Social science assignment 4 and 5

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FOLLOW THE RUBRICS!!! USE THE ATTACHMENTS!!! DO NOT FORGET TO COMPLETE THE  APPENDIXES!!!!

Assignment 4 – Propose a theoretical or model-based solution for change within the context of factors or pressures that support the status quo (restraining forces) and those pressures that support change in the desired direction (driving forces). (See Appendix D and E)

Assignment 5 –  Focuses on the implementation plan for the change, including strategies arising from the force field analysis, and proposes an evaluation plan for ensuring the change is sustained.   

Assignment IV (2-3 pages) – Proposes a theoretically or model-based solution for change within the context of factors or pressures that support the status quo (restraining forces) and those pressures that support change in the desired direction (driving forces). (
See Appendix D and E)

 

Introduction – Solution & Vision for Change

10

Describe key elements of proposed change based on literature review

 

Discuss macro – the theoretical/model basis of the proposed change (based on the literature review)

20

History of theory/model development

4

Key proponents of theory/model

4

Seminal message/ focus of theory/model

4

Clear and thorough connection between the theory/model base and the proposed change

4

Vision statement (Essential elements after the change – what will the difference look like?)

4

Introduction – Systems, Roles, and Allies or Adversaries Analysis Chart – Presented in narrative format. Diagram placed in appendix

10

Identify individuals and their organizational roles and if they are sponsor, agent, target and if they are allies or adversaries

 

Introduction – ID Force Field Analysis Chart – Presented in narrative format. Diagram placed in appendix

30

Identify Internal Driving Force

5

Identify Environmental Driving Force

5

Identify Internal Restraining Force

5

Identify Environmental Restraining Force

5

Identify Benefits to target and if allies or adversaries

5

Identify losses to target and if allies or adversaries

5

Composition

20

Details –Main ideas are clear and are well supported by detailed and accurate information.

5

Organization – The introduction is inviting, states the main topic, and provides an overview of the paper. Information is relevant and presented in a logical order. The conclusion is strong.

5

Word Choice – The author uses vivid words and phrases. The choice and placement of words seems accurate, natural, and not forced.

5

Sentence Structure, Grammar, Mechanics, & Spelling -All sentences are well constructed and have varied structure and length. The author makes no errors in grammar, mechanics.

5

 

 

Appendix D: Systems, Roles, and Allies or Adversaries Analysts Chart

Stakeholder, Roles, Allies and Adversaries

Whose support is needed

Readiness

Capacity

Stakeholder

Role

Ally

Adversary

Must actively champion

Has little influence

Is ready to champion

Adamantly opposes

Going along with the majority

Has the skills and argument to be a champion

Brenda

Administrative Assistant

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Niesha

Assist. Director

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

Target Benefits and Losses Chart

Negative Outcomes

of Not Making the Change

Benefits/Positive Outcomes

of Making the Change

21

Appendix E: Force Field Analysis Chart

Impact Score

Forces for change

Recommended Change

Forces Against Change

Impact Score

Total

Total

Impact Score

3 High Impact

2 Medium Impact

1 Low Impact

0 No Impact

Perceived Organizational Support: A Review of the Literature

Linda Rhoades and Robert Eisenberger
University of Delaware

The authors reviewed more than 70 studies concerning employees’ general belief that their work
organization values their contribution and cares about their well-being (perceived organizational support;
POS). A meta-analysis indicated that 3 major categories of beneficial treatment received by employees
(i.e., fairness, supervisor support, and organizational rewards and favorable job conditions) were
associated with POS. POS, in turn, was related to outcomes favorable to employees (e.g., job satisfaction,
positive mood) and the organization (e.g., affective commitment, performance, and lessened withdrawal
behavior). These relationships depended on processes assumed by organizational support theory:
employees’ belief that the organization’s actions were discretionary, feeling of obligation to aid the
organization, fulfillment of socioemotional needs, and performance-reward expectancies.

To whom much is given, much will be required.
—Luke 12:48 (New King James Version)

Employers commonly value employee dedication and loyalty.
Employees who are emotionally committed to the organization
show heightened performance, reduced absenteeism, and a less-
ened likelihood of quitting their job (Mathieu & Zajac, 1990;
Meyer & Allen, 1997; Mowday, Porter, & Steers, 1982). By
contrast, employees are generally more concerned with the orga-
nization’s commitment to them. Being valued by the organization
can yield such benefits as approval and respect, pay and promo-
tion, and access to information and other forms of aid needed to
better carry out one’s job. The norm of reciprocity allows employ-
ees and employers to reconcile these distinctive orientations.

Social exchange theorists have alluded to employment as the
trade of effort and loyalty for tangible benefits and social rewards
(e.g., Bateman & Organ, 1983; Brief & Motowidlo, 1986; Etzioni,
1961; Gould, 1979; Levinson, 1965; March & Simon, 1958; Mow-
day et al., 1982; Organ & Konovsky, 1989; Steers, 1977). When
one person treats another well, the reciprocity norm obliges the
return of favorable treatment (Gouldner, 1960). To the extent that
both the employee and the employer apply the reciprocity norm to
their relationship, favorable treatment received by either party is
reciprocated, leading to beneficial outcomes for both.

Organizational support theory (Eisenberger, Huntington,
Hutchison, & Sowa, 1986; Shore & Shore, 1995) supposes that to
determine the organization’s readiness to reward increased work
effort and to meet socioemotional needs, employees develop
global beliefs concerning the extent to which the organization
values their contributions and cares about their well-being. Per-
ceived organizational support (POS) is also valued as assurance
that aid will be available from the organization when it is needed
to carry out one’s job effectively and to deal with stressful situa-

tions (cf. George, Reed, Ballard, Colin, & Fielding, 1993). More
than 70 empirical studies have focused on POS; however, the
literature has not been systematically reviewed. In this article we
examine the theoretical framework guiding research on POS, con-
sider studies of POS’s hypothesized antecedents and conse-
quences, and evaluate evidence on the processes assumed to un-
derlie these associations.

Organizational Support Theory

According to organizational support theory, the development of
POS is encouraged by employees’ tendency to assign the organi-
zation humanlike characteristics (Eisenberger et al., 1986). Levin-
son (1965) noted that actions taken by agents of the organization
are often viewed as indications of the organization’s intent rather
than attributed solely to the agents’ personal motives. This per-
sonification of the organization, suggested Levinson, is abetted by
the organization’s legal, moral, and financial responsibility for the
actions of its agents; by organizational policies, norms, and culture
that provide continuity and prescribe role behaviors; and by the
power the organization’s agents exert over individual employees.
On the basis of the organization’s personification, employees view
their favorable or unfavorable treatment as an indication that the
organization favors or disfavors them.

Social exchange theorists argue that resources received from
others are more highly valued if they are based on discretionary
choice rather than circumstances beyond the donor’s control. Such
voluntary aid is welcomed as an indication that the donor genu-
inely values and respects the recipient (e.g., Blau, 1964; Cotterell,
Eisenberger, & Speicher, 1992; Eisenberger, Cotterell, & Marvel,
1987; Gouldner, 1960). Thus, organizational rewards and favor-
able job conditions such as pay, promotions, job enrichment, and
influence over organizational policies contribute more to POS if
the employee believes that they result from the organization’s
voluntary actions, as opposed to external constraints such as union
negotiations or governmental heath and safety regulations (cf.
Eisenberger et al., 1986; Eisenberger, Cummings, Armeli, &
Lynch, 1997; Shore & Shore, 1995). Because supervisors act as
organizational agents, the employee’s receipt of favorable treat-
ment from a supervisor should contribute to POS. The strength of

Linda Rhoades and Robert Eisenberger, Department of Psychology,
University of Delaware.

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Robert
Eisenberger, Department of Psychology, University of Delaware, Newark,
Delaware 19716. E-mail: [email protected]

Journal of Applied Psychology Copyright 2002 by the American Psychological Association, Inc.
2002, Vol. 87, No. 4, 698–714 0021-9010/02/$5.00 DOI: 10.1037//0021-9010.87.4.698

698

this relationship depends on the degree to which employees iden-
tify the supervisor with the organization, as opposed to viewing the
supervisor’s actions as idiosyncratic (Eisenberger, Stinglhamber,
Vandenberghe, Sucharski, & Rhoades, in press).

Organizational support theory also addresses the psychological
processes underlying consequences of POS. First, on the basis of
the reciprocity norm, POS should produce a felt obligation to care
about the organization’s welfare and to help the organization reach
its objectives. Second, the caring, approval, and respect connoted
by POS should fulfill socioemotional needs, leading workers to
incorporate organizational membership and role status into their
social identity. Third, POS should strengthen employees’ beliefs
that the organization recognizes and rewards increased perfor-
mance (i.e., performance-reward expectancies). These processes
should have favorable outcomes both for employees (e.g., in-
creased job satisfaction and heightened positive mood) and for the
organization (e.g., increased affective commitment and perfor-
mance, reduced turnover).

An appealing feature of organizational support theory is that it
provides clear, readily testable predictions regarding antecedents
and outcomes of POS along with specificity of assumed processes
and ease of testing these processes empirically. We examine stud-
ies that consider POS’s hypothesized antecedents and conse-
quences and more elaborated studies of the mechanisms presumed
to underlie these relationships.

Perceived Support’s Dimensionality and
Discriminant Validity

Consistent with the view that employees form a general belief
regarding the organization’s commitment to them, Eisenberger et
al. (1986) reported that employees showed a consistent pattern of
agreement with statements concerning whether the organization
appreciated their contributions and would treat them favorably or
unfavorably in differing circumstances. Subsequent exploratory
and confirmatory factor analyses with employees from diverse
occupations and organizations provide evidence for the high in-
ternal reliability and unidimensionality of Eisenberger et al.’s scale
(Survey of Perceived Organizational Support; SPOS), both in its
original, 36-item form and subsequent, shorter versions (e.g.,
Armeli, Eisenberger, Fasolo, & Lynch, 1998; Eisenberger, Fasolo,
& Davis-LaMastro, 1990; Lynch, Eisenberger, & Armeli, 1999;
Shore & Tetrick, 1991; Shore & Wayne, 1993). Employees evi-
dently believe that the organization has a general positive or
negative orientation toward them that encompasses both their
contributions and their welfare.

POS has been found to be related to, yet distinct from, affective
organizational commitment (Eisenberger et al., 1990; Settoon,
Bennett, & Liden, 1996; Rhoades, Eisenberger, & Armeli, 2001;
Shore & Tetrick, 1991), effort-reward expectancies (Eisenberger et
al., 1990), continuance commitment (Shore & Tetrick, 1991),
leader–member exchange (Settoon et al., 1996; Wayne, Shore, &
Liden, 1997), supervisor support (Kottke & Sharafinski, 1988;
Malatesta, 1995; Shore & Tetrick, 1991), perceived organizational
politics (Andrews & Kacmar, 2001; Cropanzano, Howes,
Grandey, & Toth, 1997; M. L. Randall, Cropanzano, Bormann, &
Birjulin, 1999), procedural justice (Andrews & Kacmar, 2001;
Rhoades et al., 2001), and job satisfaction (Aquino & Griffeth,
1999; Eisenberger et al., 1997; Shore & Tetrick, 1991). In sum,

POS is a distinctive construct that the SPOS measures with high
reliability.

The majority of studies on POS use a short form developed from
the 17 highest loading items in the SPOS (Eisenberger et al.,
1986). However, for practical reasons, many studies use fewer
items. Because the original scale is unidimensional and has high
internal reliability, the use of shorter versions does not appear
problematic. Prudence nevertheless suggests that both facets of the
definition of POS (valuation of employees’ contribution and care
about employees’ well-being) be represented in short versions of
the questionnaire.

Antecedents and Consequences of Perceived
Organizational Support

We used meta-analysis to aggregate findings concerning pro-
posed antecedents and consequences of POS. The classification
system was based, wherever possible, on categories generally used
in the research literature. First, we extracted hypothesized ante-
cedents and consequences from approximately one third of the
POS studies and established a preliminary set of categories. We
then reviewed the remaining studies and made adjustments to the
categories through discussion. We describe these categories, dis-
cuss their theorized relationships with POS, delineate the meta-
analytic procedures, and then present our findings. After correcting
effect sizes for sampling error and measurement error, we used
path analysis to compare the relative strengths of the relationships
between POS and the major organizational experience variables
thought to contribute to POS. More sophisticated research designs,
involving assessments of processes, provided too few studies for
meta-analytic review and path analysis. Therefore, we review the
latter studies separately.

Antecedents of Perceived Organizational Support

On the basis of organizational support theory (Eisenberger et al.,
1986), three general forms of perceived favorable treatment re-
ceived from the organization (i.e., fairness, supervisor support, and
organizational rewards and job conditions) should increase POS.
To avoid repetitiveness, we frequently omit use of the term per-
ceived when discussing the perceptions of favorable treatment that
contribute to POS. Although most studies have assessed the rela-
tionship of the employees’ perceptions of favorable treatment and
POS, a few of the studies we review have examined the relation-
ship between personality and POS. We also consider demographic
variables as possible third-variable explanations of relationships
between antecedents and POS.

Fairness

Procedural justice concerns the fairness of the ways used to
determine the distribution of resources among employees (Green-
berg, 1990). Shore and Shore (1995) suggested that repeated
instances of fairness in decisions concerning resource distribution
should have a strong cumulative effect on POS by indicating
a concern for employees’ welfare. Cropanzano and Greenberg
(1997) distinguished between structural and social aspects of pro-
cedural justice. Structural determinants involve formal rules and
policies concerning decisions that affect employees, including

699PERCEIVED ORGANIZATIONAL SUPPORT

adequate notice before decisions are implemented, receipt of ac-
curate information, and voice (i.e., employee input in the decision
process). Social aspects of procedural justice, sometimes called
interactional justice, involve the quality of interpersonal treatment
in resource allocation. Social aspects include treating employees
with dignity and respect and providing employees with informa-
tion concerning how outcomes are determined.

In the meta-analysis that follows, we assess the relationship
between the overall category of procedural justice and POS. Many
studies reported only a conglomerate measure of procedural jus-
tice, involving more than one component. However, there were
enough studies in which voice, a structural component, and inter-
actional justice were specifically reported to allow their separation
in the meta-analysis.

Related to procedural justice is the concept of perceived orga-
nizational politics, referring to attempts to influence others in ways
that promote self-interest, often at the expense of rewards for
individual merit or the betterment of the organization (Cropanzano
et al., 1997; Kacmar & Carlson, 1997; Nye & Witt, 1993; M. L.
Randall et al., 1999). The Perceptions of Politics Scale (Ferris &
Kacmar, 1992) considers views concerning the prevalence of three
types of self-oriented political behavior: obtaining valued out-
comes by acting in a self-serving manner, going along with ill-
advised management decisions to secure valued outcomes, and
obtaining pay increases and promotions through favoritism rather
than merit (Kacmar & Carlson, 1997). We expect widespread
organizational politics to strongly conflict with perceptions of fair
procedures and outcomes (cf. M. L. Randall et al., 1999), thereby
lowering POS. We place procedural justice and organizational
politics into the same general category, fair treatment, while rec-
ognizing that these related constructs can be distinguished concep-
tually and empirically (Andrews & Kacmar, 2001). Our meta-
analysis reports findings both for overall fair treatment and for the
separate categories of procedural justice and organizational
politics.

Supervisor Support

Just as employees form global perceptions concerning their
valuation by the organization, they develop general views concern-
ing the degree to which supervisors value their contributions and
care about their well-being (i.e., perceived supervisor support;
Kottke & Sharafinski, 1988). Because supervisors act as agents of
the organization, having responsibility for directing and evaluating
subordinates’ performance, employees view their supervisor’s fa-
vorable or unfavorable orientation toward them as indicative of the
organization’s support (Eisenberger et al., 1986; Levinson, 1965).
Additionally, employees understand that supervisors’ evaluations
of subordinates are often conveyed to upper management, further
contributing to employees’ association of supervisor support with
POS. Researchers have most often measured supervisor support by
substituting the word supervisor for organization in the SPOS
(e.g., “My supervisor really cares about my well-being”; Kottke &
Sharafinski, 1988; Malatesta, 1995; Rhoades et al., 2001; Shore &
Tetrick, 1991; Yoon, Han, & Seo, 1996; Yoon & Lim, 1999).
Support from supervisors has also been assessed with related
measures involving leader–member exchange (Hofmann &
Morgeson, 1999; Settoon et al., 1996; Wayne et al., 1997) and

supervisor consideration (M. W. Allen, 1995; Hutchison, 1997a;
Hutchison, Valentino, & Kirkner, 1998).

Organizational Rewards and Job Conditions

Shore and Shore (1995) suggested that human resources prac-
tices showing recognition of employee contributions should be
positively related to POS. A variety of rewards and job conditions
have been studied in relation to POS—for example, recognition,
pay, promotions, job security, autonomy, role stressors, and
training.

Recognition, pay, and promotions. According to organiza-
tional support theory, favorable opportunities for rewards serve to
communicate a positive valuation of employees’ contributions and
thus contribute to POS. In some studies, employees were asked to
evaluate the fairness of their outcomes relative to a reference group
(i.e., distributive justice; Greenberg, 1990). In other studies, in
which employees were asked simply to evaluate the favorableness
of outcomes without a specified reference group, they presumably
made such comparisons implicitly. Therefore, we combined the
results of studies examining the distributive justice and favorable-
ness of outcomes. Enough studies were available to allow separate
examination of pay and promotions.

Job security. Assurance that the organization wishes to main-
tain the employee’s future membership is expected to provide a
strong indication of POS, particularly in recent years, when down-
sizing has been prevalent (D. Allen, Shore, & Griffeth, 1999).

Autonomy. By autonomy, we mean employees’ perceived con-
trol over how they carry out their job, including scheduling, work
procedures, and task variety. Autonomy has traditionally been
highly valued in Western culture (Geller, 1982; Hogan, 1975). By
indicating the organization’s trust in employees to decide wisely
how they will carry out their job, high autonomy should increase
POS (Eisenberger, Rhoades, & Cameron, 1999).

Role stressors. Stressors refer to environmental demands with
which individuals feel unable to cope (Lazarus & Folkman, 1984).
To the extent that employees attribute job-related stressors to
conditions that are controllable by the organization, as opposed to
conditions inherent in the job or resulting from outside pressures
on the organization, stressors should reduce POS. Stressors related
to three aspects of employees’ role in the organization have been
studied as antecedents to lessened POS: work overload, involving
demands that exceed what an employee can reasonably accomplish
in a given time; role ambiguity, involving the absence of clear
information about one’s job responsibilities; and role conflict,
involving mutually incompatible job responsibilities. There were
enough studies in which role ambiguity and role conflict were
distinguished to allow their separation in the meta-analysis.

Training. Wayne et al. (1997) suggested that job training is a
discretionary practice communicating an investment in the em-
ployee, thus leading to increased POS.

Organization size. Dekker and Barling (1995) argued that
individuals feel less valued in large organizations, where highly
formalized polices and procedures may reduce flexibility in deal-
ing with employees’ individual needs. Even though large organi-
zations, as small ones, can show benevolence to groups of em-
ployees, the reduced flexibility for meeting the needs of individual
employees, imparted by formal rules, could reduce POS. Although
organizational size might be considered more an organizationwide

700 RHOADES AND EISENBERGER

characteristic than a job characteristic, this category fits closely
with job characteristics.

Relative Contributions of Fairness, Supervisor Support,
and Organizational Rewards and Job Conditions

After we corrected the effect sizes of antecedent–POS relation-
ships for sampling and measurement error, we used path analysis
to assess the relative contributions to POS by the major kinds of
organizational treatment. Shore and Shore (1995) maintained that
the fairness of procedures that determine the amount and distribu-
tion of organizational resources should be a particularly important
determinant of POS. Most organizations have considerable discre-
tion and control concerning the fairness of policies that affect
reward allocations. According to organizational support theory,
such discretionary actions should make a major contribution to
employees’ assessment of the organization’s benevolent or malev-
olent orientation toward them.

Favorable treatment received from supervisors should also make
a major contribution to POS, although perhaps not as strong an
effect as fair treatment. Because supervisors serve as agents of the
organization, their favorable treatment of employees should con-
tribute to POS. The identification of supervisors with the organi-
zation should be reduced to the extent that their informal status in
the organization is low or their views and actions are perceived to
be idiosyncratic (Eisenberger et al., in press).

Of the three major organizational determinants of POS, rewards
and favorable job conditions are expected to have the weakest
effect. Such treatment should contribute to POS only to the extent
that it is perceived to represent the organization’s voluntary, in-
tentional actions (Eisenberger et al., 1997). Many rewards and
favorable job conditions may commonly be attributed to external
pressures on the organization rather than to discretionary choice.
Examples include contractual obligations concerning pay and
work rules, government health and safety regulations, and societal
norms whose violation would bring adverse publicity.

Employee Characteristics

Personality. The major explications of organizational support
theory (e.g., Eisenberger et al., 1986; Shore & Shore, 1995) have
focused on actions by the organization that influence POS without
considering dispositional variables. Dispositional tendencies to
experience positive or negative affect, two related but distinct
personality dimensions (Watson & Clark, 1984), might influence
POS by altering whether employees interpret organizational treat-
ment as benevolent or malevolent (Aquino & Griffeth, 1999; Witt
& Hellman, 1992).

Additionally, personality might influence POS by affecting em-
ployee behaviors and, consequently, treatment by the organization
(Aquino & Griffeth, 1999). Positive affectivity might lead to
expansive and friendly behaviors, which would cause the em-
ployee to make a favorable impression on others and would result
in more effective working relationships with coworkers and su-
pervisors. Conversely, aggressive or withdrawal behaviors result-
ing from negative affectivity could inhibit the development of
favorable working relationships, reducing POS.

Another personality dimension, conscientiousness, might lead to
increased job performance, which, in turn, would lead to better

treatment by the organization and heightened POS. Conscientious-
ness, as defined by Costa and McCrae (1985), is composed of
dependability, carefulness, thoroughness, responsibility, and per-
severance. Although researchers have not explicitly discussed the
possible relationship between conscientiousness and POS, the
measures are included coincidentally in several studies.

Demographic characteristics. Demographic characteristics of
employees are often used as control variables to rule out alterna-
tive explanations for the relationship between POS and hypothe-
sized antecedents. These characteristics include age, education,
gender, and tenure. For example, employees who are dissatisfied
with the organization may be more likely than others to quit;
longer tenured employees might thus have a more favorable view
of various aspects of their treatment by the organization as well as
high POS. In no studies we reviewed did the authors eliminate
bivariate relationships involving POS by controlling for demo-
graphic variables. Nevertheless, we included demographic vari-
ables in our meta-analysis to indicate the extent of their relation-
ship with POS and, therefore, their utility as control variables.

Consequences of Perceived Organizational Support

Organizational Commitment

On the basis of the reciprocity norm, POS should create a felt
obligation to care about the organization’s welfare (Eisenberger,
Armeli, Rexwinkel, Lynch, & Rhoades, 2001). The obligation to
exchange caring for caring (Foa & Foa, 1980) should enhance
employees’ affective commitment to the personified organization.
POS should also increase affective commitment by fulfilling such
socioemotional needs as affiliation and emotional support (Armeli
et al., 1998; Eisenberger et al., 1986). Such need fulfillment
produces a strong sense of belonging to the organization, involving
the incorporation of employees’ membership and role status into
their social identity. POS should thus contribute to employees’
sense of purpose and meaning. Additionally, Shore and Tetrick
(1991) suggested that POS might reduce feelings of entrapment
(i.e., continuance commitment) that occur when employees are
forced to stay with an organization because of the high costs of
leaving.

Job-Related Affect

POS has been hypothesized to influence employees’ general
affective reactions to their job, including job satisfaction and
positive mood. Job satisfaction refers to employees’ overall affect-
laden attitude toward their job (Witt, 1991). POS should contribute
to overall job satisfaction by meeting socioemotional needs, in-
creasing performance-reward expectancies, and signaling the
availability of aid when needed. Positive mood differs conceptu-
ally from job satisfaction in that it involves a general emotional
state without a specific object (George, 1989). Mood has been
proposed as the state component of affectivity, influenced by
environment (George & Brief, 1992). POS may contribute to
employees’ feelings of competence and worth, thus enhancing
positive mood (Eisenberger et al., 2001; cf. George & Brief, 1992).

Job Involvement

Job involvement refers to identification with and interest in the
specific work one performs (Cropanzano et al., 1997; O’Driscoll &

701PERCEIVED ORGANIZATIONAL SUPPORT

Randall, 1999). Perceived competence has been found to be related
to task interest (Eisenberger et al., 1999). By enhancing employ-
ees’ perceived competence, POS might increase employees’ inter-
est in their work.

Performance

POS should increase performance of standard job activities and
actions favorable to the organization that go beyond assigned
responsibilities. According to George and Brief (1992), such ex-
trarole activities include aiding fellow employees, taking actions
that protect the organization from risk, offering constructive sug-
gestions, and gaining knowledge and skills that are beneficial to
the organization. We divided extrarole behaviors into those that are
focused on helping coworkers and those that help the organization.
These differences are, of course, a matter of degree, as helping
others often helps the organization as well.

Strains

POS is expected to reduce aversive psychological and psycho-
somatic reactions (i.e., strains) to stressors by indicating the avail-
ability of material aid and emotional support when needed to face
high demands at work (George et al., 1993; Robblee, 1998). Such
buffering effects of POS on stressor–strain relationships are dis-
cussed in a later section on the socioemotional need-fulfilling role
of POS. Some investigators have proposed a main effect rather
than a buffering effect of POS on such strains as fatigue (Cropan-
zano et al., 1997), burnout (Cropanzano et al., 1997), anxiety
(Robblee, 1998; Venkatachalam, 1995), and headaches (Robblee,
1998). It is conceivable that POS could decrease employees’
general level of stress at both high and low exposure to stressors
(cf. Viswesvaran, Sanchez, & Fisher, 1999).

Desire to Remain

Witt and colleagues (Nye & Witt, 1993; Witt, 1991; Witt &
Nye, 1992) examined the relationship between POS and employ-
ees’ desire to remain with the organization. These studies used a
scale by Hrebiniak and Alutto (1972) assessing workers’ propen-
sity to leave the organization if offered slightly higher pay, more
professional freedom or status, or friendlier coworkers. Desire to
remain should be distinguished from the discomforting perception
of being trapped in an organization because of the high costs of
leaving (i.e., continuance commitment).

Withdrawal Behavior

Withdrawal behavior refers to employees’ lessening of active
participation in the organization. The relationship of POS to be-
havioral intentions to leave (i.e., turnover intention) have been
assessed (e.g., D. Allen et al., 1999; Aquino & Griffeth, 1999;
Guzzo, Noonan, & Elron, 1994; Wayne et al., 1997), as have
actual withdrawal behaviors such as tardiness, absenteeism, and
voluntary turnover. Retention of organizational membership,
high attendance, and punctuality provide publicly identifiable
ways for employees to reciprocate POS. POS may also increase
affective organizational commitment, thereby lessening with-
drawal behavior.

Method

Literature Search

Several retrieval strategies were used to identify relevant published and
unpublished studies. First, we carried out a computer search of the
PsycINFO and Dissertation Abstracts International databases, beginning
with the introduction of the POS construct in 1986. We searched for all
published articles and unpublished doctoral dissertations and master’s
theses containing the terms perceived organizational support, organiza-
tional support, or perceived support in their title or abstract. Second, we
carried out a computer search of Web of Science’s citation index for all
articles that referenced either of two major source articles on POS (Eisen-
berger et al., 1986, 1990). Third, we assembled relevant unpublished
manuscripts supplied to us by researchers investigating POS. Finally,
we examined the reference lists of all research reports used in the
meta-analysis.

Inclusion Criteria

As previously noted, studies examining POS have almost always used
the SPOS. We excluded several studies using SPOS items because they
combined the items with other measures of employee attitudes such as
employee commitment. We analyzed antecedents or consequences as long
as at least three studies measuring the same variable were available. We
excluded the small number of studies relating POS to self-report measures
of performance on the basis that self-enhancement bias renders self-
reported performance a generally less valid indicator of performance than
supervisor evaluations or objective performance measures.

Study Coding

The 73 studies contained a total of 177 assessments of associations
between antecedents and POS and 166 assessments of associations be-
tween POS and consequences. Once the antecedent and consequence
categories were established, we independently coded each variable. We
agreed concerning 173 of the 177 antecedent-variable classifications and
163 of the 166 consequent-variable classifications. We resolved the small
number of disagreements through discussion. For each sample of employ-
ees, Table 1 gives the number of participants, internal reliability of the
SPOS, number of SPOS items, response rate, percentage of male respon-
dents, mean age, antecedent variables’ internal reliabilities and effect sizes,
and outcome variables’ internal reliabilities and effect sizes. We checked
data against the original articles to eliminate errors concerning the record-
ing of statistical information.

Effect Sizes

Because of the high internal reliability and unidimensionality of the
SPOS, we used each study’s average SPOS score as the measure of POS.
The index of effect size was the product-moment correlation coefficient (r).
Using the formulas provided by Hedges and Olkin (1985) and Hunter and
Schmidt (1990), we corrected each correlation for attenuation using the
scale reliabilities reported in each study. When a study failed to provide
reliability information, we substituted the average reliability for the vari-
able across all samples for the relevant variable. The computer meta-
analytic software DSTAT (Johnson, 1993) was used to compute average
effect sizes (r�), weighted to correct for differences in sample size.
Average weighted effect sizes were computed for the general categories of
antecedents and consequences (e.g., organizational commitment) and sub-
categories (e.g., affective and continuance commitment).

Some studies contained more than one measure of the same subcategory
(e.g., two scales used to measure affective commitment). To satisfy the
statistical assumption of independent sampling (Hedges & Olkin, 1985),

702 RHOADES AND EISENBERGER

we averaged multiple measures of the same construct following an r-to-Z
transformation. Many studies contained multiple subcategories (e.g., in-
role and extrarole performance); when combining these data to form a
more general category (e.g., overall performance), we converted the mul-
tiple effect sizes to Z scores, averaged them, then converted them back to
r scores, thereby satisfying the statistical assumption of independent
sampling.

Publication Bias

To reduce the bias in reported effect sizes stemming from the lessened
rate of publication of studies reporting statistically unreliable findings
(Becker, 1994), we included unpublished doctoral dissertations, master’s
theses, and research reports in the meta-analyses. We also calculated
fail-safe Ns involving the number of nonsignificant effect sizes that would
have to be included to alter the determination that a relationship exists
(Cooper, 1998; Rosenthal, 1979).

Homogeneity Analyses

DSTAT was used to calculate the homogeneity estimate (Q) for each
main antecedent and consequence category and each subcategory. This
statistic gives the probability that variation in effect sizes within a category
is due to sampling error alone (Cooper, 1998). Statistically significant Q
values suggest that unmeasured variables are moderating the observed
relationship (Cooper, 1998). As suggested by Hedges and Olkin (1985),
where the Q statistic had a p value of less than .05, up to 20% of the effect
sizes most different from the average effect size were removed, one at a
time, in an attempt to obtain homogeneity. Whenever outliers were re-
moved to reduce heterogeneity of variance, the findings are reported both
with outliers included and with them removed.

Moderator Analyses

We attempted to examine whether organizational-level variables
(organizational size, unionization, and type of organization) contributed
to the variability of effect sizes within categories and subcategories of
the antecedents and consequences of POS. Because many studies did
not provide the needed information, we required a minimum of 20
studies with the required information for moderator analysis within a
given category of antecedents or consequences. This criterion was met
only for organization type (manufacturing, private nonmanufacturing,
education, government, and health) in the categories of fairness, favor-
ableness of organizational rewards and job conditions, organizational
commitment, and affective commitment. We used the Q statistic to
assess the contribution of organizational type to variability of effect
sizes within each of these categories.

Statistics Reported

Statistics reported for each analysis in Tables 2 and 3 include k (number
of samples in each analysis), N (total number of participants in the
analysis), r� (average weighted correlation) and corresponding signifi-
cance level, rc� (average weighted correlation with component correlations
corrected for attenuation) and corresponding significance level, fail-safe N,
and Q (heterogeneity of effect sizes). To interpret effect sizes, we followed
J. Cohen’s (1988) conventions that a small effect size has a correlation of
at least .10, a medium effect size has a correlation of at least .24 but less
than .37, and a large effect size has a minimum correlation of .37. We refer
to statistically significant findings with a correlation of less than .10 as very
small.

Path Analysis

Using the effect sizes obtained from the meta-analysis, we conducted
a path analysis to examine the relative contributions of the three major
categories of POS’s antecedents (fairness of treatment, supervisor sup-
port, and rewards and favorable job conditions). As suggested by
Viswesvaran and Ones (1995), we used the meta-analytically derived
correlation matrix as our input file for LISREL 8 (Jöreskog & Sörbom,
1993). A path model rather than a full structural equation model was
used because the correlations had already been corrected for attenua-
tion. The three antecedent variables were allowed to covary. We cal-
culated standardized path coefficients using LISREL 8 software with
maximum likelihood estimation.

Results and Discussion

Descriptive Statistics

Table 1 contains summary information from each study in-
cluded in the present review. A total of 58 research reports (11
unpublished) contributed to the meta-analysis, providing a total
of 73 independent studies. Industry types for the samples are as
follows: 17 private industry, 13 manufacturing, 12 education, 10
government, 6 health, 2 farm, and, in addition, 13 multiple indus-
tries. The average number of SPOS items used with each sample
was 13, with a high internal reliability (average � � .90). Internal
consistency information (when available from the research reports)
is reported in Table 1 for all antecedents and consequences that are
measured variables with more than one item. Scale reliabilities
were acceptably high.

Fail-Safe Analyses

On average, over 2,076 findings of nonsignificant effect sizes
would need to be added to each of our overall antecedent catego-
ries (i.e., fairness of treatment, supervisor support, favorableness
of rewards and job conditions, and person characteristics) to
change statistically significant antecedent relationships to nonsig-
nificance. For relationships involving consequences, the figure
is 1,589. The majority of antecedents and all of the consequences
passed the 5k � 10 guideline (Hedges & Olkin, 1985; Rosenthal,
1979) wherein the fail-safe N should be larger than 5 times the
number of studies included in the meta-analysis plus 10. Educa-
tion, gender, and conscientiousness were the only variables that
failed to satisfy the guideline; the statistically reliable relationships
reported for these three variables should therefore be considered
cautiously.

Results Concerning Perceived Organizational
Support’s Antecedents

Results of the meta-analyses for antecedents are given in Ta-
ble 1 for the individual studies and Table 2 for the summary
findings. Using the previously discussed conventions concerning
effect sizes, we found that three of the five overall categories of
antecedents showed strong relationships with POS: fair treatment,
supervisor support, and rewards and favorable job conditions.
Person characteristics were weakly related to POS, and demo-
graphic variables were very weakly related. Our path analysis

(text continues on page 707)

703PERCEIVED ORGANIZATIONAL SUPPORT

Table 1
Study Characteristics and Constructs Measured

Study N
SPOS


SPOS
items

Response
rate (%)

%
men

M
age Antecedents (r/rc/�)a Consequences (r/rc/�)

D. Allen et al. (1999)b

Sample 1 264 .94 16 78 (S) 4 34.0 RW (.67/.75/.85), PJV (.61/
.67/.89), RWPR (.53/.61/
.80), SEC (.43/.55/.66)

AC (.74/.81/.88), TI (�.44/
�.47/.95), TO (�.08/na/na)

Sample 2 442 .94 16 79 (S) 78 30.0 RW (.66/.74/.85), PJV (.60/
.67/.85), RWPR (.60/.70/
.79), SEC (.48/.56/.77)

AC (.74/.80/.90), TI (�.44/
�.47/.92), TO (�.14/na/na)

M. W. Allen (1992) 244 .87 14 49 (S) — — AC (.48/.57/.82)
M. W. Allen (1995) 113 .90 13 88 (M) 71 — PJV (.50/.59/.88), RW (.37/

.43/.82), SS (.53/.61/.85,

.42/.47/.88)
Aquino & Griffeth (1999)b

Sample 1 198 .95 16 75 (S) 4 36.4 NA (�.24/�.28/.85), PA
(.42/.46/.89), PJI (.50/.53/
.92), PJV (.63/.68/.90)

JS (.56/.64/.81), TI
(�.44/�.46/.95), TO (�.09/
na/na)

Sample 2 200 .90 16 85 (S) 81 36.5 NA (�.34/�.39/.86), PA
(.35/.39/.89), PJI (.25/.29/
.85), PJV (.53/.59/.91)

JS (.56/.64/.79), TI
(�.44/�.46/.96), TO (�.10/
na/na)

Armeli et al. (1998) 92 .82 11 93 (S) 87 28.8 INP (.08/na/na, .11/na/na)
Armstrong-Stassen (1997) 25 — 17 47 (S) 56 46.6 SEC (.08/.10/na, .48/.59/na) AC (.68/.86/—), CC (�.37/

�.43/—), ST (�.55/�.65/
—, �.59/�.69/M)

Armstrong-Stassen (1998) 82 .92 10 43 (S) 83 45.0 SEC (.25/.31/.69, .06/.07/na) JS (.33/.38/.83)
Cleveland & Shore (1992) 411 .94 17 94 (S) 80 43.0 AGE (.16/na/na), RWPR

(.73/.83/.82), TR (.09/.10/
na)

AC (.60/.70/.79), INP (�.09/
�.12/.56), JI (.28/.34/.73),
JS (.48/.66/.57)

Cropanzano et al. (1997)
Sample 1 69 .94 17 — (S) 40 43.0 POL (�.80/�.86/.91) AC (.69/.76/.87), JI (.22/.24/

.91), JS (.63/.69/.89), EXPI
(�.09/�.10/.91), EXPO
(.04/.04/.86), TI
(�.38/�.44/.79)

Sample 2 185 .94 17 — (M) 42 20.5 RS (�.27/�.31/.83), POL
(�.60/�.70/.79)

AC (.63/.71/.83), JI (.28/.32/
.81), JS (.60/.64/.93), ST
(�.39/�.46/.78, �.23/�.30/
.61, �.24/�.26/.94), TI
(�.41/�.52/.66)

Daly (1998)b 350 .86 9 — (M) 25 27.5 AGE (.08/na/na), GEN (.07/
na/na), TEN (.02/na/na)

EXPI (.18/.21/.87), EXPO
(.24/.27/.93)

Davis-LaMastro (1995)b

Sample 1 176 .82 12 — (M) — — AC (.27/.35/.74), MD (.20/.24/
.85), TI (�.23/�.28/na)

Sample 2 251 .84 12 — (M) — — AC (.60/.73/.82), MD (.34/.41/
.84), TI (�.29/�.34/na)

Dawson (1996)b .95
(all Ss)

CO (.86), RW (.91), PJ
(.97) (alphas for all Ss)

AC (.90), CC (.82) (alphas for
all Ss)

Sample 1 276 17 — (M) 40 22.7 CO (.23/.25), RW (.62/.67),
PJ (.78/.81)

AC (.62/.67), CC (�.01/�.01)

Sample 2 91 17 — (S) 63 43.7 CO (.09/.10), RW (.56/.60),
PJ (.39/.41)

AC (.58/.63), CC (�.27/�.31)

Sample 3 22 17 — (S) 0 40.2 CO (�.29/�.32), RW (.73/
.79), PJ (.90/.94)

AC (.63/.68), CC (�.66/�.75)

Dekker & Barling (1995) 334 — 16 32 (M) 9 35.0 RA (�.58/�.72/—), RC
(.52/.67/—), RS (�.44/
�.53/—, �.60/�.72/—),
SIZ (�.31/na/na)

Eisenberger et al. (2001) 413 .77 6 92 (S) 66 — TEN (.15/na/na) AC (.70/.88/.83), INP (.16/.19/
.93), MD (.50/.74/.60), EXP
(.15/.18/.91), WTH (�.24/
�.30/.85)

Eisenberger et al. (1997) 383 .90 8 70 (M) 42 41.5 AUT (.30/.35/na), RS
(�.28/�.34/na), RW (.48/
.60/.71), SEC (.30/.37/
na), TR (.28/.32/na)

JS (.60/.65/.85)

704 RHOADES AND EISENBERGER

Study N
SPOS


SPOS
items

Response
rate (%)

%
men

M
age Antecedents (r/rc/�)a Consequences (r/rc/�)

Eisenberger et al. (1990)
Sample 1 180,c

95
.87 17 97 (M) — — INP (.33/.39/.82), WTH (�.32/

na/na, �.40/na/na)
Sample 2 531 — 17 98 (S) — — RW (.42/—) AC (.64/.72/—), EXPO (.28/

.31/.88 interrater)
Eisenberger et al. (1986) 71 .93 17 73 (S) — — WTH (�.20/na/na, �.28/na/

na)
Eisenberger et al. (1999) 324 .89 8 93 (S) 68 — AUT (.47/.56/na), RWPA

(.45/.51/na), TEN (.09/na/
na)

INP (.19/.22/.87), MD (.40/.47/
.80)

Flett et al. (1995) 62 — 17 — (S) 33 40.4 RS (�.32/�.38/—, �.35/
�.42/—)

JS (.37/.43/—)

George et al. (1993) 148 .94 16 16 (M) — — NA (�.16/�.18/.82), RS
(�.15/�.17/.80)

MD (.28/.32/.81)

Greenup (1997)b 404 .90 9 47 (M) 20 — AUT (.50/.56/.88), TEN
(.01/na/na)

EXPO (.15/.17/.92, .14/.16/.91,
.29/.33/.84)

Guzzo et al. (1994) 148 .95 21 71 (M) 93 43.0 AGE (�.09/na/na), GEN
(.02/na/na), RWPA (.21/
.27/.64), TEN (�.08/na/
na)

AC (.50/.55/.86), TI (�.33/
�.37/na)

Harris (1995)b 37 .95 16 61 (S) 73 42.0 AGE (.26/na/na), ED (�.13/
na/na), GEN (.17/na/na),
RA (�.26/�.29/.82), RC
(�.59/�.67/.82), TEN
(.32/na/na)

AC (.78/.84/.91), CC (�.18/
�.21/.76)

Hofmann & Morgeson
(1999)

49 .96 9 77 (S) 88 50.8 AGE (.03/na/na), SS (.48/
.53/.87), TEN (.04/na/na)

Hutchison (1997a) 207 .92 8 28 (S) 41 — PJ (.40/.44/.88), PJV (.24/
.26/.91, .12/.13/.93), RA
(�.26/�.29/.87), RC
(�.20/�.22/.86), SS (.39/
.44/.87, .45/.48/.97)

AC (.76/.84/.89)

Hutchison (1997b) 205 .92 8 28 (S) 41 — PJ (.84/na/na, factor
correlation), SS (.66/na/
na, factor correlation)

AC (.81/na/na, factor
correlation, .88/na/na, factor
correlation)

Hutchison & Garstka
(1996)

337 .89 8 32 (M) 47 — PJV (.39/.45/.86) AC (.38/.42/.90)

Hutchison et al. (1998) 91 .89 8 61 (S) 38 — SS (.56/.62/.92) AC (.69/.76/.93)
Jones et al. (1995)

Sample 1 219 — — 75 (S) 98 — RS (�.56/�.67/—) AC (.54/.61/—), JS (.37/.43/—)
Sample 2 93 — — — 48 — RS (�.51/�.61/—) AC (.22/.25/—), JS (.33/.38/—)
Sample 3 55 — — 98 (S) 10 — RS (�.70/�.84/—) AC (.46/.52/—), JS (.30/.35/—)

Kottke & Sharafinski
(1988)

216 .96 16 82 (S) — 37.8 SS (.13/.13/.98)

Ladd (1997)b 214 .92 9 49 (M) 78 — CO (.13/.14/.92) INP (.17/.19/.87), EXPI (.09/
.10/.93), EXPO (.19/.22/.81)

Lynch et al. (1999)
Sample 1 300 .89 8 92 (S) 70 — AGE (�.12/na/na), ED (.05/

na/na), SIZ (�.28/na/na),
TEN (�.07/na/na)

INP (.13/.15/.88), EXP (.15/
.17/.90)

Sample 2 221 .90 8 52 (M) 41 39.4 TEN (.11/na/na) INP (.14/.16/.87), EXP (.05/
.06/.91)

Malatesta (1995)b 292 .91 6 19 (S) — 40.0 PJV (.42/.46/.91), RW (.14/
.16/na, .38/.41/.96),
RWPR (.14/.16/na), SS
(.47/.50/.97), TR (.09/.10/
na)

AC (.55/.62/.88), EXPI (.22/
.27/.76), EXPO (.29/.34/
.81), TI (�.50/�.62/.71)

Masterson (1998)b 187 .91 9 91 (S) 65 — RW (.63/.67/.97), PJ (.75/
.82/.92), PJI (.75/.84/.87)

AC (.66/.75/.85), JS (.46/.52/
.87)

(table continued)

705PERCEIVED ORGANIZATIONAL SUPPORT

Table 1 (continued )

Study N
SPOS


SPOS
items

Response
rate (%)

%
men

M
age Antecedents (r/rc/�)a Consequences (r/rc/�)

Miceli & Mulvey (2000)
Sample 1 250 .93 16 55 (S) 62 48.0 AGE (.01/na/na), ED (�.14/

na/na), GEN (.09/na/na),
RWPA (.27/.29/.96), TEN
(�.12/na/na)

AC (.65/.70/.92)

Sample 2 1,160 .93 16 67 (M) 47 43.0 AGE (.00/na/na), ED (�.14/
na/na), GEN (.04/na/na),
RWPA (.47/.50/.96), TEN
(�.05/na/na)

AC (.81/.88/.92)

Moorman et al. (1998) 157 .98 17 57 (M) 30 42.5 PJ (.69/.69/.98) EXPI (.25/.28/.83), EXPO
(.28/.32/.78, .08/.09/.80,
.16/.18/.84)

Nye & Witt (1993) 1,297 .95 16 62 (S) 61 — PJ (.55/.64/.78), POL (�.85/
�.90/.93)

DR (.59/.66/.85), JS (.68/.78/
.79)

O’Driscoll & Randall
(1999)

350 .94 17 23 (M) 70 42.0 AC (.61/.71/.78), CC (�.20/
�.23/.79), JI (.44/.50/.82)

D. M. Randall &
O’Driscoll (1997)

350 .94 17 23 (M) 70 42.0 AC (.61/.71/.78), CC (�.20/
�.23/.79)

M. L. Randall et al. (1999) 128 .94 17 67 (M) 41 41.0 POL (�.77/�.85/.87) AC (.71/.80/.84), CC (�.02/
�.03/.70), INP (.22/.24/.88),
JS (.71/.78/.88), TI (�.60/
�.69/.80), EXPI (.25/.29/
.80), EXPO (.26/.32/.70)

Rhoades et al. (2001)
Sample 1 367 .90 8 98 (M) 40 38.6 PJ (.59/.79/.62), RW (.47/

.59/.70), SIZ (�.31/na/
na), SS (.65/.72/.90),
TEN (�.08/na/na)

AC (.63/.72/.85)

Sample 2 333 .89 7 92 (S) 63 — TEN (.17/na/na) AC (.70/.79/.89)
Sample 3 226 .88 7 93 (S) 73 — TEN (.16/na/na) AC (.69/.78/.88)
Sample 4 1,124 .86 7 93 (S) 33 — TEN (.09/na/na) AC (.69/.80/.87), TO (�.09/

na/na)
Sample 5 262 .82 7 88 (S) — — AC (.65/.76/.89), TO (�.21/

na/na)
Robblee (1998)b 224 — 8 36 (S) 34 42.0 AUT (.47/.56/—) ST (�.26/�.30/—, �.27/�.31/

M)
Rogg (1997)b 214 .92 8 — (S) 65 43.7 AUT (.51/.60/.78, .37/.39/

.96), CO (�.04/�.05/

.77), PJV (.48/.78), RS
(�.29/.89)

AC (.62/.70/.83), INP (.21/.24/
.83), EXP (.16/.17/.93), TI
(�.57/�.63/.90)

Rosenblatt & Ruvio
(1996)

385 .82 17 — (M) 30 40.0 SEC (.18/.21/.90)

Scher (1991)b 140 — 17 — (S) — — JS (.56/.65/—), ST
(�.21/�.26/—, �.41/�.51/
—, �.17/�.21/—)

Settoon et al. (1996) 124 .94 8 49 (S) 15 34.7 SS (.60/.65/.92, .58/.68/.78,
.63/.78/.70, .53/.56/.96)

AC (.58/.65/.84), INP (.18/.20/
.89), EXPI (.18/.21/.81)

Shore & Barksdale (1998) 327 .94 17 95 (M) 63 29.0 AC (.64/.72/.85), TI (�.48/
�.54/.85)

Shore & Tetrick (1991) 330 .95 17 95 (S) 18 47.4 RWPA (.45/.49/.88), SEC
(.52/.71/.56)

AC (.71/.77/.90, .70/.79/.83),
CC (�.09/.83), JS (.61/.92)

Shore & Wayne (1993) 338 .95 17 90 (S) 80 43.6 AC (.64/.70/.88), CC (�.08/
�.09/.82), EXPI (.30/.33/
.88), EXPO (.23/.25/.87)

Venkatachalam (1995)b 300 .95 17 30 (S) 54 34.7 AGE (.05/na/na), RA (�.53/
�.60/.81), RC
(�.47/�.54/.80), TEN
(�.07/na/na)

AC (.64/.69/.91), JS (.54/.59/
.88), ST (�.26/�.29/.83)

Wayne et al. (1997) 252 .93 9 40 (S) 88 44.0 RWPR (.21/.24/na), SS (.50/
.55/.90), TEN (.12/na/na),
TR (.45/.50/.87)

AC (.70/.78/.87), INP (.36/.39/
.92), EXP (.28/.31/.86),
EXPI (.12/.14/.76), TI
(�.63/�.69/.89)

Welchans (1995)b 467 .91 9 41 (M) 75 40.0 AGE (�.12/na/na), ED (.04/
na/na), GEN (.03/na/na),
TEN (�.10/na/na)

JS (.65/.74/.85)

706 RHOADES AND EISENBERGER

Table 1 (continued )

showed that of the three kinds of organizational treatment, fairness
had the greatest relationship with POS (� � .41, p � .01) when we
controlled for the other two antecedents, supervisor support had
the second strongest relationship (� � .32, p � .01), and rewards
and favorable job conditions had the weakest, albeit a statistically
significant, relationship (� � .12, p � .01).

Fairness of Treatment

This overall category was strongly related to POS both when
considered alone and when we controlled for supervisor support
and favorableness of rewards and job conditions. The subcatego-
ries of procedural justice and perceived organizational politics
both strongly related to POS in the predicted direction. Effect sizes
were heterogeneous, and removal of outliers did not result in
homogeneity. However, all effect sizes with individual samples
were in the predicted direction.

Supervisor Support

Supervisor support was the overall category of organizational
treatment second most strongly associated with POS when we

controlled for the two other general categories of organizational
treatment. The effect sizes were heterogeneous, but all were in the
positive direction. Removal of outliers did not produce homoge-
neous results, suggesting that although favorable treatment re-
ceived from supervisors is usually taken as a strong indication of
POS by employees, the extent of the relationship differs consid-
erably across organizations.

Organizational Rewards and Job Conditions

Favorableness of rewards and job conditions overall (once we
reversed the direction of the effect sizes for role stressors and
organization size) had a large overall relationship with POS when
considered alone. However, the unique relationship between fa-
vorableness of rewards and job conditions and POS was only
moderate when we controlled for fairness and supervisor support
in the path analysis. Within this general category, organizational
rewards, job security, and role stressors had strong relationships
with POS. Only with pay did removal of outliers produce homo-
geneity. The subcategories of role stressors showed smaller rela-
tionships with POS than did the overall category, because studies
using only conglomerate measures of roles stressors generally

Study N
SPOS


SPOS
items

Response
rate (%)

%
men

M
age Antecedents (r/rc/�)a Consequences (r/rc/�)

Witt (1991) 43 — 15 85 (S) — — DR (.59/.67/—), JS (.51/.59/
—), EXP (.22/.25/—)

Witt (1992) 134 .74 3 67 (S) 81 34.2 RWPA (.38/.48/na), RWPR
(.44/.55/na)

JS (.30/.39/.79)

Witt & Hellman (1992) 1,083 .95 16 54 (S) 62 — AGE (.06/na/na), ED (.01/
na/na), GEN (.03/na/na),
NA (�.42/�.46/.86), PA
(.38/.41/.89), PJV (.46/
.50/.90), TEN (�.10/na/
na)

Witt & Nye (1992) 991 .95 16 54 (S) 62 — POL (�.84/�.89/.93) DR (.60/.67/.85), JS (.60/.69/
.79, .68/.77/na)

Yoon et al. (1996) 1,585 .67 3 62 (M) — — AGE (.17/na/na), AUT (.29/
.40/.79, .31/.42/.79), ED
(.13/na/na), GEN (�.17/
na/na), RA (.00/.00/.67),
RC (�.16/�.25/.61), RS
(�.26/�.37/.74), RWPR
(.39/.53/.82), SS (.46/.73/
.60), TEN (.05/na/na)

Yoon & Lim (1999) 1,882 — 3 72 (M) 31 31.0 AGE (.20/na/na), AUT (.47/
.55/—), ED (.16/na/na),
GEN (�.20/na/na), PA
(.25/.28/—), RS (�.36/
�.43/—), SS (.56/.66/—),
TEN (.06/na/na)

Note. A dash indicates missing information. AC � affective commitment; AGE � age; AUT � autonomy; CC � continuance commitment; CO �
conscientiousness; DR � desire to remain; ED � education; EXP � extrarole performance; EXPI � extrarole performance—helping individuals; EXPO �
extrarole performance—helping organization; GEN � gender; INP � in-role performance; JI � job involvement; JS � job satisfaction; M � multiple
organizations; MD � positive mood; na � measures without measurement error or single-item measures; NA � negative affectivity; PA � positive affectivity;
PJ � procedural justice; PJI � procedural justice—interactional; PJV � procedural justice—voice; POL � politics; rc � correlation corrected for attenuation;
RA � role ambiguity; RC � role conflict; RS � role stressors; RW � organizational rewards; RWPA � organizational rewards—pay; RWPR � organizational
rewards—promotions; S � single organization; Ss � participants; SEC � job security; SIZ � organization size; SPOS � Survey of Perceived Organizational
Support; SS � supervisor support; ST � strains; TEN � tenure; TI � turnover intentions; TO � turnover; TR � training; WTH � other withdrawal behavior.
a Where more than one alpha is reported, there were multiple measures of a construct. b Unpublished study. c 180 � number of participants with in-role
performance measure; 95 � number of participants with withdrawal behavior measure.

707PERCEIVED ORGANIZATIONAL SUPPORT

Table 1 (continued )

produced strong effects. Training and organizational size showed
moderate relationships with POS.

Person Characteristics

POS was strongly related to trait measures of negative affectiv-
ity and positive affectivity. Only three samples provided negative
affectivity data, which prevented removal of outliers. Despite the
heterogeneity of effect sizes, negative relationships were found
between negative affectivity and POS for all three samples. Con-
scientiousness had a small positive relationship with POS. Perfec-
tionism, similar to conscientiousness, was examined in one study
(Flett, Hewitt, & Hallett, 1995) and showed no reliable relationship
with POS, reinforcing the conclusion that conscientiousness shows
little relationship to POS. Demographic characteristics (i.e., age,
education, gender, and tenure) showed very little relationship with
POS.

Moderator Analyses

Organizational type contributed to the heterogeneity of effect
sizes for fairness, Q(4) � 57.5, p � .01, and organizational
rewards and job conditions, Q(4) � 110.0, p � .01. Manufacturing

employees showed a stronger relationship between fairness and
POS than did other employees, although this finding should be
interpreted cautiously, as data were available from only two man-
ufacturing organizations. The relationship of rewards and favor-
able job conditions with POS was lower for educational employees
than for the other employees.

Discussion of Perceived Organizational
Support’s Antecedents

Concerning employees’ treatment by the organization, the path
analysis revealed, as expected, that fairness had the strongest
positive relationship with POS, followed by supervisor support and
rewards/job conditions, respectively. Fairness may be considered
by employees to be readily controlled by upper management and
therefore highly discretionary. Considering the procedural justice
component of fairness, voice and interactional justice had large
and approximately equal relationships with POS. Evidently, hav-
ing an opportunity to have one’s opinions heard and being treated
with dignity and respect in the administration of policy create the
strong impression that the organization values one’s contribution
and cares about one’s well-being. Perceived organizational poli-

Table 2
Meta-Analytic Results for Antecedents of Perceived Organizational Support

Antecedents r� rc� SD k N Q Fail-safe N

Fairness of treatment .62** .68** .18 22 7,325 1,904.90** 1,891
Procedural justice .54** .59** .15 18 5,952 608.53** 1,262

Voice .48** .53** .16 10 3,350 198.80** 385
Interactional .50** .55** .23 3 585 182.42** 33

Politics �.82** �.83** .07 5 2,670 244.68** 94
Supervisor support .51** .64** .16 12 5,383 442.78** 87

Organizational rewards and
job conditions .43** .46** .17 38 13,719 1,902.84** 5,468

Organizational rewards .46** .54** .17 20 7,562 748.31** 1,543
Pay .44** .48** .08 5 2,198 31.50** 94
Pay with outlier

removed .46** .50** .01 4 1,948 0.50 33
Promotions .44** .55** .22 7 3,380 561.59** 187

Job security .37** .46** .18 7 1,911 228.33** 145
Autonomy .41** .49** .08 7 5,016 110.47** 187
Role stressors �.30** �.40** .18 14 5,812 369.27** 753

Role ambiguity �.17** �.20** .25 5 2,463 575.56** 46
Role conflict �.12** �.29** .22 5 2,463 308.82** 94

Training .21** .24** .17 4 1,338 82.69** 41
Size of organization �.30** �.30** .01 3 1,001 0.48 33

Person characteristics .07** .08** .15 30 13,145 318.80** 858
Personality .29** .31** .24 8 2,298 153.39** 103

Conscientiousness .10** .11** .20 5 817 30.89** 16
Negative affectivity �.39** �.43** .07 3 1,481 17.42** 33
Positive affectivity .31** .34** .07 4 3,363 42.49** 59
Positive affectivity with

outlier removed .38** .41** .03 3 1,481 1.77 33
Demographics .03** .03** .09 22 11,519 117.58** 318

Age .09** .09** .12 13 8,022 177.91** 168
Education .05** .05** .11 8 6,764 175.23** 49
Gender �.07** �.07** .11 9 6,962 191.01** 42
Tenure .02* .02* .12 22 11,519 186.22** 704

Note. r� � average weighted correlation; rc� � average weighted correlation when correlations are corrected
for attenuation; SD � standard deviation of corrected correlations; k � number of independent samples; Q �
heterogeneity statistic for correlations corrected for attenuation.
*p � .01. **p � .001.

708 RHOADES AND EISENBERGER

tics, another aspect of fairness, was even more highly related to
POS (in the negative direction). Thus, a culture of self-seeking
partisanship seems to convey the organization’s lack of interest in
the welfare of individual employees.

Because supervisors act as agents of the organization in evalu-
ating subordinates and directing their performance, the favorable-
ness of treatment received from most supervisors (i.e., supervisor
support) may be viewed by employees as reflecting the organiza-
tion’s views toward them. When we control for fairness and
supervisor support, the modest average relationship of rewards and
favorable job conditions with POS suggests that employees are
generally aware of the practical limitations on resources that
require substantial financial outlays or that interfere with efficien-
cies required by competitive pressures (Eisenberger et al., 1997).
The relationship of rewards and favorable job conditions with POS
was weakest for educational employees, whose salaries and job
conditions often depend on voters’ decisions, which are beyond
their employer’s control.

Demographics showed very small relationships with POS. Such
factors as age, education, gender, salary, and tenure do not appear,
therefore, to provide alternative explanations for the relationships
found between other antecedents and POS.

Results Concerning Perceived Organizational
Support’s Consequences

Results of the meta-analyses for POS’s consequences are given
in Table 1 for the individual studies and Table 3 for the summary
findings. POS had strong relationships in the predicted direction
with affective commitment, job satisfaction, positive mood at
work, desire to remain with the organization, and turnover inten-
tions. POS had medium relationships with job involvement,

strains, withdrawal behaviors short of turnover (e.g., absenteeism
and tardiness), and extrarole behavior directed toward the organi-
zation. POS had small but statistically reliable relationships with
other kinds of performance, continuance commitment, and
turnover.

Organizational Commitment

The overall effect size for organizational commitment was large.
As predicted, the two types of commitment contained in this
category showed quite different associations with POS. POS and
affective commitment had a strong, positive relationship, whereas
POS and continuance commitment had a small, negative relation-
ship. The effect sizes for both constructs were heterogeneous, even
after removal of outliers. Nevertheless, the POS–affective com-
mitment associations were positive in all individual studies. POS–
continuance commitment relationships were more variable, rang-
ing from near zero to large and negative.

Job-Related Affect

Overall, job-related affect had a large effect size. Large and
heterogeneous effect sizes were found for both job satisfaction and
positive mood. Removal of outliers did not eliminate heterogene-
ity; however, the relationships of all studies involving the two
constructs were in the moderate to large range in the predicted
direction for job satisfaction and in the small to large range for
positive mood.

Job Involvement

We found a moderate, positive relationship between POS and
job involvement. We obtained homogeneity of effect sizes by

Table 3
Meta-Analytic Results of Consequences of Perceived Organizational Support

Consequences r� rc� SD k N Q Fail-safe N

Organizational commitment .60** .67** .23 42 11,706 3,446.05** 5,903
Affective commitment .65** .73** .13 42 11,706 1,830.55** 6,859
Continuance commitment �.13** �.15** .21 10 1,947 62.89** 154

Job-related affect .55** .59** .16 26 7,306 1,114.11** 2,602
Job satisfaction .59** .62** .14 21 5,886 808.54** 1,687
Positive mood at work .37** .49** .17 5 1,420 213.21** 94

Job involvement .33** .39** .09 4 1,015 23.89** 53
Job involvement with outliers removed .27** .32** .04 3 665 1.56 33
Performance .18** .20** .11 20 5,057 155.04** 1,064

In-role .16** .18** .13 12 2,873 126.74** 395
Extra-role .20** .22** .09 16 4,050 49.45** 670
Extra-role with outliers removed .21** .22** .05 13 3,760 18.20 667

Toward individuals .19** .22** .12 9 1,924 38.88** 189
Toward organization .24** .28** .09 8 2,079 16.31 174
Toward organization with outliers removed .24** .29** .04 7 2,010 7.18 187

Strains �.28** �.32** .14 5 874 11.39 94
Desire to remain with org. .59** .66** .01 3 2,331 0.46 33
Withdrawal behavior �.30** �.34** .17 19 5,111 586.50** 1,376

Turnover intentions �.45** �.51** .12 14 3,146 1,176.23** 760
Turnover �.11** �.11** .05 6 2,490 7.93 78
Other withdrawal behavior �.26** �.26** .06 3 579 2.77 28

Note. r� � average weighted correlation; rc� � average weighted correlation when correlations are corrected for attenuation; SD � standard deviation
of corrected correlations; k � number of independent samples; Q � heterogeneity statistic for correlations corrected for attenuation; org. � organization.
**p � .001.

709PERCEIVED ORGANIZATIONAL SUPPORT

removing one outlier, and the moderate relationship was
maintained.

Performance

The relationship between POS and extrarole performance di-
rected to the organization was medium sized, whereas relation-
ships involving the other categories of performance were small.
With outliers removed, POS showed homogeneous relationships
with all types of performance.

Strains

A moderate negative relationship was found between POS and
strains. Effect sizes for strains were homogeneous.

Desire to Remain With Organization

A large, positive relationship with POS was found, with homo-
geneous effect sizes.

Withdrawal Behavior

POS showed a moderate negative relationship with the overall
measure of withdrawal behavior. Relationships were strongest
between POS and intention to leave, followed by associations
between POS with withdrawal behaviors short of turnover, and
actual turnover. Effect sizes for turnover and other actual with-
drawal behaviors were homogeneous. Heterogeneous results for
turnover intention were found, even after the removal of outliers.
All turnover intention effect sizes, however, were in the predicted
direction.

Moderator Analyses

Organization type contributed to the effect-size heterogeneity
for overall organizational commitment, Q(4) � 698.2, p � .01, and
affective commitment, Q(4) � 481.3, p � .01. Private nonmanu-
facturing and government employees showed stronger POS–
commitment relationships than did manufacturing, health, and
educational employees.

Discussion Concerning Perceived Organizational
Support’s Consequences

The consequence most strongly linked to POS was affective
commitment. Evidently, employees strongly reciprocate indica-
tions of the organization’s caring and positive valuation by in-
creasing their emotional bond to the organization. POS showed a
small negative relationship with continuance commitment. Such
feelings of entrapment, occurring because of the high costs of
quitting the organization, are expected to be lessened by POS
(Shore & Tetrick, 1991).

POS showed moderate negative relationships with strains and
strong positive relationships with job satisfaction and positive
mood. These findings suggest that POS serves an important so-
cioemotional function besides creating a felt obligation to aid the
organization. Employees with high POS generally find their job
more pleasurable, are in a better mood at work, and suffer fewer
strain symptoms such as fatigue, burnout, anxiety, and headaches.

POS’s relationship with performance and withdrawal behaviors
ranged from small (in-role performance, extrarole behaviors di-
rected toward individuals, turnover) to moderate (extrarole behav-
iors directed toward the organization, absenteeism, tardiness, and
turnover intention). Extrarole behaviors directed toward the orga-
nization, high attendance, and punctuality may be salient ways to
reciprocate organizational support.

Supervisor ratings of performance and withdrawal behavior are,
of course, subject to various biases. However, POS has been found
to be related to objective outcomes, such as police officers’ issu-
ance of traffic tickets and arrests for driving under the influence of
alcohol (DUI; Armeli et al., 1998; Eisenberger et al., 1990), steel
workers’ creative suggestions for improving their plant’s opera-
tions (Eisenberger et al., 1990), and a lessening of objectively
measured withdrawal behaviors, including absenteeism (Eisen-
berger et al., 1986, 1990) and voluntary turnover (Eisenberger et
al., in press; Rhoades et al., 2001). Further use of objective
performance measures is to be encouraged.

Causal Relationships of POS With Antecedents
and Outcomes

The widespread use of bivariate cross-sectional procedures to
gather evidence on the relationship of POS with proposed ante-
cedents and consequences leaves uncertain the causal order of the
observed associations and the possibility that extraneous variables
are responsible for the associations. More convincing evidence has
been provided through the inclusion of covariates (e.g., tenure and
education) in some POS studies and the use of mediational and
panel designs. Mediational studies implicate POS in the develop-
ment of affective organizational commitment. Wayne et al. (1997)
found that POS mediated the relationship of human resources
practices (developmental experiences, promotions) with affective
commitment, intentions to quit, and organizational citizenship
behavior. Similarly, D. Allen et al. (1999) found that POS medi-
ated the associations of participation in decision making, job
security, and fairness of rewards with affective commitment.
Rhoades et al. (2001) found that POS mediated the relationships of
three general work experience variables (organizational rewards,
procedural justice, and supervisor support) with affective
commitment.

Moorman, Blakely, and Niehoff (1998) reported that POS fully
mediated the association between procedural justice and four
forms of extrarole behavior: interpersonal helping, individual ini-
tiative, personal industry, and loyal boosterism. Moorman et al.
suggested that POS serves as a key mechanism by which organi-
zational fairness contributes to employee performance. POS has
also been found to mediate the relationship between perceived
supervisor support and voluntary employee turnover (Eisenberger
et al., in press).

As to panel designs, Rhoades et al. (2001) took repeated mea-
surements of POS and affective commitment over time in two
samples of employees. POS was positively related to temporal
changes in affective commitment in both samples. These findings
suggest that POS leads to affective commitment. Eisenberger et al.
(in press) reported that perceived supervisor support was positively
related to temporal change in POS, suggesting that perceived
supervisor support leads to POS. Additional panel studies would
be helpful to obtain better evidence concerning causality.

710 RHOADES AND EISENBERGER

Processes Underlying Perceived Organizational
Support Associations

Our review indicates that three general categories of favorable
treatment received by employees from the organization (i.e., fair-
ness, supervisor support, and rewards and job conditions) are
positively related to POS, which, in turn, is associated with out-
comes favored by employees (e.g., increased job satisfaction,
positive mood, and reduced strains) and the organization (e.g.,
increased affective commitment and performance and reduced
turnover). Organizational support theory (Eisenberger et al., 1986;
Shore & Shore, 1995) specifies mechanisms responsible for these
associations, allowing stringent tests of the theory.

Attributional Processes Contributing to Perceived
Organizational Support

According to Gouldner (1960), discretionary aid is valued more
highly than is aid that a donor is forced to provide—discretionary
aid more clearly indicates the donor’s positive valuation of the
recipient and concern with the recipient’s welfare. Therefore, in
determining organizational support, employees are especially at-
tentive to discretionary treatment received from the organization.
Using a sample of employees from many different organizations,
Eisenberger et al. (1997) reported that POS was six times more
strongly associated with the favorableness of high-discretion job
conditions as compared with low-discretion job conditions. Sys-
tematic differences were found among occupations and organiza-
tions concerning the specific job conditions employees believed to
be under the high control of the organization. Therefore, the extent
to which the favorableness of a particular job condition contributes
to POS varies among organizations, depending on employees’
beliefs concerning the organization’s control over that job
condition.

Because supervisors act as representatives of the organization,
employees’ receipt of support from supervisors should contribute
to POS. Supervisors with high informal standing within the orga-
nization are generally seen by employees as more strongly exem-
plifying the organization’s character. Support from high-status
supervisors should therefore more strongly influence POS. Ac-
cordingly, Eisenberger et al. (in press) found that the relationship
between perceived supervisor support and POS was greater for
employees who perceived that their supervisors had high informal
status in the organization.

Reciprocation of Perceived Organizational Support

Researchers reporting positive relationships of POS with affec-
tive commitment and performance have often assumed employees’
felt obligation to be an underlying process. However, only recently
has felt obligation been directly assessed as a mediator of POS–
outcome relationships. Consistent with organizational support the-
ory, Eisenberger et al. (2001) reported that felt obligation mediated
the relationships of POS with affective commitment, in-role per-
formance, and extrarole performance.

To the extent that the POS–felt obligation association is due to
the norm of reciprocity, the strength of this association should be
influenced by employees’ acceptance of the reciprocity norm as a
basis for employee–employer relationships. Employee exchange

ideology refers to employees’ belief that it is appropriate and
useful to base their concern with the organization’s welfare and
their work effort on how favorably they have been treated by the
organization (Eisenberger et al., 1986). Employees with a high
exchange ideology showed stronger relationships of POS with felt
obligation to the organization (Eisenberger et al., 2001), job atten-
dance (Eisenberger et al., 1990), and extrarole performance (Ladd,
1997; Witt, 1991). Mediation of POS–outcome relationships by
felt obligation, together with the moderation of these associations
by employee exchange ideology, indicates that reciprocity is a
basic mechanism contributing to POS’s associations with various
behavioral outcomes.

Fulfillment of Socioemotional Needs

Similar to the needs-fulfilling role served by perceived support
from friends and relatives in everyday life (Cobb, 1976; S. Cohen
& Wills, 1985), organizational support theory supposes that POS
meets needs for emotional support, affiliation, esteem, and ap-
proval. According to Gouldner (1960), the obligation to recipro-
cate favorable treatment increases with the benefit’s value, includ-
ing the benefit’s relevance to the recipient’s specific needs.
Therefore, the obligation to repay POS with enhanced performance
should be greater among employees with high socioemotional
needs. Accordingly, police patrol officers who had higher needs
for approval, esteem, emotional support, or affiliation showed a
stronger relationship of POS with DUI arrests and issuance of
speeding tickets (Armeli et al., 1998).

Additional evidence of POS’s socioemotional function comes
from findings that POS was negatively associated with strains
experienced in the workplace (Cropanzano et al., 1997; Robblee,
1998; Venkatachalam, 1995), that POS lessened the relationship
between nurses’ degree of contact with AIDS patients and negative
mood (George et al. 1993), and that perceived support within the
organization, as opposed to support from family and friends,
reduced the negative relationship between British pub employees’
receipt of threats and violence and these employees’ experienced
well-being (Leather, Lawrence, Beale, & Cox, 1998). Thus, POS
may be especially helpful in reducing the traumatic consequences
of stressors at work.

Contribution of POS to
Performance-Reward Expectancies

According to organizational support theory, the relationship
between performance-reward expectancies and POS should be
reciprocal (Eisenberger et al., 1986; Shore & Shore, 1995). Favor-
able opportunities for rewards convey the organization’s positive
valuation of employees’ contributions and thus contribute to POS
(cf. Gaertner & Nollen, 1989). POS, in turn, increases employees’
expectancies that high performance will be rewarded. Consistent
with these views, our meta-analysis found that opportunities for
greater recognition, pay, and promotion are positively associated
with POS. Additional research is needed concerning the mediating
role of reward expectancies in the relationship between POS and
performance.

Conclusion

Organizational support theory supposes that employees person-
ify the organization, infer the extent to which the organization

711PERCEIVED ORGANIZATIONAL SUPPORT

values their contributions and cares about their well-being, and
reciprocate such perceived support with increased commitment,
loyalty, and performance. On the basis of these assumptions,
organizational support theory provides a general approach to the
role of the reciprocity norm in employee–employer relationships.
Most studies of POS have been devoted to amplifying its anteced-
ents and consequences. Our review of over 70 studies suggests that
basic antecedents of POS include fair organizational procedures,
supervisor support, and favorable rewards and job conditions and
that consequences include increased affective commitment to the
organization, increased performance, and reduced withdrawal
behaviors.

More recent studies have examined (a) the mediating role of
POS in the relationship between various types of favorable treat-
ment and outcomes that are beneficial to employees and the
organization, (b) the direction of causality in the relationship of
POS with antecedents and consequences, and (c) the processes
presumed to underlie such associations. These studies are support-
ive of organizational support theory. The distinctive, clearly spec-
ified processes supposed by organizational support theory provide
the basis for future evaluation and elaboration of this basic ap-
proach to employee–employer relationships.

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Received July 20, 2001
Revision received November 6, 2001

Accepted November 16, 2001 �

714 RHOADES AND EISENBERGER

210

Force Field Analysis and Action Letters

Maurice Elias
Rutgers University

Force Field Analysis is an approach to conceptualizing community problems and to planning

actions to address those problems. It is one legacy of Kurt Lewin’s action research approach to
community and social problems. It can be tailored to concern prevention/promotion topics or
broader community or social issues. One product of Force Field Analysis can be individual or
group action letters on a social issue, addressed to community/social decision-makers. Both the
Force Field Analysis process and Action Letter product are described in this document, which is
written to address students directly as an assignment.

Force Field Analysis can be used as an exercise in class (one or several class meetings), or as
an extended project to be completed by individuals or teams. Even if used as an individual
project or paper, it is helpful to use class time for meetings of students with similar interests or
topics and to ensure that students understand the approach clearly. This encourages broader
thinking and more critical analysis at each step of the process.

In the format below, students meet in small groups to choose a community problem, analyze
it, and choose a goal for an initiative to address it. It works through a series of group decisions,
which can simulate meetings of a community group or coalition. For convenience, we address
our instructions to students. Modify them as you wish for your particular class.

If you wish to use this as a class exercise in one class meeting, you will need to present an
issue or problem for the class. Have them discuss each step below in student teams and report
briefly to the class. You will need to lead discussion actively and keep the process moving.

Useful background readings for instructor or students are:
The Community Tool Box website: http://ctb.ku.edu
Jenkins, D. H. (1961). Force field analysis applied to school settings. In W. Bennis, K.

Benne & R. Chin (Eds.), The planning of change. New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston.

A similar version of this essay appeared in the Instructor Manual for:
Dalton, J., Elias, M. J., & Wandersman, A. (2007). Community psychology: Linking

individuals and communities (2nd. ed.). Belmont CA: Thomson Wadsworth.
www.thomsonedu.com

211

FORCE FIELD ANALYSIS: A SEVEN-STEP PROCESS

This Force Field Analysis Exercise is designed as a simulation of a series of community
meetings, to build skills in focused thinking, group interaction, and positive movement regarding
a problem or issue of genuine concern. The process of carrying out a Force Field Analysis
simulates many of the dynamics involved in actual community work. Each step below is
designed for small groups of students. For instance, imagine yourselves as a community group
or coalition meeting to address a community or social issue.

Step 1: Selecting a Community Problem and Context
Choose a community problem or issue of interest to the group as a whole. We suggest
choosing an issue with which at least some members have direct experience or knowledge.
Choose a community problem or issue that you care about, and that you are genuinely
committed to finding ways to foster positive change. If citizens’ commitment to change is not
genuine, community problems soon appear impossible to address. In addition, Force Field
Analysis is much more fun if you choose an issue you care about!
In this project, you will focus on the problem in terms of multiple ecological levels of
analysis, not merely at the individual level.
Here are some general categories of issues: illness and health, homelessness, drug abuse
(including alcohol and tobacco), domestic violence, sexual assault, child abuse and neglect,
violence among youth, elder abuse, poverty, environmental problems, access to child care, the
impact of divorce, and issues of injustice such as racism or sexism.
You may list a few possible choices, then choose one. Your final choice of community
problem should be specific and tangible; for instance, binge drinking among college students.

Write your choice of community problem here.

Next, choose a community where this problem occurs. At least some members of the
group, preferably all, need to be personally familiar with this community. Your team may
discuss several communities if you are prepared to discuss how their differences affect the
problem.
Write your choice of community here.

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Step 2: Describing the Problem
Describe the community problem in specific detail. Avoid blaming individuals for the
problem. The more specific you can be about the people affected by the problem, and about the
community context, the better you can devise useful responses to the problem.
If possible, talk with people or groups who are experiencing the problem or affected by it
in their own lives.
Write answers below for these questions:
• What is the community context of the problem? For instance, is the community rural, urban,

suburban, or other? What is its racial and ethnic makeup? What age groups are
predominant? Are other community qualities relevant to this problem?

• What behaviors constitute the visible aspects of the problem? When and where do these
occur?

• Who is involved in or directly affected by this problem? How could those affected by the
problem be described in terms of age, gender, socioeconomic status, race, ethnicity, or other
dimensions of human diversity?

• What else is important to know about the problem?

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Step 3: Identifying Root Causes of the Problem
Understanding a community problem involves understanding something about its causes.
A good theory of the root causes of a community problem provides a guide to efforts to prevent
or lessen that problem.
“Root causes” are the most basic, most significant causes of a problem. Some may be
individual factors, but others are factors at higher levels of analysis, such as organizational,
locality, or macrosystem (e.g., economic and social-political factors).

To identify root causes:
• review the research and scholarly literature on causes, risk and protective factors;
• interview persons in the community, especially those who have experienced the problem

directly, not just professionals;
• use the “But Why?” technique in a group or individually.
Briefly, “But Why?” begins with the community problem you defined earlier. Ask
yourself: “Why does this problem occur?” Each time you identify a cause of the problem, ask
yourself, “But why does that occur?” Keep asking “But Why?” until you arrive at the underlying
factors that seem to be roots of the problem. Repeat the procedure as often as needed to identify
the causes of the problem at multiple ecological levels of analysis. For more information, see
Chapter 17 of the Community Tool Box website on the World Wide Web (http://ctb.ku.edu).

Use the space on the rest of this sheet to list causes of the problem, and to discuss and list
root causes. Circle those you identify as root causes.

214

Step 4: Clarifying a Goal
From the list of root causes, choose one causal factor that you would like to change.
Make sure the factor that you pick is changeable, that it can be altered in a constructive
way that lessens the problem in your community setting. You may eventually plan to attain this
goal with a prevention/promotion program, a social policy, or another action intiative.
Write down the factor your group selected. Make it as specific as possible.

Next, write a Goal Statement: a description of how you would like to see this causal
factor changed, to resolve or lessen the community problem.
Make your goal feasible: something you can imagine happening, but that also would
represent a real improvement in the situation in your community setting.
Make your goal specific: measurable or identifiable, so that you and others will know
when it has been attained.
Write your goal here.

215

Step 5: Identifying Driving and Restraining Forces
This step is the heart of Force Field Analysis.
Driving Forces are those that can push your community toward the goal you specified in
the previous step. These may be resources such as committed persons, organizations, or funding
which can help attain the goal. Driving Forces may also be intangible resources such as a shared
sense of community that motivates individuals to work together. Potential driving forces can
also be persons or groups who are not now involved, but could be useful in addressing the
community problem. However, consider potential driving forces only if you believe that they
can be mobilized readily for work on the problem. It is a very human error to overestimate the
number or strength of those who agree with you or who will work with you. Be realistic.
Restraining Forces are factors that resist or obstruct movement toward the goal
situation. These also may be community forces, persons, or organizations. Root causes of a
problem are restraining forces. So is resistance to change, a powerful community force. Any
group or person who would be threatened in some way by progress toward the goal situation may
also be a Restraining Force. Those who oppose your definition of the problem or its causes may
also be Restraining Forces. Essentially, Restraining Forces are the factors already present in the
community that keep the problem in existence, even if only by ignoring it.
Figure 1 illustrates the relation of driving and restraining forces to the current situation
and the goal.

FIGURE 1: DRIVING AND RESTRAINING FORCES

CURRENT GOAL
SITUATION SITUATION

DRIVING FORCES RESTRAINING FORCES

216

On this page, list all the Driving and Restraining Forces your group can identify
concerning the community and goal you have chosen.

DRIVING FORCES RESTRAINING FORCES

217

Step 6: Prioritizing Driving and Restraining Forces
Now return to the prior page and choose up to three important Driving Forces for your
community to strengthen, in order to attain your goal. These will be the first focus of your action
plan. Circle your choices.
Then choose up to three important Restraining Forces for your community to weaken or
work around, to attain your goal. These will be the second focus of your action plan.
Circle your choices.

Step 7: Action Plan
When you have prioritized up to three Driving Forces and Restraining Forces for action,
you are ready to plan a community initiative to attain your goal by strengthening these Driving
Forces, weakening or working around these Restraining Forces, or doing both.
Typically, you will focus on your prioritized list of Restraining Forces. From this list,
you will choose one or two of these forces that you can most feasibly reduce. Your Action Plan
should describe in detail how your group intends to reduce these Restraining Forces, and thereby
impact on the problem situation you identified earlier.
The first part of your Action Plan write-up is the Action Plan Outline. This will consist
of a 1-2 page single-spaced overview of the overall plan you are proposing. This write-up
should give a broad view of what you would like to see happen and how it will take place, and it
should reflect a realistic timeline. Think of it as an Executive Summary, Overview, or Flow
Chart. You can write it out or use outline form—whatever will allow you to best convey what
you are intending.
Either in class, or out of class as a group or via electronic meeting, your group should
have a chance to work together to think through this plan as a group.
Also, use the Internet or make other contacts necessary to help you determine (to the
extent possible) whether something like what you have been proposing has been tried before.
It’s not impossible that your Force Field process might take you to some familiar solutions, but
these are likely to result in first order change. So, you want to try to reassure yourselves that you
are not carrying out something that has recently been tried and has been unsuccessful. Things
you learn in this search process often lead to small but important modifications in plans.
The second part of the write-up consists of 1-2 paragraphs that specify the Community
Psychology Concepts that you have integrated into your Action Plan Outline. This is a very
important section, as it gives you a chance to explain principles that may underlie your Outline
but not be explicit or obvious. You can draw from the textbook or any related readings for this.
The third part of the Action Plan write-up consists of the Implementation Start-Up
Details. This will consist of a list of numbered steps that specify exactly what it will take to get
your Action Plan started, making no assumptions with regard to time and resources. It takes time
to set up meetings, gather resources, obtain funds, design a program, etc. Don’t omit any steps;
consider your group as the ones who are going to implement the plan. So if there are steps that
are necessary but are things you can’t accomplish directly, your plan should reflect how you are
going to get the resources or support to get done what needs to happen.
As you play out these details, you may find yourself needing to revise aspects of your
Action Plan Outline, particularly your timeline. This section should be no less than one single-
spaced page but no more than two pages, and it should be in numbered outline form (including

218

the action step, the time required, and who will do it). The reason for the two-page limit is
because this is a simulation and you will get the idea about realistic action planning within 1-2
pages. You might not find yourself getting too far into your Action Outline. That’s no problem.
Just be sure to keep CP concepts, principles, and values in mind and don’t allow yourself to
compromise these in the name of expedience, just to get the plan done. Expedience is what often
dooms social action plans and leads to first-order change efforts that allow problems to persist.
The next part of the write-up is the Analysis of Obstacles. For each step corresponding
to each number of your Implementation Details, you should provide an analysis of the obstacles
to it and propose ideas to get around those obstacles. If you find that there are significant flaws
in your plan, or that the obstacles identified seem highly difficult to overcome, that is not a
serious problem. Your realistic, honest analysis is required here. The best outcome is when you
and your team, not someone else, discovers the obstacles. Realistic and creative planning around
obstacles is an essential part of the Force Field Analysis process.
Finally, you should provide a brief overview of an Evaluation of your Overall Plan. It
should address the question, “How will you know that the goals of your plan have been
attained?” What will have changed to let you know that you are being successful? What
indicators will be useful to you? Here, you can look at the research methods and designs in
Chapters 3, 4 and 14 of the textbook to help you figure out appropriate ways to determine
whether your actions have been successful, and, in the spirit of action research, where they might
be falling short and require revision/rethinking.
The Community Tool Box website is a valuable resource for this planning
(http://ctb.ku.edu).

219

Another Product of Force Field Analysis: Individual Action Letters

Another possible product of a Force Field Analysis project is to take what one has
learned and to write a brief (2 pages, double spaced) Action Letter to an appropriate person,
agency, media outlet, etc., with several or all of the following goals.
• Define the specific problem or issue you are addressing.
• Illuminate aspects of a problem that have gotten too little attention. This may include causes

that have been overlooked. Cite sources of specific information.
• Suggest causal factors that may have been overlooked in solutions proposed to date.
• Advocate a specific, feasible course of action to address these aspects of the issue. Examples

include a new policy, new practices or ways to carry out an existing policy, or a new or
modified community program. Recognize that your ideas will have costs (e.g., money, time,
collaboration among groups). Advocate your course of action assertively.

• Indicate areas that you think should have more research and public discussion to analyze the
issue.

Choose a person or organization you want to address; the more specific the better.
Examples of places to which one might direct a letter include a newspaper (in your hometown, or
the location of your university, or your college newspaper), your representatives or senators in
the state legislature or the U.S. Congress, someone at your university, someone at a relevant state
agency, the editor of a magazine, the head of a corporation or business, a philanthropy or
foundation, or the writer of one of the source materials you read for the project. You are free to
quote from class readings, to acknowledge that your work arose out of the work of a group in
your class, and to take a forceful position.
If you have worked on a group project related to your letter, coordinate your letter plans
with other group members. That may involve several different letters to the same person, or
letters to several different persons. Most problems have many stakeholders. If several people
write to the same person, take different “angles” so that your work will be complementary, not
repetitive.
You are not obligated to send the letters, but each one should be sendable.

Multicultural Development in Human
Services Agencies: Challenges and Solutions

Cheryl A. Hyde

Comprehensive multicultural organizational development (MCOD) is
increasingly necessary in human services agencies. This article presents

results from an exploratory study that identified challenges and solutions to
MCOD, against the backdrop of daily realities of agency life. The author

conducted interviews with 20 consultants and 20 practitioners experienced in
MCOD. Qualitative analysis revealed four challenges—socioeconomic

environment, organizational dynamics, conceptualization of the change
effort, and consultant competence; and four solutions—collaborative

environmental relations, leadership development, assessment and planning,
and consultant selection. Results suggest the complexities of MCOD and ways

that human services agencies can sustain such efforts.

Key words: diversity; human services agencies;
multicultural development; organizational change

In recent years it has become increasingly evi-
dent that human services agencies must be-
come more multicultural to appropriately serve

diverse and disenfranchised people. This need is
apparent given the increases in populations of
color, people who are elderly, and people with
disabihties; the widening income gap; and the dis-
mantling of the public welfare sector (Bocage,
Homonoff, & Riley, 1995; Ferguson, 1996;
Gutierrez & Nagda, 1996; Hasenfeld, 1996). Hu-
man services managers also must contend with
greater gender, race, and age diversity in the ser-
vice workforce (Asamoah, 1995; Brody, 1993;
Iglehart, 2000; Shin & McClomb, 1998). Under
the auspices of multicultural development, activi-
ties have been undertaken in response to these
trends—awareness training, hiring and retention
plans, and improved outreach and service delivery
systems (Ferguson; Fong & Gibbs, 1995; Hyde,
1998; Iglehart; Iglehart & Becerra, 1995). Yet,
comprehensive multicultural development often
remains elusive.

The purpose of this study was to examine mul-
ticultural organizational development in human
services agencies to understand some of the barri-
ers to successful change. Through interviews with
practitioners and consultants, and against the
backdrop of the daily realities of agency life, chal-
lenges to multicultural development are identified
and solutions are proposed.

Multicultural Organizational Development
and Agency Transformation
Multicultural organizational development (MCOD)
is a long-term, complex organizational change
process that “does not simply accept or celebrate
differences, but aims at a reduction in the patterns
of racism and sexism [and other oppressions] that
prevail in most U.S. institutions and organiza-
tions” through a fundamental transformation of
an organization’s culture (Chesler, 1994, p. 14;
Gutierrez & Nagda, 1996; Jackson & Holvino,
1988). MCOD is rooted in the field of organiza-
tional development (OD); it differs from OD by

CCC Code: 0037-8046/04 $3.00 © 2004
National Association of Social Workers, Inc.

focusing explicitly on the dynamics of power and
oppression in an organization (Chesler; Katz &
Miller, 1997).

In the ideal, MCOD results in an organization
that embraces full social and cultural representa-
tion on all levels; the elimination of sexism, rac-
ism, and other forms of oppression; full inclusion
and valuing of differences; and the redistribution
of power and influence among aU stakeholders
(Jackson & Holvino, 1988). Change strategies flow
from an assessment of the organization’s level of
multicultural development (from monocultural to
multicultural) (Jackson & Holvino). MCOD is
broad in scope and encompasses a range of inter-
vention models: legal compliance (for example,
affirmative action), prejudice reduction, intercul-
tural awareness, managing diversity, valuing dif-
ferences, and anti-racism (Chesler, 1994; Iglehart,
2000; Jackson & Holvino). These models vary in
the degree of organizational change achieved; yet
each is appropriate for an organization depending
on its stage of multicultural development.

A multicultural human services organization
exhibits an emphasis on social change and em-
powerment; interventions that build on client
strengths and resources; workplace practices that
reflect a multicultural ideology; connections to
client communities and networks; hnks to relevant
policy making, professional and resource associa-
tions or arenas; ties to local, national, and interna-
tional networks; and development of an intraor-
ganizational learning environment (Gutierrez &
Nagda, 1996). A multicultural agency is not
achieved merely with the addition of ethnic-based
programs or staff representing specific groups,
although these efforts could be the foundation for
continued change. Nor is a multicultural human
services organization the same as an ethno-con-
scious agency, which is organized by a particular
racial or ethnic group to serve its needs (for ex-
ample, a Latino health agency or Southeast Asian
refugee center) (Nagda, Harding, & Holley, 1999).
A fully realized multicultural agency is premised
on a broader definition of diversity, a
reconfiguration of power and privilege, and a
commitment to social justice. It strives to create
one culture premised on the strengths of various
groups (for example, race, socioeconomic status,
gender) and perspectives within the organization.

Yet, comprehensive MCOD is undermined be-
cause the unique features of human services agen-
cies (that is, altruistic missions, multiple and am-

biguous goals, democratic impulses, moral ration-
ales for work, personalized worksites, and mul-
tiple stakeholders) make long-term planning diffi-
cult (Gutierrez & Nagda, 1996). The environment
of human services agencies is often capricious and
hostile, making acquisition of resources and legiti-
macy difficult. Human services tend to be in states
of crises, rendering them risk aversive or resistant
to change (Asamoah, 1995; Bocage et al, 1995;
Perlmutter, 2000). Change usually occurs under
duress (Iglehart 8c Becerra, 1995). As with any
planned change, the success of MCOD depends
on how these challenges are understood and re-
solved (Asamoah; Brody, 1993; Perlmutter).

Method

This qualitative exploratory study identified the
daily realities of multicultural practice, the chal-
lenges to MCOD in human services, and some
solutions. Qualitative approaches are increasingly
used in organizational research (Gummerson,
2000; Lee, 1999). Examples from social work in-
clude empowerment (Gutierrez, GlenMaye, &
DeLois, 1995), diversity initiatives (Hyde, 1998),
and organizational innovation (Shin & McClomb,
1998).

Data for this study consisted of in-depth inter-
views with 20 practitioners and 20 consultants in
a New England metropolitan area. I used the
combined sampling techniques of reputational
case selection (respondents are chosen on the ba-
sis of expertise) and purposive selection (inclusion
of respondents with certain characteristics) (Miles
& Huberman, 1994). Primary considerations for
sample construction were that informants had
knowledge of and experience with multicultural
development in the human services and that the
total sample be diverse. I, in consultation with
colleagues, selected an initial group of eight from
my professional networks. Respondents from this
group then recommended the rest of the sample.

Of the consultants interviewed, 11 were women
and nine were men—four Latinos, seven black
people, eight white people, and one Asian. All had
a master’s or a doctorate degree. Their experiences
were mostly with social services, educational, and
community-based agencies; some also worked
with businesses. Of the practitioners, 13 were
women and seven were men—three were Latina,
five were black, nine were white, and three were
Asian. They worked in agencies that provided job
training, health care, housing, family preservation.

Social Work / Volume 49, Number I / January 2004

8

substance abuse recovery, support for elderly
people, and community development. All but two
beld management positions. Their organizations
ranged in size from three to 40 paid staff, and
most relied on volunteers. Most of the practition-
ers had experience initiating or overseeing MCOD
efforts.

Data were gathered through unstructured
schedule interviews (Denzin, 1989). In sucb an
interview, there is a list of questions, but order,
phrasing, and follow-up are tailored to each infor-
mant. Flexibility is tbe ballmark of sucb interviews,
so that unanticipated ideas and insights can be
pursued. Interviews covered personal pbilosopby,
bistory of involvement, agency context, factors
tbat enbanced and sabotaged positive outcomes,
and examples of successes and failures. Infor-
mants were provided witb a definition of MCOD
(Gutierrez 8c Nagda, 1996; Jackson 8c Holvino,
1988) and asked to compare their practices with
that model. I conducted the interviews and tape-
recorded and transcribed tbe data for analysis.

The constant comparison process guided data
analysis (Charmaz, 1983; Strauss 8c Corbin, 1990).
Initial coding of interviews followed topics listed
in tbe interview protocol; unanticipated concepts
and insights also were noted. Core themes (ex-
pected and not) in each interview were identified.
Themes were compared across interviews to de-
termine areas of common focus and points of dis-
agreement in the sample. Analytical categories
regarding MCOD processes were developed.
Through this iterative analysis, I identified a di-
versity-training model for human services (Hyde,
1998), challenges to implementation, and possible
solutions.

Results

Respondents identified numerous cbaUenges to
fully conceptualizing and implementing MCOD
efforts. Tbey also indicated solutions tbat tbey
had used to address tbese barriers. Respondents
reported that fundamental shifts in power dynam-
ics, the core of MCOD, proved most elusive
(Hyde, 1998). Respondents more readily identi-
fied barriers tban remedies, perbaps indicative of
the difficulties or frustrations in pursuing this
work. They focused more on organizational and
individual problems, rather than on problems cre-
ated by tbe larger environment. The identification
and explanation of these problems and remedies
are sbaped by the daily realities of agency func-

tioning in general and multicultural practice in
particular.

Daily Realities

The practitioners, mostly managers or supervi-
sors, were asked to describe tbe overall function-
ing of tbeir agencies before, during, and after
MCOD interventions; consultants were asked to
sbare their observations of organizational func-
tioning. Three interrelated areas that shaped sub-
sequent understandings of barriers and remedies
were identified: (1) agency climate, (2) motiva-
tions for MCOD interventions, and (3) current
multicultural practice.

Agency Climate. Practitioners overwbelmingly
described tbeir human services agencies as chaotic
and stressful: “Most of the time, I don’t think that
I or my staff knows if we are coming or going.”
Consultants picked up on this climate, noting that
the agencies seemed to “lurch from crisis to cri-
sis.” Many practitioners complained that their
staff were not fully prepared or competent enough
to handle the current realities of agency-based
social work. Descriptors sucb as energetic, enthu-
siastic, or creative were rarely mentioned with re-
spect to staff.

A primary reason for this rather dismal portrait
of agency life is the economic problems with
which agencies contended in the 1990s. Nearly 75
percent of the practitioners reported that
downsizing of their agencies occurred during that
period. This made staff anxious about job secu-
rity. It also meant that agencies could not offer
salaries that might entice or retain highly skilled
staff. The changing nature of clients also shaped
agency climate. Practitioners reported that client
problems were mucb more complex and en-
trencbed tban tbey bad seen before: “There is no
such thing as a ‘simple case’ anymore. A woman
comes into our agency to get help with a sub-
stance abuse problem. But sbe also doesn’t have
the skills or ability to bold a job, her children’s
father has gone AWOL, and there is no public as-
sistance program to belp ber financially. It’s a
mess.” As refiected in this comment, the shrinking
public sector, particularly diminisbed public wel-
fare programs, bad a detrimental effect on tbese
agencies. Overall, respondents reported tbat
many, if not most, agencies exuded a demoralized,
ratber than innovative, climate.

Motivations for MCOD. Despite this climate of
demoralization, all the agencies represented by the

Hyde / Multicultural Development in Human Services Agencies: Challenges and Solutions

practitioners forged ahead with some MCOD
plans. Agencies engaged in multicultural develop-
ment for a variety of reasons that in turn shaped
the kinds of multicultural practice adopted. Every
practitioner, and most consultants, indicated that
the primary motivator for MCOD work was to
better serve clients: “For us to really help our cli-
ents, we need to develop programs that are more
culturally sensitive and have staff adequately
trained to implement them.” This rationale in-
forms MCOD interventions that improve the cul-
tural competence of staff. A more general (or
vague) version of this was the often-mentioned
belief that MCOD was the right thing to do: “You
just can’t claim to do good social work anymore
vwthout paying attention to diversity. Some of this
is about being politically correct. But mostly, it
really is about providing the most appropriate
services to clients who really need our help.” The
other most frequently stated rationale for MCOD
was to smooth hiring and retention processes,
specifically regarding the diversification of staff.
This motivation usually led to sensitivity training
for existing staff.

Few respondents indicated that MCOD was
undertaken to challenge the dominant organiza-
tional culture, because it was a larger part of stra-
tegic planning, or because of management decla-
ration. The respondents who cited these reasons
were more likely to engage in successful MCOD
efforts, because such rationales point to the need
for long-term, well-planned, and substantial orga-
nizational changes.

Current Multicultural Practice. Respondents
described the daily realities of multicultural prac-
tice as largely focusing on helping white staff ob-
tain cultural competence skills appropriate for work
with diverse chent groups. The increasingly hetero-
geneous client base that agencies served necessi-
tated this: “A few years ago we saw mostly white
and black clients. Now it seems that we’ve got a
bit of everything. We need to be skilled in work-
ing with different Asian ethnicities, with Latinos,
with Caribbean refugees.” Multicultural practice
was framed as a set of skills acquired by individual
practitioners, not as an organizational-level inter-
vention that would alter the agency’s culture.
Practitioners believed that their line staff were ill-
prepared to deal with client diversity, and thus the
emphasis on individual techniques.

Multicultural practice also was implemented
through the hiring and retention of staff of color.

Most of the agencies represented by the practi-
tioners had predominantly white staff. One route
to being more multicultural is to hire staff from
the same ethnic and racial groups as the clients.
Yet, several practitioners lamented that such staff
were either difficult to find or, when hired, did
not remain. Consultants observed that agencies
were often unable to engage in agencywide strate-
gies that would improve the overall climate for
staff of color: “Sometimes I think administrators
assume they can go hire a black or Latino worker
and just drop that person into the middle of the
agency without any thought about how receptive
other staff are going to be. Everyone says that they
want a diverse staff, but in reality, there are a lot
of suspicions about competency and fitting in. No
wonder minority staff leave.”

Multicultural practice was largely limited to
concerns about race and ethnicity. There was little
mention of socioeconomic status, gender, sexual
orientation, or disability. The daily realities of
agency work, including multicultural practice,
formed the backdrop for the discussion on chal-
lenges and solutions. Some daily realities were
significant impediments to comprehensive MCOD.

Challenges

The challenges to multicultural development
identified by the respondents cluster into four ar-
eas: (1) the sociopolitical environment, (2) orga-
nizational dynamics, (3) conceptualization of the
change effort, and (4) consultant competence.
Each area infiuences the others; for clarity, how-
ever, each is discussed separately.

Sociopolitical Environment. These challenges
encompass threats from the broader environment.
Respondents indicated that a most serious and
overwhelming challenge to MCOD is a troubled
or unstable economy. In this case, local and re-
gional economies experienced a downturn during
most of the 1990s. Downsizing, privatization, and
fiscal cutbacks dominated the human services
arena in which these respondents practiced. Infor-
mants noted that the economic and political back-
lash against human services forced organizational
innovations: “The biggest barrier to success is a
bad economy. When an agency is fighting for fis-
cal survival it’s difficult to undertake another con-
troversial or demanding change like diversity.”

The other sociopolitical barrier to MCOD is
local, focusing on the kind of relationship an
agency has with the surrounding community.

Social Wort/ Volume 49, Number 1 /January 2004

10

Poor agency-community relations, as this con-
sultant suggested, are impediments: “A major ob-
stacle is that most agencies don’t know what is
going on in their communities. They’re not com-
munity focused. Most agencies have a deficit ap-
proach toward community residents, and that’s
antithetical to multicultural work.” Legitimacy,
which is based in part on the agency’s relationship
with the community, is essential for MCOD.
MCOD calls for full involvement of organiza-
tional stakeholders, including community mem-
bers. When an agency holds neglectful or pa-
tronizing views of the community, MCOD is
sabotaged.

Organizational Dynamics. Respondents prima-
rily focused on agency-level challenges. The most
frequently mentioned were workload issues, spe-
cifically competing agency priorities and high
work demands v«th inadequate support. Because
of fiscal cutbacks, practitioners reported that they
and their staff were forced to do more with less.
Consequently, MCOD was set aside: “I want to do
dialogues, workshops, and other multicultural
learning activities, but the staff say they are over-
whelmed. They say that they need to spend time
on their cases, even if I say otherwise.” The in-
creasing complexity of client problems com-
pounded this workload dilemma. Respondents
indicated that clients reported multiple stressors
that required more time-consuming interven-
tions: “Our biggest crisis is staff overload. Staff go
from crisis to crisis and don’t have time to do
much else.” MCOD is not a priority, given the
more pressing need to serve clients.

Poor agency leadership also challenged MCOD
efforts. Respondents saw weak leadership as a fail-
ure to promote a multicultural vision or partici-
pate in multicultural efforts. One trend was man-
agement mandating multicultural work v«thout
providing fiscal or personal support: “Administra-
tion always wants to focus on line staff; they don’t
think it applies to themselves.” This fragments
multicultural development and sends a signal that
it is not essential to the agency. Yet MCOD in-
volves the entire organization and needs to be
championed by the leader.

Respondents observed that earlier, unsatisfac-
tory outcomes resulted in people becoming alien-
ated from and frustrated v«th MCOD. This gener-
ated hostility toward current and future efforts. A
practitioner noted that a consultant so mis-
handled training that “it really put a damper on

the staff to do this work. It’s hard enough without
a so-called expert screwing up and undermining
this.” Respondents claimed that agency members
adopted a “here we go again” attitude and disen-
gage, and that continued failures signified insin-
cere leadership.

Conceptualization of the Change Effort. The
ways in which MCOD is understood and initiated
shapes success. Respondents indicated that “quick
fixes” to crises had little chance of leading to com-
prehensive change. Crises included a racial inci-
dent between staff, a funder’s report that cited a
lack of diversity, and an inability to provide ser-
vices to clients in a culturally appropriate way.
Such events indicate more entrenched problems.
Respondents viewed the quick fix as leadership’s
means of placating organizational members: “J
offen get brought in because of a crisis. There is
some fiare-up and management wants me to
throw water on it and then leave.”

Also deemed problematic were short-term,
add-on events such as one-day workshops. These
approaches can impart useful information and are
often viewed as “better than nothing.” Yet, they
and quick fixes sabotage MCOD because little or
no integration of multicultural principles or prac-
tices occurs. Without integration an agency can-
not sustain MCOD efforts, which contributes to a
sense of failure: “We always get a training session,
not the needed long-term problem solving work.
There’s no follow-up. Staff say ‘well, that was in-
teresting, now let’s go back to the way we used to
do things.'”

Consultant Competence. Civen that a consult-
ant often has a key role in MCOD efforts, much
attention was focused on consultant roles and
abilities. An agency looks to consultants to frame
the effort, guide the process, impart needed skills,
and challenge status quo actions. Respondents
asserted that consultants undermine MCOD when
they reinforce quick fixes and short-term and
add-on approaches or fail to help the agency ex-
amine its existing dynamics: “The training was
this ‘we can all get along’ business. We can all co-
exist, we don’t deal with oppression or exploita-
tion, power or privilege. Instead we can all be
happy! But we never got anywhere.”

A consultant who did not assess or get to know
an agency was viewed as problematic. Typically,
such a consultant was inflexible, using a “canned”
approach rather than tailoring interventions to
the agency: “You must be open and understand

Hyde / Multicultural Development in Human Services Agencies: Challenges and Solutions

11

the group, and a lot of trainers don’t do that. They
just follow a routine. Agencies have their own val-
ues and motivations, their own histories.” Re-
spondents suggested that not fully understanding
the agenqf often resulted in a poor fit between
agenqf needs and consultant practices. Conse-
quently, when a problem arose in training or
other intervention events, the consultant was un-
able to respond in helpful ways: “When we got to
the change strategies part, things got really tense.
But the consultants had no ability to help us. They
gave us a rap, showed a video that didn’t apply to
us, and did an exercise. We needed help construc-
tively dialoging, but didn’t get that.”

A common problem for consultants is resistance
or discomfort of agency members, which occurs
often and, respondents noted, should be expected.
There are numerous reasons for discomfort and
resistance: fear for one’s position, forced partici-
pation, lack of incentives or rewards, workload, a
presumed “correct” viewpoint, and pre-existing
group distrust. Problems arise when these con-
cerns are not addressed. A consultant’s inability to
understand and address why discomfort or resis-
tance occurs hinders MCOD efforts: “One exer-
cise focused on who is in and out of agency
power. But the group wasn’t ready for something
like that, and many people just freaked out. And
then there was no time [to] deal with their reac-
tions. The consultant says, ‘There’s a lot here for
you to work with’ and then moved on. This shat-
tered the group and did more harm than good.”
Such incidents set in motion a vicious cycle in
which agency members became increasingly un-
willing to undertake multicultural development.

Solutions
Four interrelated responses were suggested: (1)
collaborative environmental relations, (2) leader-
ship development, (3) assessment and planning,
and (4) consultant selection. These solutions are
what the respondents facilitated or engaged in, as
opposed to hypothetical strategies for addressing
the challenges.

Collaborative Environmental Relations. Re-
spondents said that little could be done to change
a hostile political or economic environment. Yet,
they proposed local-level strategies that help agen-
cies acquire or maintain scarce resources; for ex-
ample, diversifying an agency’s funding base so
that survival would not rest on one or two
funders. Respondents suggested that agencies seek

support from funders that facilitate multicultural
efforts: “Our funders pushed the initial diversity
efforts. They made it clear that they weren’t going
to continue to fund an all-white group, no matter
how good our programs were.” Another means of
resource development is to pursue MCOD in coa-
lition with other like-minded agencies. This ap-
proach helps with the costs (for example, sharing
a consultant) and has the added benefit of com-
munity building: “Coalitions became a real multi-
cultural tool for us. We took the time to bring to-
gether a diverse collection of groups who were
vnlling to work on a shared community problem.”

In addition to forging links vfith other agen-
cies, respondents stressed the importance of col-
laboration with the community. Several consult-
ants said that they train agency members in how
to do strength-oriented community assessments,
so they better understand what the area offers and
needs. Offering organizational resources to area
residents and groups enhances community rela-
tions as well as MCOD efforts: “We promote the
empowerment of diverse groups by providing ac-
cess to services, office space, and equipment that
are usually not available to underrepresented
groups. In this way we extend our multicultural
mission.” Participating in community events such
as a street fair or protests for fair housing demon-
strates an agency’s allegiance to the area and culti-
vates its community legitimacy.

Leadership Development. Respondents con-
ceded that little could be done to challenge un-
committed leaders. Although support of the
leader is essential, compelling the leader to act in
such a way is beyond the scope of the consultants
and some of the practitioners. Yet, there are re-
sponses to a leadership void. One is to cultivate
new leadership so that multicultural principles
and approaches are spread throughout the agency.
Respondents noted that leadership comes not
only from management, but also from the board,
staff, or clients. As one consultant said, “As part of
my assessment, I try to determine who is commit-
ted or excited about diversity. That’s who I want
to lead the activities. I argue in favor of that per-
son being involved from the start.” Practitioners
also indicated that they cultivate staff who dem-
onstrate concern for multicultural issues.

Respondents suggested that it is possible to
work vnth weak (as opposed to uncommitted)
leadership. Leaders may be weak in the multicul-
tural arena because they do not fully understand

Social Work / Volume 49, Number 1 /January 2004

12

or are afraid of what it entails. One practitioner,
sympathetic to her often-reluctant boss, offered
this insight: “Remember that a lot of people who
are heading agencies were trained before
multiculturalism came into vogue. Many just
don’t get it or think it’s another fad. And some,
like my boss, think it’s an attack on how they have
been practicing social work, so they get really de-
fensive.” Understanding this leads to interven-
tions with incumbent leaders that build on their
strengths and challenge them to further develop
their skills: “Often I’ll work at first only with the
director and the board. I try to help them under-
stand their role in the change process. I give them
a crash course in why organizational diversity is
important. I try to help them anticipate what is
likely to happen so they can actively steer the
agency through the process. I need to engage the
leaders beyond a vague notion that they ought to
be doing this [MCOD] work.”

Many of the practitioners headed their agency’s
MCOD efforts, and their leadership actions were
instructive. They emphasized the importance of
exemplifying a commitment to multiculturalism
beyond the rhetoric: “As a white woman doing
anti-racism work, I was a powerful role model. It
mattered to the staff that I was openly anti-racist
and acted on those beliefs.” Actions included pur-
suing financial support for multicultural training,
encouraging staff to learn about cultures that are
different from their own and sharing what they
learned with other staff, facilitating staff discus-
sion on issues of power or oppression, and chal-
lenging discriminatory practices. The practition-
ers stressed the importance of life-long learning,
open communication, full participation, and inte-
gration of multicultural approaches in everyday
practice. Overall, respondents viewed good lead-
ership as being open to differing perspectives, en-
couraging involvement in organizational deci-
sions and events, and promoting multicultural
principles and practices as part of the agency’s
core culture.

Assessment and Planning. Respondents were
adamant that careful assessment and planning is
critical to the success of MCOD efforts. Quality
assessment and planning activities clarify why
MCOD is undertaken; determine the scope of
what needs to happen and the level of commit-
ment and available resources; facilitate input and
participation from various stakeholders; suggest
intervention strategies; and send a message that

this is a serious organizational undertaking. As-
sessment and planning occurred either before hir-
ing a consultant, with the results informing the
process, or under the guidance of a consultant, as
in this successful case: “I think the reason why
our efforts worked so well was that our consult-
ant engaged us at the start with an organizational
self-study. He helped us figure out what we
needed to know, how to get it, and how to use all
the information. We learned how to make the
process inclusive.”

Respondents suggested that one of the most
important outcomes of assessment and planning
was to help agency members understand that
MCOD is a long-term change process. Rather
than assume that a few training sessions would
solve “the problem,” assessment and planning
reframed the purposes of training as a catalyst for
continued action, not as the final result. Under-
standing the long-term nature of MCOD helped
integrate the efforts into the agency; it is difficult
to use a quick-fix or add-on approach when the
scope of what needs to happen is made clear. Fur-
ther integration occurred when the assessment
and planning process was an open one. It facili-
tated the input of various perspectives and helped
agency members determine how and when they
could contribute: “You have to have a good as-
sessment. Not only do I, as a consultant, get to
know the agency, but members get to know it as
well. To succeed you need agency-wide participa-
tion. You need to have everyone feel that they are
owners of the process. Assessment is the key.”

Consultant Selection. Respondents, noting that
many organizations did not take the time to
screen consultants carefully, stressed several at-
tributes to consider when contracting with a con-
sultant. Generally, respondents observed that
most consultants are hired for their expertise on
specific groups (for example, women. Latinos, or
gay men). Neglected in the selection process is
attention to the consultant’s skills in assessment
and group dynamics; yet most respondents be-
lieved that these traits are more important to suc-
cessful MCOD.

The consultant must be willing to spend time
with the agency before any training or other ac-
tions so that interventions can be tailored to
organizational needs: “When I consult with an
agency, I insist on talking to different people, at
all levels, to get their perceptions. The purpose of
this is to get different ideas of what is going on.

Hyde / Multicultural Development in Human Services Agencies: Challenges and Solutions

13

what the problems are, from everyone. Then I can
suggest particular actions that suit the organiza-
tion.” Differing views and needs stem from vary-
ing levels of expertise and degrees of comfort that
agency members display. MCOD, if done thor-
oughly, generates anxiety and discomfort: “Part of
being a good consultant is being able to anticipate
discomfort in people. There is a level of discom-
fort that may be okay, it’s the discomfort that comes
from learning.” Discomfort and resistance require
attention and interpretation so that backlash and
sabotage do not occur. Thus, an agency needs to
determine from a prospective consultant how she
or he handles difficult moments. Several respon-
dents spoke of developing ground rules that
would guide participation and ban notions that
there was only one correct way of thinking: “I em-
phasize confidentiality and respect and spend a lot
of time up front working with the group around
establishing these norms. We come up with our
own rules for how we want to behave, how we can
safely be open and honest. It helps them take
ownership for the process.” An agency wants a
consultant who does not rigidly espouse one view
and can uphold principles of inclusivity so that a
psychological safety net for participants is created.

The consultant should also demonstrate the
ability to bring various organizational stakehold-
ers into the MCOD planning process. A consult-
ant eventually leaves the agency, usually before
the MCOD process is completed, so it is vital that
an agency team can guide the effort. One practi-
tioner attributed her agency’s success to the
consultant’s ability to establish a viable advisory
group: “The consultant helped our director name
a diversity group made up of people from all
through the agency—management, line staff, the
board, some clients, clerical work[er]s. We had
never all worked together before, so [the consult-
ant] helped us develop as a group and taught us
assessment skills so we could determine what the
agency needed. It was a lot of work, but a year
into the process we still meet weekly to figure out
what we are doing well and what we need to do.
We’ve been able to do that without the consult-
ant, who left three months ago.”

Because many agencies engaged in MCOD
during times of crises, consultants offering a quick
fix were often selected. If an agency wants to pur-
sue full-fledged multicultural development with
outside assistance, it needs a consultant adept at
facilitating long-term change. In particular, con-

sultants with strategic planning expertise are rec-
ommended. Respondents suggested that the
agency be clear about its own needs before select-
ing a consultant, to promote “goodness of fit.”
Agencies need to consider more than one consult-
ant, and an agency team (not the director alone)
should interview candidates. Agencies should dis-
cuss what they need and whom they are consid-
ering with other organizations; working in con-
cert helps find the best resources. But no matter
how skilled the consultant is, if the organization,
especially the leadership, is not truly committed
to MCOD, then superficial change is the likely
outcome.

Discussion
Practitioners and consultants identified challenges
to multicultural development in human services
agencies and offered solutions that they had used.
They also described the day-to-day realities of
agency functioning, which served as a backdrop
for MCOD. Although exploratory, this study sug-
gests how MCOD can be initiated and sustained.
In many respects, MCOD is similar to other forms
of organizational innovation and change. Success-
ful transformation is planned and purposeful,
long-term, based on careful assessment, participa-
tory, and fully integrated into the organization.
Leaders, both formal and informal, and other or-
ganizational stakeholders guide the process. Resis-
tance is expected and is not placated or ignored
(Brody, 1993; Perlmutter, 2000). MCOD dovetails
with empowerment approaches to organizational
practice; barriers and supports for empowerment
practice are like those for MCOD (Gutierrez,
GlenMaye, & DeLois, 1995; Iglehart, 2000; Nagda,
Harding, & HoUey, 1999).

MCOD is more complicated than “generic”
organizational change because of its explicit focus
on power and privilege, cultural identities, and
oppression (Chesler, 1994; Jackson & Holvino,
1988). In U.S. society, discussions of race, gender,
and socioeconomic status are difficult at best,
and often taboo. Social work has its own legacy
of oppressing or neglecting disenfranchised
groups and now struggles to put often well-
meaning intentions into practice (Iglehart &
Beccera, 1995). This rectification is particularly
hard when people feel threatened or chastised; yet,
because MCOD challenges the status quo, that is
what organizational members are likely to feel.
Multicultural development is a unique form of

Socifl/Wort/Volume 49, Number 1 /January 2004

14

organizational change and needs to be framed as
such.

This study indicates that the burden for con-
ceptualizing and guiding MCOD efforts falls
heavily on agency leaders (usually the executive
director). Lack of leadership support and involve-
ment were significant barriers and almost impos-
sible to surmount. Shin and McComb (1998)
found that the most important predictor of suc-
cessful organizational innovation was a leader
who possessed a “vision setter” style, manifested
by attention to emerging trends, creative problem
solving, inventiveness, motivation, and infiuence.
Such traits in a leader, plus a deep belief in the
importance of multiculturalism, are essential for
an agency engaging in MCOD.

Yet, as suggested in the discussion on daily re-
alities, these are difficult times for human services
agencies, particularly for management. The cha-
otic agency climate, as a result of economic prob-
lems and more complex clients, reappeared as a
significant barrier to MCOD in the form of a
troubled economy and workload issues. Studies
indicate that managing diverse staff and respond-
ing to diverse client populations (aspects of
MCOD) are only two of many challenges faced by
human services administrators (Bocage et al.,
1995; Fong 8c Cibbs, 1995; Hasenfeld, 1996; Shin
8c McClomb, 1998). These challenges exist in rap-
idly changing economic, political, and technologi-
cal environments. Increasingly, agency perfor-
mance is based on efficiency and effectiveness.
Consequendy, MCOD efforts need to be con-
nected to larger concerns of organizational main-
tenance, viability, and performance standards.

The primary motivations for MCOD do not
necessarily result in long-term, comprehensive
change. The popular “to do the right thing” sounds
good rhetorically but does not sustain multicul-
tural development in an era of fiscal constraint.
Instead, MCOD needs to be tied to the agency’s
bottom line (Katz 8c Miller, 1997). Although re-
spondents noted that MCOD conceptualization
(for example, assessment, planning, integration,
long-term change) was a factor in its success, the
primary motivation to serve clients better usually
led to individual skill development. This means
that agency leaders need to carefully articulate the
reasons for MCOD in ways that raise it to a com-
prehensive organizational-level intervention.

Respondents barely discussed the responsibili-
ties or actions of staff (apart from leadership).

Yet, staff commitment is necessary for success
(Ferguson, 1996; Iglehart 8c Becerra, 1995). Con-
cerns, such as discomfort and resistance, were
viewed as tests of understanding for the leaders or
consultants, not as problematic staff actions, per
se. But in discussions about agency climate, prac-
titioners repeatedly raised concerns about the
competence and engagement of their staff. How-
ever, respondents did not connect these concerns
to MCOD success, although an ill-prepared or
disinterested staff is an impediment to organiza-
tional change (Perlmutter, 2000). Improving the
broader organizational climate so that it supports
innovation and investment by staff is another
challenge for human services managers.

Although agency leaders set the tone for and
ultimately guide MCOD, this research indicates
that the consultant is often the key “hands-on”
person. Yet, there is a dearth of information on
how to select a consultant, let alone a consultant
to assist with MCOD (Katz 8c Miller, 1997). The
respondents’ suggestions are useful starting
points. So that scarce resources (that is, money
and time) are not squandered, an agency must use
great care in finding a consultant who under-
stands the organization’s current status and can
constructively challenge it to change. A consultant
needs to understand the agency’s environmental
pressures and how those pressures affect organiza-
tional innovation. The agency has to resist view-
ing the consultant as a panacea for its problems,
or as a scapegoat for failures, if full organizational
participation has not occurred.

Multicultural human services agencies are
more necessary than ever before. Demographic
shifts clearly indicate this, as does the political
backlash against disenfranchised groups. MCOD
is a complex process in which full realization is
unlikely. Nonetheless, this study’s respondents
would advocate for persistence, because even par-
tial changes can make significant differences in
the lives of clients and staff and can become build-
ing blocks for future work. The agency that strives
toward a multicultural ideal is increasingly ca-
pable of providing culturally appropriate and nur-
turing services for those in greatest need. •

References
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management in human services (2nd ed., pp. 115-
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Chesler, M. (1994). Strategies for multicultural organi-
zational development. Diversity Factor, 2(2), 12-18.

Denzin, N. (1989). The research act. Englewood Cliffs,
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vice organization. Journal of Multicultural Social
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Fong, L., & Gibbs, J. (1995). Facilitating services to
multicultural communities in a dominant culture
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Hyde, C. (1998). A model for diversity training in hu-
man service agencies. Administration in Social Work,
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Iglehart, A. (2000). Managing for diversity and empow-
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handbook of social welfare management (pp. 425-
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Iglehart, A., & Becerra, R. (1995). Social services and the
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Jackson, B., & Holvino, E. (1988). Multicultural organi-
zational development (PCMA Working Paper Series
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gram on Conflict Management Alternatives.

Katz, J., & Miller, F. (1997). Between monocuhuralism
and multiculturalism: Traps awaiting the organiza-
tion. In D. Van Eynde, J. Hoy, & D. Van Eynde
(Eds.), Organizational development classics (pp. 292-
302). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Lee, R. (1999). Using qualitative methods in organiza-
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Miles, M., & Huberman, A. M. (1994). Qualitative data
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Nagda, B., Harding, S., & HoUey, L. (1999). Social work
and multicultural organizational development: To-
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Cheryl A. Hyde, PhD, is associate professor. School
of Social Work, University of Maryland, 525 West
Redwood Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21201; e-mail:
chyde@ssw. umaryland. edu

Original manuscript received July 17,1998
Final revision received June 20, 2000
Accepted September 14, 2000

Social V/ork/ Volume 49, Number 1 /January 2004

16

The Impact of Participative
Management Perceptions on
Customer Service, iVledical Errors,
Burnout, and Turnover Intentions
Ingo Angermeier, FACHE, chief executive officer, Spartanburg Regional Healthcare
System, Spartanburg, South Carolina; Benjamin B. Dunford, PhD, assistant professor,
Krannert School of Management, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana; Alan D.
Boss, PhD candidate, Robert H. Smith School of Business, University of Mar^’land,
College Park, Maryland; and R. Wayne Boss, PhD, professor, Leeds School of Business,
University of Colorado at Boulder

E X E C U T I V E S U M M A R Y
Numerous challenges confront managers in the healthcare industry, making it
increasingly difficult for healthcare organizations to gain and sustain a competi-
tive advantage. Contemporary management challenges in the industry have many
different origins (e.g., economic, financial, clinical, and legal), but there is growing
recognition that some of management’s greatest problems have organizational roots.
Thus, healthcare organizations must examine their personnel management strategies
to ensure that they are optimized for fostering a highly committed and productive
workforce. Drawing on a sample of 2,522 employees spread across 312 departments
within a large U.S. healthcare organization, this article examines the impact of a par-
ticipative management climate on four employee-level outcomes that represent some
of the greatest challenges in the healthcare industry; customer service, medical errors,
burnout, and turnover intentions.

This study provides clear evidence that employee perceptions of the extent to
which their work climate is participative rather than authoritarian have important
implications for critical work attitudes and behavior. Specifically, employees in
highly participative work climates provided 14 percent better customer service, com-
mitted 26 percent fewer clinical errors, demonstrated 79 percent lower burnout, and
felt 61 percent lower likelihood of leaving the organization than employees in more
authoritarian work climates. These findings suggest that participative management
initiatives have a significant impact on the commitment and productivity of indi-
vidual employees, likely improving the patient care and effectiveness of healthcare
organizations as a whole.

For more information on the concepts in this article, please contact Dr. Boss at
[email protected].

127

loiiRNAL OF HEALTHCARE MANAGEMENT 54:2 MARCH/APRIL 2009

I n today’s era of rapidly changing
technology, an aging and less-insured

population, and a flurtuating economy,
healthcare organizations face more chal-
lenges than ever. A survey indicates that
healthcare executives are constrained
to do more with fewer resources, which
makes it difficult to sustain their orga-
nization’s viability and mission (Prybil
2003). One industry observer aptly
notes that “it would be difficult to con-
ceive of a field that is and will be subject
to greater scrutiny, greater demands
and greater changes than the American
healthcare system” (Litch 2005, 20).

Many factors underlie contemporary
challenges in healthcare management,
but there is growing awareness among
scholars and practitioners that the
greatest challenges have organizational,
rather than clinical or financial, roots
(Ramanujam and Rousseau 2006). For
instance, in one study, more than three
quarters of CEOs identified “workforce
issues” as a primary challenge in man-
aging healthcare organizations (Prybil
2003). Improvements in patient safety,
employee performance, and retention
of key talent have become more difficult
as healthcare personnel confront greater
demands and heavier workloads (Ra-
manujam and Rousseau 2006).

In response to these challenges,
healthcare executives must implement
management strategies that will enable
them to optimize investments in hu-
man capital to sustain a competitive
advantage, Two archetypal management
strategies have been previously identi-
fied by organizational scholars (Arthur
1994). First, autocratic (or authoritarian)
management strategies endeavor to re-
duce labor costs by emphasizing control
and efficiency through specialized roles

and strict rule enforcement. In contrast,
participative management strategies en-
deavor to increase employee productiv-
ity by rewarding performance, fostering
employee commitment, and decentral-
izing decision making to give employees
more voice in work decisions (Arthur
1994). Two decades’ worth of research
in the United States and abroad dem-
onstrates that while autocratic manage-
ment strategies are effective in certain
conditions, participative approaches are
typically associated with greater long-
term corporate performance (Arthur
1994; Delaney and Huselid 1996; Miah
and Bird 2007). Yet to date, little partici-
pative management research has been
conducted in healthcare, and fewer stud-
ies have examined the sorts of employ-
ee-level outcomes that are indicative
ofthe industry’s greatest contemporary
challenges.

This growing disconnect between
existing empirical research and cur-
rent problems in healthcare manage-
ment represents an important gap in
the literature. Therefore, the purpose of
our study was to examine the impact
of participative-management employee
perceptions on four critical employee-
level outcomes: customer service,
medical errors, burnout, and turnover
intentions. To that end, the study drew
on a large sample of employees spread
across more than 300 departments in a
large healthcare organization based in
the southeastern United States. -L,

P A R T I C I P A T I V E C L I M A T E :
THE L I K E R T O R G A N I Z A T I O N A L
P R O F I L E
Participative management practices have
existed for more than a century, but
they expanded in scope and in practice

128

THE IMPACT OF PARTICIPATIVE MANAGEMENT PERCEPTIONS

during the 1970s as organizations
recognized the benefits of redesigning
manufaauring jobs to minimize rep-
etition and give employees input into
matters tbat influenced their work (Katz,
Kochan, and Colvin 2007). As more
organizations experimented witb par-
ticipative management, organizational
theorists sought to understand tbe
process by wbicb tbey could improve
organizational effectiveness. Subsequent
research bigbligbted two employee
perceptions tbat are fundamental to tbe
success of participative management ini-
tiatives (Pierce, Rubenfeld, and Morgan
1991). First, information must flow freely
to and from employees in tbe organiza-
tion, sucb tbat tbey are given adequate
information about tbeir work and tbat
tbeir upward input on work-related mat-
ters is given legitimate consideration
(Rosen and Quarrey 1987). Second,
employees must perceive tbat tbey bave
an adequate degree o( control over tbeir
work and the decisions tbat affect tbeir
well-being (Pierce, Rubenfeld, and
Morgan 1991). Wben employees feel
empowered, tbey will perform better,
be more committed to the organization,
and be less likely to leave, all of wbicb
collectively influence tbe effectiveness of
tbe organization (Kanter 1993).

Ukert (1967) developed a typology
and measurement scale (see Metbods
section) of organizations based on tbe
autboritarian-participative climate
continuum. Tbe Liken Profile of Organi-
zations draws on employee perceptions
of six climate dimensions (leadersbip,
motivation, communication, decision
making, goal setting, and control) tbat
are aggregated to determine tbe degree
to wbicb an organization is participative
in its climate. System 1 organizations

are considered to bave an exploitive,
coercive, and “autboritarian” manage-
ment style, wbereby information flows
only from tbe top down and is viewed
with suspicion by employees. System 2
organizations are labeled “benevolent
autboritarian,” wbereby some degree
of bottom-up communication is al-
lowed but “only [tbe information
tbatj tbe boss wants to hear.” System
3 organizations are “consultative” in
tbat they set goals and issue directives
after discussing tbe matter witb subor-
dinates. Finally, System 4 organizations
are considered “participative,” wbereby
communication is completely open and
flows upward and downward and tbe
decision making is sbared between em-
ployees and management (see Figure 1
for additional description).

Researcb has demonstrated tbat
employees form distinct participative-
climate perceptions and tbat tbese per-
ceptions are associated witb outcomes
tbat include organizational structure
results (Reigle 2001 ) and corporate
performance (Miab and Bird 2007).
However, to date, little if any researcb
bas linked participative-climate percep-
tions to employee-level outcomes. In
tbe following section, we examine bow
participative-climate perceptions affect
customer service, medical errors, burn-
out, and turnover intentions.

Customer Service
Customer service is central to organi-
zational effectiveness, particularly in
bealtbcare institutions wbere employees’
interactions witb patients bave a strong
effect on patient satisfaction, bealtbcare
quality, and brand loyalty (McManus
2007). Researcb demonstrates tbat cus-
tomer service bas a stronger impact on

129

JOURNAL OF HEALTHCARE MANAGEMENT 54:2 MARCH/APRIL 2009

FIGURE 1
Likert’s Profile of Organizations

u

Participative—System 4
lotivation accomplished tliroiigh group panicipalion and involvement in

setting goals, improving methods, and appraising progress
Extensive interaction exists with a high degree of confidence and trust
Communication down, up. and with peers is extensive and accurate
Decision making Is widely done throughout the organization, based upon
complete and accurate information
Goals are established by group participation

Consultative—System 3
Motivation accomplished through reward, occasional punishment, and some
involvement
Moderate interaction exists between subordinates and superiors with a fair
amount oí confidence and trust
Quite a hit of communication tlowing down and up
Goals are set and orders are issued after discussion with subordinates

Benevolent Authoritarian—System 2
Motivation accomplished through reward and potential punishment
Little interaction between subordinates and superiors
Fear and caution on the part of subordinates
Communication is mostly downward
Information the boss wants to hear flows upward
Policy decisions are made at the top, orders are issued, and the opportunity
to comment may exist

Exploitive Authoritarian—System 1
Motivation accomplished through fear, threat, punishment, and
occasional reward
Low trtist and dissatisfaction with the organization
Information from the top down is viewed with suspicion
Information is withheld by subordinates

Adapted from Liken (1967).

patients’ “likelihood of recommending
services” than clinical performance (c.f.
McManus 2007). Participative-climate
perceptions are likely to influence em-
ployees’ customer service performance

in healthcare organizations because
employees in participative climates tend
to be more engaged in and more satis-
fied with their jobs (Spreitzer 1995) and
thus are more likely to be motivated

130

THE IMPACT OF PARTICIPATIVE MANAGEMENT PERCEPTIONS

to go the extra mile for their patients.
Moreover, employees in participative
climates generally face fewer organiza-
tional constraints and personal risks that
may prevent them from providing high
levels of customer service. Thus, we hy-
pothesized that employees who report
higher participative-climate perceptions
will have higher customer service ratings
by their supervisors.

Medical Errors
As noted earlier, patient safety has be-
– ome a key concern among healthcare
organizations and is often considered
a key performance indicator in orga-
nizations (Ramanujam and Rousseau
2006). Poor nurse (and other caregiver)
performance has been linked to patient
medical complications following sur-
gery, falls from injuries, and death rates
(Evans 2008). Estimates suggest that
between 44,000 and 98,000 patients in
the united States die each year because
of treatment errors, costing healthcare
organizations between $17 and $29 bil-
lion (Kohn, Corrigan, and Donaldson
1999). Participative-climate perceptions
are likely to influence medical error rates
in healthcare organizations because
many medical errors stem from mis-
communications (Pepper and Towsley
2007). Indeed, one study indicates that
poor employee communication is the
most common cause for surgical er-
rors that result in patient injuries and
death {Materials Management in Health

Care 2007). In more participative work
climates, information is more likely to
flow among employee groups, thus re-
ducing the prohability of medical errors
(Zacharatos, Barling, and Iverson 2005).
Hence, we hypothesized that employees

who report higher participative-climate
perceptions will have committed fewer
medical errors.

) . ‘ • .

Burnout
Burnout is a widespread problem
among nurses and other caregivers in
the healthcare profession because of
the nature of healthcare work and the
increasing demands placed on these
professionals (Ramanujam and Rous-
seau 2006). Burnout is problematic
because it has been linked to numerous
negative outcomes, including reduced
performance, turnover, absenteeism,
and patient care quality (Taris 2006).
Healthcare employees in highly par-
ticipative work climates are less likely
to burn out because they have more
decision-making authority to reduce
job demands, more resources to buffer
stress, and a greater access to informa-
tion that may reduce tbeir workloads.
Therefore, we hypothesized that em-
ployees who report higher participative-
climate perceptions will experience
lower levels of burnout.

Turnover Intentions
Healthcare organizations are facing an
unprecedented shortage of nurses, phy-
sicians, specialists, and other caregivers
as a result of an aging workforce and
the stressful nature of healthcare work
(Prybil 2003).Turnoverof key talent
not only diminishes healthcare quality
but is also costly. Replacement of de-
parted nurses can range from $90,000 to
$145,000 per nurse, depending on skill
levels and specialties (Atencio, Cohen,
and Gorenberg2003). Participative-
management climates are likely to be
strongly related to employees’ intentions

131

OF HEALTHCARE MANAGEMENT 54:2 MARCH/APRIL 2009

to stay in the organization because
participative management practices
provide employees with more access
to information, more support, and a
greater ability to influence decisions that
affect them. Employees in participative
work climates, thus, are more likely to
be satisfied by their work, more resistant
to work strain, and less likely to look for
employment elsewhere (l^schinger et
al. 2002). In fact, participative manage-
ment has been linked to lower turnover
rates in previous research (Arthur 1994;
Delaney and Huselid 1996). Thus, we
hypothesized that employees who re-
port higher participative-climate percep-
tions will be less likely to have inten-
tions to leave the organization.

METHODS

Participants and Procedure
Large healthcare organizations are a
well-suited laboratory in which to study
participative management because of
their multiple departments that have
unique identities and cultures. A health-
care system in the southeastern United
States with 5,000 employees and 312
departments provided the participants
for our study. We used multiple sources
of data for this project, including
employee-opinion surveys and other
archival data.

We obtained employee person-
nel records from the human resources
department, which provided individual
performance ratings, demographic vari-
ables, e-mail addresses, and employee
identification (ID) numbers. Employee
ID numbers were needed for several rea-
sons. First, we used them to verify, for
security purposes, that participants who

logged into the independent and secure
server were indeed employees of the
healthcare system, as they used their ID
as a username to access the online sur-
vey. Second, because we could identify
particular responses, we would be able
to provide employees with their indi-
vidual results, should they desire to see
them. We assured participants that their
responses would be kept strictly confi-
dential and that under no circumstances
would anyone inside the organization
have access to their data or be able to
individually identify them.

The survey was administered online
over a two-week period during lune
2007, and all employees were solicited
for participation. One week before the
survey link was sent, a “pre-notice”
(Dillman 2000) e-mail was sent to all
employees. This e-mail came from the
chief executive officer and briefly de-
saibed the upcoming study (noting that
its purposes were to better understand
employee opinions and to help improve
the quality of work life), encouraged
employees to participate, and assured
employees that the data would go
directly to the researchers and that the
healthcare systeiTi would not have access
to individual responses. One week later,
the e-mail that contained a link to the
online survey was sent to all employees.
Three e-mail reminders were sent over
the subsequent two weeks to employees
who had not yet completed the survey.

We obtained responses from a
total of 3,757 employees, resulting in
a response rate of 75.1 percent. For
the purpose of testing our hypotheses
regarding medical errors, we excluded
managers and administrative personnel
who did not have contact with patients.

132

THE IMPACT OF PARTICIPATIVE MANAGEMENT PERCEPTIONS

We also excluded observations with
incomplete employee-opinion survey
data or missing customer service evalu-
ations, resulting in a final sample that
consisted of 2,522 employees. On aver-
age, respondents to the survey were 42.4
years old, with a mean organizational
tenure of 8.8 years. Approximately 84
percent ofthe respondents were female
and 77 percent were Caucasian. In terms
of education, 13 percent of participants
had a high school diploma or less, 59
percent had some college but no four-
year degree, 20 percent had a four-year
college degree, and 7 percent either
were in graduate school or had received
a master’s, professional, or doaoral
degree. The positions represented in the
sample were nonmanagerial with direct
patient contact, including nurses, nurse
assistants (e.g., licensed practical nurse,
nurse tech, personal care aide), technical
services personnel (from medical labo-
ratory, rehabilitation, radiology, respira-
tory therapy, etc.), professional services
personnel (from speech therapy, phar-
macy, physical therapy, occupational
therapy, etc.), and physicians.

Measures
Independent variable. Participative
management was measured using the
Likert Profile, an 18-item questionnaire
designed to measure organizational cli-
mate along six dimensions: leadership,
motivation, communication, decision
making, goal setting, and control pro-
cesses. The possible scores on each ques-
tion range from 0 to 20. Scores were
averaged across all measures (a = .97).
The average score on the Likert Profile
falls into one ofthe four typologies of
organizations; System 1—expioitive

authoritarian (0-4.99), System 2—
benevolent authoritarian (5.00-9.99),
System 3—consultative (10.00-14.99),
and System 4—participative (15.00-
20.00). The number of employees who
represented each category was as fol-
lows: System 1 (n = 33), System 2 (n =
509), System 3 (n = 1,193), and System
4(n = 787).

Dependent variables. Employee customer
service scores were taken from the 2007
annual performance evaluation con-
ducted by the organization in August
of each year. Employees are rated by
their managers on a series of perfor-
mance standards, ranging from “falls
significantly below the standard” (1)
to “exceeds the standard” (10). Perfor-
mance standards for customer service
include Integrity: doing the right thing
and responding to customer needs
promptly; Friendliness: showing that
you care, being polite, and respecting
others; Appreciation: praising, thank-
ing, and acknowledging customers and
coworkers; Trust: relying on each other,
working as a team, and being loyal;
Excellence: identifying opportunities for
improvement and developing solutions;
and Openness; being available to others
and listening carefully to concerns.

Medical errors were measured using
a single question from the loint Com-
mission: “Have you ever made a sig-
nificant medical error?” Participants
answered this question with either no
(O)oryes(l).

Burnout was assessed using
Maslach’s Burnout Inventory (Maslach
and Jackson 1982), a 23-item scale
that measures three subdimensions of
burnout, including depersonalization.

133

TOURNAI OF HEALTHCARE MANAGEMENT 54:2 MARCH/APRÍL 2009

personal accomplisbment, and emo-
tional exbaustion. Depersonalization
(D) reflects a tendency to view individu-
als as tbings or objerts and to distance
self from otbers. Personal accomplish-
ment (PA) indicates tbat an individual
sees self as doing poorly on work tbat
is wortb doing. Lastly, emotional ex-
baustion (EE) reveals individuals wbo
are exposed to Stressors at or beyond
tbeir comfortable coping limits. Tbese
subdimensions are combined to pro-
duce burnout “pbases,” ranging from
1 (low burnout) to 8 (bigb burnout)
(see Goodman and Boss 2002 and
Golembiewski and Munzenrider 1988
for a tborougb explanation of bumout
phase calculation). Low burnout con-
sists of phases 1 to 3, medium burnout
is pbases 4 and 5, and bigh bumout
includes phases 6 to 8. A high burnout
score (bigb scores in all tbree bumout
subdimensions) means tbat an individ-
ual is considered to bave an advanced
form of burnout. A low burnout score
means tbat an individual is considered
to feel only a single subdimension of
burnout or none at all. Our alpba reli-
ability for burnout is .78.

We measured employees’ turn-
over intentions using Rosse and Hulin’s
(1985) scale. The scale includes one
question and two statements: “How
likely is it tbat you will actively look
for a new job in the next year?” (1 =
not at all likely; 7 = extremely likely), “I
often tbink about quitting,” and “I will
probably look for a new job in tbe next
year” ( 1 = strongly disagree; 7 = strongly
agree). Responses to tbese three items
were summed to aeate a total score,
ranging from 3 to 21, witb a bigber
score suggesting a greater intention to
quit (a =.88).

Control variables. To address tbe pos-
sibility of spurious relationsbips, we
controlled for age and tenure, inasmucb
as customer service, medical errors,
burnout, and turnover intentions may
be related to botb participative man-
agement climate and tbe demographic
variables.

RESULTS
Tbe descriptive statistics and correlations
among all study variables are shown in
Table 1. Tbe correlational results indi-
cate tbat participative management was
positively related to customer service
performance and was negatively related
to medical errors, bumout, and turnover
intentions, providing some prelimi-
nary support for our bypotbeses. We
conducted additional analyses, includ-
ing analysis of variance (ANOVA) and
binary logistic regression analysis.

Tlie distinction between a
participative-management climate and
an exploitive autboritarian system can
be seen clearly in Figures 2 tbrougb 5.
Tbe ANOVA results confirmed tbat a
significant difference exists between
participative-management systems
for the dependent variables customer
service (F = 35.75, p< .01), burnout (F =
126.28, p < .01), and turnover inten-
tions (F= 146. 67, p<.01). Bonferroni
post boc analysis sbowed that the differ-
ences between eacb of tbe four systems
were significant at tbe .05 level for
customer service, bumout, and turnover
intentions, except between levels 1 and
2 for burnout and customer service,
wbich is likely caused by the small num-
ber of individuals witbin tbe System 1
category.

Inasmucb as medical errors were
measured witb a binary variable, we

134

TABLE 1
Means, Standard Deviations,

Variable

and

THE IMPACT OF

intercorrelations for

M s.d.

PARTICIPATIVE

Study Variables

1 2

MANAGEMENT

3

PERCEPTIONS

4 5

1. Participative management
2. Customer service

3. Medical error

4. Intention to quit

5. Burnout

12.79
7.71

.20

7.62

3.81

3.50
1.43

.40

4.88

2.59

.97

. 21* ‘

-.07**

-.41**

-.40* •

-.07**

-.12**

-.12**


.05*

.06**

.88

.46** .78

N = 2.522 with lislwise deletion of missing data. Scale reliabilities appear along the diagonal in italics

* p< .05 (two tailed).

•* p< .01 (two-tailed),

used logistic regression rather than
ANOVA to test our prediction that
participative-management climate
would be negatively related to medical
errors. Logistic regression results sup-
ported our predictions (B = -.046, p
< .01), controlling for age and tenure.

The likelihood of having committed
a significant medical error was lowest
among employees who rated their work
climate as Participative (System 4) and
was highest among employees who
rated their work climate as Exploitive
Authoritarian (System 1). We found that

FIGURE 2
Average Participant Customer Service Scores, by Management System

Exploitive Benevolent Consultative Participative
Authoritarian Authoritarian

135

JOURNAL OF HEALTHCARE MANAGEMENT 54:2 MARCH/APRIL 2009

FIGURE 3

Percentage of Respondents Who Have Committed a Significant Medical Error, by Management System

30%

25%

20%

23.6%

18.4%

0%

Exploitive Benevolent Consultative Participative
Authoritarian Authoritarian

11.2

31.3

54.5 48.5

FIGURE 4

Percentage of Respondents in Different Levels of Burnout, by Management System

100%

80%

60%

40%

20%

High
Medium
Low

Expioitive Benevoient Consultative Participative
Autiioritarian Authoritarian

136

THE IMPACT OF PARTICIPATIVE MANAGEMENT PERCEPTIONS

FIGURE 5
Average Participant Scores on Turnover Intentions, by Management System

Exploftive Benevolent Consultative Participative
Authoritarian Authoritarian

the odds of committing a significant
medical error for employees in Benevo-
lent Authoritarian (System 2) climates
were 1.3 times larger than the odds of
committing an error for employees in
Participative (System 4) climates.

In summary, our ANOVA and
logistic regression results supported
each of our hypotheses. Employees who
reported higher participative climate
perceptions received higher customer
service ratings from their supervisors,
reported committing fewer significant
medical errors, experienced lower levels
of burnout, and were less likely to have
intentions to leave the organization.
Specifically, employees in highly partici-
pative work climates provided 14 per-
cent better customer service,’ committed
26 percent fewer errors, demonstrated
79 percent lower burnout, and felt 61
percent lower likelihood of leaving the

organization than employees in more
authoritarian work climates.

D I S C U S S I O N
In an era of uncertainty where demands
often outnumber organizational re-
sources, healthcare organizations may
be inclined to adopt authoritarian
management systems in an effort to cut
costs, maximize efficiency, and central-
ize authority. Participative management
systems offer an alternative approach,
focusing instead on improving the
commitment and productivity of em-
ployees through pay for performance,
open-book management, decentralized
decision making, and job enhance-
ment. Studies have linked participa-
tive management systems to corporate
performance and other corpora te-1 eve I
outcomes, but little research has been
conducted to examine the impact of

137

JOURNAL OF HEALTHCARE MANAGEMENT 54:2 MARCH/APRIL 2009

participative management on employee-
level outcomes, particularly in health-
care organizations.

The results of our study clearly show
that employee perceptions about par-
ticipative management have a favorable
impact on customer service, medical
error rates, burnout, and turnover inten-
tions. On each ofthe four outcomes in
this study, employees who believed they
work in climates that are more participa-
tive in nature far surpassed their coun-
terparts who perceived they work in au-
thoritative climates. These findings add
to the existing literature that indicates
participative management improves
corporate performance (Arthur 1994)
and extend the role of participative
management to include employee-level
outcomes in a healthcare setting.

Our findings give rise to a number
of practical implications. The most
important prescription to follow from
our analysis is that organizations should
endeavor to enhance the likelihood that
their employees perceive their work
climates as participative rather than au-
thoritarian. Organizations can develop
more participative work climates in
several ways. First, providing meaning-
ful information and control to employ-
ees can enhance employee participation
{Rosen and Quarrey 1987). Open-book
management practices entail sharing
organizational performance metrics
with employees on a regular basis,
making them more cognizant of prog-
ress and more motivated to help reach
organizational goals. Employee involve-
ment programs enable employees to
have a voice in decisions that affect
their work and thus encourage them to
suggest ways to improve services and

production processes. Sharing meaning-
ful organizational information sends a
signal that management trusts employ-
ees, which in turn motivates employees
to use the information to benefit the
company (Ferrante and Rousseau 2001).
Second, allowing employees to par-
ticipate in decision making regarding
day-to-day work practices and to have
some control over operational processes
engages employees and persuades them
to share tacit knowledge they might
otherwise withhold (Rousseau and
Shperling2003). Finally, performance-
based rewards (such as merit pay and
gain-sharing plans) that are linked to
both individual and organizational per-
formance metrics motivate employees to
work hard on behalf of the organization
and to perform tasks that may be above
and beyond their job descriptions.

Limitations
Although our research has a number of
strengths, in terms of both contributions
to the literature and methodology, it
has some limitations. First, this study’s
focus on a single organization places
constraints on the generalizability of
its findings. We acknowledge that the
findings may be different in other types
of organizations or may be a function
of unknown characteristics unique to
the particular organization in this study.
Future research should investigate the
relative importance of different dimen-
sions of ownership across a broad range
of healthcare organizations and among
a broad range of employee groups.

Second, the study did not spe-
cifically investigate the organizational
practices that lead to employee percep-
tions of participative management.

138

THE IMPACT OF PARTICIPATIVE MANAGEMENT PERCEPTIONS

Tbus, altbough our results provide
evidence that perceptions of participa-
tive climates are dominant predictors of
employee attitudes and behaviors, tbese
data do not offer specific explanations
on bow those perceptions can be en-
hanced. Future researcb sbould examine
tbe impact of specific types of participa-
tive practices on outcomes such as infor-
mation sharing, decentralized structures,
and autonomous job design.

Finally, the study was primarily
cross-sectional in nature, although some
study measures were taken at different
time periods (e.g., customer service mea-
sures lagged the survey variables by two
montbs). Tbus, we cannot completely
rule out tbe possibility of reverse causal-
ity in relationsbips between participative
climate and employee outcomes. Better-
performing employees (in terms of good
customer service and fewer errors) and
employees wbo are less bumed out and
less likely to leave are possibly more
inclined to perceive tbat tbey work
in participative work climates. Future
researcb using longitudinal designs is
needed to clarify tbe direction of causal-
ity between tbese variables. Time-series
designs may also be belpful in exploring
bow employees’ participative manage-
ment perceptions cbange over time.

C O N C L U S I O N
Healtbcare organizations face an in-
creasingly competitive and resource-
constrained environment tbat makes
sustaining a competitive advantage more
difficult. Agrowingbody of practition-
ers and researcbers bas acknowledged
tbat many of tbe industry’s most vexing
problems bave organizational ratber
tban clinical or financial origins (Prybil

2003; Ramanujam and Rousseau 2006).
Tlius, it bebooves bealtbcare organiza-
tions to adopt personnel management
practices tbat foster a committed and
bigbly productive workforce. Tbis study
provides strong evidence tbat employees
who perceive that their workplace cli-
mate is participative demonstrate better
customer service, commit fewer medicai
errors, are less burned out, and are less
likely to leave tbe organization. As noted
earlier, employees in bigbly participa-
tive work climates sbowed 14 percent
better customer service, 26 percent fewer
errors, 79 percent lower burnout, and 61
percent lower likelibood of leaving tbe
organization tban employees in autbori-
tarian work climates. Tbese findings pro-
vide empirical support tbat participative
management is an effective approacb
to building a bigbly committed and
productive workforce. Creating a culture
of empowerment is pivotal to overcom-
ing tbe many cballenges tbat confront
bealtbcare organizations today.

I

N O T E S
1. Percentage change was calculated using

tbe formula (System 4 – System 1) /
ABS(System 1).

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140

Tm; IMPACT OF PARTICIPATIVH MANAGEMENT PERCEPTIONS

P R A C T I T I O N E R A P P L I C A T I O

John A. Miller ¡r., FACHE, president and chief executive officer, AnMed Health
System, Anderson, South Carolina

I n more than three decades of being a healthcare executive, 1 have been blessed to
work with colleagues who believe the key to organizational success is a nurturing

culture. Our executive team has always endeavored to effectively communicate
and encourage participation and involvement by employees. I lowever, this article
emphasizes in vivid empirical terms that efforts to “encourage” participative manage-
ment may not be enough.

Most organizations conduct employee satisfaction surveys. I am not aware,
however, of efforts to correlate results from these employee surveys to improved
customer satisfaction, reduced medical errors, decreased employee stress, and in-
creased employee retention. This study has taken intuitive employee hypotheses and
effectively demonstrated their implications for key organizational outcomes (i.e.,
customer service, medical errors, burnout, and intention lo quit) that are desirable,
if not critical, in today’s environment.

Many “autocratic” managers may not even realize how they are being perceived
by their staff. “Participative” managers may have this leadership style primar-
ily because oftheir own personality traits. In either case, I suspect that neither of
the two styles has been addressed or developed by their organizations. This article
demonstrates the benefits of having participative interaction with employees. If this
management strategy is successfijl, employee perceptions (and, we hope, real practice
as well) will help promote all aspects of productivity improvement and the overall
success ofthe organization’s mission.

Many healthcare organizations have actively engaged in various quality improve-
ment initiatives (e.g.. Six Sigma, Lean). For each of these quality tools to work, the
desire to constantly improve must be instilled in the labor force. In my organization,
we have decision support systems for our finance and other quantifiable processes.
This article illustrates that having a system for culture management—an approach to
providing eniployee support—has a significant impact on many desirable operation-
al and clinical quality outcomes.

The authors readily admit that one of the limitations of their study is that it did
not specifically investigate management practices that lead to employee perceptions
of participation. Nevertheless, this study is an excellent step forward. I am optimistic
that this effort will inspire healthcare executives to proactively pursue culture man-
agement, which supports participative leadership.

141

Assignment V (2-3 pages) – focuses on the implementation plan for the change, including strategies arising from the force field analysis; and proposes an evaluation plan for ensuring the change is sustained.  

Introduction – Implementation Strategy

10

Detailed, integrated discussion of change effort and the strategy for increasing the driving forces and diminishing the restraining forces; including all roles, benefits, losses, etc.

30

· Description of plan for enhancing driving forces

5

· Engaging allies in strategy

5

· Utilizing sponsor and agent (or others) in strategy

5

· Description of plan for influencing and containing resistant forces

5

· Engaging or minimizing adversaries in strategy

5

· Incorporation of benefits and losses to target group/others in strategy

5

Evaluation Plan

30

· Introduction – Identify outcome. Specify timeline, target population,

10

· How will you measure outcomes

10

· How will you use outcomes (plan for continuous assessment of change)

10

Composition

20

Details –Main ideas are clear and are well supported by detailed and accurate information.

5

Organization – The introduction is inviting, states the main topic, and provides an overview of the paper. Information is relevant and presented in a logical order. The conclusion is strong.

5

Word Choice – The author uses vivid words and phrases. The choice and placement of words seems accurate, natural, and not forced.

5

Sentence Structure, Grammar, Mechanics, & Spelling -All sentences are well constructed and have varied structure and length. The author makes no errors in grammar, mechanics.

5

21

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