All of the Above?: an Examination of Overlapping Organizational Climates

  • Alice M. Brawley NewlinEmail author
  • Cynthia L. S. Pury
Original Paper


We examined the largely unexplored issue of strong associations between multiple specific climates (e.g., for safety and for service). Given that workplaces are likely to have more than one specific climate present, it is important to understand how and why these perceptions overlap. Individual ratings (i.e., at the psychological climate level) for seven specific climates and a general positive climate were obtained from 353 MTurk Workers employed in various industries. We first observed strong correlations among a larger set of specific climates than typically studied: climates for collaboration, communication, fair treatment, fear, safety, service, and work-life balance were all strongly correlated. Second, we found that two methodological mechanisms—common method variance (CMV) due to (a) measurement occasion and (b) self-report—and a theoretical mechanism, general climate, each account for covariance among the specific climate measures. General positive climate had a primary (i.e., larger) impact on the relationships between specific climates, but CMV—especially due to measurement occasion—also accounted for significant and non-negligible covariance between climates. We discuss directions for continued research on and practice implementing specific climates in order to accurately model and modify perceptions of multiple climates.


Organizational climate Specific climates General climate Psychological climate Common method variance Measurement issues 



This research was funded from the generous support of Clemson University Creative Inquiry. We thank Melanie Bennett, Michelle Flynn, Erika Fosu, Joey Glass, Benjamin Hardy, Cameron Lemere, and Briana Smith for assistance with study design, data collection, and analysis.


  1. Ashkanasy, N. M., & Nicholson, G. J. (2003). Climate of fear in organisational settings: Construct definition, measurement and a test of theory. Australian Journal of Psychology, 55, 24–29. Scholar
  2. Bacharach, S. B., & Bamberger, P. A. (2007). 9/11 and New York City firefighters’ post hoc unit support and control climates: A context theory of the consequences of involvement in traumatic work-related events. Academy of Management Journal, 50, 849–868. Scholar
  3. Behson, S. J. (2005). The relative contribution of formal and informal organizational work–family support. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 66, 487–500. Scholar
  4. Bowen, D. E., & Ostroff, C. (2004). Understanding HRM-firm performance linkages: The role of the “strength” of the HRM system. Academy of Management Review, 29, 203–221.Google Scholar
  5. Brawley, A. M., & Pury, C. L. S. (2014). De-balkanization: A molar organizational climate framework based on situational affordances. Honolulu, HI: Society of Industrial and Organizational Psychology.Google Scholar
  6. Brawley, A. M., & Pury, C. L. S. (2017). All climates are highly prioritized? Depends on how you ask. Orlando, FL: Society of Industrial and Organizational Psychology.Google Scholar
  7. Buhrmester, M., Kwang, T., & Gosling, S. D. (2011). Amazon’s Mechanical Turk: A new source of inexpensive, yet high-quality, data? Perspectives on Psychological Science, 6, 3–5.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Byrne, B. M., Shavelson, R. J., & Muthén, B. (1989). Testing for the equivalence of factor covariance and mean structures: The issue of partial measurement invariance. Psychological Bulletin, 105, 456–466.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Casler, K., Bickel, L., & Hackett, E. (2013). Separate but equal? A comparison of participants and data gathered via Amazon’s MTurk, social media, and face-to-face behavioral testing. Computers in Human Behavior, 29, 2156–2160.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Cheung, J. H., Burns, D. K., Sinclair, R. R., & Sliter, M. (2017). Amazon Mechanical Turk in organizational psychology: An evaluation and practical recommendations. Journal of Business and Psychology, 32, 347–361.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Clarke, S. (2006). The relationship between safety climate and safety performance: A meta-analytic review. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 11(4), 315–327. Scholar
  12. Cohen, J. (1992). A power primer. Psychological Bulletin, 112, 155–159.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Downs, C. W., & Hazen, M. D. (1977). A factor analytic study of communication satisfaction. Journal of Business Communication, 14, 63–73. Scholar
  14. Fornell, C., & Larcker, D. F. (1981). Evaluating structural equation models with unobservable variables and measurement error. Journal of Marketing Research, 18, 39–50.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Gelade, G. A., & Young, S. (2005). Test of a service profit chain model in the retail banking sector. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 78, 1–22. Scholar
  16. González-Romá, V., Peiró, J. M., & Tordera, N. (2002). An examination of the antecedents and moderator influences of climate strength. Journal of Applied Psychology, 87(3), 465–473.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Hooper, D., Coughlan, J., & Mullen, M. R. (2008). Structural equation modeling: Guidelines for determining model fit. Electronic Journal of Business Research Methods, 6, 53–60.Google Scholar
  18. Kath, L. M., Marks, K. M., & Ranney, J. (2010). Safety climate dimensions, leader–member exchange, and organizational support as predictors of upward safety communication in a sample of rail industry workers. Safety Science, 48, 643–650.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Kenny, D. A. (2015, November 24). Measuring model fit. Retrieved from
  20. Kline, R. B. (2011). Principles and practice of structural equation modeling (3rd ed.). New York, NY: Guilford.Google Scholar
  21. Kouvonen, A., Kivimäki, M., Vahtera, J., Oksanen, T., Elovainio, M., Cox, T., Virtanen, M., Pentti, J., Cox, S. J., & Wilkinson, R. G. (2006). Psychometric evaluation of a short measure of social capital at work. BMC Public Health, 6(251).
  22. Kozlowski, S. W. J., & Klein, K. (2000). A multilevel approach to theory and research in organizations: Contextual, temporal, and emergent processes. In K. J. Klein & S. W. J. Kozlowski (Eds.), Multilevel theory, research, and methods in organizations (pp. 3–90). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  23. Kuenzi, M. (2008). An integrated model of work climate. Doctoral dissertation, University of Central Florida, Orlando.Google Scholar
  24. Kuenzi, M., & Schminke, M. (2009). Assembling fragments into a lens: A review, critique, and proposed research agenda for the organizational work climate literature. Journal of Management, 35, 634–717.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Liao, H., & Rupp, D. E. (2005). The impact of justice climate and justice orientation on work outcomes: A cross-level multifoci framework. Journal of Applied Psychology, 90, 242–256. Scholar
  26. Matteson, A. V. (2008). Role of work climate in job satisfaction and organizational commitment of women in a nontraditional career field: The case of women in the military. University of Florida. Retrieved from
  27. Mayer, D., Nishii, L., Schneider, B., & Goldstein, H. (2007). The precursors and products of justice climates: Group leader antecedents and employee attitudinal consequences. Personnel Psychology, 60, 929–963. Scholar
  28. McKay, P. F., Avery, D. R., Liao, H., & Morris, M. A. (2011). Does diversity climate lead to customer satisfaction? It depends on the service climate and business unit demography. Organization Science, 22, 788–803. Scholar
  29. Meade, A. W. (2004). Psychometric problems and issues involved with creating and using ipsative measures for selection. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 77, 531–551. Scholar
  30. Myer, A. T., Thoroughgood, C. N., & Mohammed, S. (2016). Complementary or competing climates? Examining the interactive effect of service and ethical climates on company-level financial performance. Journal of Applied Psychology, 101, 1178–1190. Scholar
  31. Neal, A., Griffin, M. A., & Hart, P. M. (2000). The impact of organizational climate on safety climate and individual behavior. Safety Science, 34, 99–109.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Newman, D. A. (2003). Longitudinal modeling with randomly and systematically missing data: A simulation of ad hoc, maximum likelihood, and multiple imputation techniques. Organizational Research Methods, 6, 328–362. Scholar
  33. Ostroff, C., Kinicki, A. J., & Clark, M. A. (2002). Substantive and operational issues of response bias across levels of analysis: An example of climate-satisfaction relationships. Journal of Applied Psychology, 87, 355–368.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Ostroff, C., Kinicki, A. J., & Tamkins, M. M. (2003). Organizational culture and climate. In W. C. Borman & D. R. Ilgen (Eds.), Handbook of psychology: Industrial and organizational psychology (Vol. 12, pp. 565–593). New York: Wiley. Scholar
  35. Paul, J. B. (2012). An integrative study of service and safety climate and performance: Do climates compete? Stillwater, OK: Oklahoma State University.Google Scholar
  36. Podsakoff, P. M., MacKenzie, S. B., Lee, J., & Podsakoff, N. P. (2003). Common method biases in behavioral research: A critical review of the literature and recommended remedies. Journal of Applied Psychology, 88(5), 879–903. Scholar
  37. Podsakoff, P. M., MacKenzie, S. B., & Podsakoff, N. P. (2012). Sources of method bias in social science research and recommendations on how to control it. Annual Review of Psychology, 63, 539–569. Scholar
  38. Rubino, C., Avery, D. R., McKay, P. F., Moore, B. L., Wilson, D. C., Van Driel, M. S., et al. (2018). And justice for all: How organizational justice climate deters sexual harassment. Personnel Psychology, 71, 519–544. Scholar
  39. Schabracq, M. J., & Cooper, C. L. (2000). The changing nature of work and stress. Journal of Managerial Psychology, 15, 227–241. Scholar
  40. Schneider, B. (1980). The service organization: Climate is crucial. Organizational Dynamics, 9(2), 52–65.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Schneider, B. (1987). The people make the place. Personnel Psychology, 40, 437–453.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Schneider, B., Ehrhart, M. G., & Macey, W. H. (2011). Perspectives on organizational climate and culture. In S. Zedeck (Ed.), APA handbook of industrial and organizational psychology: Building and developing the organization (pp. 373–414). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.Google Scholar
  43. Schneider, B., Ehrhart, M. G., & Macey, W. H. (2013). Organizational climate and culture. Annual Review of Psychology, 64, 361–388. Scholar
  44. Schneider, B., & Reichers, A. E. (1983). On the etiology of climates. Personnel Psychology, 36, 19–39.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Schneider, B., White, S. S., & Paul, M. C. (1998). Linking service climate and customer perceptions of service quality: Tests of a causal model. Journal of Applied Psychology, 83(2), 150–163. Scholar
  46. Schulte, M., Ostroff, C., Shmulyian, S., & Kinicki, A. J. (2009). Organizational climate configurations: Relationships to collective attitudes, customer satisfaction, and financial performance. Journal of Applied Psychology, 94, 618–634.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Spector, P. E. (1987). Method variance as an artifact in self-reported affect and perceptions at work: Myth or significant problem? Journal of Applied Psychology, 72, 438–443. Scholar
  48. Spell, C. S., & Arnold, T. J. (2007). A multi-level analysis of organizational justice climate, structure, and employee mental health. Journal of Management, 33, 724–751. Scholar
  49. Veld, M., Paauwe, J., & Boselie, P. (2010). HRM and strategic climates in hospitals: Does the message come across at the ward level? Human Resource Management Journal, 20(4), 339–356. Scholar
  50. Wallace, C., & Chen, G. (2006). A multilevel integration of personality, climate, self-regulation, and performance. Personnel Psychology, 59(3), 529–557. Scholar
  51. Watson, D., & Friend, R. (1969). Measurement of social-evaluative anxiety. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 33, 448–457. Scholar
  52. Zohar, D. (1980). Safety climate in industrial organizations: Theoretical and applied implications. Journal of Applied Psychology, 65(1), 96–102.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Zohar, D. (2010). Thirty years of safety climate research: Reflections and future directions. Accident Analysis & Prevention, 42, 1517–1522. Scholar
  54. Zohar, D., Davidson, W., & Hofmann, D. A. (2012). Organizational culture and climate. In S. W. J. Kozwloski (Ed.), Oxford handbook of industrial and organizational psychology. Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  55. Zohar, D., & Luria, G. (2005). A multilevel model of safety climate: Cross-level relationships between organization and group-level climates. Journal of Applied Psychology, 90, 616–628. Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alice M. Brawley Newlin
    • 1
    Email author
  • Cynthia L. S. Pury
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of ManagementGettysburg CollegeGettysburgUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyClemson UniversityClemsonUSA

Personalised recommendations