An application of the unfolding model of voluntary turnover in China

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An application of the unfolding model of voluntary turnover in China


Author: Tsang, Yuk-kwan Alfred
Title: An application of the unfolding model of voluntary turnover in China
Degree: D.B.A.
Year: 2009
Subject: Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
Labor turnover -- China
Labor mobility -- China
Department: Graduate School of Business
Pages: xiii, 145 leaves : ill. ; 30 cm.
InnoPac Record:
Abstract: Employee turnover is a long-term issue for both researchers and business practitioners. It is important not only because it is costly to organizations but also because of the dysfunctional psychological effects it has on the remaining employees. The repercussion spans across every aspect of the business sector. In addition, the high employee turnover creates additional issues, particularly in highly labor intensive industries such as the service and manufacturing sectors. In these, the high involvement of personnel in service delivery is the norm; hence the departure of employees may lead to the deterioration of service quality, which will have an impact on the business of the organizations. For more than four decades, job satisfaction and job opportunities are considered the two determinants of turnover, both of which form the basic conceptual underpinning for most of the traditional turnover theories. However, research suggested that they only explain a small amount of difference of the turnover decision. For example, Horn and Griffeth (1995) and Griffeth, Horn, and Gaertner (2000) all report that the traditional turnover theories account for only about 4-5 percent of the variance in turnover. Consequently, Lee and Mitchell (1994) address this by introducing a new turnover model (the Unfolding Model) - a process model which analyses turnover as a sequential process proceeding along one of several possible paths. The model mainly consists of shocks, scripts, image violations, job satisfaction, and job search. Basically, people leave organizations along one of the five mutually exclusive paths of the Unfolding Model. Path 1 is composed of a shock and a script, but involves neither job search nor evaluation and the individual leaves without a job offer at hand. Path 2 is similar to Path 1 except that no script is present in this case; instead, the shock event triggers image violation leading to the individual's departure without a job offer at hand. Path 3 resembles Path 2 in the sense that the shock event also leads to image violation without a script. It is different from Path 2 because job search or evaluation is initiated, leading to the finding of a job before the incumbent quits the current employment. No shock and script are present in Path 4, and the leaving decision is basically affected by image violation. Path 4 is further divided into two sub-paths, i.e., Paths 4a and 4b. Path 4a carries with it an image violation which is so serious that it leads to the immediate departure of the employee from his or her present employment without any job search or evaluation and job offer at hand. On the other hand, Path 4b does not precipitate in the binary decision to leave or stay; instead, a developed image violation gradually leads to reduced satisfaction and organization commitment. These, in turn, lead to active job search or evaluation and the ultimate departure of the individual with a job offer at hand. The Unfolding Model has been found to offer significant improvements over the traditional theories in terms of explaining turnover decision.
The aim of this study is to address the issue of employee turnover by applying the Unfolding Model in China. The model was tested with two sets of sample population one of which comprised a manufacturing company with workers as its only constituents; whereas the other included a sample of diverse industries composed of office staff. The design involved two stages: the first stage referred to the qualitative part of path classification which aimed to study the path leavers' behaviors upon leaving organizations. The results were compared between the workers and office staff and the composite samples (aggregate sample of the workers and office staff). The second stage was conducted as post-hoc analysis which was possible only after the exploration of the Chinese paths. After all, the aim was to test the effects of the indigenous Chinese traditionality and modernity on path selection made by leavers, hi effect, the question is whether the leavers choose the Western or the Chinese path upon their departure. Results indicate that 34 percent of the participants followed the five paths of the original model of Lee et al. (1999). This research also leads to the exploration of two new paths hi addition to the paths of the original Unfolding Model. One of these consists of script, image violation, dissatisfaction, and search or evaluation but without shock and job offer. The other path includes shock, script, image violation, dissatisfaction, and search or evaluation, without a job offer at hand. These two paths can be considered as the Chinese Paths that reflect the unique contextual Chinese influence where members have preexisting-plans (script) to leave employment after a determinable period of time. It is noteworthy that script is invariably present in both Chinese paths, and that constant job search or evaluation seems to be the norm for Chinese leavers before leaving their company irrespective of their having found a job offer or not. The findings further suggest that economic factors, such as the external labor market, could also be one of the factors accounting for the choice of paths by the leavers. Consequently, these two Chinese paths contribute an additional 22 percent of the explanation of the leaving decision and enable the model to correctly classify 56 percent in total of the turnover decisions in China. Post-hoc results suggest that traditionality and modernity affect employee leaving decisions differentially between the Chinese and Western paths in the cases of shock and no shock. Under the effect of traditionality, individuals chose to leave along the Chinese path instead of the Western path when confronted with a shock. In contrast, modernity had no effect on path leavers' decisions. In the case of no shock, modernity dictated the leaving decisions of path leavers in favor of the Western path, while traditionality had no effect in this particular instance.

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