Intemational Joumal of Psychologieal Studies
Vol. 2, No. 2; Deeember 2010
Organizational Climate and its Effects on Organizational Variables:
An Empirical Study
Jianwei Zhang (Corresponding author)
School of Management and Economics, Beijing Institute of Technology, Beijing 100081, China
Business School, University of Intemational Business and Economics, Beijing 100029, China
This study investigated the characteristics of organizational climate and its effects on organizational variables.
Investigation of 419 participants including both managers and employees indicated as follows: educational level,
position and length of time working for the current organization had significant main effects on organizational
climate; specialty, enterprise character and enterprise size also had significant main effects on organizational
climate; organizational climate had significant main effects on human resources management effectiveness such
as tumover intention, job satisfaction and work efficacy; organizational climate also had significant main effects
on organization effectiveness like staff members' organization commitment and collective identity.
Organizational climate. Human resources management effectiveness. Organization effectiveness
Research on organizational climate can be traced back to the 1930s. With the human relations movement
pioneered by Hawthome, researchers tumed their attention from the "hard" physical environment to the "soft"
psychological environment; thus the concept of organizational climate was bom. The first researcher to initiate
studies in this area was Kurt Lewin, the founder of group dynamics (1939). In his famous "leadership style"
study. Lewin applied three different leadership styles, democracy, autocracy and laissez-faire, to create a
different group atmosphere, and was the first to propose the concept of organizational climate. However, he
failed to define climate. Later, Forehand (1964) outlined three features of organizational climate: firstly, it varies
among different organizations; secondly, it is persistent; lastly, it can affect the behavior of organization
members. Since Litwin et al (2001, PP. 63-170) proposed the empirical study of organizational climate, studies
in this area have proliferated. Litwin defined organizational climate as "a group of measurable characteristics
that members could perceive directly or indirectly in the work environment," and, as a description of
environmental factors, it could help researchers ascertain the effects of environment on employee motivation. In
addition, organizational climate was the most common variable applied to descriptions of the organizational
context. As a description of individuals' perception of organization, organizational climate was more similar to
the real behavior than the real environment.
As a result of the interaction between organization and environment, organizational climate was rich in content.