The Issue of Trust in Shaping the Job Involvement, Job Satisfaction, and Organizational Commitment of Southern Correctional Staff

Published date01 March 2021
Date01 March 2021
Subject MatterArticles
Criminal Justice Policy Review
2021, Vol. 32(2) 193 –215
© The Author(s) 2020
Article reuse guidelines:
DOI: 10.1177/0887403420903370
The Issue of Trust in Shaping
the Job Involvement,
Job Satisfaction, and
Organizational Commitment
of Southern Correctional Staff
Eric G. Lambert1, Linda D. Keena2,
Stacy H. Haynes3, Rose Ricciardelli4, David May3,
and Matthew Leone1
While the issue of trust is theoretically essential for the effective operation of
correctional organizations, few researchers have examined how the different types of
trust are related to salient outcomes for staff. In this study, we examined the effects of
coworker, supervisor, and management trust on the job involvement, job satisfaction,
and organizational commitment of 322 Southern U.S. correctional staff. The types of
workplace trust, however, varied in their effects. Specifically, multivariate analysis indicated
only management trust had a significant positive effect on job involvement, but both
coworker trust and management trust had significant positive effects on job satisfaction,
whereas both supervisor trust and management trust had significant positive effects
on organizational commitment. The current findings support the overall contention
that workplace trust plays an important role in shaping prison staff job involvement,
job satisfaction, and organizational commitment. The results underscore the need for
improving perceptions of trust in the workplace, particularly management trust.
prison staff, trust, job involvement, job satisfaction, organizational commitment
1University of Nevada, Reno, USA
2The University of Mississippi, University, USA
3Mississippi State University, Mississippi State, USA
4Memorial University of Newfoundland, St John’s, Canada
Corresponding Author:
Eric G. Lambert, Department of Criminal Justice, University of Nevada, Reno, AB601D, Mail Stop 0214,
1664 North Virginia Street, Reno, NV 89557, USA.
903370CJPXXX10.1177/0887403420903370Criminal Justice Policy ReviewLambert et al.
194 Criminal Justice Policy Review 32(2)
Paoline and Lambert (2012) argued that correctional staff (i.e., staff holding different
positions who work at a facility) are the heart and soul of the typical correctional orga-
nization. Correctional staff, regardless of the position, are responsible for a multitude of
tasks critical for the operation of a humane, safe, and secure facility. In addition to being
a valuable resource for correctional agencies, staff are also an expensive resource.
Between 70% and 80% of the operating budget for most prisons is for staffing (Camp
& Gaes, 2002). Not only do staff affect prison operations, their work environment also
affects them (Lambert et al., 2007). Three salient attitudinal work variables are job
involvement, job satisfaction, and organizational commitment. Job involvement is the
cognitive (i.e., psychological) identification with the job (Kanungo, 1982a, 1982b). Job
satisfaction is the affective (i.e., emotional) feeling a person has toward the job (Locke,
1976). Organizational commitment refers to the bond between the person and the
employing organization (Mowday et al., 1982).
These three attitudinal work variables have significant implications for both cor-
rectional staff and the employing organization. Job involvement, job satisfaction,
and organizational commitment have been observed to be related to reduced work
absenteeism (Lambert, Edwards, et al., 2005; Trounson & Pheifer, 2017), decreased
turnover intent/turnout (Griffin et al., 2014; Lambert & Hogan, 2009a; Lambert,
Keena, et al., 2019); lower levels of job burnout (Finney et al., 2013; Griffin et al.,
2010), greater life satisfaction (Lambert, Elechi, & Otu, 2019; Lambert, Hogan,
et al., 2005), increased compliance with rules (Lambert, Qureshi, et al., 2017),
greater support for change (Griffin et al., 2014), higher support for treatment of
offenders (Matz et al., 2013), greater involvement in organizational citizenship
(Lambert et al., 2016), and better work performance (Griffin et al., 2010). In light
of these salient outcomes, research on how workplace variables affect these work
attitudes has been undertaken. Although this research has provided vital informa-
tion on the effects of different workplace variables, there is still need for additional
research. One workplace concept that has received little research attention regard-
ing its effects on correctional staff work attitudes is trust. We define trust as the
belief by the trustor that another person or entity (i.e., the trusted) will do what was
promised and will act in a benevolent manner on behalf of the trustor (Colquitt
et al., 2007; Doney et al., 1998; Mayer et al., 1995). There are different forms of
workplace trust, with the three major ones being supervisor trust, management
trust, and coworker trust (Gilstrap & Collins, 2012; Kath et al., 2010). Specifically,
our study examined the effects of coworker trust, supervisor trust, and management
trust on the job involvement, job satisfaction, and organizational commitment of
Southern correctional staff. Our study adds to the literature by expanding on the
limited published research on how organizational trust is associated with work atti-
tudes of correctional staff. The limited past research has examined how supervisor
and/or management trust is associated with job satisfaction and/or organizational
commitment. In addition to examining the effects of supervisor and management
trust on satisfaction and commitment, we expand the previous limited research by
also including coworker trust and job involvement.

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