Where there is light, there is dark - Over-commitment as part of a dynamic commitment system

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Even though the commitment literature has recognized pressures for the individual in relation to multiple commitments, at this point there are no empirical studies towards over-commitment and its associated relations. ERI literature seeks to shed light on this construct, however the existing definitions, descriptions and measures used do not reflect a commitment bond. While a commitment reflects a volitional psychological bond of dedication to and responsibility for a particular target (Klein et al., 2012), over-commitment is mainly presented as “a set of attitudes, behaviours and emotions reflecting excessive striving in combination with a strong desire of being approved and esteemed” (Siegrist, 2001, p. 55). This study draws on Commitment System Theory’s three parameters (strength, number & coupling of elements) to reconnect the construct over-commitment from the ERI literature and embed this in the commitment literature. Hereby the aim of this study is to explore the dynamics of commitment systems in relation to how and when over-commitment can be part of such a system. While using an abductive approach, the explorative interview study using critical incidents technique and drawings as participatory visual methods are conducted at a Dutch knowledge intensive organization. The results of this study revealed two trajectories whereby over-commitment is represented as a behavioural outcome of system structure. The study contributed by the addition of a System Dynamics lens, which helped in explaining the role of feedback loops, commitment norms on awareness and the temporariness of over-commitment.
Faculteit der Managementwetenschappen