Organisational Cynicism: Its Nature, Extent and Targets Amongst Field Pastors of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church in Australia and New Zealand

Kenneth L. Vogel, Avondale College of Higher Education


Organisational cynicism, a negative attitude toward one's organisation, is now a recognised reality. Regoli and Crank (1990) noted specific targets of police cynicism that impacted on police behaviour while Wanous et al (2000), in another context, confirmed that cynicism about organisational change not only is a significant reality but it does have an impact on organisational outcomes. The purpose of the present study was to investigate the nature, extent and targets of organisational cynicism amongst field pastors of the Seventh-day Adventist Church and any correlation with involvement in decision-making. A survey was conducted amongst 162 Australian and New Zealand Seventh-day Adventist field pastors in order to determine the level of organisational cynicism as targeted at Administration, Respect, Expectations, Change - situational attribution (the pastor's perception of uncontrollable elements bringing about a likely failure of change), and Change - dispositional attribution (the pastor's perception of the likely failure of change efforts due to the leaders themselves). The responses were analysed according to each target as well as against Various demographic indices. A potential antecedent to organisational cynicism, involvement in decision-making was also investigated. Organisational cynicism as it relates to deprivation in decision-making was considered in four key areas: local church goals and directions; regional level goals and directions; general church policy; employment issues. It was found that field pastors do exhibit organisational cynicism. 63% of the respondents could be classified as either Wary (falling within the medium cynicism rating) or Cynic (falling within the high cynicism rating). Organisational cynicism is normally higher when targeted at Respect, Expectations and Change (situational). The data show that, for most targets, it is the 30-39 age (or the 11-15 years of experience) group that exhibit the highest levels of cynicism, with the young and the inexperienced pastors most often exhibiting the lowest levels. Yet cynicism directed at Expectations is an exception, with the young and inexperienced pastors here exhibiting the highest levels. This study indicates that deprivation in decision-making is an antecedent to organisational cynicism directed at their administration, the expectations made of them and aspects of change efforts. Further, it is decision-making deprivation in terms of involvement in generating regional (Conference) goals and directions, general church policy and employment issues that significantly increases this organisational cynicism. Finally, a number of strategies for reducing organisational cynicism are suggested.