Future Research

In addition to the gaps in the literature outlined above, we highlight three major directions for future research in this final section: 1) the integration of organizational culture and climate in understanding turnover; 2) the role of culture strength and climate strength in understanding turnover; and 3) the interrelationships among culture, climate and turnover.

The integration of organizational culture and climate

Research on organizational culture and climate has existed relatively independently for several decades. However, since 2010 there has been some effort to integrate these two concepts. Ehrhart and colleagues (2014) discussed three models integrating culture and climate. First, Zohar and Hofmann’s (2012) model used Schein’s (2010) layers of culture (artifacts, espoused values and basic assumptions) as a basis, adding climate as a representation of the enacted values of the organization that employees infer from the overall pattern of artifacts in the organization and that can be contrasted with the organization’s espoused values to gain insight into the organization’s underlying basic assumptions. A second model comes from Ostroff, Kinicki and Muhammad (2012), who emphasized organizational culture as the foundation for its structure and processes, which form the building blocks of organizational climate. Climate, then, is the proximal predictor of collective attitudes and behaviour, which subsequently impact organizational outcomes. Finally, Schneider, Ehrhart and Macey’s (2011) ‘climcult’ model contrasts organizational culture with strategic climates, with more positive cultures resulting in higher levels of attraction and retention, and strategic climate leading to higher strategic success, which then combine to impact the organization’s overall effectiveness.

Although a handful of studies in our review (all of which were in child welfare or mental health settings) included both organizational culture and climate in predicting turnover, most did not integrate culture and climate in the ways described above. Instead, the more typical approach was to examine culture and climate as simultaneous predictors of outcomes (see Glisson & James, 2002; Glisson et al., 2008; Shim, 2014). One exception was Aarons and Sawitzky’s (2006) study, which showed that a demoralizing climate partially mediated the cross-level effects of constructive and defensive culture on work attitudes, which then predicted turnover. Their model is in line Ostroff and colleagues’ (2012) proposed model, such that the deeper-level culture values manifest themselves in the climate, which then affects employee outcomes.

More research is needed that integrates organizational culture and climate in understanding turnover. For instance, research on organizational culture primarily focuses on its intermediate or outer layers, but perhaps Zohar and Hofmann’s (2012) model can be applied, such that climate can be used to understand how employees experience the enacted values of the organization. By contrasting the enacted values in the climate with the espoused values of the culture, insight can be gained into the organization’s deeper cultural assumptions, particularly with regard to turnover. Another possibility would be to pursue the framework proposed by Schneider and colleagues (2011). They suggested that a positive organizational culture that supports employees’ well-being is most critical for outcomes related to attracting and retaining talent, and a strategic climate is most critical for achieving the organization’s goals and competing with other firms in the marketplace. Although some research has examined both culture and molar climate as described above, the role of strategic climates, and particularly how they can be integrated with research on the main effects of culture and person-culture fit, merits further investigation.

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