Original Research

Work-based identity and work engagement as potential antecedents of task performance and turnover intention: Unravelling a complex relationship

F. Chris Bothma, Gert Roodt
SA Journal of Industrial Psychology | Vol 38, No 1 | a893 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajip.v38i1.893 | © 2012 F. Chris Bothma, Gert Roodt | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 12 February 2010 | Published: 17 September 2012

About the author(s)

F. Chris Bothma, University of Johannesburg, South Africa
Gert Roodt, University of Johannesburg, South Africa


Orientation: Work-based identity, used as a reference to the self, is the answer to the question ’Who am I at work?’ Work-related identities, derived from different social foci through identity formation processes, have as behavioural guides a significant influence on employee behaviour, which, in turn has an impact on work outcomes. Engagement, presented in different conceptualisations, is viewed by practitioners and academic researchers as an important antecedent of employee behaviour.

Research purpose: The main purpose of the study was to investigate whether work-based identity and work engagement differed (in combination with personal alienation, helping behaviour and burnout) as potential antecedents (amongst numerous others) of task performance and turnover intention.

Research design: A census-based sampling approach amongst 23 134 employees in the employment of an ICT company yielded a sample of 2429 usable questionnaires. Scales used in the study were the Maslach Burnout Inventory (MBI-HSS-20), Utrecht Work Engagement Scale (UWES), Work-based Identity, Personal Alienation, Helping Behaviour, Turnover Intention and Task Performance Scales.

Main findings: The findings indicate that work-based identity and work engagement give similar appearing results as potential predictors of turnover intention and task performance. Practical/managerial implications: Reducing withdrawal behaviours and enhancing work performance are everyday challenges for organisations. Interventions focused on enhancing work-based identity and work engagement in the work environment should have a meaningful impact when these behaviours need to be addressed.

Contribution/value-add: Work-based identity as a multidimensional construct has the potential, with further refinement, to become a valuable construct that can play a leading role in future work engagement research.


Work-based identity; turnover; work engagement; antecedents


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