Carl P. Maertz, Jr and Michael A. Campion Purdue University, USA

Although there have been literally thousands of studies including voluntary turnover as a variable of interest, there has been a scarcity of comprehensive narrative reviews on the topic. Several well-known reviews exist, but they concentrate primarily on summarizing empirical bivariate relationships (e.g. Cotton & Tuttle, 1986; Mobley, Griffeth, Hand & Meglino, 1979) or developing voluntary turnover models (e.g. Bluedorn, 1982; Lee & Mitchell, 1994; Muchinsky & Morrow, 1980; Price, 1977; Steers & Mowday, 1981). None of these reviews has attempted to cover all major areas of the individual turnover literature. The current chapter seeks to fill this gap, with the caveat that more space is generally devoted to studies not reviewed previously. A review of all major areas of voluntary turnover in one chapter allows researchers to have a broader perspective on the literature from which new interconnections and synergies can emerge. Also, this chapter should help clarify where incremental contributions can best be made and where relatively less research is needed.

The main organizing framework includes three sections: (a) Early Studies (1970s-middle 1980s), (b) Recent Studies (middle 1980s through present), and (c) Conclusions and Future Research. For reviews of studies prior to the 1970s, see Porter and Steers (1973) and Schuh (1967). The temporal division between the 'Early Studies' and 'Recent Studies' sections is not arbitrary. Different issues and subtopics have emerged since the middle 1980s, suggesting two main phases in the research. In the first two sections, we address major issues in voluntary turnover that came to prominence during each phase. In the final section, we suggest general directions for future turnover research.

25 Years of Voluntary Turnover Research: A Review and Critique by Carl P. Maertz, Jr and Michael A. Campion taken from IRIOP 1998 vl3, Edited by Cary L. Cooper and Ivan T. Robertson: © 1998 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd

However, before beginning the main body, we attempt to better clarify the meaning of voluntary turnover. The definition of voluntary turnover has often been assumed to be straightforward and clear in much of the organizational psychology literature. Multiple perspectives do exist, however. Individual turnover decisions that are voluntary is the intended content domain of this review, but even this requires further specification.

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