was good
(affective commitment a=.72, normative commitment
a=.85).
Leadership
We measured leadership using the Dutch translation and
edition (Van Engen 2001) of the Supervisory Behavior
Description Questionnaire (SBDQ) of Fleishman (1953)
for task-oriented leadership (5 items) and people-oriented
leadership (5 items). For charismatic leadership (5 items),
we used the Dutch translation and revision (Van Engen
2001; Den Hartog et al. 1994) of the Multifactor Leader-
ship Questionnaire (MLQ, Bass and Avolio 1989). Sample
items for task-oriented leadership were: ‘My supervisor
urges me to make more of an effort’ and ‘My supervisor
tempts me to perform better’. For people-oriented leader-
ship we used: ‘My supervisor supports me in my work’ and
‘My supervisor compliments me when I performed my
work well’. Sample items for charismatic leadership were:
‘My supervisor is a role model for me’ and ‘My supervisor
knows solutions for every single problem’. Our factor
analysis showed three underlying factors, confirming the
three leadership styles. The Cronbach’s alpha of the lead-
ership styles were: people-oriented leadership a=.89,
task-oriented leadership a=.63, charismatic leadership
a=.82.
Pressure to conform
Since instruments measuring employees’ perceived pres-
sure to conform to the organization norms were lacking, we
developed our own instrument. Based on Berry’s (1997)
thoughts on acculturation, we measured the organizations’
pressure to conform, using 5 items, asking to what extent
participants felt they should adapt to organizational norms
to be regarded as a member of the organization. Sample
items were: ‘I really feel I have to adapt myself to the rules
of organization X’, ‘Only when I assimilate to organization
X, will I belong to it’ or ‘When I want to belong to orga-
nization X, I cannot be myself’. The Cronbach’s alpha of
this scale was .70.
We measured the cultural background of participants by
asking their nationality at birth. We found no differences
across the minority groups on our dependent variables.
Therefore, following past research (e.g., Ibarra 1995; Tsui
et al. 1992), we created a dichotomous variable majority–
minority group membership to match our conceptualization.
J Bus Psychol (2010) 25:25–37 31
123
Results
Table 1includes the means, standard deviations, and cor-
relations among the variables in our study for minority
members versus majority members separately. In line with
what we proposed in hypothesis 1, the correlation table
shows that the means for both affective and normative
commitment are higher for minority members (affective
commitment M=3.55 and normative commitment M=
3.27) than for majority members (affective commitment
M=3.17, normative commitment M=2.53). We find a
marginal positive correlation between pressure to conform
and normative commitment, but we only find this for
minority members (r=.39, p=.08). Also, we find sig-
nificant positive correlations between people- (r=.51,
p\.05) and task-oriented leadership (r=.81, p\.01)
and normative commitment, specifically for minority
members. For majority members, we only find a marginal
positive correlation between charismatic leadership and
normative commitment (r=.21, p=.07). This analysis
revealed that effect sizes for the minority subsample would
need to be more than .50 to be identified as statistically
significant, which means that even moderate effects would
not be detected with an alpha level of .05. Therefore, the
alpha level was set at .10, meaning that the probability of a
Type-I error was increased but made the detection of effects
more likely (Cohen 1988). This is an accepted procedure in
diversity research (e.g., Mason 2006). Below, we will now
discuss our hypothesis testing.
In hypothesis 1, we proposed that cultural minorities will
feel more committed to the organization than majority
members. To test this hypothesis, we compared the means
of the two groups in an ANOVA for both affective
and normative commitment. The ANOVA showed signifi-
cant differences for affective commitment (F(1, 105) =
9.57, p\.01), as well as for normative commitment
(F(1,105) =24.40, p\.001). Cultural minorities felt
more affectively (M=3.55 vs. M=3.17 for majority
members) and more normatively committed (M=3.27 vs.
M=2.53 for majority members).
Hypothesis 2a proposed that pressure to conform mod-
erates the effects of cultural minority membership on
affective commitment, such that pressure to conform
decreases the affective commitment more for minorities
than for majorities. To test this hypothesis, we first regres-
sed pressure to conform and cultural identity (minority,
majority) on affective commitment and added the interac-
tion term (cultural identity 9pressure to conform) in a next
step. As can be seen in Table 2, the results of our regression
analysis did not support this hypothesis. Hypothesis 2b
proposed that pressure to conform moderates the effects of
cultural minority membership on normative commitment,
such that pressure to conform increases the normative
commitment more for members of the cultural minority
group than for members of the cultural majority. The
regression analysis showed a marginal interaction-effect
in the second step (b=.83, t=1.75, p=.08), thereby
showing some support for the hypothesis. The interac-
tion contributed to a marginal increment in the regression
model (R
2
=.22, Fchange =3.06, p=.08). Thus, cultural
minorities felt more normatively committed, in particular
when they perceived an organizational pressure to conform.
In hypothesis 3a, we proposed that people-oriented
leadership and charismatic leadership will moderate the
effects of cultural minority/majority membership on affec-
tive commitment, such that people-oriented leadership and
charismatic leadership will increase affective commitment
more for cultural minorities than for majority members. To
test this hypothesis, we first regressed people-oriented
leadership and charismatic leadership and cultural identity
(minority, majority) on affective commitment and added
the interaction term (cultural identity 9people-oriented
Table 1 Means, standard deviations and correlations among variables for minority
a
members and majority
b
members
MSD 1 2 3 4 5 6
M2.55 3.68 3.21 3.30 3.17 2.53
SD .57 .49 .49 .60 .50 .61
Pressure to conform 2.85 .55 -.48** .05 -.27* -.33** .00
People-oriented leadership 3.77 .41 -.09 .26* .78** .43** .07
Task-oriented leadership 3.29 .58 .29 .37 .34** .25* .07
Charismatic leadership 3.47 .65 -.05 .61** .30 .41** .21
Affective commitment 3.55 .56 .02 .52* .49* .61** .55**
Normative commitment 3.27 .68 .39
.51* .81** .27 .56** –
Notes:N=104–106
p\.10; * p\.05; ** p\.01; *** p\.001
a
Means, standard deviations, and correlations are displayed at the lower left corner of the table
b
Means, standard deviations, and correlations are displayed at the upper right corner of the table
32 J Bus Psychol (2010) 25:25–37
123
leadership and cultural identity 9charismatic leadership)
in the second step. The analyses did not support this
hypothesis (see Table 3).
Hypothesis 3b, proposing that task-oriented leadership
moderates the effects of cultural minority–majority mem-
bership on normative commitment, such that task-oriented
leadership increases normative commitment more for cul-
tural minorities than for majority members, was supported.
Hierarchical regression analyses (see Table 3) showed that
task-oriented leadership indeed moderated the relationship
between cultural minority–majority membership and nor-
mative commitment (b=1.06, t=2.05, p\.05).
In contrast to what we expected, however, people-ori-
ented leadership and charismatic leadership also (mar-
ginally) moderated the relationship between cultural
minority/majority membership on normative commitment,
instead of on affective commitment, as we proposed (see
Table 3). At step 2, both interactions between task-
and people-oriented leadership with majority–minority
membership on normative commitment became significant
and charismatic leadership had a marginal effect, contrib-
uting to a significant R
2
increment (R
2
change =.06,
Fchange =3.40, p\.05). Thus, cultural minorities felt
more normatively committed to the organization, in par-
ticular when leaders showed task- and people-oriented
leadership styles.
Discussion
In this field study, we examined the effects of being a
cultural minority or majority group member on the orga-
nizational commitment of these members in a multicultural
organization. We argued and found that cultural minorities
feel more committed than majority members, thereby
challenging the existent theoretical view that cultural
minorities feel less committed to the organization. In doing
this, we made an empirical contribution to the few studies
Table 2 Hierarchical regression analysis of pressure to conform, majority–minority on commitment
Step Affective commitment Normative commitment
bbb b
1 Pressure to conform -.25** -.31** .07 -.00
Majority–minority
a
.35*** -.32 .42*** -.37
2 PTC 9Majority–minority
a
.69 .83
F8.51*** 6.39*** 12.49*** 9.51***
R
2
.14 .16 .20 .22
DR.14*** .02 .20*** .02
PTC pressure to conform
p\.10; * p\.05; ** p\.01; *** p\.001
a
0=majority, 1 =minority
Table 3 Hierarchical regression analysis of effective leadership, majority–minority on commitment
Step Affective commitment Normative commitment
bbbb
1 PO leadership .20 .26
-.08 -.24
TO leadership .17
.13 .36*** .24*
CH leadership .24
.14 .15 .32*
Majority–minority
a
.25** -.51 .42*** -1.48*
2PO9majority–minority -.30 1.92*
TO 9majority–minority .42 1.06*
CH 9majority–minority .66 -1.06
F11.81*** 7.06*** 13.49*** 9.73***
R
2
.33 .33 .36 .42
R
2
change .33*** .02 .36*** .06*
PO people oriented, TO task oriented, CH charismatic
p\.10; * p\.05; ** p\.01; *** p\.001
a
0=majority, 1 =minority
J Bus Psychol (2010) 25:25–37 33
123
that actually tested this proposition in the field (c.f. Tsui
et al. 1992; Riordan and Shore 1997). However, as the
sample size for minorities in this study was relatively
small, the generalization of results is limited. Therefore,
future research should replicate this study with a larger
sample of minorities (as well as majorities) in the
population.
In addition, we proposed two moderator variables:
pressure to conform and effective leadership. We found
(marginal) support for the hypothesis that pressure to con-
form moderates the relationship between majority–minority
membership and normative commitment, such that pressure
to conform increases the normative commitment more for
members of the cultural minority group than for members of
the cultural majority. The finding that pressure to conform is
more associated with normative commitment than with
affective commitment is not surprising, since both concepts
are linked to obligations and norms that prescribe how
things ought to be done. Affective commitment, in turn,
represents the emotional attachment of individuals to the
organization, which is a different concept. We also found
the expected effect of task-oriented leadership on normative
commitment, such that task-oriented leadership makes
cultural minorities more aware of their obligations and
responsibility to the organization, and increases their feel-
ing of loyalty to the organization.
While we did not find our hypothesized effect of people-
oriented and charismatic leaderships on affective commit-
ment, we did find that task-oriented leadership increased
normative commitment more for minorities than for
majorities. In this study, it appears that the normative
commitment of cultural minorities to the organization is
more salient and more easily influenced by contextual
factors than affective commitment. Since cultural minori-
ties often have more difficulties to integrate and socialize
in organizations (Hood and Koberg 1994; Hornsey et al.
2002; Ibarra 1995), it might be that cultural minorities are
more focused on how they ought to behave as accepted
organizational members, being more aware of their obli-
gations and responsibilities toward the organization, which
makes them feel more normatively committed in general.
Therefore, future research should focus more on the rea-
sons behind the commitment of minority and majority
members and examine how contextual factors can influ-
ence this, as well as more directly testing the social identity
mechanisms challenged by these findings. The routes
leading to organizational commitment might be different
for cultural minorities than for majority members. Majority
members might commit out of social identity reasons,
while minority members might commit out of a superor-
dinate identity. Therefore, future research should actually
measure identification with different social groups in the
organization (superordinate organizational identity, or
common identity, and cultural identities) to test whether
the commitment of minority versus majority members have
different underlying processes.
Despite the fact that we found strong support for our
main hypothesis those cultural minorities would feel more
affectively and normatively committed than majority
members, future research should replicate these finding
with a larger sample size. It might be that due to the low
sample size and thus the lack of statistical power, we did
not find some of the proposed relationship, especially
regarding the moderator hypotheses.
Future research should also examine different propor-
tions of minority subsamples relative to the majority group
to see if the effects will then change (Kanter 1977; Wil-
liams and O’Reilly 1998; Tsui et al. 1992). The race
relations literature suggests that it is more likely that
majority members will tolerate minority members when
they represent only a small proportion of the group (Pet-
tigrew 1980). However, the study of Tsui et al. (1992)
shows that the presence of even a small proportion of
minority members decreased the commitment of majority
members, while the minority members were not negatively
affected in their commitment. It seems that different pro-
portions of minority and majority members prime salient
categories (Williams and O’Reilly 1998), which has dif-
ferent effects on minority and majority members. There-
fore, future research should examine the effect of different
proportion of minorities in a majority group.
Another future direction to gain better insight into the
influence of socialization processes in organizations on the
commitment of majority and minority members, is to more
specifically measure the mechanisms underlying accultur-
ation research (c.f. Berry et al. 1986; Berry 1997), by for
instance examining the process of cultural change and
adaption between members of the majority and minority
group when they interact (Berry 1997; Rodriquez et al.
2002). The extent to which minority and majority members
are oriented toward the other cultural group and identify
with their own ethnic identity (Molina et al. 2004) can
influence their commitment to the organization (Cox 1993).
An examination of these processes in a multi-organization
study, comparing the different socialization (c.f. Caldwell
et al. 1990) and acculturation practices in organizations,
would also allow replication of our findings across multiple
organizations.
Our findings have important implications for both
research and practice. First, we challenge the existing
theoretical view based on similarity attraction theory and
relational demography theory, that cultural minorities
would feel less committed to the organization. We argued
that minority members are highly motivated to act in line
with the organizations’ goals, since they have to overcome
many barriers to find a job (Bovenkerk et al. 1995) and are
34 J Bus Psychol (2010) 25:25–37
123
motivated to become a valued member of the high-status
organization, which provides them a positive social iden-
tity. Majority members, in turn, feel less committed due to
the increased dissimilarity in the organization, which
threatens their privileged position. The findings supported
our hypothesis that minority members will feel more
committed to the organization than majority members,
thereby indicating that organizational leaders (and
researchers) should focus not only on increasing and
maintaining the commitment of minority members, but
also should pay attention to members of the cultural
majority in socialization and integration processes. Most
past research ignored the reaction of the majority to the
presence of minority members (Tsui et al. 1992) and
therefore, future research should pay more attention to
majority reactions to dissimilarity in organizations.
Secondly, we found that pressure to conform and
effective leadership increased the normative commitment
of organizational members, but more for minorities than for
majorities. As we mentioned, the normative commitment
of minority members appears to be more salient and more
easily influenced by organizational factors than affective
commitment. Practitioners may have to ask themselves
what type(s) of commitment they need to meet the orga-
nizational goals. It can be argued that affective commit-
ment is more associated with an internal motivation to
reach organizational goals, while normative commitment is
based on a more external motivation to meet the expec-
tancies and obligations the organization poses. It can be
possible that, depending on the type of organization or job
content, some organizations have a specific need for
internally motivated employees, while others are effective
with more externally motivated employees. However, little
research has been done on the consequences of different
types of commitment and the relationship with external and
internal motivation bases (Mathieu and Zajac 1990).
Therefore, future research should focus more on the con-
sequences of different types of commitment for the orga-
nization and how these different types can be enhanced for
minority and majority members.
In this study, we already found some contextual factors
that influenced commitment. For example, we found that
effective leadership can increase the commitment of
majorities but does so more for minority members than for
majority members. Thus, effective leadership can be an
important variable in the enhancement of the commitment
of both minority and majority members. More research
should be done on how leaders can enhance the commit-
ment of majority members in a multicultural organization.
In addition, we found that pressure to conform to organi-
zational norms enhances the normative commitment of
minority members, which can be seen as an important
variable in the socialization process of organizations.
In conclusion, for the enhancement of the commitment
of both majority and minority members, researchers, and
practitioners should focus on contextual factors that
influence commitment and they should consider the con-
sequences of specific types of commitment. When disen-
tangling the factors that influence the commitment of
majority and minority members, researchers, and practi-
tioners will be able to better minimize the negative effects
of increased dissimilarity on majority members and stim-
ulate the commitment of members of both the groups.
Open Access This article is distributed under the terms of the
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mits any noncommercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any
medium, provided the original author(s) and source are credited.
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A multilevel model is presented to describe how socialization processes within work teams are affected by team demographics, for it is during socialization that team norms are established and behavior becomes routinized. Several proposition are offered concerning the relationships between (a) individual, interpersonal and team attributes, (b) interpersonal communications and relationships, and (c) subsequent outcomes such as performance, power and influence dynamics, development, and membership stability.
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Despite research suggesting socialization tactics can affect turnover, meta-analytic reviews of turnover antecedents do not include newcomer orientation or socialization tactics (e.g. Griffeth, Hom, & Gaertner, 2000), and few socialization studies have examined relationships with turnover directly (Kammeyer-Mueller & Wanberg, 2003). This paper suggests that socialization tactics are one method for embedding newcomers in organizations, and that embeddedness is one mechanism by which socialization tactics influence turnover. Hypotheses are tested in a sample of newcomers in a large financial services organization. Results indicated that serial and investiture socialization tactics that provide experienced organizational members as models and that provide positive social support for newcomers were positively related to embeddedness, as were socialization tactics that provide realistic information. Serial and investiture socialization tactics and embeddedness were negatively related to subsequent turnover.