The role of workplace friendships in employee’s organizational commitment

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School of Business | Master's thesis
Degree programme
Management and International Business (MIB)
The aim of this study is to increase understanding about friendships in an organizational context and about their role in employee’s organizational commitment. The topic has been studied relatively little, despite the fact that new generations seem to value workplace friendships and the fact that they are encouraged in increasing number of today’s organizations. To study the role of workplace friendships in employee’s organizational commitment, I build on both workplace friendship and organizational commitment literatures. I bring these two fields of literature together in this qualitative study. I discuss the different phases of workplace friendship, which are the emergence, manifestation and the end caused by the exit of a friend. In addition, I discuss what is the role of a friendship in each of these phases in the organizational commitment of an employee. In this thesis, I adopt multifoci view on organizational commitment which means that I see organizational commitment as a sum of commitments to different foci that are related to the organization. My research material consists of written personal narratives that are collected mainly from people working in Finnish organizations. To analyse the narratives, I use the Target similarity model by Lavelle et al. (2007) which incorporates social exchange relationships and commitment to different foci. My study shows that each of the phases of workplace friendship can play a significant role in employee’s organizational commitment, both directly and indirectly. Workplace friendships can induce organizational commitment in several ways. They can be, for example an important source of trust and support when dealing with both personal and work-related issues. Often, they are a source of joy, and they can induce satisfaction with one’s work conditions. All this has the potential to affect positively the organizational commitment of an employee. In turn, the exit of a workplace friend might have a negative effect on the organizational commitment of the remaining employee – at least temporarily.
Thesis advisor
Taipale, Tiina
workplace friendship, organizational commitment, prerequisites for workplace friendship, exit of a workplace friend
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