The Impact of Organisational Socialisation on the Dynamics of Interns’ Workplace Commitment

  • Nima Ali

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


The commitment concept has developed for decades, yet there is still confusion and discrepancy about what commitment is, and how and why it develops. Most commitment research has focused on the antecedents and consequences of commitment, and little has been said about the development of commitment. This means, even though it is known ‘what causes what’, it is still not clear ‘how it happens’ in reality. At the same time, the majority of commitment development studies are organisationally focused. We still do not know how multiple commitment bonds could develop, change or end over time. Therefore, this research revisits and challenges the conceptualisation of commitment, exploring the dynamics of multiple commitments, which means the pace of commitment change. Furthermore, commitment has been widely studied in permanent employment, thus we know little about pre-employment (internships) context. Internship participation has become the best career entry point for graduates and employers (CI, 2018). It represents a critical time for interns to experience the work environment and for employers to develop their commitment to potential employees. During the internship, organisational socialisation (OS) can facilitate learning about the workplace and influence individuals’ commitment (Bauer, Bodner, Erdogan, Truxillo, & Tucker, 2007). Therefore, this research investigates the impact of organisational socialisation on the dynamics of interns’ workplace commitment. To answer this, a qualitative longitudinal study of a hundred and three interviews was conducted with twenty interns in three professional service firms in the UK. The thesis consists of a portfolio of three research papers, each taking different perspectives on workplace commitment. The first paper explores the nature of commitment while identifying the targets of commitment. The second paper examines the dynamics of commitment, by investigating how multiple commitments can interact and change over time, and what causes these changes. The third paper addresses the impact of OS on interns’ intention to commit to the organisation, which means their future commitment. It focuses on three OS dimensions (organisation, group, and job), to distinguish between their different impacts on commitment. This research is one of the first to study the dynamics of multiple commitments and OS in the internship context. It has significant outcomes that contribute to theory and practice. Firstly, interns’ self-commitment influences the motive of their workplace commitment bonds, as they were committing to the targets with the most impact on them. Secondly, I argue that commitment is a conscious decision people make to manage their multiple commitments. It is a dynamic bond that can change at different paces depending on work conditions. Thirdly, individuals experience multiple commitment to different targets, which are classified as proximal and distal targets. Finally, I address the important impact of the job on the interns’ intention to commit to the organisation in the future. The research also has several implications that help employers to attract and retain interns, as well as young workers in general.
Date of Award13 May 2020
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorJuani Swart (Supervisor) & Nicholas Kinnie (Supervisor)


  • Workplace Commitment
  • Self-Commitment
  • Dynamics of Commitment
  • Organisational Socialisation
  • Intention to Commit
  • Internship
  • Professional Service Firms

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