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Expanded turnover models

Beginning in the 1980s, researchers started to expand on the rational turnover model by exploring a wide range ofjob, organizational and environment factors as distal antecedents of turnover. Muchinsky and Morrow (1980), for example, proposed that the labour market would indirectly influence turnover through individual perceptions of job alternatives (Blau, 1993; Griffeth et al., 2005; Kopelman et al., 1992). When unemployment rates were high, it was expected that employees would assume that job alternatives were few, thus decreasing their thoughts of quitting. There is much empirical support to show that conditions in the relevant job market (e.g., high demand for a particular job) and labour market (e.g., the unemployment rate) influence perceived job alternatives (Gerhart, 1990; Kammeyer-Meuller et al., 2005; Steel, 1996; Steel & Lounsbury, 2009; Trevor, 2001).

Price and Mueller’s (Price, 1977; Price & Mueller, 1981, 1986) comprehensive turnover model incorporated distal antecedents of turnover by proposing an array of job and organizational characteristics that shape employee attitudes. Also, organizational commitment was proposed as a mediator between job satisfaction and intention to leave. Empirical work shows that distal job and organizational factors do indeed impact turnover-related attitudes and behaviours. For example, positive perceptions of jobs (e.g., empowerment, high pay) and the work environment (e.g., organizational support) have been associated with higher levels of job satisfaction and organizational commitment (Allen, Shore & Grif- feth, 2003; Gong, Law, Chang & Xin, 2009; Jiang, Liu, McKay, Lee & Mitchell, 2012; Rhoades, Eisenberger & Armeli, 2001; Spreitzer & Mishra, 2002) and reduced withdrawal intentions and behaviours (Allen et al., 2003; Bloom & Michel, 2002; Gong et al., 2009; Heavey et al., 2013; Messersmith, Guthrie, Ji & Lee, 2011). Organizational commitment also has been established as an antecedent of turnover (Culpepper, 2011; Ng & Butts, 2009; Stanley, Vandenberghe, Vandenberg & Bentein, 2013; Vandenberghe, Panaccio & Ayed, 2011) and a mediator of job satisfaction and intention to leave (Griffeth et al., 2000; Meyer, Allen & Smith, 1993; Price & Mueller, 1981, 1986).

The development of turnover models that incorporated job, organizational and environmental factors - along with the extensive empirical support for these models - greatly increased researchers’ and practitioners’ understanding of the turnover process. Yet these models continued to view turnover as a rational decision process that followed a linear path. According to attitude theory (Fishbein, 1967; Fishbein & Ajzen, 1975; Pratkanis, Breckler & Greenwald, 1989), employee attitudes and perceptions are thought to become more negative over time during an employee’s tenure in response to gradual changes in the work environment and the employee-employer relationship. These negative attitudes and perceptions may lead to withdrawal cognitions and behaviours, and eventually result in turnover. This path from negative or disappointing experiences to deteriorating attitudes and turnover cognitions and behaviour does describe the process that many exiting employees take. But, as researchers started to notice, not everyone follows this path to quitting.

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