On the illusion of organizational commitment among finance professionals

Elfi Furtmueller, Rolf van Dick, Celeste P.M. Wilderom

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

    8 Citations (Scopus)
    11 Downloads (Pure)


    Purpose: This paper seeks to question and discuss the relevance of organizational, customer and professional commitment for effectively managing financial service firms. In particular, it aims to study differences between employed and self‐employed finance professionals.

    Design/methodology approach: The authors conducted in‐depth interviews with professionals in 30 finance firms in Austria. The interviews aimed to reveal professionals' notions of commitment as it pertains to each interviewee's specific work context, whether self‐employed or employed.

    Findings: Although the financial services sector requires professionals to routinely display both high customer and professional commitment, it appears that organizational commitment is unrelated to performance. While employed finance professionals experience conflicts between organizational and customer commitment (e.g. selling in‐house products that may not perfectly match customers' needs), self‐employed professionals tend to clash between customers' best interests and their own self‐interest (e.g. selling products and services for which they receive the highest commission). All professionals noted that they work in a competitive environment with a focus on individual sales. Individual performance ratings were found to prevent the development of strong branch or team commitment.

    Research limitations/implications: Although qualitative methods are a starting‐point for identifying serious issues, quantitative studies across larger samples are needed to evaluate the scope of the findings.

    Practical implications: The findings imply that financial services may not benefit much from HRM efforts that strive to obtain firm‐wide or organizational commitment. In large financial service firms the routine turnover of good professionals can be curbed if management starts to pay attention to creating flexible work arrangements, and enabling professionals to commit to customers and their profession.

    Originality/value: While prior research suggests fostering the organizational commitment of employees, this study finds the concept of organization‐wide commitment to be of less importance for managing finance firms. This lack of importance of organizational commitment was found to be independent of finance professionals' contractual status (employed or self‐employed); whereas customer and professional commitment were associated with high performance motivation.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)255-278
    JournalTeam performance management
    Issue number6
    Publication statusPublished - 2011


    • Finance professionals
    • Organizational
    • Customer and professional commitment
    • Performance
    • Job commitment
    • Financial services


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