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Allen and Meyer's(1990) 3-component model of organizational commitment(OC) was investigated using exploratory structural equation modeling(ESEM) with samples of full-time social workers at social welfare organizations in South Korea. Confirmatory factor analysis(CFA) has been at the heart of testing factor structure of the 3-component model in organizational commitment research wherein each scale of the affective, continuance, and normative commitment is reported to measure conceptually and empirically separable construct. The present study applied ESEM, specifically ‘intra-scale’ and ‘inter-scale’ ESEM, to scrutinize factor structure of the 3-component scales. ESEM methodology uses exploratory approach in that all cross-loadings are estimated between each measure and factors, with uniqueness correlated according to the researcher's hypotheses as in CFA. In this respect, ESEM can be viewed as an open approach to item analysis distinguished from the conventional (closed) approach, such as EFA and CFA. This study provided detailed assessment of the 3-component model through comparisons of factor structures estimated by EFA, CFA and ‘intra’ ESEM, followed by the ‘inter’ ESEM conducted on all other variables(assumed to be similar constructs with or antecedents of OC). As a result, the ‘intra-scale’ ESEM showed a substantially better fit and yielded more discriminated factors(less correlated) than did EFA and CFA that are models for planned scale. The ‘inter-scale’ ESEM revealed how seriously method effect can distort an original factor structure in empirical data measured together with multiple scales of other constructs. Using ESEM has advantages of estimating common factor structures, controlling for common method effect that are typically included in measures in applied research. Also, it allows for much more possibilities that each item can measure multiple constructs so as to reveal more realistic factor structures. Taken together, the present results suggest a need to conceptualize and validate a new scale for organizational commitment reflecting Korean culture.
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