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Organizational identification and commitment of members of a human development organization

The purpose of this paper is to understand how identification andcommitmentcan be sustained among members of a developmentorganizationwhere high performance is of paramount importance and success has important human consequences. This study examined members' identification andcommitmentwith in a developmentorganizationpatterned after the Grameen model. Thisorganizationis based on a set of values by which the members can work hard to overcome their situation caused by poverty. Members of Amanah Ikhtiar Malaysia (AIM) were interviewed to analyze the characteristics that make AIM special, to gain a deeper understanding of the dynamics of members' interactions, and to explore how members influence and control one another. The approach used in the study yields interesting insights into members' identification and commitmentin a human developmentorganization; and how this identification andcommitmentare linked to the members' success as well as theorganization's success.Purpose - To understand how identification andcommitmentcan be sustained among members of a developmentorganizationwhere high performance is of paramount importance and success has important human consequences. This study examined members' identification andcommitmentwithin a development organizationpatterned after the Grameen model. Thisorganizationis based on a set of values by which the members can work hard to overcome their situation caused by poverty.Design/methodology/approach - Members of Amanah Ikhtiar Malaysia (AIM) were interviewed to analyze the characteristics that make AIM special, to gain a deeper understanding of the dynamics of members' interactions, and to explore how members influence and control one another.Findings - The approach used in the study yields interesting insights into members' identification and commitmentin a human developmentorganization; and how this identification andcommitmentare linked to the members' success as well as theorganization's success.Practical implications - The insights to organizational identification andcommitmentshould assist the field of management development to sustain and improve identification andcommitmenttowards theorganization and towards other organizational members. Female organizational members can also achieve economic success when they are given an opportunity in their rural villages.Originality/value - This study applies western theories in a non-western environment. The findings contribute to the conceptual understanding of the subject. Areas for future research were also suggested.Keywords Job satisfaction, Control systems, Human resource development, CommunicationPaper type Case studyIntroductionHuman developmentorganizationneeds strong identification andcommitmentfrom its members to achieve its goal, whether it is poverty alleviation, or enhancement in any facet related to quality of life. The fact that grassroots participants remain in human developmentorganizationdespite their membership costs may be explained by the concept of organizational identification andcommitment. Therefore, understanding the nature of identification andcommitmentand factors that influence members' identification andcommitmentto human developmentorganizationis critical to assure the continual existence of theorganization.Purpose of the studyIn the present study, the researcher examine members' identification andcommitmentwithin a development organizationpatterned after the Grameen model that utilizes some form of concertive control system. Since the backbone of developmentorganizationsis the individual members themselves, it is particularly important to focus on members' identification andcommitment.This study also seeks to increase the usefulness of concertive control theory to explain the workings of a developmentorganizationthat relies on peer pressure and peer support as advanced during the mid 1990s. The secondary purpose is to determine if there are any similarities or differences in terms of identification,commitmentand concertive control found between the Grameen Bank and Amanah Ikhtiar in Malaysia. Examining these differences provides insight into the effectiveness of each program as well as raise questions about the difficulties of sustaining developmentorganizations. In addition, there is limitation of generalizability due to the context where this qualitative study is carried out. Comparing the results with previous studies in similarorganizationswill allow the researcher to gain further confidence regarding the validity of making such generalizations about organizational identification,commitment, and concertive control in development organizations. The researcher will also be able to gain a deeper understanding of how development organizationsfunction and build on the existing theory of communication inorganizations.Specifically, a certain level of organizational identification andcommitmentis necessary for a human developmentorganizationto survive. Organizational identification andcommitmentare also important factors in concertive control systems as organizational members are continuously subjected to the rules systems, discipline structures and processes of theorganization. Furthermore, there are various types and levels of identification andcommitmentin concertive control systems.Research questionsThe research questions in this study are:RQ1. How do members of Amanah Ikhtiar Malaysia display their organizational, task, and interpersonal identification through stories, accounts, and metaphors?RQ2. How do members of Amanah Ikhtiar Malaysia display their organizationalcommitmentthrough stories, accounts, and metaphors?Implication of the studyThis is one of the first (if not the first) studies on a Grameen replication from a communication perspective. In a developmentorganizationsuch as the Grameen Bank, the core technologies are simple and easily implemented, and group formation is the only means for members' participation and empowerment. For instance, the Grameen Bank is based on a set of values: that people basically have the capacity to solve their problems, to work hard, and to be honest (Holcombe, 1995), while group formation (into groups of five people) is the first step in becoming a Grameen Bank member. Given the enormous success of the Grameen Bank, it is time to examine replication efforts so that we can determine whether or not the Grameen model can work outside of Bangladesh. This is perhaps, the most important value of this research. To understand how identification andcommitmentcan be sustained among members of a developmentorganizationwho have to work so hard to succeed is of paramount importance when success has such important human consequences.Replicating a study often leads to validation of previous research results. Although the present study is not solely a replication effort, parts of this study which examine the identification andcommitmentof members in a developmentorganizationare similar to Papa et aL's (1995, 1997) research. This examination can serve as reinforcement, revision, and perhaps help to bring about a greater understanding of social and economic development through human communication.From a heuristic perspective, this investigation may motivate the continued examination of identification,commitmentand concertive control in otherorganizations. While this descriptive study is important in itself, a more significant issue is providing organizational scholars and experts with an insight to organizational identification andcommitmentof members in a human developmentorganization. The findings may be useful for Malaysian scholars and critics particularly, in light of the barrage of sharp criticism against non-governmental organizationsand their effectiveness in Malaysia (see also Balasegaram, 1997). The findings from this qualitative research may also be useful for generating hypotheses that can be tested quantitatively (Barton and Lazarfeld, 1961). The study of a human developmentorganizationusing the perspectives of identification,commitmentand concertive control is thus justified.Concepts and theories usedTheoretical backgroundThe insights of this study are drawn from the concepts and theories of identification,commitmentand concertive control. Numerous studies have indicated that identification in anorganizationis multi-faceted, whilecommitmentis closely linked to identification. For instance, Tompkins and Cheney (1987, p. 209) indicated that there is significant overlap between identification andcommitment. They contend that the term identification is more "descriptive and embracing" thancommitment, but also suggested that there is great value in studyingcommitmentalong with identification. In fact, they argue that both terms fit together as do form and substance. Concertive control theory (Tompkins and Cheney, 1985) an unobtrusive form of control, also contains elements of identification because organizational members must be able to identify with one another to act together. Thus, concertive control theory can also help provide insights into identification and commitmentamong members and workers in anorganization.

Organizational identificationScholars study organizational identification because it is an important concept which helps us to "make sense of our experience, in organizing our thoughts, in achieving decisions, and in anchoring the self' (Cheney, 1983a, p. 342). Organizational identification has also been linked either theoretically or empirically to a variety of work attitudes, behaviors, and outcomes (Cheney, 1983a; Van Dick et al, 2004; Van Dick and Wagner, 2002).For example, organizational identification was not positively related to intention to remain within the organization(Wan-Huggins et al, 1998), job satisfaction and organizational identification related positively to assimilation (Myers and Oetzel, 2003) while work-group