Published Research & Working Papers on Voluntary Turnover
Sung, W., Woehler, M., Fagan, J., Floyd, T., Grosser, T., & Labianca, G. (2017). Employees’ Responses to an Organizational Mergers: Intraindividual Change in Organizational Identification, Attachment, and Turnover. Journal of Applied Psychology, 102(6), 910-934.
The authors used pre-post merger data from 599 employees experiencing a major corporate merger to compare 3 conceptual models based on the logic of social identity theory (SIT) and exchange theory to explain employees’ merger responses. At issue is how perceived change in employees’ own jobs and roles (i.e., personal valence) and perceived change in their organization’s status and merger appropriateness (i.e., organizational valence) affect their changing organizational identification, attachment attitudes, and voluntary turnover. The first model suggests that organizational identification and organizational attachment develop independently and have distinct antecedents. The second model posits that organizational identification mediates the relationships between change in organizational and personal valence and change in attachment and turnover. The third model posits that change in personal valence moderates the relationship between changes in organizational valence and in organizational identification and attachment. Using latent difference score (LDS) modeling in an SEM framework and survival analysis, the results suggest an emergent fourth model that integrates the first and second models: Although change in organizational identification during the merger mediates the relationship between change in personal status and organizational valence and change in attachment, there is a direct and unmediated relationship between change in personal valence and attachment. This integrated model has implications for M&A theory and practice.
Woehler, M., Shaw, N., Floyd, T., Marineau, J., Sung, W., Grosser, T., Fagan. J., & Labianca, G. (2021). Turnover during a corporate merger: How workplace network adaptation influences staying. Journal of Applied Psychology, 106(12), 1939–1949.
The upheaval created by a merger can precipitate voluntary employee turnover, causing merging organizations to lose valuable knowledge-based resources and competencies precisely when they are needed most to achieve the merger’s integration goals. While prior research has shown that employees’ connections to coworkers reduces their likelihood of leaving, we know little about how personal social networks should change to increase the likelihood of staying through the disruptive post-merger integration period. In a pre-post study of social network change, we investigate over fifteen million email communications between employees within two large merging consumer goods firms over two years. We use insights from network activation theory to posit and find that employees with high formal power (rank) and high informal status (indegree centrality) react to the merger’s general uncertainty and threat by developing new social connections in a manner indicative of a network widening response: reaching out and connecting with those in the counterpart legacy organization. We also investigate whether increased personally-felt threat in the form of merger-related job insecurity strengthens these relationships, finding it does in the case of high formal power. We also find that employees increasing their cross-legacy social connections is key in reducing those employees’ turnover after a merger. Our study suggests that network activation theory can be extended to explain network changes and not simply network cognition.
Park, T.-Y & Woehler, M. Individual level pay structure effects: Employee responses to pay grades and ranges. (Revising completed manuscript; Target: Administrative Science Quarterly)
Authors share equal authorship
How employees respond to mergers and acquisitions in terms of their attitudes and behaviors is critical to a merging organization’s ability to achieve the goals of the merger (). In most mergers, each legacy organization’s compensation system needs to be integrated, resulting in changes in employees’ pay, bonus opportunities, and their position within the pay structure. However, research has provided little understanding regarding how employees react to these changes. This research begins to provide these vital insights, examining how changes in employees’ pay (i.e., salary and bonus opportunities) as well as their position within the pay structure (i.e., their organizational level and position in their pay range) impact their attitudes and behaviors. In particular, we investigate employees’ attitudes towards the merger itself (merger commitment) and towards their merging organization (organizational commitment and job satisfaction). We also examine how these attitudes (and attitudinal changes) predict employees’ behavior in terms of performance and turnover. Taking an ILM perspective (Doeringer & Piore, 1971), we theorize that the effects of employees’ position within the pay structure – their position within their pay range, as well as their pay grade level – on their performance and turnover are curvilinear and are mediated by uncertainty, and in turn, job security and affective commitment. A natural experiment field study in which an organization fully disclosed its pay structure, as well as an experimental study in which employees’ position within the pay structure was manipulated provide evidence of these curvilinear relationships. Implications for scholarly and practitioner conversations regarding whether to employ pay structures and engage in pay transparency are discussed.