Multiple foci of commitment and intention to quit in knowledge- intensive organizations (KIOs): what makes Professionals Leave?

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This study contributes to our understanding of the link between the multiple foci of commitment (i.e. organization, profession, team, client) and the intention to quit in a knowledge-intensive organizational context. This link is important to understand given that KIOs are reliant upon the commitment of their employees in order to survive. Drawing upon the Theory of Attitudes, which enables us to link commitment and intention to quit, and the Field Theory, which enables us to understand how employees commit to various foci, we ask two research questions (1) What is the independent impact of the professionals’ commitment to the organization, profession, team and client on the ability of the organization to retain professionals? (2) What is the impact of the interaction between these foci of commitment (i.e. organization, profession, team and client) and retention? Multiple regression analyses are based on data from 282 employees of a global KIO which provides outsourcing and consulting services on HRM and employment services to around forty global clients. Our findings show that (i) organizational commitment and team commitment are negatively, and profession commitment is positively related to the professionals’ intention to quit (ii) organizational-profession commitment interaction is negatively, and team-profession commitment interaction is positively linked to the intention to quit of professionals. These results are further interpreted by drawing on 34 semi-structured interviews conducted with the professionals from the same global knowledge-intensive organization. Our results have significant implications for the leaders in KIOs as retention of such valuable human capital is central to their success.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)417
Number of pages447
JournalThe International Journal of Human Resource Management
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jan 2017


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