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An investigation of the antecedents of turnover intention for manufacturing plant managers.


While the major losses in manufacturing-sector jobs have attracted a great deal of attention in the USA the importance of well-trained and motivated employees is universally recognized as key for increasing competitiveness in manufacturing. US companies have experienced an estimated 50 to 75 per cent failure rate while implementing advanced manufacturing technologies mostly due to neglect of human factors. An intensified research effort on human resource management issues of technical and manufacturing personnel has been called for in a number of studies (Allen and Katz, 1986; Alwin and Hauser, 1975; Billings and Wroten, 1978; Conger and Zawacki, 1980; Coverdale and Terborg, 1980; Shore and Martin, 1989; Van Sell et al., 1981). It has been established in this literature that the job performance of technical personnel influence their behaviour. Given the highly competitive environment, plant managers of manufacturing companies in the USA have been under pressure to show good results. The plant managers who cannot meet the expectations of the top management may feel uncomfortable about their job performance which may, in turn, affect their decision to stay in the companies. The importance of gaining a better understanding of the factors related to recruitment, motivation, and retention of manufacturing employees is further underscored by rising personnel costs and high rates of turnover (Alwin and Hauser, 1975; Bartol, 1983; Billings and Wroten, 1978; Blau and Boal, 1989; Conger, 1990; Shore and Martin, 1989). With increased competitiveness on a global scale, human resource departments in manufacturing organizations are likely to experience greater pressure from top management to improve recruitment, selection and training.

Researchers have learned about the important direct relationship between personnel costs and turnover (Alwin and Hauser, 1975; Billings and Wroten, 1978; Shore and Martin, 1989), and that for a company to reduce excessive turnover it is necessary to understand the reasons behind it. Given the importance of the topic, it is surprising that only a handful of studies have explored turnover and its antecedents among manufacturing employees. A review of the general turnover literature reveals there has been growing research interest in investigating the multivariate linkages among several variables expected to be predictors of turnover among engineers and technical professionals such as programmers (Alwin and Hauser, 1975; Bartol, 1983; Billings and Wroten, 1978; Coverdale and Terborg, 1980; James et al., 1982; Rizzo et al., 1970). However, no study has addressed the determinants of turnover intentions for plant managers. Accordingly, the major purpose of this study was to propose and test an integrated model of turnover among plant managers which incorporated the variables which other studies found to be helpful in explaining turnover among manufacturing employees.

Specifically, this study was designed to address six related research questions:

(1) What is the impact of role stressors on the turnover intentions of plant managers?

(2) What is the impact of task characteristics on their turnover intentions?

(3) Do work-related attitudes (e.g. job involvement, job satisfaction, and organizational commitment) mediate the effects of role stressors and task characteristics on their turnover intentions?

(4) What is the impact of work-related attitudes on turnover intentions?

(5) Do job satisfaction and organizational commitment mediate the effect of job involvement on turnover intentions?

(6) Does organizational commitment mediate the effects of job satisfaction on turnover intentions?

The theoretical framework

Many empirical research models of turnover (Badawy, 1973; Bluedorn, 1982; Dunham, 1976; Joreskog and Sorbom, 1984; Williams and Hazer, n.d.) propose that behavioural intentions constitute the most immediate determinant of actual behaviour, in this case, employee turnover. Bluedorn (1982) and Coverdale and Terborg (1980) have recommended using intent to leave attitudes rather than actual staying or leaving behaviour because it is relatively less expensive to collect data on turnover intentions than actual turnover, and since the use of an individual level predictive model can create the problem of temporarily dispersed leaving episodes. Further, Steel and Ovalie's (1984) meta-analysis shows that there is a strong relationship between turnover intentions and turnover. The meta-analysis also demonstrates that turnover intentions is a better predictor of turnover than affective variables such as job and career satisfaction, and organizational commitment. Based on the aforementioned reasons, we used turnover intentions instead of actual turnover as the consequent variable in this study.

Figure 1 presents the model of turnover intentions examined here. The model includes three sets of variables: two role stressors - role ambiguity and role conflict; task cha
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Author:Udo, Godwin J.; Guimaraes, Tor; Igabaria, Magid
Publication:International Journal of Operations & Production Management
Date:Sep 1, 1997
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