Commitment Systems in Cross-boundary Work

Yvonne Van Rossenberg, Juani Swart, Zeynep Y. Yalabik, David Cross, Nicholas Kinnie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Work increasingly takes place across organizational boundaries. This has implications for workers’ commitments to a plethora of targets, including the organization and the client, as well as for the conflicting nature of the interrelation between these commitments. In this paper, we draw on commitment system theory (CST), which views commitment as a malleable and interconnected system. Using a pragmatic abductive and quantitative discovery approach, we distinguish and develop commitment systems to consist of strength, including the multiple targets and types of commitment, as well as interaction between commitments, including coupling and nature. In particular, we develop a theoretical understanding of the nature dimension by identifying two target-neutral types of conflict and one context- and target-specific type of conflict. Three commitment systems are identified: ‘balanced system’, ‘conflicting system’, and ‘detached system’. Furthermore, we provide insights into how job demands resources and contextual job aspects influence membership of these commitment systems. This paper is the first to empirically explore commitment as a system, and it advances the theoretical understanding of commitment systems in a cross-boundary space. Our study discusses the theoretical, methodological and practical implications for cross-boundary organizations that compete with their clients for the commitment of their employees.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBritish Journal of Management
Early online date1 May 2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 1 May 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business, Management and Accounting(all)
  • Strategy and Management
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


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