An analysis of its determinants among male and female teachers

Job involvement: An analysis of its determinants among male and female teachers

Aryee, Samuel

Interest in the concept of job involvement has grown in recent years, beyond its value as an index of the quality of work life (Cherns & Davis, 1975), because of the concept’s fundamental importance to the understanding of work behaviours like turnover, tardiness, and absenteeism (Blau, 1986; Mathieu & Kohler, 1990). Job involvement has been variously conceptualized in the literature as (a) the degree to which one is actively participating in one’s job (Allport, 1943), (b) the degree of importance of one’s job to one’s self-image (Lawler & Hall, 1970), and (c) the extent to which one’s self-esteem is affected by one’s perceived level of performance (Gurin, Veroff, & Feld, 1960). Of the three conceptualizations, Blau (1985) reported that only the self-image-job involvement conceptualization is empirically independent. Based on Blau’s finding, job involvement is conceptualized here as the degree to which one psychologically identities with one’s job (Kanungo, 1982a, b) and therefore, one’s motivational orientation to the job.

Interest in the concept of job involvement has been focused on identifying the determinants of the concept (Hollenbeck, Connolly, & Rabinowitz, 1982; Rabinowitz & Hall, 1977. Three classes of antecedents of job involvement have been identified: personal characteristics, situational characteristics, and work outcomes. A multivariate study of the determinants of job involvement, however, indicated that the personal characteristics class of antecedents could more appropriately be divided into personal-demographic and personal-psychological (Saal, 1978). Earlier efforts at identifying the determinants of job involvement led to a universally applicable model for both men and women, and did not take into consideration variables external to the work environment.

In the past two decades or so, there has been a substantial increase in the labour force participation of women, on a global basis. While the increased labour force participation of women has generated a steady stream of research, most of these studies have examined gender differences in work values (Brenner, Blazini, & Greenhaus, 1988; Kaufman & Fetters, 1980; Lacy, Bokemier, & Shepard, 1983; Walker, Tausky, & Oliver, 1982), and only a few studies have examined the processes through which men and women become attached to their jobs (Chusmir, 1982; 1986; Graddick & Farr, 1983; Lorence, 1987; Yammarino & Dubinsky, 1988).

Predicated on the assumption of a dichotomy of men as breadwinners and workers, and women as mothers and wives, subjective differences in the work attachment of men and women have been dominated by two competing explanatory frameworks, the job and gender models (Feldberg & Glenn, 1979). The job model suggests differences in working conditions as the primary independent variable in explaining the work commitment of men and women. The reported lower job involvement of women (Sekaran, 1982) is, therefore, attributed to women occupying lower-level, disadvantaged positions, devoid of intrinsic satisfaction and with limited advancement opportunities rather than some gender-related differences (Fagenson, 1986; Kanter, 1977). The gender model, on the other hand, contends that on the basis of sex-role socialization, women are socialized to view their status of mother and wife as their primary role and their social position as determined by the family. In contrast, men are socialized to view their primary role as economic provider and their social position as determined by work. Thus, differences in subjective work attachment can be understood in terms of gender-related differences via sex-role socialization (Feldberg & Glenn, 1979). In the only study that specifically tested the gender and job models of job involvement, Lorence (1987) reported that gender socialization and family responsibilities did not explain the lower job involvement of women and that, women tend to be more job involved than men after controlling for differences in autonomy.

While the gender and job models explain differences in the job commitment of men and women, they do not provide an integrated picture of the job commitment process. A theoretical framework of the job commitment process proposed by Chusmir (1982), integrates the gender and job models. Since men and women may have different Experiences in their work and family roles, and if–as noted in the literature (Pittman & Orthner, 1988)–these two role sets fit together in meaningfully different ways for men and women, then it is intuitively plausible to expect differences in the processes that underlie the job commitment of men and women. With its emphasis on both work and nonwork roles, Chusmir’s model provides a useful conceptual approach to understanding the job commitment process. However, if the model is to offer practical suggestions on how to enhance the job commitment of male and female employees, its generalizability needs to be established. Following previous studies (Misra, Kanungo, von Rosentiel, & Stuhler, 1985; Sekaran & Mowday, 1981) that provided a cross-cultural examination of job commitment, the primary purpose of this study is to provide a cross-cultural test of the generalizability of Chusmir’s model among male and female teachers in Singapore.

The focus on teachers is particularly instinctive. The global economic competition has made many nations aware of the role of human capital in achieving and sustaining competitive advantage. As teachers are influential in the development of a nation’s human capital and in view of the difficulty of attracting and retaining individuals in the teaching profession, it is important to understand the sources of the quality of work life of teachers.

Theoretical Framework and Literature Review

Chusmir’s (1982) model presented a three-step model of the job commitment process, applicable to both men and women. The first step comprises personal-demographic and personal-psychological variables that collectively form the individual’s personality profile which he/she brings to the work situation. Personal-demographic variables included in the present study are sex, age, educational level, and tenure. Several studies have found a significant positive relationship between age and job commitment (Lorence, 1987; Newton & Keenan, 1983; Saal, 1981). Education has been shown to be a poor predictor of job involvement in several studies (Rabinowitz, 1981; Sekaran & Mowday, 1981) but it is included here as a control variable. The organizational tenure-job involvement relationship has been reported to be nonsignificant (Saal, 1991; Sekaran & Mowday, 1981), but recently, Wagner, Ferris, Fandt, and Wayne (1987) reported a significant curvilinear job involvement-organizational tenure relationship.

Personal-psychological variables included here are locus of control, work role salience, and need for achievement. A significant, positive locus of control-job involvement relationship has been reported by several studies (Abdel-Halim, 1980; Reitz & Jewell, 1979). However, in a recent review of the literature, Hollenbeck et al. questioned such a relationship. The Protestant work ethic, a variable conceptually similar to work role salience, has been shown to be significantly correlated with job involvement (Saal, 1981; Sekaran, 1989). Need for achievement has been demonstrated to have a direct positive effect on job involvement (Hollenbeck et al., 1982).

The second step in Chusmir’s model comprises family characteristics and job circumstances which are depicted as exerting an external moderating influence on the job commitment process. Pleck (1977) suggested that the boundaries between work and family are asymmetrically permeable for men and women. He posits that men allow the demands of work to intrude more into family life than vice versa, while women permit the demands of family life to intrude more into work life. Thus extra work variables may affect the job involvement of women more than men. Variables included in the family characteristics antecedent set are marital status, spouse support, parental demands, work-family conflict and household coping mechanisms. No significant relationship has been reported between marital status and job involvement (Chusmir, 1986; Hollenbeck et al., 1982; Lorence, 1987). Marital status is, however, included here, because only a few studies have examined this relationship.

Family support, which includes spouse support, has been reported to have a significant effect on the job commitment of a sample of military personnel (Orthner & Pittman, 1986). Family pressure, conceptually similar to work-family conflict, has been shown to have no relationship to job commitment (Chusmir, 1986) as previously theorized (Chusmir, 1982). Work-family conflict is, however, included here, as it is intuitively plausible that difficulty in balancing the demands of work and family life will negatively affect one’s job commitment. Parental demands or number and ages of children has been shown to affect job commitment negatively for women but not for men (Chusmir, 1986). Household coping mechanisms have been previously reported to moderate role conflicts of women holding multiple roles (Beutell & Greenhaus, 1983). Household coping mechanisms are coping behaviors or tactical actions taken by employees to manage multiple role demands. Following Steffy and Jones (1988), coping behaviors used in this study focused primarily on altering structural expectations and personal attitudes of household responsibilities. Steffy and Jones (1988) reported a positive relationship between household coping mechanisms and career commitment, and may probably influence job commitment as well.

Job circumstances comprise the second part of the external moderating influences on the job commitment process proposed by Chusmir (1982). Variables in this antecedent set are work challenge, leader behavior, job satisfaction, organizational support, and role ambiguity. Work challenge has been reported to correlate significantly with job commitment (Buchanan, 1974; Sekaran & Mowday, 1981). Although leader behavior has been shown to have a nonsignificant relationship with job involvement (McKelvey & Sekaran, 1977), Hollenbeck et al. (1982) contend that because leader behavior has been shown to affect variables related to job involvement directly, this line of research should not be abandoned. Job satisfaction has been consistently reported to be strongly related to job commitment (Chusmir, 1986; Mortimer & Lorence, 1989), though the relationship may be reciprocal (Hollenbeck et al., 1982). Organizational support has not been specifically investigated as a determinant of job commitment. However, previous studies have reported a significant positive relationship between conceptually similar terms like career facilitation (Dean, Ferris, & Konstans, 1988), training and development (Gaertiner & Nollen, 1989), and organizational commitment. Role ambiguity-job involvement relationship has not been extensively examined. Blau (1985), reported a nonsignificant negative relationship between role ambiguity and job involvement. Role ambiguity is included here because of the paucity of studies on the role ambiguity-job involvement relationship.

The final step in Chusmir’s (1982) model examines the impact of moderated perceptions on job involvement. He contends that personal influences shape the personality profile of employees, which is in turn affected by family and job characteristics. This results in a set of moderated perceptions, such as perceived role behavior and attitudes (e.g., need satisfaction), posited as a direct or immediate antecedent of job commitment. Following this line of reasoning, Kanungo’s (1982b) need saliency model of the job commitment process can be integrated with Chusmir’s model. As a motivational process, Kanungo posits that job involvement stems from one’s need salience. To the extent that the job context provides an opportunity to satisfy these needs, one develops beliefs concerning the job context’s potential for satisfying one’s salient needs in the future. Based on these beliefs, one then develops a sense of identification with the job. None of the variables included in this step (need satisfaction, work commitment, and sex-role conflict) were examined in this study.

In summary, the study reported here was inspired by the need to understand the job commitment process among men and women, particularly in view of women’s increased labor force participation. Consequently, the study sought to determine levels of job commitment and to examine the job commitment process among men and women by providing a cross-cultural test of Chusmir’s (1982) model among a sample of male and female teachers in Singapore.


Sample and Procedure

The sample consisted of 127 female and 90 male teachers drawn from six high schools in Singapore. Age-wise, 58 of the male and 96 of the female teachers were in the 31-50 age bracket, while 73 of the male teachers were married, compared with 78 of the female teachers. In terms of education, 49 of the male and 92 of the female teachers had at least a first degree, though all the respondents were trained teachers. Sixty of the male teachers had at least 10 years tenure in both the teaching profession and their present schools, compared with 89 of the female teachers.

Data were collected with the aid of structured questionnaires. Permission to conduct the study was obtained from the Ministry of Education, and six high schools were randomly chosen to participate in the survey. A liaison was appointed in each of the six schools and was charged with the responsibility of administering the questionnaires. To perform this responsibility effectively, the liaisons were thoroughly briefed on the technical details and objectives of the survey. A letter that explained the objectives of the survey, the voluntary nature of respondent participation, and guaranteed anonymity and confidentiality of responses was attached to each questionnaire. A total of 300 questionnaires was randomly distributed, and completed questionnaires were returned sealed in envelopes to the liaisons. Of the 300 questionnaires distributed, 217 usable ones were returned, for a response rate of 72.3%.


Work role salience. A 10-item version of a measure developed by Greenhaus (1971) was used to measure this construct. Sample items include: ‘I intend to pursue the job of my choice even if it cuts deeply into the time I have for my family’ and ‘Work is one of the few areas in life in which you can gain real satisfaction.’ Responses were scored on a 5-point Likert-type format. The scale’s alpha reliability in this study is 0.70.

Locus of control. Levenson’s (1973) 8-item chance scale was the instrument used to measure this construct. Responses were measured on a 6-point Likert-type format. Sample items include: To a great extent my life is controlled by accidental happenings’ and ‘When I get what I want, it is usually because I am lucky The scale’s alpha reliability in this study is 0.82.

Need for achievement. This construct was measured by Steers and Braunstein’s (1976) Manifest Needs Questionnaire on a 7-point Likert-type format. Sample items include: ‘I do my best work when my job assignments are fairly difficult’ and ‘I try very hard to improve on my performance at work.’ The scale’s alpha reliability is 0.64.

Leader behavior. Hemphill and Coon’s (1957) Leader Behavior Description Questionnaire, Form 12, was used to measure two dimensions of leadership style-initiating structure and consideration. Each dimension was measured by a 10-item scale. A sample item for initiating structure is ‘Decides what shall be done and how it will be done,’ and for consideration, a sample item is ‘Looks out for personal welfare of group members.’ Responses were on a 5-point scale. The alpha reliability for each of the dimensions is 0.88.

Organizational support. This construct was measured by a 7-item scale specifically developed for the study. Sample items include: ‘My organization is concerned with the professional growth of teachers’ and ‘My organization rewards the efforts of teachers to keep up with developments in teaching.’ Responses were on a 5-point Likert-type format and the scale’s alpha reliability is 0.82.

Work challenge. A 4-item scale developed by Bacharach, Bamberger, and Conley (1990) was used to measure this construct. Responses were on a 5-point Likert-type format. Sample items include: ‘In this organization, we set very high standards for performance’ and ‘Management sets challenging goals.’ The scale’s alpha reliability is 0.72.

Role ambiguity. Rizzo, House, and Lirtzman’s (1970) 6-item scale was the instrument used to measure this construct. Responses were on a 5-point Likert-type format. Sample items include: ‘I know exactly what is expected of me’ and ‘Clear, planned goals and objectives exist for my job.’ The scale’s alpha reliability is 0.82. Spouse support. Spouse support or empathy was measured by a 4-item scale developed for this study and responses were measured on a 5-point scale. Sample items include: ‘My spouse puts up with some inconveniences (e.g., arriving home late, working overtime) as a result of my career-role’ and ‘My spouse encourages me to improve my skills in order to have a successful career.’ The scale’s alpha reliability is 0.86.

Work-family conflict. Kopelman, Greenhaus, and Connolly’s (1983) 7-item scale was used to measure this construct. Responses were on a 5-point scale. Sample items include: ‘My work takes up time I would like to spend with my family’ and ‘Because my work is demanding, at times I am irritable at home.’ The scale’s alpha reliability in this study is 0.89.

Household coping mechanisms. An 8-item scale developed by Steffy and Jones (1988) was the instrument used to measure this construct. Sample items include: ‘Evaluates which activities are most important and schedules time accordingly’ and ‘Enlists assistance such as baby sitters, cleaning help.’ The scale’s alpha reliability is 0.94.

Parental demands. Following Bedeian, Burke, and Moffett (1988), parental demands was measured by placing subjects into five groups depending on the ages and presence or absence of children: (1) no children; (2) one or more children older than 22, but none under 22; (3) one or more children between 19 and 22, but none under the age of 19; (4) one or more children between 6 and 18, but none under 6; and (5) one or more children under 6.

Job involvement. An 8-item version of Kanungo’s (1982) 10-item scale was used to measure this construct. Responses were on a 5-point Likert-type scale. Sample of items include: ‘I live, eat and breathe my job’ and ‘Most important things in my life involve my job.’ The scale’s alpha reliability in this study is 0.86.

Job satisfaction. A single item was used to assess respondents job satisfaction on a 5-point Likert-type format. Scarpello and Campbell (1983) have argued that a single-item measure is more stable and reproducible, and may more accurately reflect job satisfaction than multi-item measures.

Demographics. Demographic variables included in this study are sex, age, educational level, marital status and organizational tenure. Except for locus of control, where lower scores reflect internality, the multi-item scales used in this study were scored so that high scores reflect high perceived experience of the specific variable.


The analysis of the data was performed in three steps. In the first step, a one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) was performed, to examine significant mean gender differences in the major study variables. Subsequent analyses were done separately for male and female teachers. In the second step of the analysis, zero-order correlations were calculated, to examine the pattern of relationships among the independent and dependent variables. Lastly, to test the model proposed by Chusmir (1982), hierarchical multiple regression analysis was used. Hierarchical multiple regression analysis was used because the emphasis was on the relative contribution of each antecedent set to the overall explained variance in job involvement. The order of entry of the variables was determined by Chusmir’s model. First, personal influences comprising personal-demographic and personal-psychological variables were entered, followed by the external moderating influences of family characteristics and job circumstances.


Table 1(Table 1 omitted) presents the means and standard deviations of the variables in the study as well as the significant mean gender differences in these variables based on the ANOVA. It may be observed from Table 1 that male teachers were more job involved and higher in work role salience than female teachers. On the other hand, female teachers were more internal in their locus of control than male teachers.

Table 2(Table 2 omitted) presents the intercorrelation matrices for both male and female teachers. It may be observed from Table 2 that the pattern of significant correlations with job involvement was similar for both samples–work role salience (male teachers, r=0.61, p

Organizational support showed a significant positive correlation with job involvement in both samples, but the level of significance was higher in the sample of female (r=0.48, p

Table 3(Table 3 omitted) presents the results of the hierarchical regression analysis. As may be seen from Table 3, the model accounted for 44% (R sup 2 ) and 56% (R sup 2 ) of the variance in job involvement for female and male teachers, respectively. For both samples, the personal-psychological class of antecedents made the largest incremental contribution to the explained variance in job involvement, for female teachers (R sup 2 change=32%, p

Of the predictor variables, three emerged as significant predictors for both samples. Work role salience had a beta of.34 (p

In general, the results seem to indicate that personal-psychological and job circumstance variables are the main determinants of job involvement and only partially supportive of Chusmir’s (1982) model. The results however, provide indirect support for the contemporary view of job involvement as a function of person-environment fit (Blau, 1987).


The growth in the labor force participation of women has led to a steady stream of research on gender differences in the processes through which men and women become committed to work in general. A model proposed by Chusmir (1982) purports to provide an integrative framework of the job commitment process of men and women. Based on data from male and female high school teachers in Singapore, the principal objective of this study has been to test the generalizability of Chusmir’s model in a cross-cultural context.

The finding that men reported significantly more job involvement than women is consistent with previous findings (Lambert, 1991; Sekaran, 1982). This finding may be explained in terms of sex-role socialization which prescribes an economic provider role for men. Male teachers’ identification with the job and the primacy of work in their lives may be seen as a means to perform their provider role satisfactorily.

The pattern of antecedents of job involvement for male and female teachers revealed that demographic and family variables had the least effect as determinants. On the other hand, personality characteristics and job circumstances had the most effect. Within these classes of antecedents, work role salience, need for achievement, and job satisfaction were significant predictors for both male and female teachers, while work challenge was significant for male teachers and organizational support for female teachers. Work role salience, which is conceptually similar to Protestant work ethic, has been consistently shown to be a significant positive predictor of job involvement (Hollenbeck, 1982). Regarding need for achievement, Kassner (1981), for example, reported a significant positive correlation between need for achievement and job involvement. Hollenbeck et al. (1982) noted that instead of generalized higher order need strength being related to job involvement, it is specifically need for achievement which positively influences the level of job involvement. As a common significant predictor, the job satisfaction-job involvement relationship, is consistent with previous findings (Chusmir, 1986; Mortimer & Lorence, 1989), though the relationship is said to be reciprocal (Hollenbeck et al., 1982). Mortimer and Lorence (1989) explained that job satisfaction enhances job involvement because job satisfaction stimulates greater involvement with the job, in that satisfaction with the job enhances the importance of the work identity. The negative impact of initiating structure on job involvement implies that our sample of female teachers prefer some autonomy in the discharge of their responsibilities and that enhances their job involvement. The significance of work challenge as a predictor of job involvement for male teachers is consistent with previous studies that have shown that job/work challenge correlates highly with job involvement, even after controlling for other variance (Buchanan, 1974; Sekaran & Mowday, 1981). Perhaps a challenging job not only provides an opportunity to use one’s skills, but also satisfies one’s need for achievement, which in turn translates into a higher level of job involvement. The finding that together, personality characteristics and job circumstances had the most effect on job involvement provides support for Kanungo’s (1982b) finding, that job involvement is affected more by proximal than distal antecedents like demographic variables.

The nonsignificance of family variables for women’s job involvement clearly contradicts Pleck’s (1977) suggestion that the boundaries between work and family are asymmetrically permeable and that women are affected more by family responsibilities and men by work responsibilities. As Lambert (1991) has suggested, it may well be that this asymmetry holds when examining how men and women respond to family life. Within the family antecedent set, the findings revealed household coping mechanism as a significant predictor of job involvement for male teachers. Although parental demands had a nonsignificant effect on the job involvement of both male and female teachers (Lambert, 1991), it may have operated through household coping mechanisms to affect the job involvement of male teachers indirectly . As is the case in most countries, men in Singapore marry later than women. Hence it could well be that the male teachers were in the early stage of the family life cycle. However, considering that there was no significant mean difference in parental demands between male and female teachers, the effect of household coping mechanisms on the job involvement of male teachers may be attributed to the personality characteristics of men who enter into feminized occupations (Lemkau, 1984).

Family characteristics may not have been significant predictors of the job involvement of women, perhaps because of their higher perceived internality. which may enable them to be resilient in the face of family pressures. A more plausible explanation, in the author’s view, is that women may have chosen a career in teaching because it accommodates family demands. Shann (1983), made this point succinctly in her remark that “women in feminine career fields may be choosing to pursue slower advancement in less lucrative, less prestigious fields because they feel that that choice enables them to accommodate and accumulate several roles in their life plans” (pp. 353-354).

Although the findings of the study provide some support to Chusmir’s model, and hence to its cross-cultural applicability, the study has some limitations. First, as all the measures used are perceptual, there is a distinct possibility of common method variance. Second, in spite of the good response rate (72%), the representativeness and therefore generalizability of the sample cannot be established, as respondents were not compared with nonrespondents. Third, two of the significant predictors for both male and female teachers (work role salience and need for achievement) have low but acceptable alpha reliabilities, while a third, job satisfaction, was measured with a single item. While this may be perceived as a constraint on the findings, the psychometric properties of the two scales are well established. Scarpello and Campbell (1983) have provided convincing arguments for the use of a single item measure of job satisfaction. In spite of these limitations, the demonstration of organizational support and work challenge as significant predictors may have implications for organizational efforts to improve level of job involvement. In the case of female teachers, organizations may need to facilitate their career growth by implementing career development programs, among other measures. Job redesign or alternatives like project or committee work, which allow for challenge and variety, may be needed to enhance the job involvement of ma]e teachers.

Several directions for future studies follow from our findings. Our results indicate that men and women who enter into masculine or feminine occupations may have different personality characteristics, and their occupational choice may have been influenced by nonwork factors, like expected family roles and demands. Job involvement research may benefit from an examination of the interaction between personality characteristics, nonwork factors, and occupational choice, and the consequence for involvement in jobs in specific occupations. Second, the significance of work role salience as a predictor of job involvement warrants an examination of the determinants of work role salience. Third, the lower overall explained variance in job involvement for women in this study suggests a need for the inclusion of variables relevant to women’s work/career experience which may explain their job involvement process. Some of these variables include organizational barriers (e.g., sex discrimination) and organizational opportunities (e.g., mentors, affirmative action).


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Copyright Administrative Sciences Association of Canada Dec 1994

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