Hughes M. Blake Professor of Management
Associate Dean for Academic and Faculty Affairs
Former editor of Academy of Management Journal
University of Washington (USA)
Job Satisfaction Growth and Voluntary Turnover: A Dynamic Multilevel Investigation
17 March 2011
There is a popular rhetoric in managerial arenas which stresses that one should attempt to increase satisfaction in the workforce in order to improve company performance. Such rhetoric presumes the presence of a phenomenon, which is seldom studied in the field of organizational behavior: dynamic unit-level satisfaction. More interestingly, the question arises how change in satisfaction at the level of the organizational unit relates to change in satisfaction at the level of the individual. The second question is: does it matter? In other words, does change in satisfaction at the level of the unit or to level the individual explain performance or turnover rates?
Thomas Lee, presented a paper, which focuses exactly on this issue. He demonstrated that indeed change in satisfaction at the level of the unit is related to change in satisfaction at the level of the individual. Simply stated, if the unit grows and levels of satisfaction, individuals tend to grow too. Change in satisfaction indeed explained turnover rates over and above the average level of satisfaction in both units and the individual. Most interesting though, were the relationships with the dispersion of growth in satisfaction in the unit and the probability of individual turnover. If dispersion is low, and units grow, individuals are the least likely to leave the organization.
Discussions afterwards were interesting and stimulating. We talked about the conceptual meaning of different forms of dispersion at the level of the unit and their relations to turnover. Also, we talked about the use of complexifying relationships. Should one increase complexity, or parsimony? Richard Dawkins says that complexity is the science of 21st-century. That seems like an exciting promise.
About Tom Lee
Tom Lee is a former president of the Academy of Management and a former editor in chief of the Academy of Management Journal. Further, he has published in many of the top-tier academic journals in the field of Organizational Behavior. Currently, he is associate dean for academic and faculty affairs at the Foster School of Business.