Managing the innovators: Organizational and professional commitment among scientists and engineers
How can leaders best manage commitment among innovators? We applied theory on dual allegiance to multiple targets of commitment, in conjunction with person-organization fit theory, to explore the dynamics of organizational and professional commitment among scientists and engineers working in hybrid, research-focused organizations. These types of organizations are founded on large-scale multi-disciplinary and multi-institutional collaboration between academe and industry. Using both individual- and organizational-level variables collected from 255 academic science and engineering researchers working in 22 National Science Foundation-funded Engineering Research Centers, our analyses revealed that researcher innovation orientation (i.e., the predisposition to approach work in novel ways) was positively associated with organizational and professional commitment. Those relationships were moderated by two factors: organizational productivity in late-stage technology transfer and the researcher‘s perceived role significance (i.e., in fulfilling the strategic mission of the organization). The strongest positive relationship between innovation orientation and organizational commitment emerged among researchers who perceived high role significance and worked in highly productive organizations. A negative relationship between innovation orientation and professional commitment also emerged among those individuals. Post-hoc analyses revealed that highly innovative, senior researchers who perceived high role significance were the most likely to report higher levels of both organizational and professional commitment. Leaders of multi-disciplinary research centers who are aware of the complexity of dynamics among organizational commitment, professional commitment, and role significance may be better equipped to effectively manage science and engineering researchers.