Journal of Management Research

Journal of Management Research

Temporary and Permanent Employment in

Modern Organizations

Stephanie S. Pane Haden, Donald L. Caruth and Jennifer D. Oyler

Abstract

The study was designed to uncover the potential differences between temporary and permanent employees with respect to workplace deviance tendencies, organizational commitment, organizational trust, and perceived organizational fairness. Because of their ever-growing presence in today’s companies, we focused on temporary employees alongside their permanent counterparts in the same organization. Data pertaining to these variables were collected from both temporary and permanent employees working in light industrial-type organizations (N = 71). Few statistically significant differences between temporary and permanent employees were found. However, significant relationships between organizational commitment, trust, and fairness were revealed among both temporary and permanent employee groups. A more complete understanding of the attitudes and behaviors of the types of workers employed in modern organizations will help leaders manage their workforces in more effective ways.

Keywords: Temporary employees, workplace deviance, organizational commitment, organizational trust, organizational fairness.

INTRODUCTION

The composition of the American organization has changed dramatically over the last several decades. One of the main transformation has been the increase in the number of temporary employees working in these companies. The use of temporary employees to fulfill staffing needs is a practice that grew at a rapid pace during the 1990s and is being implemented by an estimated nine out of ten US organizations (Bohlander and Snell, 2007). In 2005, the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that contingent workers (i.e., temporary and part-time workers, outsourced subcontractors, contract workers, and college interns) comprised 26 percent of the total labor

force in this country, with 1.2 million individuals being classified as temporary employees (Gomez- Mejia, Balkin and Cardy, 2010).

There are a variety of reasons why organizational leaders decide to use temporary workers and this type of staffing strategy. Temporary employment arrangements allow organizations to supplement their core workforces, adding the flexibility often needed in an environment of fluctuating labor demands (Kalleberg, Reynolds and Marsden, 2003). Such arrangements also provide the potential to reduce labor costs, protect the job security of permanent employees, and serve as an effective way to screen employees for permanent positions within the organization (Houseman, 2001). Since temporary staffing arrangements offer such benefits, the frequency of their use will most likely continue to grow (Connelly, Gallagher and Gilley, 2007).

Since more and more companies are turning to temporary employment agencies to meet their staffing needs, research concerning the behavioral characteristics and attitudes of such workers is

Stephanie S. Pane Haden Donald L. Caruth Jennifer D. Oyler Texas A&M University-Commerce

P.O. Box 3011, Commerce

TX 75429-3011 (USA)

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warranted (Camerman, Cropanzano, and Vandenberghe, 2007). Researchers have noted that relatively little is known about the effects that temporary employment arrangements can have on the attitudes of the employees (Liden, Wayne, Kraimer and Sparrowe, 2003; Pearce, 1993).

While some researchers have suggested there are significant differences between temporary and permanent employees with respect to certain organizational attitudes and behaviors (Biggs and Swailes, 2006; Hesselink and Van Vuuren, 1999; Reiners, 1999), we question whether these differences should be accepted without further scrutiny. While temporary employees have been found to engage in workplace deviance (Tucker, 1993) and possess a low level of organizational commitment (Biggs and Swailes, 2006), these findings are not unanimous with other research and should not be unilaterally used to fuel the negative stereotypes often associated with temporary workers. Other researchers have uncovered results that paint a more positive image of temporary employees (Guest, Oakley, Clinton and Budjanovcanin, 2006; Lee and Johnson, 1991), suggesting that they may not be all that different from their permanent counterparts.

We also question whether real differences between these two types of employees exist based on the fact that the American Staffing Association proclaimed that 74 percent of temporary employees actually seek permanent positions (Tyler, 2004). Many individuals accept temporary position in the hopes that the job will eventually become permanent. If such a large percentage of temporary employees aspire to achieve permanent employment, would they not try to portray more positive attitudes, engage in desirable organizational behaviors, and more closely emulate permanent employees in their attempts to achieve that status?

We also wonder whether the fact that the labor market has become so unpredictable has made these two classifications of employees more similar than one might originally expect. With unemployment rates at such a high level and the

economy in such a dire state, permanent employees may view their positions as rather temporary, never knowing when they might lose their job. If permanent employees feel as if their place in the organization is not secure, would they not feel quite similar to their temporary counterparts? These observations and questions should lead academics and practitioners to question the nature of the current classifications of employment status in contemporary organizations.

This article presents the comparative results of behavioral and attitudinal data collected from samples of temporary and permanent employees working in real-world organizations. The study was designed to uncover potential differences between the two types of workers with respect to such variables as workplace deviance tendencies, organizational commitment, organizational trust, and perceived organizational fairness. Relationships among the aforementioned dependent variables were also tested and compared between the two groups. The empirical study and our interpretation of the results will provide valuable knowledge regarding temporary employees and the staffing strategies that hinge upon the hiring of these employees, painting a more accurate picture of the current nature of employment status in US organizations.

HYPOTHESES: TEMPORARY VERSUS

PERMANENT EMPLOYEES

Based on much of the existing research and literature regarding temporary employees, as well as some of the commonly held stereotypes among many organizational members, the following hypotheses predict that there are significant differences between temporary and permanent employees. Specifically, the hypotheses predict that permanent employees will possess and demonstrate more desirable attitudes and behaviors. As noted above however, we are not thoroughly convinced that the two types of employees are truly that different from each other.

Workplace Deviance

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Workplace deviance has been examined with respect to the general workforce, but the investigation into workplace deviance among temporary employees, a subset of the workforce, is limited. Tucker (1993) found that temporary employees engage in theft, sabotage, and non- cooperative behavior in response to perceived injustice. Unfortunately, the behavior of permanent employees was not measured in this study, and thus, there is no basis on which to compare the two groups. Measuring deviance in permanent employees would have allowed for an informative comparison and more meaningful conclusions. Thus, a specific aim of this study was to evaluate deviance levels among temporary employees and to compare these levels to the deviance among permanent employees. Since the research concerning workplace deviance among temporary employees is minimal and literature searches did not identify studies directly comparing temporary and permanent employees with respect to deviance, hypothesizing which group will report higher levels of this variable is difficult to do with any level of confidence. Therefore, we have proposed a hypothesis that is more exploratory in nature and suggests only that there will be a difference between the two groups:

Hypothesis 1: There is a difference between

reported levels of workplace deviance among

temporary and permanent employees.

Organizational Commitment

Previous research examining the behavioral and attitudinal characteristics of temporary employees has yielded mixed results. Some researchers have found that temporary and permanent employees tend to differ with respect to organizational commitment, with permanent employees being more committed to the organization (Biggs and Swailes, 2006). Researchers have also found that temporary employment conditions can lead to increased feelings of job insecurity and decreased commitment (Hesselink and Van Vuuren, 1999).

While the aforementioned research suggests that permanent employees express greater commitment

to their organizations, Lee and Johnson (1991) found that temporary employees are capable of possessing high organizational commitment to companies that contract their labor. The temporary employees actually reported higher organizational commitment than permanent employees, depending on the shift the employees were assigned. To blur the results even further, other research efforts have failed to reveal any statistically significant difference between temporary and permanent employees with respect to such employee attitudes (Guest et al., 2006).

While the research results concerning organizational commitment are mixed, the majority of the findings do suggest that permanent employees tend to report greater organizational commitment than temporary employees. Additionally, permanent workers tend to have longer tenure with an organization and this additional time provides the opportunity for commitment to develop (Kline and Peters, 1991). Therefore:

Hypothesis 2: Permanent employees will

report higher levels of organizational

commitment than temporary employees.

Trust

In organizational restructuring efforts, including the incorporation of new technology, reducing middle management, and replacing permanent jobs with temporary positions, organizational trust stands the potential to be compromised (Wells, 1998). Zucker (1986) suggests that organizations must act reliably and dependably in order to develop trusting relationships with their employees. The contract and the longer tenure that permanent employees have with an organization enhance their perceptions of the reliability and dependability of the organization. Temporary employees do not have the security of such a contract and since they have not worked at the organization as long as permanent employees, they typically will not have had the time necessary to build a trusting relationship. Cook and Wall (1980) found that older employees tend to report more trust in their

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organization than younger employees. This positive correlation between age and trust may be explained by the variable of tenure. Older employees have generally spent more years in the organization and thus time can allow for greater opportunities to establish trusting relationships. As previously mentioned, permanent employees tend to have longer tenure. Since temporary employees have not worked at the organization as long as permanent employees, it is expected that temporary workers will not have had the time required to build a trusting relationship. Thus:

Hypothesis 3: Permanent employees will

report higher levels of trust than temporary

employees.

Perceived Fairness

Geber (1999) conducted a survey of 224 contingent workers in order to assess their levels of perceived fairness, commitment, organizational citizenship behavior (OCB), and intent to stay with the organization. Fair treatment was positively related to commitment, OCB, and intent to stay (Geber, 1999). In this study, permanent employees were not evaluated and compared, which limited the meaningfulness and interpretability of the results. Reiners (1999) studied temporary and permanent professionals and found that the two types of workers differed in their perceptions of pay fairness. Although research indicates that the two types of workers differ in their perceptions of fairness toward an organization, the reasons for these differences are unclear. Since temporary employees have usually spent less time in the organization than their permanent counterparts, it is possible that they will not have had the opportunities to reap the rewards that the permanent employees receive from the organization. In accordance with equity theory (Adams, 1965), seeing permanent employees receive rewards and advantages from the organization may seem inequitable and unfair to the temporary employees who may believe they are working just as hard and putting in just as much effort. It is also possible that temporary employees are simply not treated in as fair a manner as

permanent employees. Regardless of the reason, the two types of employees are expected to differ with respect to their perceptions of fairness. Accordingly:

Hypothesis 4: Permanent employees will

report greater perceived fairness than temporary

employees.

Relationships among the Dependent

Variables

Research suggests that organizational commitment, trust, and fairness are negatively related to tendencies toward deviant workplace behaviors. For example, high organizational commitment has been linked to decreased tardiness (Blau, 1986), a subtle form of workplace deviance. Hollinger (1986) revealed that a lack of future commitment may lead to destruction of property by employees. The evidence from these studies suggests that employees who possess higher levels of commitment to an organization are less likely to engage in deviant behavior while on the job. As a result:

Hypothesis 5: There will be a negative

relationship between workplace deviance and

organizational commitment.

Most research suggests there is a negative relationship between organizational trust and workplace deviance. Cadenhead and Richman (1996) investigated the relationship between interpersonal trust and aggressive and prosocial behavior. They found a trend toward increased prosocial behavior and decreased aggression when trust was high. Marcovitz (1982) suggests that betrayal of trust can lead to feelings of hatred and actions of destruction. These findings imply that developing a trusting relationship with employees can help organizations reduce the occurrences of deviance in the workplace. Consequently:

Hypothesis 6: There will be a negative

relationship between workplace deviance and

trust.

Previous research suggests that perceptions of

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fairness influence tendencies toward workplace deviance. Employees tend to perceive a pay reduction as an unfair act by the organization. During a period in which pay was reduced by 15%, employee theft rates increased significantly (Greenberg, 1990). Greenberg and Scott (1996) offered an explanation for such employee theft in terms of the concept of social exchange. They suggested that employees steal in response to situations they perceive as unfair, in order to make the exchange between their organization and themselves equal. This attempt to match work inputs with payment outputs falls in line with equity theory (Adams, 1965). Besides stealing from the organization, it is possible that employees may engage in other deviant behaviors in order to remedy an unfair situation at work. They may show up late to work or slow down production in an effort to reduce their inputs to a level they believe matches their pay (i.e., output). Hence:

Hypothesis 7: There will be a negative

relationship between workplace deviance and

perceived fairness.

Positive relationships between trust in the organization and organizational commitment have been demonstrated in previous research efforts (Andaleeb, 1996; Tan and Tan, 2000). These studies also emphasize the importance of developing trust as a way to help attain organizational success. Grunberg, Anderson- Connolly and Greenberg (2000) investigated how employees were affected by layoffs in their company. If employees believed that the layoffs were unfair, their commitment was significantly lowered. This research suggests that fairness and commitment are positively related. Tyler and Degoey (1995) found a positive correlation between fairness and trust. The researchers suggested that higher levels of structural and/or interactional fairness may lead to higher levels of trust among employees. Other research revealed this positive relationship by testing a social exchange model of organizational citizenship behavior. Konovsky and Pugh (1994) found that the level of an employee’s trust in a manager mediated the relationship between fairness in the

manager’s decision and citizenship behavior. In a study evaluating the relationships and interactions between all three of the variables, Folger and Konovsky (1989) determined that procedural fairness significantly influences employees’ trust in their supervisors and their organizational commitment. Similarly, in a study about decision- making procedures, procedural fairness affected commitment to the decision and trust in the leader of the decision-making process (Korsgaard, Schweiger and Sapienza, 1995). Cumulatively, the literature suggests that commitment, trust, and fairness are interrelated. Therefore, we predict:

Hypothesis 8: Organizational commitment,

fairness, and trust will be positively correlated.

METHOD

Participants

Seventy-one participants were recruited from two separate manufacturing organizations in the northeast region of the United States. Fifty of the participants were employed at a packaging plant and the remaining 21 participants were recruited from a bottling plant. Across the two organizations, a total of 34 participants were classified as permanent employees and 37 as temporary employees. All permanent employees had been hired directly by the two participating organizations. All temporary employees were contracted by each plant through a local staffing agency.

Measures

The survey packet consisted of five separate measures. Each of the five measures, as well as their representative subscales, demonstrated satisfactory reliability by exceeding the lower bound for acceptable Cronbach’s alpha recommended by Nunnally (1978). All of these reliability coefficients are provided throughout this section.

The workplace deviance scale developed and validated by Bennett and Robinson (2000) was used to evaluate workplace aggression. The measure

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consists of 19 items with a 12-item subscale measure of organizational deviance (deviant behaviors directly harmful to the organization) and a 7-item subscale measure of interpersonal deviance (deviant behaviors directly harmful to other individuals within the organization). The organizational deviance subscale consisted of items that asked participants how often they had “taken property from work without asking” or “came in late to work without permission.” The interpersonal deviance subscale inquired about how often participants had “made fun of someone at work” and “cursed at someone at work.” Responses were given on a seven-point Likert-type scale, with the following response categories: (7) daily; (6) weekly; (5) monthly; (4) several times a year; (3) twice a year; (2) once a year; and (1) never. The alpha coefficients for the total workplace deviance scale, the organizational deviance subscale, and the interpersonal deviance subscale were 0.87, 0.73, and 0.84, respectively.

The 26-item organizational commitment scale developed and validated by Meyer and Allen (1991) and Meyer, Allen and Smith (1993), was used to assess three type of commitment: affective commitment, continuance commitment, and normative commitment. The affective, continuance, and normative commitment subscales consisted of items such as “I would be very happy to spend the rest of my career with this organization,” “It would be very hard for me to leave my organization right now, even if I wanted to,” and “I was taught to believe in the value of remaining loyal to one organization,” respectively. The overall organizational commitment scale (alpha coefficient of 0.88), the affective commitment subscale (alpha coefficient of 0.80), the continuance commitment subscale (alpha coefficient of 0.81), and the normative commitment subscale (alpha coefficient of 0.83) all demonstrated acceptable reliability.

The 41-item organizational fairness scale developed by Beugre (1996) was used to evaluate four dimensions of organizational justice: distributive, procedural, interactional, and systemic. These four dimensions of justice were evaluated with items

such as “Overall, the rewards I receive here are quite fair,” “Objective procedures are used in evaluating my performance,” “I am treated with respect and dignity in the company,” and “The compensation system of this company is fair,” respectively. The overall fairness scale and the four dimensions that comprise the scale exhibited satisfactory reliability: overall organizational fairness (alpha coefficient of 0.96), distributive fairness (alpha coefficient of 0.93), procedural fairness (alpha coefficient of 0.88), interactional fairness (alpha coefficient of 0.94), and systemic fairness (alpha coefficient of 0.92).

The 11-item Trust Inventory developed by McAllister (1995) was used to assess two dimensions of trust: affect-based trust and cognition-based trust. Affective-based trust was determined by responses to items such as “I can talk freely to my supervisor about difficulties I am having at work and know that he/she will want to listen.” “My supervisor approaches his/her job with professionalism and dedication” is an example of a cognition-based trust item. The alpha coefficients for the total organizational trust scale, the affect-based trust subscale, and the cognition- based trust subscale were 0.87, 0.85, and 0.75, respectively. For the commitment, fairness, and trust measures, responses were recorded on a five- point Likert-type scale with a response scale ranging from “Strongly Disagree” (1) to “Strongly Agree” (5).

Procedure

All data were collected on-site, during employee meetings at two light industrial-type organizations. At the first organization, a packaging plant, employees attended regularly scheduled staff meetings in groups of 10 to 15 individuals. All employees, permanent as well as temporary, were required to attend the meetings in order to discuss production rates, sales, attendance issues, and other policies. The measurement packet was administered to the employees before the regular meeting started to avoid any confounding variables due to the topics discussed at the meeting. Participants were assured that their responses were

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confidential, would have no bearing on their job, and that the managers of the organization would never see the surveys or the results of the study. After taking approximately 15-30 minutes to complete the survey, the participants dropped their packets into a sealed box with a drop slot. This method of returning the surveys ensured that the identity of all participants would remain anonymous. At each of the four staff meetings, instructions were given and materials were distributed and collected in the exact same manner.

The second organization was a bottling plant. All participants at this organization were called into the break room for a meeting concerning production, shipping, and policies. Again, before any organizational issues were discussed, the survey packets were distributed, explained, and collected in the exact same way as it was at the packaging plant.

RESULTS

Table 1 lists the mean scores and standard deviations for temporary and permanent employees with respect to all of the dependent measures and their respective subscales.

Workplace Deviance

Since two highly correlated forms of workplace deviance were measured in this study (interpersonal deviance and organizational deviance, r = 0.69), a MANOVA was used to investigate this hypothesis. The multivariate results from the MANOVA analysis revealed that there was no statistically significant difference between temporary and permanent workers on the linear combination of interpersonal, F (2, 68) = 0.39, p > 0.05. The effect size of the effect for the multivariate effect of type of worker on workplace deviance as

Table 1: Mean Scores and Standard Deviations for Temporary and Permanent Employees

Scale or Subscale Temporary Employee Permanent Employee

Workplace Deviance Scale 1.75(0.75) 1.88(0.72)

Interpersonal Deviance Subscale 2.02(1.17) 2.16(1.11)

Organizational Deviance Subscale 1.60(0.60) 1.72(0.61)

Organizational Commitment Scale 3.13(0.57) 3.40(0.53)

Affective Commitment Subscale 3.22(0.62) 3.47(0.72)

Continuance Commitment Subscale 3.01(0.86) 3.26(0.68)

Normative Commitment Subscale 3.19(0.59) 3.47(0.74)

Organizational Fairness Scale 3.30(0.54) 3.12(0.72)

Distributive Fairness Subscale 3.41(0.50) 3.11(0.77)

Procedural Fairness Subscale 3.41(0.50) 3.11(0.77)

Interactional Fairness Subscale 3.55(0.80) 3.38(0.78)

Systemic Fairness Subscale 3.26(0.65) 3.05(0.74)

Organizational Trust Scale 3.51(0.53) 3.39(0.67)

Affect-based Trust Subscale 3.44(0.72) 3.33(0.75)

Cognition-based Trust Subscale 3.56(0.50) 3.43(0.70)

220 Journal of Management Research

indexed by the partial eta-squared for the multivariate effect of type of worker was 0.01.

As a follow-up, separate ANOVAs were conducted for the effect of temporary versus permanent workers on each of the two types of workplace deviance. There was no statistical difference between temporary and permanent employees for either interpersonal deviance, F (1, 69) = 0.27, p > 0.05 or organizational deviance, F (1, 69) = 0.77, p > 0.05. Overall, there was no support for Hypothesis 1 that predicted that there would be a difference between temporary and permanent employees with respect to reported levels of workplace deviance.

Organizational Commitment

Since the three subscale measures of the Organizational Commitment Scale (Meyer and Allen, 1991; Meyer et al., 1993) were significantly correlated, a MANOVA was used to investigate the hypothesis. The multivariate results from the analysis revealed that there was no statistically significant difference between temporary and permanent workers with respect to the linear combination of affective commitment, continuance commitment, and normative commitment, F (3, 67) = 1.31, p > 0.05. The effect size of the effect for the multivariate effect of type of worker on commitment as indexed by the partial eta-squared was 0.06.

As a follow-up, separate ANOVAs were conducted for the effect of temporary versus permanent employees on each of the three types of organizational commitment. There was no statistical difference between temporary and permanent workers for affective commitment, F (1, 69) = 2.51, p > 0.05; continuance commitment, F (1, 69) = 1.86, p > 0.05; or normative commitment, F (1, 69) = 3.19, p > 0.05. Overall, there was no support for Hypothesis 2 that predicted that permanent employees would report higher levels of organizational commitment than temporary employees.

Trust

Since two highly correlated forms of trust were measured in this study (affect-based trust and cognition-based trust, r = 0.65), a MANOVA was used to investigate this hypothesis. The multivariate results from the MANOVA revealed that there was no statistically significant difference between temporary and permanent workers on the linear combination of affect-based and cognition- based trust, F (2, 68) = 0.79, p > 0.05. The partial eta-squared for the multivariate effect of type of worker on trust was 0.01.

As a follow-up, separate ANOVAs were conducted for the effect of temporary versus permanent employees on each of the two types of organizational trust. There were no statistically significant differences between temporary and permanent workers for affect-based trust, F (1, 69) = 0.43, p > 0.05, or cognition-based trust, F (1, 69) = 0.79, p > 0.05. Therefore, Hypothesis 3 was not supported.

Perceived Fairness

Since the four subscales (distributive fairness, procedural fairness, interactional fairness, and systemic) that constitute the organizational fairness scale that were measured in this study were significantly correlated, a MANOVA was used to investigate this hypothesis. The multivariate results from the MANOVA revealed no significant difference between temporary and permanent employees with respect to organizational fairness, F (4, 66) = 1.53, p > 0.05. The partial eta-squared for the multivariate effect of type of worker on fairness was 0.09.

As a follow-up, separate ANOVAs were conducted for the effect of temporary versus permanent employees on each of the four types of organizational fairness. There was a significant difference between temporary and permanent workers for procedural fairness, F (1, 69) = 3.96, p < 0.05, but no significant differences with respect to distributive, interactional, or systemic fairness. While the ANOVA results detected a difference

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between the two groups with respect to procedural fairness, the hypothesis suggested that the difference would be a consequence of permanent employees reporting higher levels of fairness than temporary employees. The results of the ANOVA show the opposite. Temporary workers actually reported significantly higher levels of procedural fairness than permanent workers, so there was no support for Hypothesis 4.

Relationships among the Dependent

Variables

Correlational analysis was used to test the associations between the two forms of workplace deviance (interpersonal deviance and organizational deviance) and the three forms of organizational commitment (affective commitment, continuance commitment, and normative commitment). While all of the relationships between the two forms of workplace deviance and each of the three forms of organizational commitment were negative, none of the correlations were significant. Therefore, Hypothesis 5 was not supported.

With respect to deviance and trust, all of the relationships were negative, but none of the correlations between each of the workplace deviance subscale variables and each of the organizational trust subscale variables were statistically significant. Therefore, Hypothesis 6 was not supported.

Correlational analysis was also used to test the associations between the two forms of workplace deviance (interpersonal deviance and organizational deviance) and the four forms of organizational fairness (distributive fairness, procedural fairness, interactional fairness, and systemic fairness). While all of the relationships between the two forms of workplace deviance and each of the four forms of organizational fairness were negative, only one of the correlations was significant. Systemic fairness was significantly related to organizational deviance (r = -0.26, p < 0.05). When overall deviance and overall fairness scores were added to the correlation matrix, three other significant

relationships emerged. Systemic fairness was significantly related to overall deviance (r = -0.25, p < 0.05). Overall fairness was significantly related to interpersonal deviance (r = -0.24, p < 0.05) and overall deviance (r = -0.23, p < 0.05). These findings lend partial support to Hypothesis 7.

Several other statistically significant correlations emerged and we feel they should be recognized here. Affective commitment and normative commitment were positively correlated with all four of the organizational fairness subscales and both of the trust subscales at the p < 0.01 significance level. Total or overall commitment was significantly related to both total fairness (r = 0.50, p < 0.01) and total trust (r = 0.45, p < 0.01). All four types of fairness (distributive, procedural, interactional, systemic) were positively correlated with both of the forms of trust (affect-based and cognitive-based) at the p < 0.01 significance level and total fairness was significantly related to total trust (r = 0.74, p < 0.01). These findings lend support to Hypothesis 8.

When correlation tables were separately generated for each group, temporary employees (n = 37) and permanent employees (n = 34), there were several consistencies between the two groups with respect to the relationships between several of the dependent variables. As when the two groups were combined (N = 71) to compare the dependent variables, affective commitment and normative commitment were positively correlated with all four of the organizational fairness subscales and both of the trust subscales. With the temporary employees group (n = 37), all of these correlations were significant at the p < 0.01 level. With the permanent employee group (n = 34), these correlations were significant at either the p < 0.01 or p < 0.05 level. Total commitment was significantly related to total fairness for both the temporary employee group (r = 0.74, p < 0.01) and the permanent employee group (r = 0.41, p < 0.05). Total commitment was significantly related to total trust for both the temporary employee group (r = 0.48, p < 0.01) and the permanent employee group (r = 0.51, p < 0.01). Total fairness

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was significantly related to total trust for both the temporary employee group (r = 0.66, p < 0.01) and the permanent employee group (r = 0.79, p < 0.01).

DISCUSSION

The results of the present study can be viewed as positive news for organizations and their managers, especially since the need for and use of temporary employees in the workforce is continually rising. It is logical to predict that temporary workers, who rarely spend more than a year in one organization, would not care as much as the permanent workers and may therefore be more likely to engage in deviant behavior. However, the results from this study do not support this rationale. While Tucker’s (1993) research implies that temporary employees are likely to engage in workplace deviance when they perceive that organizational injustice exists, we cannot deny that it is possible, and most likely probable, that permanent employees would respond to injustice in the same way. Based on the lack of statistically significant differences between temporary and permanent employees with respect to workplace deviance demonstrated in our study, we recommend that managers equally monitor deviant behavior among all types of employees, regardless of employment status or classification.

Compared to the permanent employees that participated in the present study, temporary employees reported similar levels of commitment to the organization, trust in the organization, and perceptions of fairness about the organization. While some of the previous research efforts have revealed that the two groups of employees differ with respect to such variables (Biggs and Swailes, 2006; Reiners, 1999), our results suggest that temporary and permanent employees report comparable levels of commitment, trust, and perceived fairness. Combined with the findings pertaining to deviance, these results suggest that organizational commitment, organizational trust, organizational fairness, and tendencies toward workplace deviance are individual characteristics of the worker and may not be affected by employment status.

The lack of statistically significant findings with respect to the relationships between workplace deviance and organizational commitment, trust, and fairness were unexpected, as previous research suggests that high levels of commitment, trust, and perceived fairness are associated with low levels of workplace deviance and vice versa (Blau, 1986; Cadenhead and Richman, 1996; Greenberg, 1990). Perhaps the sensitive nature of the items on the workplace deviance scale led participants to respond in a socially desirable way, as the mean scores for this scale, which was anchored on a scale of 1 (low) to 7 (high), were very low for both groups (temporary employee mean = 1.75; permanent employee mean = 1.88). It is likely that none of the participants felt comfortable indicating their actual frequencies of deviant behavior even though their anonymity was assured. So regardless of their reported levels of commitment, trust, and fairness, most participants reported low levels of workplace deviance.

As expected, positive relationships between commitment, trust, and fairness were revealed. When separately examining and comparing the relationships between these three variables among temporary and permanent employees, we found that for both groups: (1) affective commitment and normative commitment were positively correlated with all four of the organizational fairness subscales and both of the trust subscales; (2) total commitment was significantly related to total fairness; (3) total commitment was significantly related to total trust; and (4) total fairness was significantly related to total trust. We feel that the reproduction of these widely accepted positive relationships between commitment, trust, and fairness, within both the temporary and permanent employee groups, lends support to our argument that these two types of employees are more similar than customarily perceived.

Limitations of the Present Study

While there are noted weaknesses of cross- sectional research that relies upon self-report data, this type of methodology can be useful in the field of organizational behavior (Spector, 1994).

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Combining the cross-sectional design of the study and the correlational analysis used to test many of the hypotheses, causal relationships cannot be drawn between workplace deviance, organizational commitment, organizational trust, and organizational fairness. However, identifying that relationships between these variables do exist is a necessary first step in determining whether further research is warranted and lending some guidance as to how that research might be designed in the future. As for the fact that survey data were collected and therefore there exists the potential for self-report bias, the researchers felt that the type of information sought was best captured via self-report. While participants may have been influenced by social desirability when responding to sensitive items, in particular, items on the workplace deviance scale, information gathered through other means or sources could result in just as much bias and inaccuracy (Spector, 1994). With respect to the commitment, trust, and fairness of the employees, collecting information directly from these employees via surveys seemed like the most appropriate method for gathering this type of information. Observational techniques could have helped reduce the bias that might have existed in the reporting of workplace deviance behavior. However, a new bias would surface because there would be a low likelihood of accurately observing and recording every act of workplace deviance for every employee in the organization. By ensuring anonymity and confidentiality to all participants, we hoped to increase the likelihood that participants would respond honestly. However, we do realize that truthfully responding to sensitive survey items is a complex process and often uninfluenced by the mere assurance of confidentiality (Rasinski, Willis, Baldwin, Yeh and Lee, 1999).

The final limitation we will address is the small sample size (N = 71). While a larger sample size was desired, the partial eta-square obtained through the MANOVAs were all less than 0.09, indicating that the small sample size was not as significant a limitation as one might think. Such small partial eta-squared values suggest that an extremely large sample size would be needed in order for any

significant differences to emerge. Rather than view the sample size as a weakness, we view the small partial eta-squared values as an indication that temporary and permanent employees might be more similar than some researchers and practitioners previously thought.

Implications for Further Investigations

Ideally, future investigations of this topic and these relationships should be conducted longitudinally and utilize a variety of methods, measures, and techniques for collecting richer data. Future research should also study temporary employees that do not have any potential to be hired as a permanent employee in the organization to which they are assigned. If the temporary employees in the present study performed well and proved themselves over a certain length of time, they could eventually become a part of the permanent staff. The two types of employees could be significantly different under a different temporary staffing protocol. Finally, future efforts should also extend the research on temporary employees beyond the industrial setting. Examining differences between the two types of workers in an office setting could affect the results. Furthermore, in a non- manufacturing environment, it would most likely be easier to obtain more data from females so that gender differences could also be evaluated.

CONCLUSION

We believe that the failure to find support for the hypotheses predicting differences between temporary and permanent employees is representative of the current nature of employment status in US organizations. For a variety of potential reasons, temporary and permanent employees are perhaps more similar than most scholars and practitioners think. In the introduction, we offered two general propositions to explain why these two types of workers are so similar. First, the majority of temporary workers accept their assignments with the ultimate goal of being hired on as a permanent employee. If permanent employment is their desired end state,

224 Journal of Management Research

the likelihood of being hired on permanently would greatly increase if they act more like the permanent staff and possess and engage in desirable attitudes and behaviors. Second, the unpredictability and instability of the current labor market may be causing all employees, temporary and permanent alike, to feel “temporary” in their

positions at work. In today’s workforce, just because individuals are classified as permanent staff does not mean that they will assuredly have a job the next day. These feelings of insecurity and “temporariness” could lead permanent employees to respond with similar attitudes and behaviors as their temporary counterparts. While additional

research is needed to more accurately assess the nature of employment status and the similarities and distinctions between different classifications of workers, the results of this study force us all to take a closer look and reconsider the negative stereotypes that suggest temporary employees are inferior to permanent employees.

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