An Examination of the Factor Structure of Union Commitment in New Zealand


  • Roderick D. Iverson
  • Matt Ballard



This paper examines the stability of the dimensionality of union commitment as proposed by Gordon, Philpot, Burt, Thompson, and Spillers (1980) in the cultural context of New Zealand. The results based on a sample of 489 academic and ancillary (i.e. technical, library, general, and services) staff using the sophisticated technique of confirmatory factor analysis (LISREL VIII) (Joreskog and Sorbom, 1993) indicate that union commitment is best represented by the four factors of union loyalty, responsibility to the union, willingness to work for the union, and belief in unionism. These factors displayed discriminant validity as evidenced by the differential relationships and explained variances with a co,mmon set of explanatory variables. For example, older members were found to be associated with a willingness to fulfil the day to day obligations of the union (i.e. responsibility). No support was found for any effect of gender, kinship responsibility, membership tenure or rank on union commitment. As expected, having represented or previously held a union position significantly influences staffs responsibility and willingness to work for the union. Surprisingly, academics were more ready to undertake special work for the union (i.e. willingness) than ancillary staff Both union instrumentality and passive participation (for example, voting in union elections) were strong predictors of all four factors of union commitment. Finally, active participation (for example, raising grievances) was observed to increase willingness to work for and belief in unionism. The results provide support for the generalisability of the factor structure of union commitment to New Zealand, where the implications for future research are discussed


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Author Biographies

Roderick D. Iverson,

Matt Ballard,