Factors Influencing Employee Commitment to Organizational Change: Moving Toward an Inclusionary Environment

Date of Submission


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Science in Management Systems (Sc.D.)




Judith A. Neal

Committee Member

Gordon R. Simerson

Committee Member

Parbudyal Singh

LC Subject Headings

Organizational change, Organizational commitment, Organizational culture, Nuclear industry--New England

Call No. at the Univ. of New Haven Library

AS 36 .N290 Mgmt. Syst. 2001 no. 4


Understanding employee commitment to change is an important consideration to the success of a firm’s effort in organizational transformation. This retrospective case study of a nuclear utility in serious decline focused on the factors influencing employee commitment to organizational change as the company evolved over a five year period and three phase changes toward an inclusionary environment, i.e., as it transitioned from one of dissent to one that was conducive to the raising of issues and concerns.

The primary objective in this effort was to extend the work of Neal (1985), who developed a theory based on manager commitment to organizational change, using a critical event construct. To further evolve this significant antecedent research, my effort sought to identify the factors impacting employee commitment to organizational change, using a critical incident approach.

The research approach was ethnographic, in that organizational events and phenomena were explored, with an emphasis on description and discovery. The approach involved a critical incident analysis, interviews, and a survey of a cross-sectional group of expert organizational members, which included non-exempt employees, managers, executives, consultants, and former employees.

Findings corroborated several of Neal’s (1985) conclusions. The application of Neal’s area of focus concept (i.e., self, group, and organizational) in the management context to an employee context of commitment to organizational change was similar in certain phases of employee commitment, and divergent in others.

At various intervals in three commitment to change phases identified in the research, sixteen factors were identified as highly impactful to employee commitment to organizational change.

Employee commitment to change to an inclusionary environment was institutionalized in this case, however employee commitment to on-going, significant organizational change did not attain a stage of institutionalization.

Achievement of milestones was strongly related to employee commitment to change, becoming increasingly so as the three phases evolved. This factor had the most significant impact on employee commitment to change in the third phase.

Several recommendations for further research were made, and a discussion on the implications of the findings to leadership, consultants, and researchers was provided.