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Organizational commitment, job satisfaction, and turnover intention of missionaries.

Affective organizational commitment, job satisfaction and turnover intention were surveyed in 468 missionaries. Tenure in the organization was a stronger predictor of organizational commitment, job satisfaction and turnover intention than was age (i.e., Generation X vs. older generations). Three models relating job satisfaction and affective organizational commitment to turnover intention were tested using structural equation modeling. When balancing model fit, and simplicity, one model was preferred-the model in which job satisfaction predicted affective organizational commitment, which in turn explained turnover intention. Mission agencies are encouraged to give greater attention to tenure than to age and to not ignore the role that job satisfaction plays in members' commitment to the organization and intention to leave.


The entry of younger workers into the workplace, and specifically into mission agencies, has been both the cause of celebration and some hand wringing by those of older generations. On the one hand young workers offer new energy and vigor, yet those of the younger generation, often labeled Generation X, have been accused of having such different values and motives than previous generations that the two generations have difficulty communicating and working together. However, are these conflicts rightly to be attributed to generational differences, or are they merely the byproduct of less job experience and fewer years of job tenure? Tenure is used in the industrial/organizational literature to refer to the number of years that someone has been formally affiliated with an organization, such as being an employee. The present article contrasts the role of tenure in missionary organizational commitment, job satisfaction and turnover intention with differences in the age of missionaries.

The applied research reported in this article follows the recommendation of Jensma, Pike, Duerksen, and Strauss (1997) that "research must meet needs felt by the mission board. Furthermore, adequate feedback must be promised so that the board believes that it, not only the researcher, will profit from the data" (p. 386). In the summer of 2000, I was approached by WEC (Worldwide Evangelization for Christ) International, an interdenominational, multinational mission agency (, because they were concerned about the cross-cultural adjustment of their younger missionaries but more importantly their assimilation into the organizational culture of WEC, an established mission agency dating back to 1913 (WEC, 2006). Leaders in the organization had noticed that some new recruits from Generation X (Gen Xers) were experiencing conflict with the older missionaries and thus leaving the organization. Although the mission agency worried about generational differences (that is, the effect of age) in organizational commitment, job satisfaction, and turnover intention, a second issue explored in this article is the effect of job tenure on these variables. Finally three models of the relationship among organizational commitment, job satisfaction, and turnover intention will be compared.

Generational Differences

Although there are no universally accepted definitions of when specific generations end and begin, one way to classify Baby Boomers is those born during the two decades after World War II (1946-1964). After the spike in birth rate that characterized the Baby Boom, the following generation had lacked a name and thus many have referred to this cohort as Generation X. Valenti's (2001) review of 22 articles found that the most common starting date for Gen X was 1965, although some defined it starting as early as 1961. He found much less agreement about the ending year of Gen X, ranging from 1976 to 1985.

Missionaries and business personnel have concerned themselves with understanding Gen Xers. For example, O'Bannon (2001) found differences in communication patterns and workplace expectations between Gen Xers and Boomers, with Gen Xers complaining that they are not given the respect and attention that they deserve. Yet, they do not have the same long-term organizational commitment that the previous generation had. O'Bannon claims that Xers value balance in life and flexibility more than Boomers, who perceive themselves as more committed to their work. Likewise, Raymo (1996) documented challenges that Gen Xers face in missions: More than previous generations, they tend to be disillusioned about the future, reject spiritual absolutes in favor of a more privatized religion, come from dysfunctional families and are driven by personal experience and emotional involvement. A core workplace anxiety about Gen Xers stems from supervisors' assumption "that X'ers, as a defining characteristic, lack loyalty and commitment towards organizations" (Valenti, 2001, p. 5, author's italics).

Given these characteristics, there is little wonder that supervisors are concerned about their new workers, but should they? Is Gen X significantly different from previous generations when they, too, were young? In contrast to the generational explanation, Valenti (2001) found that career stage (i.e., tenure) was more important in explaining organizational commitment than was generational status. Given that Xers were still early in their careers when much of the research to date had been conducted, it is not surprising that generational effects have covaried with career stage, making it difficult to tease apart these effects. In one of the first studies to control for career stage when comparing generations, Valenti assessed both career stage and three types of organizational commitment (Allen & Meyer, 1990): affective (emotional identification with and attachment to the organization), continuance (commitment to stay with the organization because viable alternatives are lacking), and normative (one is obligated to remain loyal to an organization). By controlling for career stage, he concluded that "X'ers are no different from past generations in the experience of Affective Commitment [but] ... experience less Continuance Commitment than past generations" (Valenti, 2001, p. 116). Once they are established in their career, they have the same levels of normative commitment. Thus by isolating the effect of career stage on organizational commitment, he found that Xers develop a similar emotional bond to their organization and feel just as obligated to remain a part of it as did those from earlier generations; thus, job tenure, not generational status, provided the more useful causal explanation.

Age vs. Tenure

Among missionaries, Gish (1983) investigated the relationship between stress, age and tenure. She found missionaries' age inversely related to their reported level of stress. Missionary tenure was negatively related to some areas of stress and positively to others; but no consistent pattern emerged relating tenure to stress. Andrews (1999) reported high levels of satisfaction among missionaries in terms of their ministry role and their status of being a missionary, both of which correlated positively with perceived support by their mission agency.

Job Satisfaction. There is a complex relationship between job satisfaction and time-in some studies age predicts job satisfaction and in other research job tenure provides a better clue for understanding job satisfaction. The relationship between age and job satisfaction has proved elusive. Some have found the two to be uncorrelated (Bedeian, Ferris, & Kacmar, 1992; Bilgic, 1998; Decker & Borgen, 1993), yet other studies suggest that the relationship between age and job satisfaction is U-shaped (Clark, Oswald, & Warr, 1996; Hochwarter, Ferris, Perrewe, Witt, & Kiewitz, 2001; Kacmar & Ferris, 1989) such that younger and older workers are more satisfied than those of an intermediate age.

Bedeian et al. (1992) found that tenure was a slightly superior predictor of job satisfaction than was age. Koike, Gudykunst, Stewart, Ting-Toomey, and Nishida (1988) found a .20 correlation between tenure and job satisfaction, which was similar to the .22 correlation in Harris, Moritzen, Robitschek, Imhoff, and Lynch's (2001) female sample. On the other hand, others found tenure and job satisfaction negatively related (Bilgic, 1998, with extrinsic job satisfaction; Traut, Larsen, & Feimer, 2000), and still others documented no association between tenure and job satisfaction (Bedeian et al., 1992; Decker & Borgen, 1993; Gannon & Nothern, 1971; Harris, et al., 2001 [male sample]). Thus, the relationship between either age or tenure and job satisfaction is unclear; however, Koike et al. (1988) found that job satisfaction correlated strongly with communication openness with supervisors, subordinates and colleagues. Perhaps job characteristics, not qualities of workers, might have a greater influence on job satisfaction.

Organizational Commitment. In a meta-analysis of 63 studies (total N = 33,797), Tett and Meyer (1993) found that job satisfaction and organizational commitment correlate .71, weighted for sample size and correcting for artifacts. Yet, the relationship between organizational commitment and age or tenure has likewise been elusive. Hall, Schneider, and Nygren (1970) found that tenure correlated .24 with organizational identification (similar to affective organizational commitment) of Forest Service workers. However, age was a statistically significant predictor of organizational commitment in Steers's (1977) sample of hospital employees (but not the sample of scientists and engineers); tenure did not enter into the step-wise multiple regression analysis for either sample. Likewise Baack, Luthans, and Rogers (1993) found age to be slightly more correlated (r = .10) than tenure (r = .02) with organizational commitment to their local congregation in a sample of Protestant pastors.

Most recently, Riketta's (2002) meta-analysis of 111 studies found a .20 mean corrected correlation between affective organizational commitment and performance; however, this relationship was not statistically significantly moderated by either age or tenure. Yet Lok and Crawford (2001) found in a multiple regression that tenure (negatively), age (positively), and job satisfaction (positively) were statistically significant in explaining organizational commitment variance. In a path analysis, job satisfaction causally affected organizational commitment. One of the goals of the current research is to clarify whether age or tenure is more predictive of job satisfaction and organizational commitment.

Turnover Intention

WEC's interest in organizational commitment and job satisfaction stemmed from their desire to retain missionaries. Baack, Luthans, and Rogers (1993) found that age positively correlated with Protestant pastors' turnover intention (r = .09) yet tenure negatively correlated (r = -.12) with intention to leave. Similarly Wilcox (1995) examined missionaries' intention to extend their service at a school for missionary children. Years overseas (i.e., tenure), but not age, contributed statistically significantly to a canonical discriminant function predicting perseverance; however when the data from single teachers were analyzed separately from that of married missionaries, age was positively related to persistence for unmarried missionaries and negatively related for married missionaries. Thus older singles intended to extend their term of service, as did younger married missionaries-when considering the overall sample, the effect of age on perseverance disappeared.

Tett and Meyer (1993) reported a -.70 correlation between job satisfaction and turnover intention in a 42-study meta-analysis involving 18,839 participants. The mean correlation for occupational commitment and turnover intention was-.55 in 28 studies (total N= 6,198). Using path analysis, Tett and Meyer (1993) compared three models for predicting turnover intention from organizational commitment and job satisfaction (see Figure 1). In all three of their models, turnover intention predicted turnover. In the first model, job satisfaction and organizational commitment were correlated and each independently predicted turnover intention. In the second model, job satisfaction predicted turnover intention, with organizational commitment mediating the relationship. In model 3 the ordering of job satisfaction and organizational commitment was reversed. Tett and Meyer interpreted their results to indicate that model 1 and model 3 each fit well. (1) An additional purpose of the present research is to replicate these findings.



Of the 1682 active members of WEC (Communications Directory, 1998), 468 completed surveys. Fifty-eight percent of the respondents were female, 42% male. Ages ranged from 20 to 75 with a median of 45. The median year for joining WEC was 1988 (tenure of 13 years), ranging from 1949 to 2000. Respondents represented more than 25 nationalities, with British (22%), American (18%), and Australian (15%) comprising over half of the sample. The ability to speak English is a requirement for joining WEC, yet 29% of the sample hail from non-English countries. At the time of the survey, they served on more than 40 mission fields, spanning the globe. The fields from which at least 10 missionaries replied were the United Kingdom (9.4% of the sample), USA (6.8%), Australia (5.6), Senegal (5.6), Indonesia (5.3), Cote d'Ivoire (4.3), Guinea-Bissau (3), South Africa (3), Spain (2.8), Thailand (2.6), Yemen (2.4), Burkina Faso (2.1), and Mexico (2.1).

Generations have been operationalized in a number of ways, and for this analysis, Baby Boomers are defined as those born during the years 1946 to 1964. Over half (n = 266, 56.8%) of the sample fell into this generation. Generation X is operationalized as those younger than 36 when they completed the survey (n = 81, 17.3% of the sample). The balance was either born before 1946 (n = 114, 24.4%) or did not list their age (n = 7, 1.5%).


The survey had four components: (1) a modification of Balfour and Wechsler's (1996) Organizational Commitment Survey (OCS), (2) Rogers' (1987) Communication Openness Measure (COM), (3) five questions to assess organizational satisfaction, and (4) demographic questions. Responses were assigned numerical values: strongly agree = 5, agree = 4, neither agree nor disagree = 3, disagree = 2, strongly disagree = 1. The wording of the survey was altered for those working in closed countries where missionary activity is illegal, so for example "ministry" became "work" and "WEC" became "the company." These translations posed little if any problems because WEC personnel in these "creative access" areas are quite accustomed to making these mental substitutions.

Organizational Communication Survey (OCS) (Balfour & Wechsler, 1996). The OCS measures the degree to which individuals identify with the organization for which they work, involving "not only the acceptance of and belief in organizational values but also the willingness to pursue organizational goals and a strong desire for organizational membership" (Balfour & Wechsler, 1996, p. 257). The survey was selected because it has useful organizational commitment subscales that Balfour and Wechsler composed based on interviews with state government employees. Although developed for use in public service organizations, the OCS was modified for use with a voluntary mission agency. Generic references in the OCS to an organization were substituted with specific wording for WEC: "I am quite proud to be able to tell people who it is I work for" became "I am quite proud to be able to tell people I am a member of WEC." Each of the 16 OCS subscales has two or three items, most of which have a reverse-scored item: Identification Commitment (e.g., "I am proud to be able to tell people I am a member of WEC."), Affiliation Commitment ("I feel a strong sense of belonging to WEC."), Exchange Commitment ("WEC recognizes good performance."), Participation in Decision Making ("Supervisors seek my input into decisions that directly affect my ministry."), Direct Service ("I help nationals solve important problems."), Job Scope ("I see how my ministry is part of the "big picture" of WEC."), Learning and Personal Growth on the Job ("My ministry is exciting & challenging."), Opportunities for Advancement ("I have opportunities for advancement & promotion."), Internal Motivation ("I feel bad & unhappy when I've performed poorly."), Quality of Supervision ("My supervisor gives me support & guidance."), Desire to Remain ("I would accept any type of ministry to remain in WEC."), Turnover Intent ("I think about leaving WEC."), and Extra-role Behaviors ("I am willing to put in extra effort to help fulfill WEC's mission."). Three subscales (Political Penetration in Management Practices, Pay Satisfaction, and Perceived Job Alternatives) were not used because they were deemed not to be appropriate for the population being surveyed. Members of WEC work voluntarily and depend financially on gifts from churches and supporting individuals, thus questions about hiring, pay and benefits were not relevant.

Balfour and Wechsler (1996) did not report the factor structure of the OCS. The data in the present analysis were factor analyzed using exploratory Principal Component Analysis with factor loadings greater than .3 considered significant (Kim & Mueller, 1978). A Varimax rotation yielded seven factors, accounting for 56.2% of the variance, with eigenvalues greater than one. The items on the subscales of Identification Commitment, Affiliation Commitment, Desire to Remain, and Turnover Intent all loaded on the first factor (eigenvalue = 8.25, 24.3% of the variance). This factor seems to be assessing two constructs: the first measured a construct similar to Allen and Meyer's (1990) Affective Organizational Commitment and the negatively loading items measured Turnover Intention. These were treated as separate subscales for theoretical reasons.

All the items from Exchange Commitment, Participation in Decision Making, and Quality of Supervision loaded on the second factor (eigenvalue = 2.98, 8.8% of the variance), except for an item with the idiomatic American phrase "on my back." This item was not well understood because only a minority of WEC missionaries are from the United States, so it was eliminated from further analysis. I combined the remaining seven items to form a Support by Leadership scale. A 5-item Job Satisfaction scale was formed from the items from the Job Scope and the Learning and Personal Growth on the Job subscales that all loaded on the third factor (eigenvalue = 1.94, 5.7% of the variance).

The remaining four factors corresponded directly to OCS subscales: Direct Service (eigenvalue = 1.68, 4.9% of the variance), Extra-role Behaviors (eigenvalue = 1.65, 4.9% of the variance), Emotional Involvement in Ministry (2) (eigenvalue = 1.31, 3.9% of the variance), and Advancement (eigenvalue = 1.24, 3.7% of the variance). The Cronbach alpha reliabilities of the subscales' data ranged from .67 to .88 (see Table 1), except for Extra-role Behaviors (.50), which was eliminated from further analysis given its unacceptably low alpha.

Communication Openness Measure (Rogers, 1987). This instrument measures the quality of communication between supervisors and subordinates. High scores reflect a quality relationship between two people that is characterized by asking for opinions and suggestions, listening carefully to the other person, and taking action as a result of the interaction. Sample items include, "my supervisor listens to complaints," "my supervisor follows up on suggestions," and "I ask for my supervisor's opinions."

Although conceptualized as unidimensional, Rogers found that the data formed two factors, but he dismissed them as being "artificially created as a result of the wording of the items and not their content." He thus concluded that the items of the 13-item instrument loaded on a single factor accounting for 68.2% of the variance, with a .89 corrected reliability. However, I found a 2-factor solution accounting for 56.3% of the variance using exploratory Principal Component Analysis with a Varimax rotation. The 11 items loading on the first factor (eigenvalue = 6.10, 46.9% of the variance) were used to form a scale with excellent reliability (.90). All these items related to communication with one's supervisor. The last two items concerning coworkers loaded on the second factor (eigenvalue = 1.22, 9.4% of the variance). They were discarded because the subscale formed from these two items did not have acceptable reliability (.58).

Organizational Satisfaction. Organizational satisfaction was assessed on 7-point scales in five areas: (a) transition into ministry, (b) the organization's role in making one's ministry fruitful, (c) the organization's help to feel a part of a ministry team, (d) provision of pastoral care, and (e) overall satisfaction with being a member of the organization. Interspersed among these satisfaction items were open-ended questions that permitted respondents freedom to describe their experiences and expectations on these issues. All five items loaded on a single factor with an eigenvalue of 3.42 and accounted for 68.5% of the variance. The data of the 5-item scale had a Cronbach alpha reliability coefficient of .88.


Surveys were sent in January, 2001 via email to 393 available addresses of WEC missionaries. Recipients were instructed to forward the survey to additional individuals in WEC. Both husbands and wives were to complete the survey within a month and supervisors distributed paper copies to those not receiving an email copy. Four hundred sixty-eight surveys were received within two months, representing a 119% response to the initial email solicitation. Of the 1682 active members of WEC, 23% initially received the survey via email and 28% responded. Completed surveys were sent directly to the researcher via email or regular post, rather than back to a supervisor within the organization to increase the confidentiality of the data with the aim of greater participation and honesty. Despite the flexibility in distribution and return, some missionaries did not have access to email or did not receive a copy of the survey with enough time to return it within a month. Future research with missionaries, even using email, should allow more time, especially if some of the missionaries are working in closed countries where security is a primary concern and mail needs to be hand carried to and from the field.


Generation vs. Tenure

Gen Xers differed from older missionaries in important ways; however, these generational differences were less important than the number of years an individual had been a member of the organization. Three groups of respondents were created to conduct two planned contrasts. The first group, the Gen Xers (n = 77), all had 13 or fewer years in the organization and ranged in age from 20 to 35 (M = 30.6, SD = 3.8). The members of a second group (n = 153) with less than 14 years of tenure were all older than 35 (M = 44.8, SD = 7.2). This second group was labeled the Boomers+ with short tenure and ranged in age from 36-67, which included mostly Baby Boomers but also some older missionaries (hence the use of the plus symbol). The final group (n = 218) was also older than 35 (M = 53.4, SD = 9.1, ranging from 37 to 75) but had organizational tenures longer than 13 years, ranging from 14 to 52 years. This group was called the Boomers+ with long tenure and included Baby Boomers and older missionaries.

Table 2 lists the means, standard deviations, and sample sizes of each scale for the three groups. Two sets of contrasts were conducted, the first to test the difference between generations and the second to assess the effect of different lengths of tenure (see Table 3). The first set of contrasts was between the Gen Xers and the Boomers+ to test the effect of generation on organizational commitment and on communication openness. The contrasts, labeled Generation, compared the variance in the scores for the Gen Xers with variance of the combined scores of the Boomers, irregardless of their tenure. Thus the scores of those with short-tenure and those with long-tenure were combined for these analyses. For example, the 12.1 mean Turnover Intention for the Gen Xers was contrasted with the combined means of the Boomers+ (11.8 and 10.3). The contrast value was -1.00, t (431) = -2.39, p = .009, which had a small effect size of .11 Four of the generation contrasts (Gen Xers vs. Boomers+) reached statistical significance at the .05 level, yet all the effects sizes were less than .20.

The second set of contrasts, labeled Tenure, was between those with less than 14 years of service (both Gen Xers and Boomers+) and missionaries with longer tenures (14 or more years). So, for example, the mean Affective Organizational Commitment of the Gen Xers (24.3) was combined with that of the Short-tenured Boomers+ (25.1) to be compared with the Long-tenured Boomers+ (26.3). This contrast (1.63) was statistically significant, t (425) = 4.52, p < .001, r = .21 Seven of the tenure contrasts were statistically significant at the .005 level, five with effect sizes larger than .20. For each of these seven variables, the tenure contrast had a larger effect size than the generational contrast, sometimes twice as large. Thus differences in tenure had greater explanatory power than did differences in age. Those with shorter tenure reported higher levels of turnover intention, less affective organizational commitment, less job satisfaction, less organizational satisfaction, less support by leaders in the organization, and less direct service to nationals. They also reported lower levels of communication openness with their supervisors.

Structural Equation Modeling

Structural equation modeling (SEM), also known as path analysis, causal modeling, or analysis of covariance structures, compares how well data fit a model that specifies relationships among variables. Multiple models can be proposed to describe a data set, and SEM allows for comparison to see which one has superior fit. SEM assumes multivariate normality and that variables are related to one another linearly.

Using SEM in AMOS 4.0 (Arbuckle & Wothke, 1999), a graphical depiction of the relationship among variables can be created and chi-square can be computed to see how well the data fit the model. In the model, straight, single-headed arrows indicate causal relations between two variables and can be interpreted as regression weights. Curved, double-headed arrows represent correlations between variables. Observed variables are modeled using rectangles and unobserved variables, such as unexplained error variance, in circles (i.e., e1 and e2 in Figure 2). I used maximum-likelihood estimation in AMOS to calculate model fit; AMOS uses full information maximum-likelihood estimation for missing data.

I compared the three models proposed by Tett and Meyer (1993). Although they found support for models 1 and 3 (see Figure 1), model 2 fit the present data the best (see Table 4). Both models 1 and 2 fit well (i.e., had models that were not discrepant from the data, which results in small [chi square] values), but model 2 is preferred because it has a slightly lower MECVI value. The MECVI statistic is designed for model comparison, balancing model fit and parsimony. Model 1 fit perfectly (and thus cannot be ruled out entirely) because it is a saturated model, but model 2 had a slightly lower MECVI due to its simplicity. In Figure 2 job satisfaction positively predicts affective organizational commitment, which is negatively related to turnover intention. This finding conforms to Lok and Crawford (2001) who found job satisfaction predicted organizational commitment. Thus in the present study, satisfaction with their ministry work was a prerequisite for commitment to the mission agency, which in turn predicted desire to remain in WEC.

Qualitative Data

The responses to the open-ended questions about how WEC assists its missionaries were analyzed for 185 members with tenures of less than 10 years, two-thirds of whom were Baby Boomers and the balance was Gen Xers, Most of the responses uniquely addressed questions pertaining specifically to WEC's operations, but of interest to the readers of this article, perhaps, are the responses of new missionaries about their conceptions of and expectations for pastoral care, which is personal concern and counseling given to missionaries to help them in their ministry and their own spiritual life (although this was not defined for the respondents). In response to the question, "What has WEC done to provide pastoral care for you?" respondents painted a consistent picture of good pastoral care that has many of the following characteristics:



* Visits by those giving pastoral care are regular and frequent, not sporadic and infrequent. The caregiver often needs to initiate the contact and not wait for the missionary to request it.

* Caregivers listen carefully to workers. The emphasis is on listening, not speaking, and asking about the well-being of the missionary, not just his or her ministry.

* Time is spent praying together.

* A pastoral caregiver is available, especially in times of crisis (such as after being burglarized).

* Pastoral care is effectively given by someone with gifting in this area. It is sometimes someone other than the field leader (i.e., their supervisor), such as someone outside of WEC or an older couple designated for such a ministry.

Not only was pastoral care provided on the mission field, but the sending base staff in the home country provided substantial pastoral care via telephone, email and letters and during furloughs. Additionally, pastoral care was perceive as taking the form of practical help, such as assistance with housing and transportation, visa applications, technical support, bookkeeping and setting up bank accounts.

Beyond a desire for good pastoral care, respondents with less than 10 years of service desired and valued the following from their supervisors:

* clear communication;

* verbal encouragement;

* respect for their opinions;

* inclusion in decision-making; and

* mentoring

Finally, a tension between connectedness and autonomy clearly emerged. Some new workers wanted to work in team situations, to be cared for and held accountable by a supervisor, and to have frequent interaction with other missionaries. Others clearly valued the freedom to individually use their abilities and to be able to make their own decisions. According to Ryan and Deci's (2000) self-determination theory, both of these sentiments emphasize fundamental human needs: a sense of autonomy (i.e., being self-determined) and a sense of relatedness (i.e., being in community). They contend that meeting these needs facilitates feeling energized in one's work. Thus, balancing these two basic, yet sometimes seemingly contradictory, needs poses a challenge for leaders and those providing pastoral care.


The present analysis lends support to the claim that tenure, not age, is the more important factor to consider in terms of organizational commitment, job satisfaction and turnover intention. Despite the attention given to generational differences, real though they might be, greater attention to length of time with the organization is warranted. Intervention strategies should be oriented around those who are recent additions to the organization, rather than merely young recruits.

Two reasons exist why tenure is such an important factor for determining job satisfaction and organizational commitment. First, those who are dissatisfied leave. They are no longer around to complain or express negative attitudes about the organization. The longest-term cohort is, by definition, composed of "stayers." The dissatisfied members have already left and are not part of the survey sample. This is a fundamental constraint of this type of research, as acknowledged by Bedeian et al. (1992): "Compositional effects [result] from the systematic selection of individuals into and out of the workforce ... [that] places limits on what can be concluded empirically about the age-tenure-job satisfaction relation" (p. 47). This criticism would appropriately apply to the present research.

The second reason why tenure predicts job satisfaction and organization commitment relates to one's identity. The longer one participates in an activity or works for an organization, the greater the bond that is formed. Those who reject the organization after many years would have to wrestle with the fact that they have invested many years into a group with which they are dissatisfied. Significant cognitive dissonance might be generated in those who reject an organization for which they have been members for a considerable period of time. Thus those who find themselves highly dissatisfied with the organization will either change their attitude and become more favorable toward the organization or will leave the mission. Either would lead to higher levels of satisfaction and organizational commitment and lower levels of turnover intention in the cohort with the longest tenure.

The instruments that were used limited this research. These findings would be good to replicate using more traditional measurements of job satisfaction, such as the Job Descriptive Index, the Job in General scale, or the Minnesota Satisfaction Questionnaire. Beyond assessing affective organizational commitment, it would have been beneficial to use Allen & Meyer's (1990) instrument that also measures continuance organizational commitment, and normative organizational commitment. To fully assess the models presented by Tett and Meyer (1993), it would be helpful to measure turnover, not just turnover intention; yet this may not be necessary because turnover and turnover intention often correlate closely (r = .52), according to Tett and Meyer's meta-analysis of 22 studies (total N = 3,870). It might also be instructive to differentiate between different types of tenure, such as job tenure, organizational tenure, and tenure with the same supervisor (Bedeian et al., 1992; Kacmar & Ferris, 1989).

This research sheds light on an issue from organizational psychology: affective organizational commitment plays a mediating role between job satisfaction and turnover intention, rather than job satisfaction mediating affective organizational commitment and turnover intention. Thus mission agencies would be wise to pay attention to personnel satisfaction with the ministry in which they are serving. In sum, (1) workers do not seem to be devoted to the organization regardless of the job that they are performing, and (2) mission agencies should pay greater attention to tenure than generational status when developing interventions aimed at the organizational commitment and job satisfaction.


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TRIMBLE, DOUGLAS E. Address: Department of Psychology, Eastern University, 1300 Eagle Road, St. Davids, PA 19320. Degrees: PhD.


Eastern University

These data were collected and partially analyzed while the author was Associate Professor of Psychology at Northwestern College, which generously supported the project with a summer research grant. The author wishes to express gratitude to James Raymo and Evan Davies for the opportunity to gather these data, Amanda Spearman for her assistance collecting and entering data, and two anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments. Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Douglas E. Trimble, PhD, Department of Psychology, Eastern University, 1300 Eagle Road, St. Davids, PA 19320. Email:

(1) It is interesting that they should have accepted any of the models because all three had relative chi-squarc ([chi square]/df) values that exceeded the recommended value of 5 (Arbuckle & Wothke, 1999).

(2) The Internal Motivation subscale was re-titled Emotional Involvement in Ministry, improving on its less descriptive original title.
TABLE 1 Correlations, reliabilities, means and standard deviations of
Organizational Commitment subscales, Organizational Satisfaction,
Communication Openness, age and tenure

Variable 1 2 3 4 5 6 7

 1. Turnover (.76) -.73 -.26 -.62 -.52 -.03 -.02
 2. Affective (.82) .36 .68 .60 .05 -.02
 3. Job Satisfaction (.73) .29 .34 .35 .03
 4. Organizational (.88) .70 .05 -.11
 5. Support by (.82) .03 .04
 6. Direct Service (.81) -.01
 7. Emotional (.67)
 in Ministry
 8. Advancement
 9. Communication
10. Age
11. Tenure

Variable 8 9 10 11 M SD

 1. Turnover -.44 -.37 -.31 -.33 112 3.4
 2. Affective .42 .47 .29 .27 25.5 3.7
 3. Job Satisfaction .33 .28 .11 .13 20.3 3.0
 4. Organizational .48 .55 .25 .25 218 4.8
 5. Support by .45 .73 .19 .21 27.0 4.4
 6. Direct Service .13 .05 .06 .17 10.8 3.0
 7. Emotional -.02 .05 -.12 -.08 8.1 14
 in Ministry
 8. Advancement (.74) .31 .05 .14 6.6 16
 9. Communication (.90) .07 .12 44.2 6.5
10. Age -- .75 46.5 11.3
11. Tenure -- 15.4 11.5

Note. Cronbach alpha reliabilities are listed in parenthesis on the
diagonal for multiple-item scales.

TABLE 2 Scale means, standard deviations, sample sizes for Gen Xers and
Boomers with either short (<14 years) or long tenure
([greater than or equal to]14 years)

 Mean Deviation
 Short- Long- Short-
 Gen tenure tenure Gen tenure
Scale Xers (a) Boomers+ (b) Boomers+ (b) Xers Boomers+

Turnover Intention 12.1 11.8 10.3 3.4 3.3
Affective OC 24.3 25.1 26.3 3.9 3.8
Job Satisfaction 19.9 20.0 20.7 3.0 3.4
Organizational 20.7 20.9 22.8 5.1 5.0
Support by 25.9 26.2 27.9 4.7 4.7
Direct Service 10.3 10.4 11.3 2.6 3.0
Emotional 8.3 8.0 8.0 1.3 1.5
 Involvement in
Advancement 6.7 6.3 6.8 1.5 1.7
Communication 42.8 43.3 45.3 8.0 6.5

 Standard Sample Size
 Deviation Short- Long-
 Long-tenure Gen tenure tenure
Scale Boomers+ Xers Boomers+ Boomers+

Turnover Intention 3.3 77 152 205
Affective OC 3.4 76 146 206
Job Satisfaction 2.6 75 148 209
Organizational 4.4 69 139 191
Support by 3.9 70 145 204
Direct Service 3.0 75 146 197
Emotional 1.5 76 147 210
 Involvement in
Advancement 1.6 76 148 202
Communication 5.7 72 147 194

Note. OC = Organizational Commitment.
(a) Gen Xers are younger than 36.
(b) Boomers+ are 36 or older.

TABLE 3 Contrasts (significance tests and effect sizes) between Gen Xers
and Boomers (Generation contrast) or between those with short tenure
(<14 years) and those with long tenure
([greater than or equal to]14 years) (Tenure contrast)

 Contrast Value t df
Scale Generation Tenure Generation Tenure Generation

Turnover -1.00 1.64 -2.39 4.99 431
Affective OC 1.43 1.63 3.11 4.52 425
Job .47 .77 1.25 2.63 111.8
 Satisfaction (a)
Organizational 1.16 2.05 1.83 4.18 396
Support by 1.13 1.85 1.87 4.23 96.2
 Leadership (a)
Direct Servicea .53 .92 1.56 3.14 121.3
Emotional -.32 -.13 -1.75 -.93 430
 in Ministry
Advancement -.17 .29 -.83 1.79 423
Communication 1.51 2.24 1.50 3.28 90.0
 Openness (a)

 df p Effect size (r)
Scale Tenure Generation Tenure Generation Tenure

Turnover 431 .009 <.001 .11 .23
Affective OC 425 .001 <.001 .15 .21
Job 345.3 .11 .004 .11 .14
 Satisfaction (a)
Organizational 396 .03 <.001 .09 .21
Support by 292.5 .03 <.001 .19 .24
 Leadership (a)
Direct Services 365.1 .12 (b) .001 (b) .14 .17
Emotional 430 .08 (b) .35 (b) .08 .04
 in Ministry
Advancement 423 .41 (b) .07 (b) .04 .09
Communication 243.4 .07 <.001 .16 .21
 Openness (a)

Note. OC = Organizational Commitment. Effect size
(r) = [square root of ([t.sup.2]/[[t.sup.2] - df])]
(a) Equal variances are not assumed for Job Satisfaction, Support by
Leadership, Direct Service and Communication Openness because the
Levine test of equality of variances was statistically significant,
p < .05.
(b) All p-values are one-tailed except Direct Service, Emotional
Involvement in Ministry, and Advancement, which are two-tailed.

TABLE 4 Fit indices for structural equation modeling

Model [chi square] df p RMSEA [P.sub.close] MECVI CFI

1 0 0 - - - .039 1.000
2 .39 1 .535 <.001 .722 .035 1.000
3 281.11 1 <.001 .774 <.001 .637 .943

Note. Dashes indicate values that could not be computed because the
model was saturated. RMSEA = root mean square of approximation;
[p.sub.close] = probability of a close fit; CFI = comparative fit
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Author:Trimble, Douglas E.
Publication:Journal of Psychology and Theology
Article Type:Survey
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Dec 22, 2006
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