Society for Social Work and Research

Sixteenth Annual Conference Research That Makes A Difference: Advancing Practice and Shaping Public Policy
11-15 January 2012 I Grand Hyatt Washington I Washington, DC

15914 Child Welfare Organizational Climate Influence On Worker Commitment

Friday, January 13, 2012: 8:00 AM
Independence C (Grand Hyatt Washington)
* noted as presenting author
Nancy Claiborne, PhD, Associate Professor, State University of New York at Albany, Albany, NY
Charles Auerbach, PhD, Professor, Yeshiva University, New York, NY
Catherine K. Lawrence, PhD, CSW, Assistant Research Professor, State University of New York at Albany, Albany, NY
Brenda G. McGowan, DSW, James R. Dumpson Chair in Child Welfare Studies, Fordham University, New York, NY
Background and Purpose: Few studies address organizational predictors of not-for-profit child welfare workers' commitment, and much of the commitment and organizational climate literature is concerned with job satisfaction and/or turnover. Although these are important issues, it is equally important to understand how organizational climate impacts job commitment directly. This study focuses on understanding the relationship of organizational climate and commitment for child welfare workers in non-governmental organizations.

Method: Organizational climate is embedded in Parker et al. (2003) model that modified James and James psychological climate theory (James & Jones, 1974; James & Sells, 1981). The Parker survey measures primary domains of job, role and supervision dimensions, and organizational attributes. Four questions derived from Landsman's commitment study (2001) asked respondents how invested they feel in their agencies and jobs tested the presence of the latent variable agency investment. A sample of 643 employee responses (85% response rate) was collected from three not-for-profit child welfare agencies. A sub-sample of 441 workers who have ongoing child welfare interactions with youth was then extracted. This sub-sample comprised direct service workers (residential and child care workers), clinicians (social workers, psychologists and guidance counselors), and educators. The model generating (MG) form of Structural Equation Modeling (SEM) was used to determine how agency climate influences workers' perception of investment.

Results: The hypothesis that agency climate is associated to the latent concept of agency investment was confirmed. The CFI and CLI were above .90 and an RMSEA below .05, the fit of the model was acceptable. The chi-square was large and significant. The three sub-scales of organizational climate that fit the model are organizational innovation (.20, p = .04), job challenge (.17, p=.01), and job autonomy (.14, p=.04). Agency investment variables were significant: “I have too much time vested in my line of work to change” (.69, p=.00), “It would be very costly to switch my line of work” (.75, p=.00), “It would be emotionally difficult to change my line of work” (.60, p=.00), and “For me to change my line of work would mean giving up a substantial investment” (.75, p=.00). These findings confirm two of the four primary climate domains: job dimension and organizational attributes. Role and supervision dimensions did not predict organizational investment.

Conclusions and Implications: This study provides important information that managers, supervisors, and administrators can address workforce issues by recognizing and enhancing these organizational climate factors that increase workers' investment in the agency. Workers will be invested in agencies that (1) provide autonomy for employees to make decisions and have control over their work area; (2) that allow them to use their range of skills and knowledge appropriately in a job that is challenging; and (3) that encourage new approaches and participation in problem solving within the organization. An additional advantage for promoting these organizational climate factors is that it orients all workers to an organization-wide perspective. Agency-wide participation that addresses problems and implements improvements allows workers to develop a better understanding of the larger context.

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