Management — Organizational Theory

The article by Chieh-Peng Lin (Modeling Corporate Citizenship, Organizational Trust, and Work Engagement Based on Attachment Theory) is published in the Journal of Business Ethics (2010). This article delves into corporate citizenship and how to develop trust within an organizational environment. Lin posits that if more individuals in an employment environment could embrace a “work engagement” those individuals could avoid “burnout” and “low performance” (Lin, 2010, p. 517). Moreover, employees that embrace a “work engagement” approach would mean that those individuals would be furthering the interests of their organization (Lin, p. 517). Work engagement is defined by Lin as a “positive, fulfilling, work-related state of mind” that is characterized by “vigor, dedication, and absorption” including a very strong identification with their efforts on the job and “feelings of enthusiasm, inspiration, pride and challenge” (Lin, p. 517). but, the theme in this article goes deeper: Lin seeks to know how work engagement dovetails with other emerging organizational / management theories.

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What is the problem that is presented in this scholarly article? The author points out that while “corporate citizenship” or “corporate social responsibility” (CSR) are important initiatives in the community of companies that are competing for consumer attention, there is a lack of data that show how CSR helps build employee trust. And so the problem encountered by Lin is this: what is the relationship between CSR, organizational trust and work engagement? And moreover, Lin wants to know if the “attachment theory” can be used to explain the relationship between the three concepts mentioned in the sentence above. The author seeks to know which “dimensions of ” influence a person’s engagement with work and influence the amount of organizational trust the employee experiences (Lin, p. 518).

(the attachment theory, in Lin’s definition: like all animals, humans make important and lasting “affectional bonds” (attachments) with “familiar, irreplaceable organizations”; if those bonds are strong, they lead to stability and positive behavior within the organization) (Lin, p. 519). The point before proceeding is that when employees sense that their organization is ethically responsible vis-a-vis citizenship, their work engagement is “likely stimulated” (Lin, p. 521). The procedure Lin follows in this research is to conduct empirical research using a survey of personnel from “20 large firm of an industrial zone in northern Taiwan” (high-tech and more traditional companies) (Lin, p. 522).

Of the 600 questionnaires Lin sent out, 428 “usable questionnaires” came back (a response rate of 71.33%). The system of measuring used by Lin: 5-point Likert scales modified from previous research. Lin’s three steps: a) she first had the into Chinese from English and then a focus group of 4 (including 3 graduate students and a professor) that were very familiar with CSR modified the questions; b) two pilot tests were conducted to clarify the quality of the questions; and c) into making certain there was “no translation biases in the Chinese version” of the questionnaire (Lin, pp. 522-23).

Flaws in the design of the study: The “predictors in the research model were measured perceptually at a single point in time”; and also, the research was conducted in a single country setting and the work dynamics in Taiwan may not reflect findings in other cultures (Lin p. 527).

Data analysis: boiled down, the empirical research shows that organizational trust is “a partial mediator that affects work engagement but not vice versa”; if an employee does not trust his or her organization, that person is unlikely to exhibit work engagement on the job.

Justifiable conclusion: When employees feel positive about the their company’s corporate citizenship, the number of workers embracing the concept of work engagement rises by 86%; when they are negative towards their company’s CSA, only 37% are highly engaged.

Works Cited

Lin, Chieh-Peng. (2010). Modeling Corporate Citizenship, Organizational Trust, and Work

Engagement Based on Attachment Theory. Journal of Business Ethics, Vol. 94, 517-531.