Selling the LO concept LO7034
Sun, 28 Apr 1996 21:51:28 -0400

Replying to LO7005 --

Hi Ram Sundaram,

You raise an excellent point about the pervasive use of "sell" (and its
counterpart "buy in") in American management thought and speech. At best
the metaphor has the connotations of an arms-length commercial
transaction; at worst those of a "con job".

Rosabeth Moss Kanter (Commitment and Community, 1972) makes a useful
distinction among three different types of commitment:

(a) Instrumental commitment, which is the rational economic exchange
whereby people sell their services to the corporation. It is sustained by
compensation programs and incentive schemes. They "buy" and we "sell".

(b) Moral commitment, which is the degree to which the demands of the
corporation coincide with the individual's values. We believe in the

(c) Affective commitment, which emerges from the processes of work via
interpersonal relationships and feelings of group solidarity. We believe
in the team or the community.

(a) and (b) are the kinds of commitment which can be controlled via the
hiring process, although relatively few organizations have a strong sense
of what (b) might entail, because they do not have a clear idea of the
values the organization stands for. Affective commitment (c) is generated
(and destroyed) in the work situation itself, although one can clearly
hire some people who are better "team players" than others. Old-fashioned
"company loyalty" would be a mix of (b) and (c). High performance
organizations hire for and generate all three kinds of commitment.

Best wishes,

David Hurst,
Speaker, Consultant and Writer on Management
Author of "Crisis & Renewal: Meeting the Challenge of Organizational Change"
(HBS Press, 1995). See New Books at


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