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Thesis defences

PhD Oral Exam - Simon Houle, Psychology

Trajectories of Affective Organizational and Occupational Commitment: The Case of Public Service Employees

Date & time
Friday, March 22, 2024
9 a.m. – 12 p.m.

This event is free


School of Graduate Studies


Nadeem Butt


Psychology Building
7141 Sherbrooke W.
Room 244

Wheel chair accessible


When studying for a doctoral degree (PhD), candidates submit a thesis that provides a critical review of the current state of knowledge of the thesis subject as well as the student’s own contributions to the subject. The distinguishing criterion of doctoral graduate research is a significant and original contribution to knowledge.

Once accepted, the candidate presents the thesis orally. This oral exam is open to the public.


The goal of this dissertation is to document the evolution of affective organizational and occupational commitment trajectories among public service employees. To this end, three longitudinal person-centered studies were conducted to identify the main types of commitment trajectories identified among three independent samples of participants (i.e., school principals, nurses, military recruits), and to assess how these trajectories were related to a variety of antecedents and outcomes. A first study focused on the occupational commitment trajectories of 661 established school principals (42% males) followed over a period of two years. A second study focused on the organizational commitment trajectories of 4859 military recruits (68.4% males) follow across basic training (3 months) and their first nine months of employment in the Canadian Armed Forces. A third study had a dual focus on the organizational and occupational commitment of 659 early career nurses (12% males), recruited within their first three year of employment, and followed over the course of two years (allowing us to estimate trajectories covering their first five years in the nursing occupation. All three studies identified profiles of employees following persistently high commitment trajectories, persistently low or decreasing commitment trajectories (both of which were identified among school principals) and increasing commitment trajectories. Among school principals and nurses, a persistently moderate commitment trajectory was also identified. Moreover, our results demonstrated the benefits of efficient socialization practices (military recruits, nurses), basic psychological need fulfillment (school principals, nurses), realistic job previews (military recruits) and the implications of military life for work-life balance (military recruits), as well as the harmful nature of experiencing identity conflicts (military recruits). Lastly, our results consistently demonstrated the benefits of higher and increasing commitment trajectories for a variety of outcomes, including lower levels of burnout (school principals), psychological distress (nurses), psychosomatic symptoms (nurses), turnover intention (school principals, military recruits), transition intention (military recruits), and higher levels of satisfaction (school principals, military recruits, nurses) and quality of care (nurses). These results suggest multiple avenues to foster desirable commitment trajectories and its associated benefits, which will be highlighted in each of the chapters as well as in the general discussion.

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