Purpose – A prevailing notion in the management development literature is that support for employee development by organizations is positively associated with organizational commitment by employees. This paper aims to examine whether learning and performance goal orientations of employees act as moderators of this effect. The authors hypothesized that support for development would have differential effects on commitment depending on the goal orientations of employees. Design/methodology/approach – The data were obtained in a sample of 651 employees from across the US workforce using a two‐wave internet survey sampling method. Findings – The authors found that perceived support for development is positively related to commitment for some workers; however, individual learning and performance orientations act as moderators. For some individuals, support for development by an organization will not be associated with greater commitment and might even be negatively associated with commitment. Research limitations/implications – The data are self‐reported; however, methodological steps were taken to reduce risk of a negative impact on results. Practical implications – The notion that support for employee development enhances organizational commitment is widely accepted, and significant resources are sometimes devoted to leveraging development as a source of competitive advantage in recruiting and employee retention. The findings show the importance of understanding individual differences in this context because they may make a difference in how development affects commitment. Options are discussed for organizations in which learning and development are required and not all people are oriented toward learning. Originality/value – This paper illustrates that it is important to understand psychological differences in employees to effectively understand and manage an employee development initiative to have optimal impact.
Journal of Management Development – Emerald Publishing
Published: Mar 21, 2008
Keywords: Employee development; Job satisfaction; Learning
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