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Effects of professional commitment and organizational context on the professional development of Canadian occupational therapists Open Access


Other title
organizational context
professional commitment
professional development
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Rivard Magnan, Annette M
Supervisor and department
Hollis, Vivien (Occupational Therapy)
Gellatly, Ian (Strategic Management and Organization)
Warren, Sharon (Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine)
Examining committee member and department
Rappolt, Susan (Department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy, University of Toronto
Wilson, Donna (Faculty of Nursing)
Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine

Date accepted
Graduation date
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
Over the past two decades, health care has undergone massive change, both in scientific and technological advancements, and in the manner in which services are structured and delivered (Angus, Auer, Cloutier, & Albert, 1995). Social, political, and financial pressures have resulted in organizational restructuring, which in turn influenced the delivery of health care at all levels. The knowledge base of the occupational therapy profession has continued to expand and there is increasing evidence of the effectiveness of its services. For these many reasons professional development has become especially critical as it enhances practitioners’ abilities to respond appropriately to these ever-changing external forces (Nolan, Owens, & Nolan, 1995) and ensures evidence-based practice (Craik & Rappolt, 2006), thus benefitting both patients and organizations. As professionals, occupational therapists are personally accountable for the quality and outcomes of the services they provide (Friedson, 1994). This study examined the factors that induce occupational therapists - important resources for the health care system - to maintain, adapt, and enhance their competencies. I explored the potential drivers of professional development using a combination of commitment theory and organizational support theory (Eisenberger, Huntington, Hutchison, & Sowa, 1986; Meyer & Herscovitch 2001). Hierarchical regression analysis showed that, though perceived organizational support and development-oriented human resource management practices play a role in professional development, occupational therapists’ professional commitment is the most important influence on professional development. Moreover, in the population studied, performance appraisals did not appear to influence professional development. Participants’ open-ended comments suggested that occupational therapists do not perceive such appraisals as relevant to their practice or learning needs. These findings have important implications. The education of occupational therapists and the role of professional bodies become important for instilling and supporting professional commitment. For employers, the hiring process for occupational therapists and the policies and human resource management practices related to encouraging professional commitment become especially critical.
Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of these terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis and, except as herein before provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
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