Intermediate Linkages in the Relationship Between Job Satisfaction and Employee Turnover William H. Mobley
University of South Carolina
The relationship between job satisfaction and turnover is significant and consistent, but not particularly strong. A more complete understanding of the psychology of the withdrawal decision process requires investigation beyond the replication of the satisfaction-turnover relationship. Toward this end, a heuristic model of the employee withdrawal decision process, which identifies possible intermediate linkages in the satisfaction-turnover relationship, is presented. Previous studies relevant to the hypothesized linkages are cited, and possible avenues of research are suggested. A schematic representation of the withdrawal decision process is presented in Figure 1. Block A represents the process of evaluating one's existing job, while Block B represents the resultant emotional state of some degree of satisfaction-dissatisfaction. A number of models have been proposed for the process inherent in Blocks A and B—for example, the value-percept discrepancy model (Locke, 1969, 1976), an instrumentalityvalence model (Vroom, 1964), a met-expectations model (Porter & Steers, 1973), and a contribution/inducement ratio (March & Simon, 1958). Comparative studies -that test the relative effiMuch more emphasis should be placed in the cacy of these and other alternative models of future on the psychology of the withdrawal satisfaction continue to be needed. process. . . . Our understanding of the manner Most studies of turnover examine the direct in which the actual decision is made is far relationship between job satisfaction and turnfrom complete, (p. 173) over. The model presented in Figure 1 suggests The present paper suggests several of the pos- a number of possible mediating steps between sible intermediate steps in the withdrawal decision dissatisfaction and actual quitting. Block C sugprocess (specifically, the decision to quit a job). gests that one of the consequences of dissatisPorter and Steers (1973) suggested that expressed faction is to stimulate thoughts of quitting. "intention to leave" may represent the next log- Although not of primary interest here, it is recogical step after experienced dissatisfaction in the nized that other forms of withdrawal less extreme withdrawal process. The withdrawal decision than quitting (e.g., absenteeism, passive job beprocess presented here suggests that thinking of havior) are possible consequences of dissatisfaction (see e.g., Brayfield & Crockett, 195S; Kraut, quitting is the next logical step after experienced 197S). dissatisfaction and that "intention to leave," folBlock D suggests that the next step in the lowing several other steps, may be the last step withdrawal decision process is an evaluation of prior to actual quitting. the expected utility of search and of the cost of quitting. The evaluation of the expected utility of search would include an estimate of the Preparation of this paper was supported by a chances of finding an alternative to working in grant from the South Carolina Business Partnership the present job, some evaluation of the desirFoundation. Requests for reprints should be sent to William ability of possible alternatives, and the costs of H. Mobley, College of Business Administration, search (e.g., travel, lost work time, etc.). The University of South Carolina, Columbia, South evaluation of the cost of quitting would include Carolina 29208. suc'h considerations as loss of seniority, loss of 237
Reviews of the literature on the relationship between employee turnover and job satisfaction have reported a consistent negative relationship (Brayfield & Crockett, 19SS; Locke, 197S; Porter & Steers, 1973; Vroom, 1964). Locke (1976) noted that while the reported correlations have been consistent and significant, they have not been especially high (usually less...