Theoretical Development of the Model

A popular theory of the turnover process is the model outlined by Mobley et al. (1979) who suggest that various aspects of the work environment (e.g., supervision practices and job content factors) influence employees’ affective responses (e.g., job satisfaction and organizational commitment), which in turn may initiate withdrawal cognitions and decision processes that are then related directly to an individual’s likelihood of turnover (Mathieu & Zajac, 1990). Drawing from Mobley et al.’s (1979) approach we would expect OEI, which is made up of perceptions of the work environment to influence employee attitudes such as job satisfaction and organizational commitment, which in turn would impact withdrawal intentions.

In this chapter, we actually base the relationship between OEI, employee attitudes, and behavioral intentions on the Theory of Reasoned Action (TRA: Ajzen & Fishbein, 1980; Fishbein & Ajzen, 1975), which is one of the most pervasive social cognition models in organizational research (Furnham, 2005, p. 233). According to the TRA (Fishbein & Ajzen, 1975), individual-level attitudes are derived from the direct experience or observation of an attitude object. Attitudes then consist of beliefs (i.e., knowledge, ideas, and opinions about an attitude object) and affect, which is the sum of a person’s feelings toward the attitude object, and represents an evaluation which is usually favorable or unfavorable. In turn, attitude leads to behavioral intention, which is the tendency to act in a certain way toward the attitude object; and includes both commitments and actions toward the attitude object, as well as what people say about how they might act toward the attitude object under certain conditions (Caruana, Cohen, & Krentler, 2006). Evidence of the predictive ability of the TRA is provided by Armitage and Conner (2001) and Albaraccin, Johnson, and Zanna (2001) who found moderately strong correlations between behavioral beliefs and attitudes (r = 0.50—0.56) and between attitudes and behavioral intentions (r = 0.49—0.58). In this chapter, we therefore suggest that OEI represents employee experience of the behavior of the organization and its managers, which influences employee attitude (i.e., affective commitment and job satisfaction) and which, in turn, impacts on intention to withdraw from the organization (i.e., intention to leave). We can surmise, therefore, that the implications of using the Theory of Reasoned Action are similar to the approach implied by Mobley et al. (1979) in their theory of the turnover process.

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