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Word-of-mouth as a recruitment source: An integrative model



Despite the social realities of job seeking, few studies have addressed how and why employment information received by other people affects organizational attraction. This chapter first discusses the characteristics of word-of-mouth as a recruitment source and then provides a systematic review of its determinants and outcomes studied in previous research. An integrative model of word-of-mouth is developed that synthesizes prior research findings and highlights key directions for future research. This model proposes that characteristics of the recipient (e.g., personality), source (e.g., expertise), and organization (e.g., employer brand) can determine the use of word-of-mouth as a recruitment source as well as moderate its effects. The model further suggests that word-of-mouth affects both individual job search outcomes and organizational pre-hire and post-hire recruitment outcomes. The accessibility-diagnosticity model and the source credibility framework are discussed as theoretical perspectives explaining these effects. Finally, several strategies are discussed that organizations can implement for managing word-of-mouth.
Word-of-Mouth as a Recruitment Source: An Integrative Model
Greet Van Hoye
Ghent University, Belgium
In D. M. Cable & K. Y. T. Yu (Eds.), Oxford Handbook of Recruitment (in press). New York:
Oxford University Press.
This work was supported by a Postdoctoral Fellow grant from the Research Foundation
Flanders (FWO).
Correspondence concerning this paper should be addressed to Greet Van Hoye,
Department of Personnel Management, Work and Organizational Psychology, Ghent University,
Henri Dunantlaan 2, 9000 Ghent, Belgium. Phone: +32 9 264 64 54, Fax: +32 9 264 64 94, E-
Word-of-Mouth as a Recruitment Source 2
Despite the social realities of job seeking, few studies have addressed how and why employment
information received by other people affects organizational attraction. This chapter first discusses
the characteristics of word-of-mouth as a recruitment source and then provides a systematic
review of its determinants and outcomes studied in previous research. An integrative model of
word-of-mouth is developed that synthesizes prior research findings and highlights key directions
for future research. This model proposes that characteristics of the recipient (e.g., personality),
source (e.g., expertise), and organization (e.g., employer brand) can determine the use of word-
of-mouth as a recruitment source as well as moderate its effects. The model further suggests that
word-of-mouth affects both individual job search outcomes and organizational pre-hire and post-
hire recruitment outcomes. The accessibility-diagnosticity model and the source credibility
framework are discussed as theoretical perspectives explaining these effects. Finally, several
strategies are discussed that organizations can implement for managing word-of-mouth.
Keywords: Recruitment, organizational attraction, recruitment source, word-of-mouth, employee
referral, networking, credibility.
Word-of-Mouth as a Recruitment Source 3
Recruitment is a top priority for many organizations today as they struggle to cope with
labor shortages. In fact, some organizations now face a greater challenge in attracting than in
selecting employees (Ployhart, 2006). As a result, recruitment has become one of the most crucial
human resource functions for organizational success and survival (Taylor & Collins, 2000). One
of the key factors that determine organizational attraction is the source through which potential
applicants receive employment information (Rynes & Cable, 2003). However, research has
mainly focused on company-dependent recruitment sources such as advertising, which are
directly controlled by the organization to communicate a positive message to job seekers
(Breaugh, 2008). With respect to company-independent sources such as word-of-mouth, which
are not under the direct control of the organization and can provide positive as well as negative
information, research is scarce (Van Hoye & Lievens, 2009). Along these lines, Cable and
Turban (2001) stated that:
Any information source, ranging from company‟s brand advertisement to friends‟ word-
of-mouth, has the potential to affect job seekers‟ employer knowledge. Unfortunately,
several sources of organizational information suggested by the marketing literature have
been relatively ignored in past recruitment research. (p. 132)
The dearth of research on word-of-mouth as a recruitment source is especially startling
and out of sync with the realities of day-to-day job seeking. Even though potential applicants
often consult family, friends, and other people about jobs, most studies have treated them as
individual decision-makers in social isolation. A review of the recruitment literature even led
Highhouse and Hoffman (2001) to conclude that “although it has been over 30 years since
Word-of-Mouth as a Recruitment Source 4
Soelberg (1967, p. 23) referred to social influence as the „single most promising direction‟ for
job-choice research, very little attention has been given to this topic” (p.47).
In recent years, several studies have demonstrated that word-of-mouth can have a
powerful impact on organizational attraction (Collins & Stevens, 2002; Van Hoye & Lievens,
2007b, 2009). However, much less is known about who is most likely to spread and receive
word-of-mouth, what organizations can do to stimulate word-of-mouth, what mechanisms
explain the effects of word-of-mouth, and the conditions under which word-of-mouth is less or
more influential. In addition, despite its independent nature, only a few studies have considered
negative word-of-mouth.
The present chapter aims to contribute to our understanding of word-of-mouth as a
recruitment source by reviewing and integrating previous research findings as well as by
identifying key gaps in our current knowledge and promising directions for future research. This
effort has resulted in the development of an integrative research model of word-of-mouth that
provides an overview of its determinants, outcomes, mediators, and moderators, as shown in
Figure 1. In addition to synthesizing prior research, this model is hoped to ignite and inspire
much needed future research in this area.
Word-of-Mouth in Marketing
Applying a marketing metaphor to recruitment research is based on the conceptual
parallels between the two disciplines (Cable & Turban, 2001). In both marketing and recruitment,
organizations compete to attract a restricted number of individuals. These individuals have only
limited and often ambiguous information on possible alternatives, leaving room for organizations
to influence their decisions. Communication and persuasion are therefore inherent in both
processes. Hence, potential applicants and application decisions can be compared to consumers
Word-of-Mouth as a Recruitment Source 5
and buying decisions (Maurer, Howe, & Lee, 1992). Along these lines, several recent studies
have fruitfully applied marketing concepts to recruitment issues, demonstrating that a marketing
metaphor can provide an innovative and theory-driven approach to understanding organizational
attraction (e.g., Cable & Turban, 2003; Collins, 2007).
Whereas recruitment research on word-of-mouth is still in its infancy, the marketing
literature has long recognized the importance of social influences on consumer attitudes and
buying decisions (Dichter, 1966). Since the 1960s, a large body of research has documented the
pervasive impact of word-of-mouth on consumer behavior, which typically exceeds the influence
of marketing communication controlled by the organization (Bone, 1995; Buttle, 1998; Herr,
Kardes, & Kim, 1991; Matos & Rossi, 2008; Wirtz & Chew, 2002). Given this extended research
tradition, recruitment studies have much to learn from the field of marketing with respect to
conceptualizations of word-of-mouth and theories on how it relates to determinants and
outcomes. Accordingly, studies on word-of-mouth as a recruitment source have borrowed heavily
from the marketing literature (e.g., accessibility-diagnosticity model; recipient-source
framework), as will become evident throughout this chapter.
Word-of-Mouth in Recruitment
Word-of-mouth as a recruitment source is defined as an interpersonal communication,
independent of the organization‟s recruitment activities, about an organization as an employer or
about specific jobs (Van Hoye & Lievens, 2009). Examples include conversations with friends or
advice from teachers. This definition highlights three key characteristics of word-of-mouth. First,
word-of-mouth is clearly a social phenomenon as it occurs between people, in an informal
manner (Cable, Aiman-Smith, Mulvey, & Edwards, 2000). Whereas formal sources of
employment-related information involve the use of public intermediaries that exist primarily for
Word-of-Mouth as a Recruitment Source 6
recruitment purposes such as employment agencies and job advertisements, informal sources
involve either no intermediaries (e.g., walk-ins) or private intermediaries such as friends or
relatives (Saks & Ashforth, 1997). Second, given that the focus is on transferring information,
word-of-mouth represents a particular type of informational social influence. Informational social
influences refer to accepting information provided by others as evidence about reality and are
motivated by desires for problem-solving or coping with one‟s environment. This type of
influence operates through internalization (Cohen & Golden, 1972). On the contrary, normative
social influences result from a pressure to conform to certain expectations held by another person
or group and are motivated by desires for self-maintenance or external rewards. The internal
processes operating here are identification and compliance (Wooten & Reed, 1998). Finally,
word-of-mouth is a company-independent source that is not under the direct control of the
organization (Cable & Turban, 2001). Contrary to company-dependent sources such as
advertising, word-of-mouth is generated by people who are perceived to have no commercial
self-interest in promoting the organization (Buttle, 1998). Therefore, information from recruiters
is not considered to be word-of-mouth (Fisher, Ilgen, & Hoyer, 1979). This further implies that
organizations can only attempt to influence word-of-mouth indirectly through other recruitment
activities such as campus recruitment, building relationships with key influentials and opinion
leaders (e.g., career counselor or class president), employee referral programs (e.g., providing
monetary bonuses for successful referrals), or internships.
In addition to these defining characteristics, word-of-mouth can vary across at least four
other dimensions that are likely to influence its occurrence and effects. First, even though word-
of-mouth is typically associated with face-to-face communication, it can be provided through all
sorts of media such as the telephone or the internet (Herr et al., 1991). In particular, the
Word-of-Mouth as a Recruitment Source 7
importance of web-based word-of-mouth (also referred to as “word-of-mouse”) has increased
exponentially in recent years, as interpersonal company information is being spread by e-mails,
weblogs, chatrooms, electronic bulletin boards, and social networking websites (Dellarocas,
2003; Godes & Mayzlin, 2004; Kluemper & Rosen, 2009). Second, as long as they are operating
independently of the organization, everyone can be a source of job-related word-of-mouth
information including friends, family, acquaintances, and even complete strangers (Brown &
Reingen, 1987). Third, word-of-mouth can be based on motives of the source (e.g.,
dissatisfaction) as well as the recipient (e.g., uncertainty reduction), or can even occur
coincidentally (Mangold, Miller, & Brockway, 1999). This implies that even though word-of-
mouth is sometimes actively sought by potential applicants, it can also be received unsolicited.
Finally, as word-of-mouth is a company-independent source that does not have the explicit
purpose to promote the organization, it can contain both positive and negative information (Cable
& Turban, 2001). Therefore, it is important to take the valence of word-of-mouth into account
when measuring its effects (Van Hoye & Lievens, 2009).
These characteristics clarify how word-of-mouth relates to two other concepts that have
been used in prior recruitment research. In fact, employee referrals and networking represent
particular subtypes of the broader concept word-of-mouth. First, whereas all social actors can be
sources of word-of-mouth, employee referrals involve information provided by current
employees of the organization (Ullman, 1966). Moreover, with respect to valence, employee
referrals typically contain mostly positive information as the organization is recommended to
others. In addition, given that employee referrals imply that employees have already “referred”
others to the organization, the term has typically been used to describe new-hires and to a lesser
extent applicants (Zottoli & Wanous, 2000). On the contrary, the concept of word-of-mouth can
Word-of-Mouth as a Recruitment Source 8
be applied in all phases of recruitment, including potential applicants (Barber, 1998). Second,
networking has been defined as "individual actions directed toward contacting friends,
acquaintances, and other people to whom the job seeker has been referred for the main purpose of
getting information, leads, or advice on getting a job" (Wanberg, Kanfer, & Banas, 2000). While
word-of-mouth in general can be initiated by the source as well as by the recipient and can be
driven by various motives, networking consists only of word-of-mouth initiated by job seekers
with the explicit motive to gather job-related information (Van Hoye, Van Hooft, & Lievens,
Outcomes of Word of Mouth
Theoretical Perspectives
Although the effectiveness of recruitment sources is one of the most intensely studied
aspects of recruitment, the focus has been on post-hire outcomes such as the satisfaction and
performance of new employees (Breaugh, 2008). As a result, far less is known about how various
sources of employment information affect pre-hire organizational attraction as a key recruitment
outcome. Along these lines, Rynes (1991) stated that “the principal recommendation with respect
to dependent variables would be to accord the immediate objective of recruitment applicant
attraction higher priority in future research” (p. 435). Following this recommendation, research
on word-of-mouth as a recruitment source has applied two main theoretical paradigms to explain
its effects on organizational attraction, the accessibility-diagnosticity model and the source
credibility framework.
First, the accessibility-diagnosticity model (Feldman & Lynch, 1988) posits that the
likelihood that information is used to form an evaluation is determined by the accessibility or
availability of that information in memory, the diagnosticity of that information, and by the
Word-of-Mouth as a Recruitment Source 9
accessibility and diagnosticity of other information. Accessibility is high when the information is
easily retrieved from memory (Herr et al., 1991). Diagnosticity is high when the information
helps to discriminate between alternative hypotheses, interpretations, or categorizations (e.g.,
whether an organization has a good or bad image as an employer) (Feldman & Lynch, 1988).
One of the predictions that can be derived from the accessibility-diagnosticity model is that word-
of-mouth is likely to affect organizational attraction because it is highly accessible in memory
due to its personal and vivid nature (Herr et al., 1991). In addition, the model can take into
account that as a company-independent source word-of-mouth can be positive as well as
negative. In this respect, the accessibility-diagnosticity model posits that negative information is
more diagnostic and therefore more influential than positive or neutral information, especially in
a marketing or recruitment environment that is predominantly positive (Herr et al., 1991).
An alternative theoretical explanation for the effects of word-of-mouth is provided by the
source credibility framework, which postulates that more credible sources of information are
more persuasive in both changing attitudes and gaining behavioral compliance (Eisend, 2004;
Pornpitakpan, 2004). Perceived credibility is based on perceptions of truthfulness,
trustworthiness, and believability of the information received from the source (Allen, Van
Scotter, & Otondo, 2004). Applied to recruitment, this implies that recruitment sources vary in
the degree to which job seekers perceive them as providing credible employment information,
which in turn might explain their differential effects on recruitment outcomes (Breaugh, 2008;
Cable & Turban, 2001; Fisher et al., 1979). Compared to company-dependent sources, company-
independent sources such as word-of-mouth are likely to be perceived as providing more credible
information because they are assumed to have no explicit self-interest in promoting the
organization (Van Hoye & Lievens, 2007a). In addition, job seekers tend to perceive information
Word-of-Mouth as a Recruitment Source 10
obtained through direct personal communication as more credible than indirect impersonal
information (Allen et al., 2004; Cable & Turban, 2001).
Although the accessibility-diagnosticity model and the source credibility framework offer
different explanations for its effects, they both predict that employment information provided
through word-of-mouth will affect organizational attraction. Furthermore, word-of-mouth is
expected to be more influential than various other recruitment sources that are respectively less
accessible, diagnostic, or credible. Moreover, instead of treating them as competing models, it
might be possible to integrate these theoretical perspectives, as the key variables seem to be
related to each other. For instance, more accessible information might be perceived as more
credible, whereas information provided by a more credible source could be seen as more
diagnostic. Future research should investigate how these and other mediating variables might be
best combined to most fully explain the effects of word-of-mouth.
Research on the Outcomes of Word-of-Mouth
Empirical support for the theoretical assumptions based on the accessibility-diagnosticity
model and the source credibility framework is scarce, given that only a limited amount of studies
have examined word-of-mouth as a recruitment source and just a few of those have investigated
possible explanations for its effects. As one of the first to examine word-of-mouth in a
recruitment context (and label it as such), Cable et al. (2000) observed that relying on word-of-
mouth as a source of employment information was not related to the accuracy of applicants‟
beliefs about organizational image (which was operationalized as the correspondence between
company executives‟ and applicants‟ perceptions of the organization‟s cultural values). Even
though this finding suggests that word-of-mouth does not necessarily contain correct information,
it might also reflect actual differences between organizations‟ internal and external image as an
Word-of-Mouth as a Recruitment Source 11
employer (Lievens, 2007). Notwithstanding the accuracy of the provided information, Collins
and Stevens (2002) found that positive word-of-mouth was positively related to graduating
engineering students‟ perceptions of both the image and attractiveness of organizations as an
employer. Moreover, word-of-mouth had a positive effect on application intentions as well as
actual application decisions, which was mediated by its impact on organizational image and
attractiveness. In terms of how these effects compare to those of other recruitment sources,
recruitment advertising had a similar though slightly weaker impact on these attraction outcomes,
whereas sponsorship and positive publicity were not or only weakly related.
Considering the valence of the information received through word-of-mouth, Van Hoye
and Lievens (2009) investigated how both positive and negative word-of-mouth affected potential
applicants‟ attraction to the military. Similar to Collins and Stevens‟ (2002) results, they found
that positive word-of-mouth had a positive impact on organizational attractiveness and actual
application decisions, but contrary to expectations, negative word-of-mouth was unrelated. In
addition, word-of-mouth explained incremental variance in these attraction outcomes beyond
potential applicants‟ exposure to other recruitment sources including recruitment advertising, the
recruitment website, recruitment events, and positive and negative publicity. Moreover, the effect
of positive word-of-mouth on attraction was larger than most of these other sources, except for
recruitment advertising. In another setting (French graduating business school students), Jaidi,
Van Hooft, and Arends (2011) obtained comparable results. Positive word-of-mouth was
positively related to job pursuit attitude, job pursuit intention, and job pursuit behavior, whereas
the effect of negative word-of-mouth was not significant. Recruitment advertising had a similar
impact on these outcomes, while the effects of other sources (i.e., on-campus presence, positive
and negative publicity) were smaller or not significant. Moreover, the relationship between
Word-of-Mouth as a Recruitment Source 12
positive word-of-mouth and job pursuit behavior was mediated by job pursuit attitude and
In the only field study to test the predictions of the source credibility framework more
explicitly, Van Hoye (2012) observed that word-of-mouth had a strong positive impact on
Belgian job-seeking nurses‟ perceptions of organizational attractiveness and accounted for more
variance than all other recruitment sources together (i.e., recruitment advertising, recruitment
events, and publicity). Given that recruitment advertising was not even a significant predictor in
this study, it might be that these nurses who were in very high demand on the local labor market
were more critical of recruitment advertising from organizations desperately trying to attract
them and preferred to rely on more independent word-of-mouth information to evaluate potential
employers. In line with this explanation, recruitment advertising was negatively related to the
credibility of the received employment information, whereas word-of-mouth was positively
related. Moreover, the effect of word-of-mouth on attractiveness was partially mediated by
credibility, providing some support for the source credibility framework.
In addition to these field studies, some laboratory studies have been conducted to shed
more light on the conditions that might affect the impact of word-of-mouth as a recruitment
source. In a pioneering study (not yet using the term word-of-mouth), Fisher et al. (1979)
observed that employment-related word-of-mouth information from a friend or a job incumbent
was perceived as more credible than the same information provided by an interviewer. In
addition, negative word-of-mouth was seen as more credible than positive word-of-mouth.
Moreover, organizational attractiveness was higher when the information came from any of the
word-of-mouth sources (instead of the interviewer) and when the provided information was
positive (rather than negative). In another experimental study, Van Hoye and Lievens (2005)
Word-of-Mouth as a Recruitment Source 13
found that positive word-of-mouth significantly improved organizational attractiveness after
being exposed to negative publicity. Recruitment advertising had a similar effect but was
perceived as a less credible source of employment information. Contrary to expectations, the
effect of word-of-mouth was not greater for participants higher in self-monitoring, who were
thought to be more susceptible to such social information (Kilduff, 1992). In a later study, Van
Hoye and Lievens (2007b) observed that word-of-mouth had a strong impact on organizational
attractiveness, which was partially mediated by credibility. In addition, word-of-mouth
information provided by a friend was perceived as more credible and had a more positive effect
on attractiveness than word-of-mouth from an acquaintance, suggesting that tie strength (i.e., the
closeness of the social relationship between the source and recipient of word-of-mouth, Brown &
Konrad, 2001) might moderate the effects of word-of-mouth. Opposite to the results of the field
studies discussed above, the effect of negative word-of-mouth was greater than the effect of
positive word-of-mouth. In a similar experiment, Kanar, Collins, and Bell (2010) also found that
negative word-of-mouth had a greater impact on organizational attractiveness than positive word-
of-mouth. In addition, recall of the favorability of the provided employment information was
better for negative word-of-mouth, suggesting it was perceived as more salient and diagnostic, in
line with the accessibility-diagnosticity model.
Focusing on word-of-mouth provided through one specific medium, Van Hoye and
Lievens (2007a) demonstrated that online word-of-mouth was associated with greater credibility
and organizational attractiveness than an employee testimonial posted on the organization‟s own
website. It seems that the greater perceived organizational control of web-based testimonials
caused them to be less credible and influential than independent word-of-mouth. In addition,
potential applicants were more attracted when the word-of-mouth information focused on
Word-of-Mouth as a Recruitment Source 14
describing the organization as an employer instead of individual employees, whereas the reverse
was true for the web-based testimonials. For the testimonial, potential applicants were more
likely to believe the information that individual employees provided about themselves than about
the organization as a whole, suggesting that the ulterior recruitment motive of trying to promote
the organization was less obvious in case of an individual message. With respect to word-of-
mouth, information about individual employees provided outside of the organizational context
was probably seen as less representative for all employees and thus less credible and relevant for
potential applicants‟ organizational perceptions than general information about the organization
as an employer. These results indicate that the content of word-of-mouth information can
moderate its effect on organizational attraction. Moreover, as all these effects were mediated by
credibility, more support is provided for the source credibility framework.
Examining a specific type of web-based word-of-mouth, Cable and Yu (2006) observed
that job seekers perceived employment information presented on an electronic bulletin board (i.e., as less credible than information provided on the organization‟s website. Even though
these findings seem to contradict those of Van Hoye and Lievens (2007a), it might be that the
anonymity of the employee reviews posted on the electronic bulletin board significantly reduced
their credibility. In addition, differences in the content of the investigated media might provide an
alternative explanation for this finding, as employee reviews on electronic bulletin boards may be
less likely to provide systematic information on important job and organizational characteristics
than company websites. Together, these findings suggest that the specific medium, source, and
content of word-of-mouth should be taken into account when examining its effects, as discussed
Word-of-Mouth as a Recruitment Source 15
Conclusion. So what can we learn from these field and laboratory studies investigating
the outcomes of word-of-mouth? First of all, these findings, especially of the field studies,
strongly suggest that positive word-of-mouth has a significant impact on a wide variety of
attraction outcomes, including organizational image, organizational attractiveness, and
application decisions. As such, word-of-mouth seems to be an influential source of positive
employment information in various stages of the recruitment process, whereby more immediate
attraction outcomes mediate the effect on more distant outcomes. This effect of positive word-of-
mouth appears to be robust and generalizable, as it has been observed across different samples,
settings, jobs, organizations, and countries.
Second, with respect to negative word-of-mouth, the results are inconsistent and might
even depend on the study‟s design and characteristics. Specifically, two field studies found that
negative word-of-mouth did not affect organizational attraction, whereas positive word-of-mouth
did (Jaidi et al., 2011; Van Hoye & Lievens, 2009). This contradicts predictions based on the
accessibility-diagnosticity model that negative employment information should be more
diagnostic and influential than positive information (Herr et al., 1991). It also counters the
findings of two laboratory studies that negative word-of-mouth had a negative effect on
organizational attractiveness, which was even greater than the effect of positive word-of-mouth
(Kanar et al., 2010; Van Hoye & Lievens, 2007b). Besides methodological differences (e.g.,
sample of potential applicants who already indicated their interest in the organization in the field
studies versus general student samples in the experimental studies; low frequency of negative
word-of-mouth in the field studies; demand characteristics and low realism in the laboratory
studies), brand equity theory (Keller, 1993) provides a possible explanation for these divergent
findings. Previous marketing research has demonstrated that brand equity can act as a buffer
Word-of-Mouth as a Recruitment Source 16
against the detrimental impact of negative word-of-mouth, such that negative word-of-mouth has
a greater impact on consumers‟ evaluations of unfamiliar or unfavorable brands than of familiar
or favorable brands (Laczniak, DeCarlo, & Ramaswami, 2001). Applied to a recruitment context,
it is possible that organizations with a strong employer brand (such as those involved in the field
studies) are less affected by negative word-of-mouth than organizations with a weak employer
brand (such as the fictitious organizations in the experimental studies). Clearly, more research is
needed to examine negative word-of-mouth and the specific conditions under which it is likely to
affect organizational attraction or not.
Third, taking the effects of other recruitment sources such as recruitment advertising,
web-based recruitment, recruitment events, publicity, and sponsorship into account, word-of-
mouth seems to explain unique and incremental variance in organizational attraction. In addition,
the effect of word-of-mouth appears to be larger than most of these other recruitment sources,
with the possible exception of recruitment advertising.
Fourth, whereas the discussed studies have relied on both the accessibility-diagnosticity
model and the source credibility framework to formulate their predictions, only a few have
actually investigated credibility as a mediator of the effects of word-of-mouth, and, to the best of
my knowledge, none have included measures of accessibility and diagnosticity. Results with
respect to the source credibility framework are promising and suggest that the impact of word-of-
mouth on organizational attraction is at least partly due to its credibility as an independent and
personal source of employment information. Concerning the accessibility-diagnosticity model,
empirical tests are lacking and the results for negative word-of-mouth are mixed, as noted above.
Future research should include more direct mediation tests of accessibility and diagnosticity, as
Word-of-Mouth as a Recruitment Source 17
well as explore other possible mediators such as media richness (Daft & Lengel, 1986) and
realism (Breaugh, 2008).
Finally, there is some evidence suggesting that the impact of word-of-mouth on
organizational attraction is moderated by the closeness of the relationship between its recipient
and source (i.e., tie strength) and by its content. Specifically, word-of-mouth seems to be more
influential coming from stronger ties (Van Hoye & Lievens, 2007b) and describing the
organization instead of individual employees (Van Hoye & Lievens, 2007a). In addition, the
findings discussed above suggest that it would be worthwhile to investigate other possible
moderators of the impact of word-of-mouth such as labor market demand, medium, and employer
brand equity. Moreover, whereas the role of self-monitoring as a moderator was not supported,
other personality variables might affect the relationship between word-of-mouth and
organizational attraction, such as extraversion or negative affectivity.
Research on the Outcomes of Employee Referrals and Networking
With respect to particular subtypes of word-of-mouth, considerably more studies have
investigated the effects of employee referrals, but the focus has been on post-hire recruitment
outcomes instead of attraction (Weller, Holtom, Matiaske, & Mellewigt, 2009). The main finding
has been that employees recruited through informal sources such as employee referrals show
higher job satisfaction, better job performance, and lower turnover than employees recruited
through formal sources such as advertising (for a review, see Zottoli & Wanous, 2000). Two
major theoretical explanations for these source differences have been investigated, both of which
have received some empirical support (Griffeth, Hom, Fink, & Cohen, 1997; Saks, 1994;
Williams, Labig, & Stone, 1993; Zottoli & Wanous, 2000). The realistic information hypothesis
states that compared to formal recruitment sources, informal sources provide more accurate and
Word-of-Mouth as a Recruitment Source 18
specific information about what the job entails, resulting in a more realistic job preview
(Breaugh, 2008; Phillips, 1998). This allows job seekers to apply for jobs that better fit their
interests and skills as well as to submit better-prepared applications, increasing the likelihood of
positive recruitment outcomes. In addition, the more realistic information tempers applicants‟
expectations regarding the job, reducing disappointment upon hiring. The individual differences
hypothesis proposes that informal sources might reach other types of applicants than formal
sources (Williams et al., 1993). These pre-existing differences would then explain the later
differences between new employees recruited through different sources. For instance, Kirnan,
Farley, and Geisinger (1989) observed that job seekers applying through employee referrals had
higher scores than applicants from formal sources on a biographical inventory used in the
selection procedure to assess applicants‟ educational and work-related background. These results
suggest that higher-quality applicants are more likely to rely on informal recruitment sources in
their job search, implying that individual differences offer an alternative explanation for the
effects of employee referrals on recruitment outcomes.
As another specific type of word-of-mouth, only a few studies have investigated the
effects of networking and the focus has been on individual job search and employment outcomes
(for a review, see Forret, in press). Specifically, job seekers‟ use of networking positively
predicts the number of received job offers (Van Hoye et al., 2009) as well as finding employment
(Wanberg et al., 2000). In addition, networking explains unique and incremental variance in job
offers beyond other preparatory job search behaviors such as reading job advertisements, looking
for jobs on the internet, and relying on employment agencies (Van Hoye et al., 2009). Moreover,
the characteristics of job seekers‟ social network seem to moderate the effectiveness of
networking. Along these lines, Van Hoye et al. (2009) found that job seekers who engaged in
Word-of-Mouth as a Recruitment Source 19
networking were more likely to find employment when the educational and occupational status of
the other people in their network was higher. In addition, networking was more positively related
to post-hire job-organization fit when the ties making up job seekers‟ social network were weaker
(e.g., vague acquaintances) rather than stronger (e.g., close friends). This is consistent with
Granovetter‟s (1995) strength-of-weak ties hypothesis, which states that weak ties are more likely
to move in different social circles and thus have access to unique and therefore more useful job
information than strong ties.
In conclusion, research on employee referrals and networking provides further support for
the beneficial effect of positive word-of-mouth on both pre-hire and post-hire recruitment
outcomes, which exceeds the effect of most other recruitment sources.
Determinants of Word-of-Mouth
Given the sizable effects of word-of-mouth on key recruitment outcomes, it is important
to understand the individual and situational variables that might determine its use as a recruitment
source. However, within the scarce literature on word-of-mouth in a recruitment context, most
studies have focused on its outcomes (as discussed in the previous section), largely ignoring its
determinants (Shinnar, Young, & Meana, 2004). Whereas this research has led to the conclusion
that organizations should try to stimulate positive word-of-mouth, little is known about how this
might be achieved.
Along these lines, Van Hoye and Lievens (2009) applied the recipient-source framework
from the marketing literature to identify and examine possible determinants of employment-
related word-of-mouth. Given that word-of-mouth can be conceptualized as a dyadic
communication between a source (i.e., sender) and a recipient (i.e., receiver) (Gilly, Graham,
Wolfinbarger, & Yale, 1998), this framework postulates that its occurrence is determined by the
Word-of-Mouth as a Recruitment Source 20
characteristics of the recipient, by the characteristics of the source, and by their mutual
relationship (Bansal & Voyer, 2000; Lau & Ng, 2001).
First, the recipient-source framework suggests that some people are more likely to receive
employment information through word-of-mouth than others, depending on their personality
traits and other characteristics. In support of this assumption, Van Hoye and Lievens (2009)
found that potential applicants for the military with higher levels of extraversion reported
receiving more positive word-of-mouth about the organization. In addition, more extraverted job
seekers have been found to engage in networking more frequently (Van Hoye et al., 2009;
Wanberg et al., 2000). Given that more extraverted people are more sociable, talkative, and active
(Goldberg, 1990), and interact more frequently with other people (Digman, 1990), they are more
likely to seek out and receive employment-related word-of-mouth. Van Hoye and Lievens (2009)
further observed that potential applicants higher in conscientiousness received more positive as
well as negative employment information through word-of-mouth. Similarly, Wanberg et al.
(2000) found that more conscientious people were more likely to rely on networking in their job
search. As individuals with higher levels of conscientiousness tend to be more motivated and
more persistent (Judge & Ilies, 2002), they might try harder to obtain company-independent
word-of-mouth information in addition to company-dependent recruitment sources such as
advertising, to get a more complete and balanced picture of the organization (Caldwell & Burger,
Research on networking and employee referrals provides some more support for the role
of recipient characteristics as determinants of word-of-mouth. First, job seekers with higher
networking comfort (i.e., positive attitude toward using networking as a job search method,
Wanberg et al., 2000) and job seekers who are more motivated by the objective to develop and
Word-of-Mouth as a Recruitment Source 21
maintain a network of professional relationships (Van Hoye & Saks, 2008) have been found to
make more use of networking as a source of employment information. In addition, the
characteristics of individuals‟ social network seem to affect the extent to which they rely on
networking in their job search, given that job seekers with a larger social network and with more
strong ties in their network report spending more time on networking (Van Hoye et al., 2009).
Second, the individual differences hypothesis supported in research on informal recruitment
sources (including but not limited to employee referrals) also suggests that job seekers‟
characteristics determine their use of particular recruitment sources (Williams et al., 1993). For
instance, job seekers with higher self-esteem (Ellis & Taylor, 1983) and higher job search self-
efficacy beliefs (Saks & Ashforth, 2000) are more likely to rely on informal sources for
identifying job opportunities.
As a second major component, the recipient-source framework proposes that some people
will more often act as a source of employment information than others, depending on their
personal characteristics (Gilly et al., 1998). Consistent with this reasoning, Van Hoye and
Lievens (2009) found that the perceived expertise of the source (defined as the degree of
knowledge and experience the source possesses with respect to the job or recruiting organization)
was the strongest predictor of receiving both positive and negative word-of-mouth. This suggests
that job seekers are more likely to request word-of-mouth information from more knowledgeable
sources because they are perceived as being able to provide valuable and correct employment
information (Fisher et al., 1979). In addition, people who have personal experiences with the
recruiting organization such as current or former employees probably provide more unsolicited
word-of-mouth because they have higher levels of involvement with the job or organization
(Mangold et al., 1999).
Word-of-Mouth as a Recruitment Source 22
Focusing on the actual sources of word-of-mouth, Van Hoye (2011) investigated
employees‟ motives for spreading positive as well as negative word-of-mouth information about
their employer to others. Findings suggest that the strongest motive for providing positive word-
of-mouth was the prosocial desire to help other people find good fitting jobs, followed by
employees‟ own job satisfaction, and to a lesser extent the desire to help the organization find
good fitting employees, and extrinsic rewards. Negative word-of-mouth was mostly motivated by
job dissatisfaction, but also by the desire to help job seekers avoid bad fitting jobs.
Furthermore, the recipient-source framework posits that word-of-mouth is not only
determined by the characteristics of its recipient and its source, but also by their mutual
relationship (Bansal & Voyer, 2000). As already noted, tie strength refers to the closeness of the
social relationship between the recipient and the source of word-of-mouth information (Brown &
Konrad, 2001). Close friends are an example of strong ties, whereas seldom-contacted
acquaintances represent weak ties (Brown & Reingen, 1987). Stronger ties are typically more
readily available and result in more frequent interaction through which word-of-mouth
information can be requested or provided (Gilly et al., 1998). In line with this assumption, Van
Hoye and Lievens (2009) observed that potential applicants were more likely to receive positive
word-of-mouth from stronger ties.
Finally, in extension of the recipient-source framework, it is also important to consider
how the characteristics and actions of a recruiting organization might affect the occurrence of
word-of-mouth. Along these lines, Van Hoye (2008) found that healthcare organizations‟
employer brand (operationalized as the instrumental and symbolic dimensions of organizations‟
image as an employer, Lievens & Highhouse, 2003) significantly predicted nurses‟ intentions to
spread positive word-of-mouth about their organization. Specifically, the more employees
Word-of-Mouth as a Recruitment Source 23
perceived their organization as offering task diversity and the possibility to help people, and as
being competent and prestigious, the more willing they were to recommend their employer to
Furthermore, research on applicant reactions has consistently found that applicants who
hold a more positive view of the organization‟s selection procedures and decisions (e.g., in terms
of justice) are more willing to recommend the organization as an employer to others (for a meta-
analytic review, see Hausknecht, Day, & Thomas, 2004). Therefore, a transparent, consistent, and
job-related selection system in which applicants are treated fairly is likely to increase positive
word-of-mouth generated by applicants. In addition, Posthuma and Campion (2005) found that
the more procedural justice nurses experienced at their workplace, the more they were willing to
permit their employer to use their name in recruitment advertising to support “great place to
work” statements. Specifically, higher levels of perceived right to appeal work schedules and
adequate explanations for work assignments were associated with higher willingness to publicly
endorse one‟s employer.
In addition, more and more organizations are applying employee referral programs that
award incentives (mostly monetary bonuses) to current employees for recommending their
employer to others (Shinnar et al., 2004). In support of the effectiveness of such programs, Van
Hoye (2011) found that employees in an organization that provides monetary bonuses for making
positive referrals reported spreading more positive and even less negative word-of-mouth about
their employer than employees in a comparable organization without employee referral program.
However, as already noted, other motives such as job satisfaction and the desire to help job
seekers find good fitting jobs were more predictive of employees‟ word-of-mouth behavior than
these extrinsic rewards.
Word-of-Mouth as a Recruitment Source 24
Integrative Model and Directions for Future Research
In an effort to synthesize the discussed research findings, an integrative model of word-of-
mouth as a recruitment source was developed. As shown in Figure 1, this model provides an
overview of the determinants, outcomes, mediators, and moderators of employment-related word-
of-mouth. As the literature review in this chapter has identified numerous gaps in our current
knowledge of word-of-mouth as a recruitment source, the integrative model does not only show
what we already know, but also, and perhaps most importantly, it highlights key directions for
future research in this area. As such, the model does not claim to be exhaustive, but rather serves
as a guiding framework that future research can test and expand upon.
First, the integrative model shows that the occurrence of word-of-mouth is not only
determined by the characteristics of its recipient and source and by their mutual relationship, but
also by the characteristics of the organization involved, extending the recipient-source framework
applied in prior research (Van Hoye & Lievens, 2009). In terms of recipient characteristics,
empirical findings so far suggest that job seekers higher in extraversion, conscientiousness, and
networking comfort (Van Hoye & Lievens, 2009; Van Hoye et al., 2009; Wanberg et al., 2000);
with higher self-evaluations and networking motives (Ellis & Taylor, 1983; Saks & Ashforth,
2000; Van Hoye & Saks, 2008); and with larger social networks containing more strong ties (Van
Hoye et al., 2009), are more likely to receive employment information through word-of-mouth.
Future research should look more closely at job seekers‟ motives for actively seeking word-of-
mouth, as this would provide organizations with valuable information on how to stimulate the use
of word-of-mouth as a recruitment source. Along these lines, marketing research has observed
that most word-of-mouth conversations are triggered by the receiver‟s felt need for information
Word-of-Mouth as a Recruitment Source 25
(Mangold et al., 1999). In addition, word-of-mouth that is more actively sought by the recipient
has been found to affect purchase decisions to a greater extent (Bansal & Voyer, 2000).
With respect to source attributes, previous research indicates that people with higher
expertise (e.g., current or former employees) and with stronger ties to job seekers (e.g., friends,
family) more frequently provide word-of-mouth information (Van Hoye & Lievens, 2009).
Furthermore, more satisfied employees and employees who are more motivated to help job
seekers find jobs and to help the organization fill vacancies seem to spread more positive word-
of-mouth about their employer to others (Van Hoye, 2011). On the contrary, employees who are
more dissatisfied and who are more motivated to help job seekers avoid bad fitting jobs, more
frequently provide negative word-of-mouth. In addition to expertise, tie strength, and motives,
other personal characteristics are likely to affect the extent to which individuals provide
employment-related word-of-mouth to others. For instance, marketing research has found support
for self-confidence, sociability, and innovativeness as source characteristics positively predicting
word-of-mouth (Lau & Ng, 2001; Mowen, Park, & Zablah, 2007). Future research should
examine whether these and other individual difference variables are relevant for explaining
people‟s tendency to spread word-of-mouth in a recruitment context.
Regarding characteristics of the recruiting organization, research has shown that a strong
employer brand (Van Hoye, 2008), high organizational justice (Hausknecht et al., 2004;
Posthuma & Campion, 2005), and a referral program awarding bonuses for positive referrals
(Van Hoye, 2011) can increase applicants‟ and employees‟ willingness to spread positive word-
of-mouth to others. Given that word-of-mouth is a company-independent source that can only be
influenced indirectly through other recruitment practices, future research should examine the
efficacy of various other strategies that organizations might apply to stimulate word-of-mouth
Word-of-Mouth as a Recruitment Source 26
such as creative advertising, campus recruitment, relationship management, and internships.
Along these lines, previous research has demonstrated that, as a high-involvement recruitment
practice, “employee endorsements” were positively related to applicant attraction, especially
when company awareness was already high (Collins, 2007; Collins & Han, 2004). These
employee endorsements consisted of several related recruitment practices such as providing
internships and co-ops for students and encouraging recent alumni and interns to share their
experiences with students on campus. Even though word-of-mouth was not actually measured in
these studies, it is likely that these practices resulted in more positive word-of-mouth received by
students, which in turn positively affected their attraction to the organization. Future research
should test these assumptions more directly by examining how recruitment practices impact both
word-of-mouth and attraction.
Another promising direction for future research would be to investigate how
characteristics of the recipient, source, and organization interact to determine the use of word-of-
mouth as a recruitment source. For instance, although rewarding employees with bonuses seems
to increase their extrinsic motivation for making referrals, this organizational practice might
negatively affect their intrinsic motives for spreading word-of-mouth, given that previous
motivation research has shown that extrinsic rewards can significantly decrease intrinsic
motivation (Deci, Koestner, & Ryan, 1999). As another example, an organization‟s employer
brand is likely to affect people‟s motives for requesting and providing word-of-mouth (Van
Hoye, 2008).
In addition to their role as determinants, future research should also consider how
recipient, source, and organizational characteristics might moderate the relationship between
word-of-mouth and its outcomes. Along these lines, prior research has already found support for
Word-of-Mouth as a Recruitment Source 27
tie strength as a moderator of the relationship between word-of-mouth and organizational
attraction, with stronger ties being more influential (Van Hoye & Lievens, 2007b). In addition, as
noted before, the organization‟s employer brand might buffer the impact of especially negative
word-of-mouth on its attractiveness as an employer (Laczniak et al., 2001). Moreover, word-of-
mouth provided by sources with higher expertise is likely to be perceived as more credible and
thus more influential than word-of-mouth from less knowledgeable sources (Bansal & Voyer,
2000). As a final example, a possible side effect of employee referral programs might be that
rewarding employees for spreading word-of-mouth could undermine its credibility and thus
impact if job seekers would perceive employees as having a self-interest in promoting the
organization (Godes et al., 2005).
Besides the attributes of the recipient, source, and organization, some other characteristics
of word-of-mouth are likely to influence its effects. First, with respect to valence, research so far
has consistently found that positive word-of-mouth has a beneficial impact on recruitment
outcomes (e.g., Collins & Stevens, 2002). However, as noted earlier, far less studies have
investigated negative word-of-mouth and the results are inconsistent (Jaidi et al., 2011; Kanar et
al., 2010; Van Hoye & Lievens, 2007b, 2009). Therefore, future research should take the valence
of word-of-mouth into account and pay particular attention to the conditions affecting the impact
of negative word-of-mouth.
Second, given that some evidence suggests that the content of word-of-mouth matters
(Cable et al., 2000; Van Hoye & Lievens, 2007a), a particularly interesting avenue for future
research would be to examine the actual messages spread through word-of-mouth (e.g., content
analysis) and how they relate to its impact. Whereas word-of-mouth about the organization
instead of about individual employees seems to be more influential (Van Hoye & Lievens,
Word-of-Mouth as a Recruitment Source 28
2007a), other content variables may be of importance as well. For instance, word-of-mouth
probably has a greater impact if it provides information about job and organizational attributes
that matter most to potential applicants, such as type of work, work environment, and
organizational image (Chapman, Uggerslev, Carroll, Piasentin, & Jones, 2005). Furthermore,
attribution theory suggests that word-of-mouth messages will be more persuasive if they are
characterized by high consensus, high distinctiveness, and high consistency (Kelley & Michela,
1980; Laczniak et al., 2001).
Third, the specific medium through which word-of-mouth is provided, might also affect
its outcomes (Allen et al., 2004). Along these lines, media richness theory postulates that “richer”
media are more persuasive and thus more likely to affect organizational attraction (Daft &
Lengel, 1986). Media richness is determined by the medium‟s capacity for immediate feedback,
the number of cues and channels utilized, personalization, and language variety. Given the
exponential growth of web-based word-of-mouth, future research should investigate how it
compares to face-to-face word-of-mouth in terms of media richness and impact on attraction, as
well as examine possible differences between various subtypes of web-based word-of-mouth
such as e-mails, electronic bulletin boards, and social networking websites (Cable & Yu, 2006).
Next, the integrative model in Figure 1 shows how various process variables might help to
explain the impact of word-of-mouth as a recruitment source. In line with the accessibility-
diagnosticity model and the source credibility framework, the model proposes that the impact of
word-of-mouth is determined by its own accessibility, diagnosticity, and credibility, as well as by
those of other recruitment sources. Up until now, findings mainly suggest that the effects of
word-of-mouth can be partly explained by its credibility as an independent and personal source of
employment information (Fisher et al., 1979; Van Hoye, 2012; Van Hoye & Lievens, 2005,
Word-of-Mouth as a Recruitment Source 29
2007a, 2007b). As noted before, future research should include measures of accessibility and
diagnosticity to more directly test the predictions of the accessibility-diagnosticity model. In
addition, the realistic information hypothesis supported in research on informal recruitment
sources suggests that the realism of the provided information might also help to explain the
effects of word-of-mouth (Breaugh, 2008).
Finally, the integrative model suggests that word-of-mouth as a source of employment
information affects both individual job search outcomes and organizational pre-hire as well as
post-hire recruitment outcomes. Most previous studies have focused on this part of the model and
have found that (a) networking has a positive effect on job search outcomes such as job offers
and finding employment (Forret, in press), (b) positive word-of-mouth positively affects pre-hire
recruitment outcomes including organizational image, organizational attractiveness, and
application decisions (e.g., Collins & Stevens, 2002; Van Hoye & Lievens, 2009); and (c)
employee referrals have a positive impact on post-hire recruitment outcomes such as job
satisfaction, job performance, and turnover (Zottoli & Wanous, 2000). Whereas these studies
have typically focused on only one category of outcomes, future research should try to
incorporate multiple outcomes and should examine whether the findings with respect to
networking and employee referrals generalize to other types of word-of-mouth. In addition, it
would be particularly interesting for research on word-of-mouth to focus not only on outcomes,
but to also include determinants, mediators, and/or moderators, thus allowing to test the
integrative model more completely. For instance, future research might gain a deeper
understanding of the motives for seeking or providing employment-related word-of-mouth by
examining how these motives relate to both the occurrence and outcomes of word-of-mouth, as
suggested earlier.
Word-of-Mouth as a Recruitment Source 30
Measurement of Word-of-Mouth
The very characteristics of word-of-mouth that are linked to its substantial impact on
recruitment outcomes, namely its independent and personal nature, also represent significant
challenges for researchers trying to measure word-of-mouth. There is no standard answer to
questions such as how, when, and among whom word-of-mouth should be measured and
ultimately such design decisions should be informed most by the study‟s specific research
objectives (Godes et al., 2005). However, some guidelines can be offered that future research on
word-of-mouth as a recruitment source should take into account.
A first important consideration to make is whether to examine word-of-mouth among its
recipients or sources. Given that the recipients of word-of-mouth information are the most
straightforward target group to define and reach, most previous research has relied on samples of
job seekers receiving word-of-mouth (e.g., Collins & Stevens, 2002). Moreover, such a sampling
decision is in line with these studies‟ typical focus on the relationship between word-of-mouth
and organizational attraction. However, it can also be interesting to study word-of-mouth among
its sources, especially when the aim is to investigate source- and organization-related
determinants. In addition, marketing research indicates that recipients‟ and sources‟ evaluation of
the same word-of-mouth message can be significantly different (Christiansen & Tax, 2000).
Compared to recipients, it might be more difficult to identify and reach relevant sources of
employment-related word-of-mouth. In line with the finding that job seekers receive more word-
of-mouth from sources with higher expertise (Van Hoye & Lievens, 2009), the majority of
studies taking a source perspective has included samples of applicants or employees (e.g., Van
Hoye, 2008). Given that job seekers are also likely to receive more word-of-mouth from people
to whom they are more strongly tied (Van Hoye & Lievens, 2009), future research should
Word-of-Mouth as a Recruitment Source 31
additionally investigate word-of-mouth among job seekers‟ family and friends. Ideally, both
recipients and sources would be included, reflecting the dyadic nature of word-of-mouth (Gilly et
al., 1998). For instance, Van Hoye and Saks (2011) relied on a sample of pairs of job seekers and
the person accompanying them to a job fair (mostly parents and friends). Even though word-of-
mouth was not explicitly measured in this study, it was found that companions‟ ratings of the
organization‟s image and attractiveness as an employer significantly predicted job seekers‟ own
evaluations of image and attractiveness.
Second, the timing of measurement should also be carefully considered, as word-of-
mouth might play a different part in the various phases of the recruitment process. For instance,
both the frequency and impact of negative word-of-mouth are likely to be higher in the earliest
stages of recruitment, given that job seekers who receive negative word-of-mouth information
about the organization early on might decide not to seek additional information or not to apply,
thus never even becoming (potential) applicants (Van Hoye & Lievens, 2009). In addition,
marketing research has found that as more time passes between the occurrence and measurement
of word-of-mouth messages, evaluations of both positive and negative word-of-mouth tend to
regress towards the scale mean (Christiansen & Tax, 2000). This might happen because people
forget (part of) the messages, selectively recall the most salient aspects, or supplement them with
other information such as personal experience or advertising. This finding implies that the
measurement of word-of-mouth should follow closely to the time period of conceptual interest
and that longitudinal measures are likely to be useful. A particularly interesting avenue for future
research would be to apply a daily or weekly diary design to more fully grasp the dynamics of job
seekers‟ exposure to word-of-mouth and other recruitment sources in relation to their attraction to
the organization as they move through the recruitment process.
Word-of-Mouth as a Recruitment Source 32
Third, another key design decision is whether to study word-of-mouth in a laboratory
setting or in the field. Both approaches represent unique advantages as well as challenges.
Whereas an experimental design allows systematic control of the varying characteristics of word-
of-mouth that are likely to affect its occurrence and impact (e.g., medium, content), the vivid and
personal nature of word-of-mouth is difficult to simulate and experimental manipulations of
word-of-mouth thus often lack realism. Typically, previous experimental research has applied a
scenario design in which participants are instructed to imagine that they have received certain
information from someone they know. This word-of-mouth information has been presented in a
written (e.g., Fisher et al., 1979), video (e.g., Van Hoye & Lievens, 2005), or online format (e.g.,
Van Hoye & Lievens, 2007a). It would be interesting for future laboratory studies to try to apply
more realistic manipulations of word-of-mouth, for instance by using confederates to create
“actual” word-of-mouth (for an example in a marketing context, see Bone, 1995). Conversely,
field studies allow to investigate how real-life word-of-mouth occurs and affects genuine
recruitment outcomes, but it is much more difficult to control the circumstances in which this
takes place. Therefore, it is recommended to measure as many of the variables as possible from
the integrative model of word-of-mouth (see Figure 1) that might affect its use and impact as a
recruitment source.
A final key methodological consideration is which scale(s) to use for measuring word-of-
mouth. Given that job seekers/sources are likely to vary in the extent to which they
receive/provide employment-related word-of-mouth, a Likert-type scale assessing the intensity of
receiving/providing word-of-mouth is more appropriate than a simple yes/no response scale
measuring whether or not any word-of-mouth information was received/provided (Zottoli &
Wanous, 2000). Moreover, the use of a multidimensional measure of word-of-mouth is
Word-of-Mouth as a Recruitment Source 33
recommended, as both the amount and the valence of word-of-mouth should be taken into
account (Goyette, Ricard, Bergeron, & Marticotte, 2010). For instance, a job seeker might be
exposed to no word-of-mouth at all, to both positive and negative word-of-mouth (in varying
levels), or to only positive or negative word-of-mouth, whereas an adequate measure should be
able to accurately capture and reflect all these variations. One possibility is to develop separate
measures for assessing the intensity of positive and negative word-of-mouth. Along these lines,
Van Hoye and Lievens (2009) measured how much time job seekers spent on receiving either
positive or negative employment information from other people. The multidimensionality of this
measure was supported by confirmatory factor analysis and by differing relationships of positive
and negative word-of-mouth with determinants and outcomes. Another option would be to use
one scale for measuring the intensity of word-of-mouth and another one for its valence (Harrison-
Walker, 2001). Whereas both these approaches rely on self-report measures that require
participants to judge whether word-of-mouth is positive or negative, yet another method might be
to have recipients/sources describe the content of the received/provided word-of-mouth
information and use independent coders to have a more objective measure of valence.
Practical Implications
This literature review strongly suggests that positive word-of-mouth is a highly influential
source of employment information affecting key outcomes throughout the recruitment process.
This appears to be the case for all sorts of job seekers, jobs, organizations, and countries, and
even more so when labor market demand is high. Therefore, organizations should recognize the
power of word-of-mouth as an independent and personal recruitment source and should look for
ways to successfully use and affect word-of-mouth through strategic recruitment decisions and
actions. In a marketing context, Godes et al. (2005) developed a framework that represents four
Word-of-Mouth as a Recruitment Source 34
types of strategies that organizations might implement for managing word-of-mouth. In these
strategies, which might also be applied in a recruitment context, organizations can take on the
role of observer, moderator, mediator, or participant.
First, as an observer, organizations passively collect information on word-of-mouth that is
being spread about them as an employer (Godes et al., 2005). It is very useful for organizations to
know for instance what is being said about them, by whom, to whom, and through which media.
It would also be worthwhile to observe word-of-mouth about direct competitors on the labor
market. Such observations provide a valuable input for making better informed recruitment and
employer branding decisions (Lievens, 2007). In other words, before attempting to stimulate
word-of-mouth, organizations should first get an idea of the word-of-mouth that is already “out
there” and its characteristics. To this end, organizations might administer surveys to key target
groups (e.g., applicants, employees) or monitor online word-of-mouth (e.g., social networking
sites, employee weblogs).
Second, organizations can assume the role of moderator and more actively stimulate the
use of word-of-mouth as a recruitment source (Godes et al., 2005). However, in doing so, the
independent nature of word-of-mouth is respected and organizations have no direct control of the
frequency or content of word-of-mouth (as opposed to the more “aggressive” roles of mediator
and participant discussed later). Given that its credibility as an independent source of
employment information is one of the main drivers of the impact of word-of-mouth (Van Hoye,
2012), the moderator strategy seems to be the most appropriate way for successfully managing
word-of-mouth. In trying to indirectly influence word-of-mouth, organizations can make use of
the recipient, source, and organizational characteristics identified in the integrative model in
Figure 1. With respect to recipient characteristics, organizations might appeal to recipients‟
Word-of-Mouth as a Recruitment Source 35
motives for actively seeking word-of-mouth. For instance, in recruitment communication (e.g.,
job advertisement, job site), job seekers can be encouraged to ask any question they might have
about the job or organization by talking to employees at social events or connecting with them on
social networking sites.
Regarding source characteristics, research has demonstrated that most word-of-mouth is
provided by sources with high expertise, such as the organization‟s current employees (Van Hoye
& Lievens, 2009). Therefore, organizations should actively involve their employees in the
recruitment of new personnel. At the very least, all employees should have easy access to
accurate and complete information about the organization and vacant positions. Moreover, there
should be ample opportunity for informal contacts with employees throughout the recruitment
process, for instance at sponsored events or during site visits. Organizations can also appeal to
employees‟ motives for spreading word-of-mouth about their employer to others. Given that the
desire to help other people find good fitting jobs has been found to be the strongest motive for
providing word-of-mouth (Van Hoye, 2011), addressing this prosocial motive might be an
especially effective way to stimulate positive word-of-mouth. For instance, organizations might
communicate current and future vacancies to employees and urge them “to help friends and
relatives find the job of their life”. In terms of other motives, employees might also be
encouraged to share their job satisfaction with others or to help the organization fill its vacancies
with qualified people.
In addition, research findings suggest that the relationship between the recipient and
source of word-of-mouth matters, with most word-of-mouth information coming from strong ties
such as family and friends (Van Hoye & Lievens, 2009). In addition, word-of-mouth provided by
strong ties has been found to be more influential (Van Hoye & Lievens, 2007b). Therefore, to
Word-of-Mouth as a Recruitment Source 36
stimulate word-of-mouth, organizations should broaden the target group of their recruitment
activities to include potential applicants‟ friends and family. For instance, “Refer a Friend”
programs on recruitment websites can encourage job seekers to forward relevant vacancies to
their friends. In addition, organizing family fairs or open house events may increase the
involvement of potential applicants‟ family.
With respect to organizational characteristics, organizations might consider rewarding
their employees for making positive referrals. Whereas some evidence suggests that these
employee referral programs might be effective, other intrinsic and prosocial motives appear to be
stronger predictors of employees‟ word-of-mouth behavior, as discussed above (Van Hoye,
2011). Together with the possible side effects of extrinsic rewards (e.g., decreased intrinsic
motivation, reduced credibility), it seems that intrinsically motivating employees might be a
better strategy for stimulating positive word-of-mouth. Along these lines, a strong employer
brand has been found to increase employees‟ willingness to recommend their employer to others
(Van Hoye, 2008). This illustrates the importance of internal employer branding in addition to
external branding, as organizations need to be an attractive employer not only for potential
applicants, but also for their own employees (Edwards, 2010).
Third, as a mediator, organizations take control of the word-of-mouth information and
decide on how and to whom it is disseminated themselves. For instance, positive results of job
seeker and employee surveys (collected as an observer) might be included in job advertisements
or on the organization‟s recruitment website. Examples might be statements such as
“recommended by over 80% of our employees” or “70% of the job seekers in the region are
attracted to our pleasant work atmosphere”. In addition, organizations can ask their employees to
testify about their work experiences in recruitment materials. Along these lines, research has
Word-of-Mouth as a Recruitment Source 37
found that web-based testimonials are less credible and influential than web-based word-of-
mouth, suggesting that employee testimonials may not fully succeed in imitating word-of-mouth
as an interpersonal source of employment information (Van Hoye & Lievens, 2007a). However,
the credibility and impact of testimonials can be increased by letting employees talk about
themselves and their own experiences instead of promoting the organization as a whole. In
addition, presenting the employee testimonials through a richer medium (e.g., video and audio)
seems to increase their credibility and attractiveness (Walker, Feild, Giles, Armenakis, &
Bernerth, 2009).
Finally, organizations can take on the role of participant and “create” their own word-of-
mouth (Godes et al., 2005). As such, recruiters or other people hired by the organization actively
participate in social interactions and thus directly affect the frequency and content of word-of-
mouth. For instance, this might involve talking to potential applicants at events, posting on online
forums, or connecting with potential applicants on social network sites (Kluemper & Rosen,
2009). One important consideration, especially in an online environment, is whether recruiters
reveal their identity while doing so. In addition to ethical considerations, evidence from the
marketing literature suggests that recruiters might better identify themselves straightforwardly,
given the devastating effects on credibility and attractiveness when an undisclosed affiliation is
discovered later on (Godes et al., 2005).
The literature reviewed in this chapter suggests that word-of-mouth is a powerful
recruitment source affecting key outcomes throughout the recruitment process. These effects are
at least partly due to its credibility as an independent and personal source of employment
information. Characteristics of the recipient, source, and organization determine the occurrence
Word-of-Mouth as a Recruitment Source 38
of word-of-mouth and can moderate its effects. The integrative model of word-of-mouth
developed in this chapter gives an overview of its determinants, moderators, mediators, and
outcomes, and offers key implications for future research as well as for recruiting organizations.
Word-of-Mouth as a Recruitment Source 39
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Word-of-Mouth as a Recruitment Source 49
-Tie strength
-Social network
-Employer brand
-Organizational justice
-Referral bonuses
-Recruitment practices
Process variables
-Media richness
Recruitment outcomes
-Application decisions
-Job choice
-Job-organization fit
-Job satisfaction
-Job performance
Job search outcomes
-Job interviews
-Job offers
Figure 1. Integrative model of word-of-mouth as a recruitment source.
... Such a pros section provides a lengthy discussion to learn the positive aspects of the employer (Chua & Banerjee, 2015;Mudambi & Schuff, 2010). Moreover, such elaborate information helps rule out alternate categorizations for an employer (Mudambi & Schuff, 2010;Van Hoye, 2013). ...
... A high RL pros could convey a review writer's reflection of their satisfaction with the job or their prosocial behavior in helping the review reader find the best fitting job (Kanar et al., 2010;Van Hoye, 2013). It could also convey the review writer's intention to promote an organization to receive extrinsic rewards from an employer recruiting employees to boost their reputation (Van Hoye, 2013;Van Hoye et al., 2016). ...
... A high RL pros could convey a review writer's reflection of their satisfaction with the job or their prosocial behavior in helping the review reader find the best fitting job (Kanar et al., 2010;Van Hoye, 2013). It could also convey the review writer's intention to promote an organization to receive extrinsic rewards from an employer recruiting employees to boost their reputation (Van Hoye, 2013;Van Hoye et al., 2016). It could also be that the review writer feels compelled to write good things to conform to social norms, which encourages positive information in the online review (Qiu et al., 2012) and offline recruitment contexts (Van Hoye, 2013). ...
Full-text available
Employer review sites have grown popular over the last few years, with 86 percent of job seekers referring to reviews on these sites before applying to job positions. Though the antecedents of review helpfulness have been studied in various contexts, it has received limited attention in the employee review context. These sites provide review text in multiple dimensions, such as pros and cons. Besides, to solicit unbiased reviews, these sites allow an option of keeping reviewer information anonymous. Rooted in the diagnosticity perspective, we investigate review helpfulness focusing on the role of review text in multiple dimensions and the anonymity of the reviewers. We use a publicly available Glassdoor dataset to model review helpfulness using a Tobit regression. The results show that the review length in multiple dimensions of review text and anonymity positively impact review helpfulness. Moreover, anonymity positively moderates the review length in the cons section. As a post-hoc analysis, we perform topic modeling to gain better insights on the review text in multiple dimensions and anonymity. The post-hoc analyses show that non-anonymous reviewers discuss firm reputation in the pros section, which anonymous reviewers do not. In the cons section, non-anonymous reviewers discuss politics, unfair and unethical treatment, and prospects of the employer, while anonymous reviewers discuss incompetency of the leadership. This research has important practical implications for online review sites’ design and crafting guidelines and policies for employees writing reviews.
... In recent times, various theories and constructs have been introduced from the marketing area to the job search and recruitment field (Van Hoye et al., 2016) because of the significant similarity between customer purchase intentions and job-seeker intentions as both aim to attract people to a product or service or job (Van Hoye, 2013;Maurer and Liu, 2007). In marketing literature, eWOM communication is regarded as a crucial factor that formulates attitudes and behavioral intentions (BI) of customers toward a particular product, service and brand (Jalilvand and Samiei, 2012a). ...
... Any favorable or unfavorable comment made by prospective, existing or former consumers regarding a product or organization that is made accessible to a large number of people over the internet is referred to as eWOM communication (Cheung and Thadani, 2012;Hennig-Thurau et al., 2004). In recent, eWOM has received momentous recognition in the recruitment context (Lievens and Slaughter, 2016;Van Hoye, 2013;Van Hoye et al., 2016). ...
Purpose E-recruiting has been a powerful tool for reaching the majority of job applicants around the world. Even though, previous literature has scarcely shed light on the factors responsible for the adoption of e-recruitment among job candidates. Originated from the technology acceptance model (TAM), this study aims to empirically examine the influence of online word-of-mouth in shaping job-seekers’ intentions for using e-recruitment websites. Design/methodology/approach A Google Docs-based online questionnaire was distributed via social media, LinkedIn and email to 740 participants, out of which 397 final responses were received. The partial least squares structural equation modeling using SmartPLS 3 was applied for evaluating the theoretical model. Findings This study empirically indicated that electronic word-of-mouth (eWOM) has a significant impact on perceived usefulness (PU), perceived ease of use (PEOU) and attitude. Whereas, PU and attitude fully mediate the relationship between eWOM and behavioral intentions (BI) of job-seekers towards e-recruitment. Practical implications This research contributes to the understanding of the relevance of eWOM in e-recruitment adoption. eWOM provides job-related information that plays a significant role in the usage of online recruitment systems such as LinkedIn, job portals and company websites. This study offered a valuable contribution to the existing body of literature on e-recruitment, developers and Web-based hiring service providers. Originality/value This investigation was the first attempt in the e-recruitment literature to explore the influence of eWOM on job-seekers’ intentions to adopt online recruitment platforms, including the mediating role of PU, PEOU and attitude in the association between eWOM and BI.
... Applying an employer branding perspective to recruitment, some studies have begun to investigate the effects of word-of-mouth as a company-independent recruitment source (Collins & Stevens, 2002). Together, these studies indicate that word-ofmouth can be an influential source of employment information affecting important job search and recruitment outcomes (for a review, see Van Hoye, 2014). ...
... It does not seem likely that an organization would award incentives for spreading negative word-of-mouth to potential applicants. In addition, as we will discuss below, prior research has consistently found a significant impact of positive word-of-mouth on organizational attraction, while the results for negative word-of-mouth have been mixed (Van Hoye, 2014). ...
The Schelde City or Manhattan at the Maas? A comparative analysis of the Ports of Antwerp and Rotterdam regarding the import and distribution of cocaine into Europe The ports of Rotterdam and Antwerp are among the main European ports of entry for the import and further distribution of cocaine. Earlier research underlines the interchangeability of these ports regarding the criminal networks trafficking cocaine into Europe. In this contribution, the interchange­ability of these European sea ports regarding cocaine trafficking is questioned. Based on empirical research, and applying the routine activity approach, the Port of Rotterdam and the Port of Antwerp are compared with respect to their physical characteristics, the potential, motivated offenders, as well as the existing public and private security measures.
... Since reputation relates to perceived inputs from the job seeker's entourage, organizations could build and insist on a positive communication about their respective sector to the general public. At the organizational level, word-of-mouth has been found to strongly influence recruitment outcomes such as organizational attractiveness ), yet much is still to be discovered on how organizations can encourage constructive word-ofmouth to increase their reputation (Van Hoye, 2014), and certainly at the aggregate sector level. ...
We expand on Cable and Turban’s employer knowledge model to investigate how sector attractiveness, that is, image and reputation, predicts management graduates’ sector-specific pursuit intentions, moderated by career anchors. The non-profit sector has the warmest image, followed by the public sector, while the latter is perceived as the least competent and shows the weakest reputation. Each sector’s competence image (but not its warmth image) and reputation significantly predict sector-specific pursuit intentions. The security, service, and challenge anchors confirmed their unique positive moderating impact, respectively for the public, non-profit, and for-profit sectors, although the challenge anchor reduced the public sector’s attractiveness. This study accentuates the importance of matching sector features with personal characteristics for understanding sector attractiveness to job seekers. Consequently, we offer new insights concerning sector-related recruitment practices and sector branding.
... Despite its similarity to CWB as a negative performance behavior, employees' NWOM has some differences. While CWB is executed inside the organization, NWOM is actively communicated primarily to people outside the organization to give negative information about the organization and its products/services to an external audience (Van Hoye, 2013). Also, while CWB influences an organization's productivity, employees' NWOM influences the organizational brand. ...
With the emergence of a variety of communication channels on social media, employees have more opportunities to engage with external stakeholders for or against their organizational brand. In such a context, focusing on negative word-of-mouth (NWOM) as an employees’ negative discretionary brand-oriented behavior, the current study aimed to identify negative emotions which can serve as drivers for NWOM more strongly than for counterproductive workplace behavior (CWB), relying on the discrete emotion perspective. The study also aimed to examine whether employees’ perceived brand knowledge can directly diminish employees’ NWOM and CWB and attenuate the influence of negative emotions. A questionnaire was used to gather relevant data, which was analyzed by structural equation modeling (SEM). The findings showed that anger was more strongly associated with employees’ NWOM than withdrawal and that envy was more strongly associated with CWB toward individuals than employees’ NWOM. Employees’ perceived brand knowledge was negatively associated with both NWOM and CWB directly and mitigated the association of negative emotions such as anger and envy with CWB, but not with NWOM. Based on the discrete emotion perspective, the current study explored the relative magnitude of emotional antecedents for employees’ NWOM and conventional CWB. Also, it expanded the previous findings on the positive effects of perceived brand knowledge on the positive outcomes of employees’ actions and its mitigating effects on NWOM and CWB.
Purpose While the information source is likely to affect job search process, it is still unknown how the information source interacts with the information content and information valence. In this study, first, the authors examine the influence of information source, information content, and information valence on employer attractiveness and job pursuit intention; and second, the authors estimate the interaction of information source with content and valence of information on employer attractiveness and job pursuit intention. Design/methodology/approach The authors adopted a 2 (information source: company-independent vs company-dependent) x 2 (information content: instrumental vs symbolic) x 2 (information valence: positive vs negative) between-subject factorial design to achieve the study’s research objectives, using a sample of 240 job applicants; and applied multivariate analysis of covariance for estimating the main and interaction effects. Findings The authors find a significant interaction of information source with the content and valence of information, indicating a differential effect of content and valence, depending on the information source. The study reveals that the effect of information content (i.e. symbolic vs instrumental) on employer attractiveness varies depending on the source of information (i.e. company-independent vs company-dependent), with the company-independent source having a higher effect than the company-dependent source. Practical implications Considering that the information source has a differential effect on job seekers, it would be useful to account for such differences in designing recruitment communications. Results guide managers in deciding the appropriate recruitment information outlet for communicating symbolic and instrumental attributes. The use of symbolic attribute content is recommended for generating favourable evaluations about an employer. Originality/value This study is a novel attempt to examine on how information source interacts with information content type and information valence in influencing recruitment outcomes. The authors provide valuable insights to human resource managers or employer brand managers to design effective recruitment communications and leverage the company-independent information sources appropriately.
Employer review websites are rising in popularity as credible sources for researching potential employers. Employer reviews can not only influence job seekers but also offer a glimpse into an organization’s employer-brand benefits. This qualitative study explored employee reviews posted on the Glassdoor and Indeed web pages of four Las Vegas hotel/casino corporations. The results revealed that three employer-brand benefits appeared in the reviews as both positive and negative attributes of employment: (1) functional, (2) economic, and (3) psychological. The findings from this study have implications for both marketing and H.R. practitioners and contribute to the growing body of employer-branding literature.
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Purpose: According to previous research, exit interviews do not fulfil the purpose of generating useful feedback from parting employees. According to signaling theory, they might, however, serve a different purpose: to leave one last good impression on parting employees. Design/methodology/approach: This idea was tested by surveying 164 German employees. Findings: Consistent with arguments based on signaling theory, those who experienced an exit interview reported more residual affective commitment towards their former employer and less willingness to complain about it, and these effects were mediated by interpersonal fairness perceptions. In addition, the probability of having an exit interview was found to depend on the resignation style of employees. Originality: This is the first study that proposes a signaling theory perspective of exit interviews and that links exit interviews with the literature on resignation styles. Research limitations/implications: This new perspective on exit interviews can renew the interest in studying how organizations manage the offboarding process. Practical implications: This study advises employers to conduct "exit conversations" (as two-way interactions rather than one-way interviews) and to carefully plan the exit phase.
Le marché des outils d’aide au recrutement intégrant des modules d’intelligence artificielle est en plein essor. Parmi les arguments utilisés pour promouvoir ces dispositifs, figure la promesse que ceux-ci permettraient de favoriser un recrutement non discriminatoire, en raison de leur capacité supposée à éliminer les biais de jugement humains. L’objectif de cette revue des recherches est de montrer que ces promesses sont difficilement tenables, car la correction de certains biais de jugement est contrecarrée par l’émergence de nouveaux biais induits par l’usage de l’IA.
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We examine the role of accrued recruitment source diagnosticity (i.e., cumulative information from recruitment sources) and show its importance in enhancing diversity in recruitment and selection. First, based on social network and homophily theories, we propose that racial minority candidates will be less likely to use diagnostic recruitment sources, and this lack of use contributes to less organizational attraction and greater withdrawal. Second, based on the realism hypothesis, we theorize that racial differences in accrued recruitment source diagnosticity contribute (in part) to racial differences in selection test performance. Using a sample of candidates in a high‐stakes selection context, we find that White applicants are significantly more likely to use the most diagnostic sources (compared to non‐Whites). Further, applicants with higher accrued recruitment source diagnosticity show greater organizational attraction (before and after testing), withdraw from the hiring process in fewer numbers, and perform significantly better on the selection tests. Altogether, these findings have important theoretical implications because they identify a fairly neglected determinant of recruitment and selection outcomes (accrued recruitment source diagnosticity) and may yield practical implications by suggesting actionable ways organizations can help reduce subgroup differences and enhance diversity.
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We focus on the beliefs that applicants develop about organizational culture during the anticipatory stage of socialization. Data from 240 job applicants suggested that an organization used product and company information to encourage applicants to hold favorable, rather than accurate, culture beliefs. For example, the organization appeared to overstate the degree to which its culture was risk-oriented. Information that is less susceptible to image management attempts (for instance, word of mouth) was unrelated to applicants' culture beliefs.
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Modern organizations struggle with staffing challenges stemming from increased knowledge work, labor shortages, competition for applicants, and workforce diversity. Yet, despite such critical needs for effective staffing practice, staffing research continues to be neglected or misunderstood by many organizational decision makers. Solving these challenges requires staffing scholars to expand their focus from individual-level recruitment and selection research to multilevel research demonstrating the business unit/organizational-level impact of staffing. Toward this end, this review provides a selective and critical analysis of staffing best practices covering literature from roughly 2000 to the present. Several research-practice gaps are also identified.
In this study, unlike most recruitment source research, we tested for and ruled out the contaminating effects of prescreening and self-selection bias by examining applicants and new hires for nursing positions (Rynes & Barber, 1990). Consistent with the predictions of Rees (1966) and Ullman (1966), recruitment sources reached differently qualified applicants in terms of nursing experience and education which, in turn, were valid predictors of subsequent nurse performance. In a similar manner, recruitment sources produced sharply different levels of prehire knowledge, which was inversely related to voluntary turnover after 1 year. However, contrary to both hypotheses, prehire knowledge, education, and experience did not mediate the relationship between recruitment sources and posthire outcomes. Recruitment sources with greater prehire knowledge did not always result in lower voluntary turnover. Likewise, despite recruitment source differences in nursing experience and education, recruitment sources were not related to nursing performance. Finally, the extent to which applicants use multiple recruitment sources was investigated, and the methodological problem that this creates for recruitment source research was discussed.
Drawing from recent developments in social cognition, cognitive psychology, and behavioral decision theory, we analyzed when and how the act of measuring beliefs, attitudes, intentions, and behaviors affects observed correlations among them. Belief, attitude, or intention can be created by measurement if the measured constructs do not already exist in long-term memory. The responses thus created can have directive effects on answers to other questions that follow in the survey. But even when counterparts to the beliefs, attitudes, and intentions measured already exist in memory, the structure of the survey researcher's questionnaire can affect observed correlations among them. The respondent may use retrieved answers to earlier survey questions as inputs to response generation to later questions. We present a simple theory predicting that an earlier response will be used as a basis for another, subsequent response if the former is accessible and if it is perceived to be more diagnostic than other accessible inputs. We outline the factors that determine both the perceived diagnosticity of a potential input, the likelihood that it will be retrieved, and the likelihood that some alternative (and potentially more diagnostic) inputs will be retrieved.
Through a quantitative meta-analysis of 40 studies of realistic job previews (RJPs), 26 of which were published, the effects of RJPs on attrition from the job recruitment process, the level and accuracy of initial job expectations, affective reactions, job performance, and turnover were assessed. In general, RJPs were related to higher performance and to lower attrition from the recruitment process, initial expectations, voluntary turnover, and all turnover. Moderating effects of the timing and medium of an RJP and of whether a study was conducted in the laboratory or the field indicated that the effectiveness of RJPs can be enhanced through properly matching RJP methods with the organizational outcomes of interest.
The current research systematically develops and empirically validates a scale to measure word-of-mouth communication and investigates two forms of customer commitment and service quality as potential antecedents. The findings support the hypotheses that affective commitment is positively related to word-of-mouth communication but that high sacrifice commitment is not related to word-of-mouth communication. Interestingly, the effect of service quality on word-of-mouth communication appears to be industry dependent. A distinction is made between word-of-mouth activity and word-of-mouth praise.