A compliance study of secretarial roles in organizations

TR Number



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University


The compliance theory of Amitai Etizioni was employed as a base for the assessment of involvement and power to describe the role of the secretary in organizational administrative units. The majority of Certified Professional Secretaries reported their involvement as moral and the power exerted by their supervisors as normative. Moral involvement and normative power are congruent, and thus effectiveness is assumed.

Most of the correlates of the compliance theory further supported the described congruency of moral involvement and normative power. Those organizational elites who serve in supervisory roles with the Certified Professional Secretaries supported the moral involvement and normative power descriptions reported by the CPSs. In a majority of cases, noncertified secretaries in the administrative units also supported the congruency reported by the Certified Professional Secretaries.

The minority group of Certified Secretaries who reported moral involvement but remunerative power described incongruent situations. Much of the correlational data further described situations of disharmony in these incongruent units. However, the power and involvement reported by the supervisors and the noncertified secretaries in these units failed to support the incongruencies reported by the CPSs.

The defined role of the secretary morally involved and normatively controlled is a description of an entrenchment in a traditional role for a large group of workers who are hindered in their attempts to reach goals which are more supportive of their societal role and recent status attainments. The congruency of moral involvement and normative power is a natural and historically reinforced · situation. Recent emphasis on professionalism for secretaries further reinforces the entrenchment. If a movement is to occur, it is most likely to be successful if initiated and powered from within with efforts which are directed against reinforcement of normative power and moral involvement and toward remunerative power and calculative involvement. Role and title changes for secretaries are suggested and educational training activities which give emphasis to calculative involvements and remunerative power control are recommended.