Faculty commitment to their work roles impacts their vitality, performance, and retention, as well as increases their commitment to the organization. Music faculty roles are complex due to the artistic accomplishment and individualized tutorial pedagogy model embedded in their expected roles in research, teaching, and service. We examined music faculty commitment to their institution by exploring their commitment to academic/artistic work roles through the analysis of responses from a national sample of ranked music professors. Results show that intrinsic factors, such as aspiration to achieve, esteem for one’s work, and goal setting, are related to commitment to research and teaching. Extrinsic factors, such as collaboration with colleagues outside the department and administrative experience, are predictors of increased service. Commitment to institution was gauged by aggregate association to role commitment. Using Meyer’s organizational commitment model, we interpret music faculty commitment to organization as affective and normative rather than continuance.
Faculty commitment to their work contributes to their vitality, performance, retention (Drucker-Godard, Fouque, Gollety, & Le Flanchec, 2015; Lee, 1995) and, in turn, organizational commitment (Meyer, Srinivas, Lal, & Topolnytsky, 2007). Therefore, understanding how to strengthen and support faculty commitment to their academic roles is critical to the success of higher education institutions.
In the field of music, similar to other disciplines, there are three categories in music faculty role subdisciplines: applied, academic, and education. Unique to music, however, are the 133 specializations within these three subdisciplines. The College Music Society database lists 27 subcategories; within each are 2 to 23 further specializations (CMS 2017). Considering the wide-ranging roles that music faculty fill, the three-pronged institutional faculty responsibilities of teaching, research, and service are confounded (Lawrence, Ott, & Bell, 2012). Applied teaching involves individualized training in one-on-one tutorial settings as well as in small and large ensembles. Research involves not only publication and presentation of research but also creation of new music and public performance. In service, music faculty participate in departmental committees, university initiatives, and professional organizations. In addition, music faculty are expected to perform at institutional events and in community functions. Furthermore, the institutional governance roles of music faculty on college campuses are becoming more involved, as an increasing number of contingent faculty are employed to fill applied music teaching positions, requiring the tenured or tenure-track music faculty to take on additional service responsibilities (McNaughtan, Garcia, & Nehls, 2017; Smith, Tovar, & Garcia, 2012). Given the narrow specializations and increased institutional roles, it is important to understand what leads to greater commitment of this critical faculty group.
The purpose of this article is to examine factors associated with music faculty role commitment. We analyze the influence of institutional characteristics, individual perspectives, and work conditions as they relate to commitment to each of the three academic roles. We then examine faculty commitment to the organization through aggregate role commitments. Lastly, we theorize on music faculty commitment as framed in Meyer’s three commitment models: affective, normative, and continuance. This study is significant because music faculty roles in higher education institutions have not been thoroughly analyzed to date, and little has been understood. Often, music faculty are left feeling marginalized or unsupported by the administration in this environment of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) emphasis.
Faculty members’ commitment levels to their roles vary, depending on their personal preferences (Lawrence, Ott, & Bell, 2012) and organizational conditions (Bare, 1980; Snyder, McLaughlin, & Montgomery 1991; Corcoran & Clark 1984). Work conditions can enhance faculty productivity and commitment through adjusting organizational structures, strategies, reward systems, and the degree of autonomy in crafting their work (Lee & McNaughtan, 2017).
Faculty development programs, such as new faculty orientation, instructional development, and personal development opportunities, also contribute to faculty commitment (Centra, 1985; Gusic, Milner, Tisdell, Taylor, Quillen, & Thorndyke, 2010). Professional development programs demonstrate institutional investment in faculty, enabling retention and increasing the level of commitment (Cox & McDonald, 2017; Palmer, Dankoski, Smith, Brutkiewicz, & Bogdewic, 2011; Toombs, 1983). In addition to providing training and support, professional development programs offer a unique opportunity for social networking (Cox, 2016). As an organizational structure, networking can be characterized as a tool to increase commitment, collegial support, and mentoring (Austin, 1992; Corcoran & Clark, 1984; Huston & Weaver, 2008), as well as facilitating faculty members’ collaborative work, sustained productivity, career satisfaction, and enhanced diversity (Austin, 1992; Blackburn, Chapman, & Cameron, 1981).
Faculty Commitment Model Incorporating Meyer’s Organizational Commitment
Organizational commitment has been found to predict a variety of work outcomes, such as job satisfaction (Dhurup, Surujlal, & Kabongo, 2016; Drucker-Godard et al., 2015), increased organizational citizenship behavior (Tharikh, Ying, Saad, & Sukumaran, 2015), overall job performance, low turn-over rate, and retention (Mowday, Porter, & Steers, 1982; Dirani & Kuchinke, 2011). It is also known to effect increases in an employee’s emotional intelligence manifested in self-awareness, assertiveness, empathy, managing anxiety, problem solving focus, self-confidence, role stress, empowerment, job insecurity, employability, and managing others (Shanker & Sayeed, 2015).
Meyer’s model of organizational commitment includes three separate components: (1) affective commitment, (2) continuance commitment, and (3) normative commitment (Meyer & Allen, 1991; Meyer, Stanley, Herscovitch, & Topolnytsky, 2002; Meyer et al., 2007). Affective commitment is the level of identification between persons and their respective organizations (Kanter, 1968; Mowday, Steers, & Porter, 1979). In other words, it refers to an emotional attachment to the organization as a result of sharing similar goals and values. Continuance commitment refers to an individual’s level of commitment that is based in the perceived costs of leaving the organization (Becker, 1960). It is tied to how much the person has invested in an organization. Whether that be time or other resources, continuance commitment is associated with the inclination to stay in the organization over time. Normative commitment stems from a feeling of obligation that arises from loyalty to an organization (Wiener, 1982), as in the attachment to an alma mater or sports team that may develop over time as a result of the frequent interaction among individuals within the organization. Figure 1 represents a conceptual model of faculty commitment showing the control variables, independent variables, and role commitments incorporated in Meyer’s organizational commitment concept.
Data and Methods
We used data collected from the entire membership of ranked professors in the College Music Society registry.1 We limited it to tenured and tenure-track faculty members with a rank of assistant professor or higher. This was due to the limited faculty roles (e.g., teaching or administrative only) of instructors, lecturers, and part-time adjunct artist-professors who serve the institution and who are not required to participate in shared governance. Of the 12,401 surveys distributed to the membership, we received 1,345 (11%) usable responses within the designated time frame of August to September 2015.
Table 1 presents a comparison of our sample (respondents) with the music faculty membership on select demographic variables. This comparison illustrates few substantive differences (in ratio) between our sample and the national music faculty membership. The overall similarity increases the reliability of our data to generalize the findings to the membership. We note, however, that our respondent sample represents a higher proportion of full professors and a lower one of assistant professors.
We used the Music Faculty Questionnaire: Faculty Vitality (a = .71) and Organizational Conditions (a = .82 [Lee, 1995]), which was approved by the CMS Review Committee for the 2015 study (Taylor, 2014).
We first present the descriptive sample statistics providing insights into faculty perception of the variables of interest. Second, we use logistic regression models to examine the relationships between the independent variables and dependent variables (i.e., the level of commitment to teaching, research, service, and organization). We chose the logistic model because of the lack of variability in the 5-point Likert-type scale in responses, most of which fell between “highly committed” and “moderately committed,” with few outliers in the other categories. Therefore, we dichotomized the Likert-type responses to either “Highly Committed” or “Not Highly Committed.” (A dichotomous approach was more appropriate for the analysis to fit our data.)
Independent Variables. Three different types of independent variables are employed. First, institutional characteristics (i.e., private or public; doctoral, comprehensive, or liberal arts) and individual characteristics (i.e., sex, faculty rank, and administrative experience) are used to act as controls for their influences in the model.
The second set of variables are faculty attributes, including the years of service, aspiration to achieve, esteem for their work, sense of purpose, sense of sincerity/devotion, sustained morale, sense of devotion to the institution, short and long-terms goals, and collaboration with colleagues in their field, along with those outside of their field. These variables allow us to examine the music professor’s individual perspective in relation to the level of their role commitment.
The third set of independent variables are work conditions, including freedom to do one’s research and creative activity, work load, and technology support. We also entered three organizational conditions, i.e., institutional development opportunities (a = .87), such as instructional and writing support; career socialization (a = .84) factoring friendly atmosphere and opportunities to interact with colleagues; and departmental support (a = .77), including travel funding, equipment, and administrative staff support.
Dependent Variables. The dependent variables of primary interest are commitment to teaching, service, research, and organization. Commitment to teaching included two questions centering on course preparation and interactions with students. Commitment to research was measured by the respondent’s perception of engagement and commitment to research writing, composing, rehearsals, and other creative activities. Commitment to service is operationalized by the level of departmental, institutional, and community commitment. Finally, organizational commitment was captured by the aggregate score of all three work roles.
Table 2 shows the descriptive data for work conditions, indicating that music professors enjoy a high level of freedom in their research and creative work (4.37, SD .98). However, other work conditions, such as funding for work activities (e.g., travel support and seed money for research [2.75, SD 1.16]), secretarial help (e.g., administrative staff support to help with clerical work [2.86, SD 1.32]), and equipment and supplies (2.97, SD 1.09) are rated low with a wider variability.
In Table 3, we see the highest level of commitment to teaching with a score of 4.7 (SD .60), with commitment to research/creativity second with 4.3 (SD .90), and less in service. Music faculty attributes are highly positive overall (e.g., aspiration to achieve [4.39, SD .79] and sense of sincerity and devotion [4.43, SD .83]). Among the lower-rated faculty attributes are sustained morale (3.37 [SD 1.16]) and specificity in long-term goals (3.41 [SD 1.05]). These scores indicate that faculty attributes—which are internally driven—seem to be higher than the externally driven attributes.
Logistic Regression Models
Table 4 shows the results of four separate regression models: commitment to (1) teaching, (2) service, (3) research, and (4) aggregate commitment to organization. Results show that faculty and institutional demographics (i.e., sex, rank, years of service), and institutional control or type have no significant effects on commitment models. There is, however, one exception: administrative experience shows a significant influence on service and organizational commitment.
In the dichotomous logit model (i.e., highly or not highly committed), the results are displayed in odds ratios. If the odds ratio is above one, that attribute is associated with increasing odds of being highly committed. For example, using the aspirations to achieve variability in the teaching model, we see that as aspirations increase by one unit, then the odds of the person being highly committed to teaching increase by 1.456 times, or 45.6%.
When comparing the models in Table 4, we see that different experiences, perspectives, and conditions are associated with music faculty commitment to their three roles. Specifically, lower commitment to service is associated with having never served in administrative posts (.555), whereas sense of devotion (1.509) and collaboration outside one’s field of study (1.903) are associated with increased commitment to service. Commitment to research is positively associated with aspirations to achieve (1.934), esteem for one’s own work (1.269), specific long-term goals (1.918), and freedom to research and engage in creative activity (1.405). Commitment to teaching is predicted by aspiration to achieve (1.456) and sense of devotion (1.664).
We also see in Table 4 that certain independent variables are related to commitment to more than one role and consequently lead to a statistically significant level of organizational commitment. For example, administrative experience is related to commitment to service and to organizational commitment; aspirations to achieve are related to commitment to teaching, research, and organizational commitment; sense of devotion is associated with teaching, service, and the organization; collaboration with colleagues within one’s field of study increases commitment to teaching and organizational commitment; and finally, collaboration with colleagues outside the music field is associated with increased service and organizational commitment.
In sum, Table 4 illuminates thematic insights that are associated with specific role commitments. Commitment to service is associated with experiences that are external in nature, that is, respondents without administrative experience are 45% less likely to be committed to service than those who have served in an administrative position (p<.01). Institutional development opportunities, also external, show a significant relationship with organizational commitment without associating with any role commitment (p<.05).
Faculty attributes that are internal in nature have relationships with multiple role commitments. For example, aspiration to achieve is a predictor of teaching, research, and organization; and sense of devotion is a predictor of teaching, service, and organization.
We interpret these thematic associations as indicative of a stronger trend toward affective and normative commitment than continuance commitment (Meyer et al., 1991, 2002, 2007). In other words, music faculty members are committed to the role and organization because of a sense of identification with the values and goals of said organization, as well as feelings of obligation and loyalty to it. Less consequential in this attachment is continuance commitment, which is based on the perceived cost of leaving, or investment of resources in, the organization.
We utilized faculty attributes and work conditions to investigate the factors that predict music faculty commitment to the three primary roles of teaching, research, and service. Moreover, we examined our data through Meyer’s affective, continuance, and normative organizational commitment model to interpret music faculty role commitment vis-à-vis their commitment to institutions. This two-step analysis is significant in understanding music faculty work in academia because music faculty are often viewed as independently motivated by their artistic pursuits but not as committed to institutional goals. The Meyer conceptual interpretation of our data shows that music faculty are emotionally attached (affective) and loyal (normative) to the institution more so than staying in the organization due to the perceived cost of leaving (continuance).
We found that sex and rank were not associated with commitment to teaching, service, or research. This is contrary to the common belief that commitment to certain roles varies as professors progress in rank—for example, commitment to research may decrease after tenure or commitment to teaching may increase as a faculty member is promoted. We think the non-association of the demographics may be an indication of stability in music faculty commitment.
Our data show that work conditions are important indicators of different types of role commitments. For example, increased freedom to research and creative work is associated with higher research commitment. Inside-field collaboration has a positive relationship with teaching, while outside-field collaboration is associated with commitment to service. It is not surprising that the strong sense of devotion and collaboration with colleagues outside their field is also associated with high commitment to service. These findings are important because they can help institutions improve their work conditions according to their desired outcomes in different faculty roles.
We discovered that music professors are strongly committed to teaching, research, and service, primarily because of intrinsic reasons such as aspiration to achieve, esteem for work, and sense of devotion. This supports the previous findings by Barlar (1983), LeBlanc and McCrary (1990), and Lee (1995), also corresponding to Meyer’s affective and normative models.
Music faculty role commitment stays consistently high regardless of sex, rank, or type of institution. Overall, work conditions were found to be not as influential as faculty attributes in predicting role and organizational commitment. That is, role and organizational commitment is affected most by faculty attributes and less by institutional nature and work conditions. We find it interesting that, while important, institutional effects are not nearly as powerful in predicting music faculty role commitment as are individual perspectives on work. One significant exception is that institutional development opportunities showed a direct influence on increasing organizational commitment.
This study has revealed that music faculty are very committed professionals, who manifest their commitment by fulfilling their academic, creative, and artistic responsibilities. Furthermore, the study has shown significant evidence that music professors’ productivity is internally motivated, owing to their intrinsic perspectives, and their commitment to the organization is affective and normative per Meyer’s model, i.e., they are emotionally attached and loyal to their institutions.
1. The College Music Society is a national society of music professors who teach in colleges, conservatories, universities, and community colleges throughout the United States and Canada. The mission of the College Music Society is to promote “music teaching and learning, musical creativity and expression, research and dialogue, and diversity and interdisciplinary interaction” (www.music.org). The CMS faculty registry includes the entire national music faculty.
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