p-ISSN: 2162-9374    e-ISSN: 2162-8416

2015;  5(3): 96-106


The Effects of Organisational Culture and Stress on Organisational Employee Commitment

Olulana Bamidele Samuel

Former Dean, School of Management and Business Studies, Yaba College of Technology, Yaba Lagos, Nigeria

Correspondence to: Olulana Bamidele Samuel, Former Dean, School of Management and Business Studies, Yaba College of Technology, Yaba Lagos, Nigeria.


Copyright © 2015 Scientific & Academic Publishing. All Rights Reserved.


The aim of this study is to expand the horizon and boundary of knowledge and understanding of the workplace stress by investigating the effects of organisational culture and stress on employee commitment in the workplace. The attempt is to close the gap between organisational culture, workplace stress and employee commitment. Although the concepts of culture and stress have been well researched but few studies have provided detailed insight into the interplay between the concepts of organisational culture, workplace stress and commitment. This study therefore examined this interplay within the Test Development Division of the National Examination Council (NECO), Lagos, Nigeria. The instruments used to gather data from the staff of the department that make up Division was questionnaire survey. The results show that the departments have hierarchical culture that is unsupportive and that the staff of the departments have too much work to do with less time for the accomplishment. The assessment of employee commitment revealed that the employees are not pleased with the reward system of the departments. The findings also show that the relationship among organisational culture, stress and commitment are significant. The study suggests that there is need to change the culture orientation of the departments, reduce the stress levels of the employees and improve the organisational commitment of the employees.

Keywords: Organisational culture, Workplace stress and Employee commitment

Cite this paper: Olulana Bamidele Samuel, The Effects of Organisational Culture and Stress on Organisational Employee Commitment, Management, Vol. 5 No. 3, 2015, pp. 96-106. doi: 10.5923/

1. Introduction and Research Background

Organisational culture and stress are two concepts that have been well-researched in the literature but unfortunately not much work have been done on how culture and stress can impact commitment [9]. Organisational culture is one of the dominant concepts that can have a bearing on the general influence on the organisational commitment of employees [30a]. It prescribes the standards and norms of organisational behaviours in any given organisation. It also explains the basic assumptions of different organisations which must be taught to organisational members that will form the basis of their behaviours and attitudes [44] which includes their commitment to their organisations.
Organisational culture as antecedent of oragnisational commitment underpins the processes through which people identify with different occurrences in their environment and how they are shaped by those occurrences in determining their commitments and purposes in life [9]. Therefore, integrative organisational culture that promoted ‘peoples first’ will win the commitment of its employees. Since human resource often accounts for a great cost in organisations, any other increase in this cost may adversely affect the profitability and viability of the organisation. Job stress has been a major concern of everyday life that could result in substantial costs to individuals. Though the pervasiveness of stress has been conceived as an essential part of life but it could be both pleasant and unpleasant, depending on the adaptive capacity of individuals [48]. As organisations consists of people, they have become part of its culture. The way these people interact in the organisation, the basic assumptions they hold, will develop the culture of the organisation [44]. Literature have revealed that workplace stress revolves around three areas of organisational functions and culture such as organisation as task environment and development environment [6] and any organisational poor performance in these key areas could likely promote increased levels of stress [34]. In this regard, organisational value system may have a profound effect on the preference and attitudes of workers and organisational culture may therefore elicit the kind of relationships among employees that could promote their commitment and performance [47] which may otherwise result to stress. A stressor is thus any event, situation or cognition that may evoke negative emotion in an individual [34].
The fact that work is important and central in individual lives suggests that any event in the organisation that could result to negative emotions will have serious consequences on the organisational commitment and performance. Considering the few researches that have linked organisational culture and stress to employee commitment in organisations, this study therefore intends to investigate whether there is a significant relationship between organisational culture and job stress on employee commitment and performance.

2. Literature Review

Organisational Culture
Culture in an organisation is perceived as a great force and social glue that holds organisational members together, which is then transmitted to incoming employees that determines the performance of the organisation as well as the commitment of the employees [44]. However, while this assertion might be true [e.g. 40] it is also dependent on the degree and the extent to which the positive and strong values of cultures are widely shared by the organisational members [23]. For example, Martins [29] talked about integration, differentiation and fragmented cultures the dynamics of which is required to determine the commitment of employees rather than group or integrative culture alone.
Notwithstanding Schein’s proposition, the commitment of the employees in organisations might only be enhanced if the cultural values are congruent with the desired belief and values of the employees [24b] Hence, the cultural value congruence of employees has been supported by many academics and practitioners [for example, 37, 23]. Also, the value congruence Literature found value incongruence to be associated with lower job related attitudes with high endorsement value congruence to be related to higher job related attitudes [18, 6, 7]. Thus, that organisational culture is a set of shared values that influence the behaviours of organisational members, such behavioral influence can only exist because individuals behave in ways that are consistent with their values [6]. Therefore, it is expected that organisational culture should create behavioral expectancies that would make employees behave in ways that are consistent with their cultural expectations and the existence of this relationship between culture and behaviour has been adjudged to be theoretical basis for the assertion that culture influences commitment [12].
Moreover, it has been argued [e.g 33], that a widely shared and strongly held values by employees in organisations will enable the management to predict employee attitudes and reactions to certain strategic option thus minimizing the extent of undersired consequences. It thus behoves on organisations to identify the prevailing values of employee, in order to forestall any negative consequences that might affect the commitment of its employees. Consequently, the various definitions of organisational culture as a complex set of values, beliefs and assumption that define the way organisational conducts its business [2], and also as basic assumptions about how things are shared by group of people which determines their perceptions, thoughts, feelings and their overt behaviours [44] and as a shared meaning of values held by organisational members that distinguishes one organisation from the other [41] however, suggest that different organisations could be regarded as having different cultures that affect or influence the attitudes, behaviours and commitment of their employees [14]. Hence, organizational culture that focuses on productivity and achievement and other behaviours such as change adaptation in order to grow the organization as well as strict adherence to guidelines in order to regulate the behaviours of employees to the detriment of employee values in the organization may incur a low commitment of organizational members which may warrant negative consequences on both the employees and the organization [29].
Furthermore, Lok and Crawford [27] examined three dimensions of culture such as innovative, supportive and bureaucratic in their study of the relationship between organisational culture, sub-culture and commitment which was consistent with the assertion of Bergman [2b] that organisational culture which emphasize strong norms for obligation, internalization and identification are likely to generate high levels of normative and affective commitments. The overall findings correlated organisational culture and sub-culture with commitment, with sub-culture having a stronger relationship, while the supportive and innovative culture have the highest correlation and bureaucratic sub-culture showing the least levels of commitment. Thus the importance of sub-cultural groupings in organisational wide culture can be noticed in this dimension in relation to commitment in that a neglect of sub-cultural activities can be detrimental to the organisational wide performance [5].
As a result, sub-cultural groupings in organisations have powerful influence on employee commitment [29]. Thus the activities of sub-cultural groupings predict another dimension to employee commitment in organisations. This view is consistent with Martin [29] in his analysis of the perspectives of organisational culture. This also corroborates the assertion of Denison’s [11] that group domain as a significant influence on the effectiveness of organisations and commitment of employees. Although, group cohesion, employee involvement and teamwork attest to organisational performance, it has been suggested [e.g. 39. 29] that balanced culture will achieve higher commitment of employees than unbalanced cultures; It should therefore be noted that a number of factors determine organisational effectiveness and employee commitment and thus makes it arduous to establish a relationship between organisational culture and overall organisational effectiveness and commitment However, March and Sutton [28] noted that generally, correlates of any type of organisational commitment are difficult to deduce. Therefore a Mis-match between the culture of an organisation and the embedded cultural assumptions might be costly to the maximum commitment and performance of employees [e.g. Cameron and Nerina [6] subjective fit with organisational culture].
Job stress has assumed a global concern that has implications for economies, organisations and employees [8]. This is as a result of devastating effects on employees physiological and psychological health, job related attitudes and performance and substantial financial implications on organizations [26] These implications range from low commitment of employees to their jobs, lost productivity, stress related suits and health care expenses which from individual perspectives manifested in an undesirable physiological and psychological conditions such as morbidity, mortality, depression and anxiety [10]. Consequently, researchers have advocated for effective management of job stress to human resource practitioners to promote employee physical and psychological health, job related attitudes such as commitment and performance [16, 15].
Although, this call is justifiable however, in responding to this call, management practitioners rather than tackling the root cause of the problem which derive from the prevailing cultures of the organisations, the focus has always been on the assessment of individual capabilities and their resources to cope with these consequences [17] thus neglecting organisational wide solutions to ameliorate the challenges of stress in the work place. Therefore, if the culture of organisations define the way employees think, interact and do things, it follows thence that the culture of an organisation might be the antecedents of job stress that negatively impact the health of the employees, their productivity levels and commitments to the organisation. Hence the management practitioners are constrained to look beyond the individual and job characteristics to organisation-wide solutions to job stress in the work place [21]. However, exceptions might be for a situation of psychological hardiness of workers whereby they are only committed and productive when situations are harsh and unsupportive [42]. Consequently, the concepts of organisational culture, job stress and employees commitment are interwoven and dynamic variables that requires the utmost attention of human resources practitioners. For example, the cultural perspective of integration , differentiation and fragmentation as depicted by Martins[29] as consisting the various cultural elements that exist in organisations need holistic analysis in order to design a probable work environment that evoke the commitment of employees to their jobs reduce the level of their stress experience and enhance job satisfaction and performance [29].
In the same view, apart from individuals characteristics that have been the focus of the researchers, other interest have been on the work place characteristics that are related to employee strain and less commitment to their jobs [22]. Inspection of the job stress literature revealed role stressors and the specific task being performed by the employees, such as role conflict (conflicting information about jobs), role ambiguity (uncertainty about the requirements of job) and role overload (too much work to complete) and these have been found to relate to emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, job commitment and turnover [20]. Recently, Kazue and Stephen (2011) conducted studies on the convergence and Divergence of role stress experience of locally hired Japanese and Non- Japanese host country staff in Australia. Consistent with conclusions in existing job stress research, ambiguity was related to lack of cultural understanding and communication styles and these role ambiguities were experienced only between Non-Japanese local staff and Japanese expatriate, leading to role stress [20].
Similarly, cultural influence on role conflict result to role stress, and this was experienced by the local Japanese staff inform of role overload and role incompetence. This occurred because the Japanese expatriate feel more comfortable with LJ staff that have understood the Japanese style work practices than with the Non- Japanese local Staff in Australia [19]. Concomitantly therefore, this underscores the importance of organisational culture as antecedents of job stress, Job commitment and job performance in the work place [13]. It thus behoves that different cultural work contexts impact the level of stress and the level of job commitment in organisations which therefore explains why business and management practitioners should understand the prevalence of cultural differences as lack of understanding in this context may incur negative impact on both the well-being of the workers and the organisation [38].
Organisational Commitment
The commitment of the employees is an on-going concern for the organisation well-being and success. This has necessitated the focus of employers on the development of their human capital with the need to deliver more with less and to differentiate themselves from other competitors [9].
Therefore, if employees commitment is their degree of identification with the missions and goals of the organisation and the willingness to remain in it, it follows therefore that the employers should embark on activities that will enable them retain the skilled, talented and committed workforce [32]. Consequently, the general focus in the commitment literature on the analysis of commitment has been on the four general antecedents such as personal characteristics, job characteristics, Work experience and Role related characteristics [31]. However, these various studies in the literature come with conflicting findings and results in respect to organisational commitment and job stress analysis [e.g. 36, 3, 47, and 25]. Therefore, incorporating organisational culture in the analysis of commitment is significant and has the potential of enhancing employee commitment. Thus, organisational performance can be linked to increase employee commitment, which is also related to organisational culture [11]. For instance, the study on the correlates of organisational culture, job stress and employee commitment showed that organisational culture statistically influence job stress and found a negative correlation between job stress and job commitment [35].
As a consequence, the analysis of the dynamics of organisational culture, job stress and employee. Commitment variables is warranted to explain the impact of one on another.
Theoretical Framework
The literature is vast with multiple conceptualization of organisational culture but this study adopted the competing values framework as means of analysis as it has the text of validity conducted on its relevance in explaining and assessing culture where the interest as on relating to organisational commitment. The competing value framework (CVF) was proposed by Zammuto and Krakower [49] to evaluate organisational culture from two dimensions of structure and focus.
The tenets of the structure framework ranges from flexibility at one extreme to control at the other extreme. This tenet shows the variations of organisations that strive for consistent patterns of behaviours and those that attempt to allow their employees to fashion out their own behavioral pattern [7]. The focus dimension ranges from external focus with emphasis on the capacity of the organisation to perform optimally in its environment [7] and an internal focus that emphasizes internal factors of the organisation such as employee commitment and satisfaction. The domain of the competing values framework (CVF) as depicted by Quinn and Spreitzer, [40] includes.
Group Culture
This group is characterized by high flexibility with an internal focus. The culture here emphasizes the importance of group dynamics that explains itself in cohesiveness, participatory decision making and considerable support among employees of the group. Managers leverage support to these values through empowerment, mentoring and team work support.
Developmental Culture
This culture is externally focused with emphasis on flexibility; and its orientation is that of change and adaption. Managers in this type of culture supports entrepreneurial ventures and encourages creativity in employees.
Rational Culture
The emphasis of this culture is externally focused control with attainment of goal as seen significant so as to instill control on the employee actions and direct their behaviours towards external environment. The culture gives premium to productivity, competition and achievement and fast response in accomplishing tasks.
Hierarchical Culture
The culture emphasizes internally-focused control. There is an emphasis on coordination and uniformity aiming at internal efficiency. The formalized structure and strict adherence to rules and policies tend to regulate employee behaviours and equally provide job security to the employees.
Balanced Culture
The balanced culture combines the attributes and values of each of the competing values framework (CVF). This concept of cultural balance within the (CVF) was introduced by Quinn [39] in order to equip the organisations towards managing the advantage of environmental shifts.

3. The Competing Values Framework

Source: Parker and Brandley (2000, P. 128)
Aims of the Study
It was observed in the literature studies on culture and stress, as enunciated in the competing value framework analysis that organisational culture within an organisation can lead to stress among the members of the organisation and this can thus provoke both affective and behavioural responses among the organisation members. The study aims at examining the interface between organisation culture and stress and the effect of such interactions on the organisational commitment of the employees.
The Study Objectives
The objectives of this study are:
• To examine whether the correlates between organisational culture job stress affect job commitment.
Research Questions
The research questions is basic to the aim and objective of this study
• To what extent has the interactions between organisational culture and job stress affect organisational commitment of employees?
Research Hypotheses
• H1 - Job stress is significantly correlated with Job commitment and organizational culture.
• H2 – Job commitment is significantly correlated with organizational culture.
Research Population and Sample
The population as defined in respect of this study is the total number of staff of the Test Development Division of the National Examinations Council (NECO) Lagos, Nigeria that the researcher is interested in investigating and from which the sampling elements is drawn. Also in the study, the relevant data for the assessment of the organisational culture, the workplace stress and employee commitment was collected through the use of a questionnaire survey. The elements of organisational culture was measured with the use of the instruments developed by [49], the workplace stress was measured by using the instrument developed by [8] and commitment was measured by using the instrument developed by [30b]. According to a table by [46a], in a population size of 700 and for any sample size to be appropriate must be 248 and since the total number of employees in the Test Development Division of (NECO), Nigeria is 400, the proportionate random sampling procedure was used to select the participants from each department of the faculty. If the response rate is eighty percent (80%) by assumption, the researcher distributed 315 copies of questionnaire to have a good sample size of 250. A simple random sampling method was used to draw the 315 as shown below.
Proportionate Random Sampling
The questionnaire was personally administered to the staff in all the departments and later collected from them. The response rate generated was highly encouraging and this is in tandem with Sekaran [46a] assertion that questionnaires personally administered by the researcher could yield almost a rate of response of one hundred percent (100%). The summary of the response rate is given thus:
Response Rate

4. Results

The Perception of National examinations council (NECO) Staff about Organisational Culture
This part gives the perception of the staff of NECO TDD about the organisational culture that is in existence in their Division. The findings are anchored in the belief of the TDD staff and their agreement with the elements that stand for the different types of organisational culture that is in existence in their organisation derived from Competing Value Framework (CVF) earlier discussed.
• OCU1, OCU2 and OCU3 stood for rational culture
• OCU4, OCU5 and OCU6 stood for group culture
• OCU7 and OCU8 stood for developmental culture
• OCU9 and OCU10 stood for Hierarchical culture
A statistical summary of the strength of agreement plus the ranking of the types of organisational culture that exists at the NECO, is presented thus:
Statistical Summary of Organisational Culture
Statistical Summary of Job Stress
Statistical Summary of Commitment
Interpretation of Organisational Culture Statistical Analysis
There is consensus in the department on how the job is to be completed. (OCU 2), which has to follow a bureaucratic process (OCU 10), and that the department is highly formalized (OCU 9).
OCU 2, OCU 10 and OCU 9 have mean scores of 3.86, 3.82 and 3.78 respectively, Items OCU 7 and OCU 8 have the weakest agreement meaning that the department is dynamic and Entrepreneurial. (0CU7) and (OCU8) indicates the willingness of the employees in the department to take risks. The mean scores for (OCU7) and (OCU8) are M= 3.12 and M= 3.05 respectively. The conclusion that can then be drawn is that the culture of the NECO, (TDD) department is bureaucratic and therefore operates hierarchical culture.
Statistical Explanation of Job Stress
This section is in relation to the perception of the employees about the existence of stress about their Job and the workplace. The statistics shows the strength of employees of NECO in respect of the existence of stress in this study and indicates that the largest agreement is in sample JS10- I have too many assignments to complete at a time. The mean score is M= 3.23 and the standard deviation SD= 1.17 indicate that the departmental culture is unsympathetic.
Statistical Explanation of Job Commitment
Items JC 8 and JC 4 expressed the weakest agreement in respect of welfare packages and the rewarding systems. The mean scores are M= 3.10 and M=2.82 respectively, showing that the concern for workers’ welfare is nil. The employees are dissatisfied with the award of welfare packages as well as the organisation’s rewarding system.
Correlation of Organisational Culture, Workplace Stress and Job Commitment
To correlate this, highest mean for organisational culture and work stress and the lowest mean for commitment are selected. To test their correlations, item (OCU9) explains that the structure of the organization are formalized, iItem (OCU10) explains that the employees are governed by bureaucratic rules. Items of organisational culture are (OCU9) and (OCU10) standing for the hierarchical culture of the organisation. Item JS10- ‘I have too many assignments to complete at a time’ is selected for job stress, while items JC 4 and JC 8 are selected for job commitment. JC4- The reward system is satisfactory. JC8- I am pleased with the welfare packages for the staff.
The result of the correlation coefficient test explains the correlates between JS10 and items JC4 and JC8 the most dissatisfied items in Job commitment which is the main cause of stress. On Job stress, JS10 correlates significantly with the hierarchical culture of the organisation represented by (OCU9 and OCU10). Job commitment JC4 and JC8 also correlate significantly with item OCU 9 on culture. The conclusion that can thus be drawn is that there is a negative correlation between workplace stress and job commitment while job stress is positively correlated with hierarchical culture. While commitment has negative correlation with the hierarchical culture of Test Development Division.
Correlation Analysis

5. Discussion of the Findings

The study shows that the culture of the Test Development Division of NECO, Lagos, Nigeria, did not contribute to the needs of the employees of the department. The hierarchical culture of rules and regulations dominated the culture of the Division. The structure of hierarchy connotes that rewards and offer of responsibility are based on seniority and ranks. This procedure of welfare package explained the reason for lack of commitment of the employees to their job which is also a potential source of stress. This also indicates that hierarchical culture is unsupportive and unsympathetic thus failed to promote innovative and visionary workers who can focus on change in the environment [49].
These findings on hierarchical culture corroborates the work of Lok and Crawford [27] that examined the three dimensions of culture such as innovative, supportive and bureaucratic in their study of the relationship between organisational culture, sub-culture and commitment and concluded that bureaucratic or hierarchical sub-culture had a negative influence and low levels of commitment respectively.
The failure of the organisational culture to contribute to the needs of the employees as found out by the study corroborates and is consistent with the work of Cameron and Nerina [6] on the positive relation between the employees subjective fit and the organisational values which concludes that individuals prefer an environment of work that possesses the same values as theirs and therefore appreciates their contributions and thus reward them accordingly [1].
The unconcerned approach of the organisation to the employee well-being resulting to low morale, decreased performance, high turnover and low job commitment also depends on individual differences and coping capabilities which is in line with Karasek [24a] demand-control-decision latitude and the effects of individual psychological hardiness since some employees may be more committed with high performance in such unsupportive environment that gives room for initiative and decisions over jobs, leading to a strong sense of purpose and commitment rather than a stress experience [42].
Consequent upon this therefore, it is suggested that the TDD of NECO should adopt human relations cultural approach that characterized by flexible internal focus, associated with broader human resource utilization that will promote trust, cohesion, participation through teamwork resulting in achieving employee morale and commitment. A supportive organisational culture is self-regulating, creative, promoting organisational ownership and satisfaction. The source of stress from this finding correlated significantly to the job commitment, indicating the unconcerned approach of the department to the well-being of workers resulting to low morale, decreased performance, high turnover and low job commitment [43].
Suggestions for Employee Maximum Performance and Commitment
• Employees must be allowed much control over their jobs. The more control, the more job satisfaction and organisational commitment.
• Unambiguity in communication procedures must be entrenched. Clear communication will reduce stress and also assist the employees in putting up a better performance.
• Employees of the organisation must be involved. Their involvement will make them great and energized. With this, they will be able to endure and commit to the organisation’s well-being.
• Also, the management should endeavour to adopt a balanced cultural approach that will integrate the elements of group culture, Rational culture and Developmental culture respectively.
• Innovation and initiative must be encouraged and this should be rewarded with promotion so as to engender job commitment of the employees and alleviate the level of stress experience.

6. Conclusions

To determine appropriate culture for all organisations is very impossible as this depends on the different contexts in which the organisations operate. Every organisation has its own different values, beliefs and norms. It is of the opinion therefore that all organisations should endeavour to entrench a culture that is strong and supportive which will promote strong commitment, reduce stress level and enhance organisational performance. Though cultural and attitudinal change is difficult to achieve but programmes of action can be put in place that will create a culture that reduces employees’ stress leading to their commitment in the organisation.

7. Limitation of Study

The analysis and interpretation of this study gives a good explanation about the effects of organisational culture and stress on organisational employee commitment but it is limited to the extent that it is only a model, which cannot take into a great detail, the different variations found in reality. It is also limited to the extent that the study employs quantitative approach rather than a mixed method analytical approaches in order to dig more on the basic underlying cultural assumptions that could alleviate or aggravate stress in organizations.

8. Contributions to Knowledge

The project contributes to the existing knowledge to the extent of providing an empirical approach to the effects of organisational culture and workplace stress on employees’ organisational commitment from the perspective of a developing country such as Nigeria.
Also, this project has relevance to National examinations council (NECO) Management as well as policy makers in organisations. It can also be emphasised that the effects of organisational culture and stress on employees is a product of employees’ affective assessments of the environmental stressors.


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