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The Coevolution of Social Networks and Thoughts of Quitting

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Abstract

Research has shown that employees who occupy more central positions in their organization’s network have lower turnover. As a result, scholars commonly interpret turnover as the consequence of social networks. Based on Conservation of Resources theory, we propose an alternative coevolution perspective that recognizes the influence of changes in individuals’ social network position on their thoughts of quitting (the consideration of turnover), but also posits that thoughts of quitting shape individuals’ agency in maintaining and changing their social network. Extending previous research, we predict that creation (dissolution) of both friendship ties and advice ties are negatively (positively) related to subsequent thoughts of quitting. We then develop and test the novel hypotheses that for friendship ties, thoughts of quitting are positively related to tie retention and negatively related to tie creation (leading to network stasis), whereas for advice ties thoughts of quitting are negatively related to tie retention and positively related to tie creation (leading to network churn). In a longitudinal network analysis that assessed 121 employees across three time points, we find support for our hypotheses that thoughts of quitting affect network changes, but do not find that network changes affect thoughts of quitting.

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In this chapter, a comprehensive approach to understanding voluntary employee turnover and retention is described. First, the literature on employee turnover is briefly reviewed because many of our ideas are grounded in existing theory and research. Second, our recent theory on why and how people leave the organization (called the Unfolding Model of Voluntary Turnover) is detailed. In particular, two empirical studies that confirm and refine the model's major propositions are summarized. Third, our analysis of why people stay is explained. This approach to understanding employee retention is grounded in the development, measurement and test of a construct called job embeddedness. In addition, two empirical studies that competitively test and refine the embeddedness construct are summarized. Fourth, to gain a more comprehensive understanding of organizational attachment, our preliminary ideas about the integration of the unfolding model and job embeddedness are offered. In our last section, the implications of this work are discussed. More specifically, we identify a number of ways that our theoretical constructs and empirical research fundamentally change or challenge many basic assumptions about traditional theory and research on employee turnover and retention. Finally, our concluding comments focus on how an organization can apply these ideas to increase attachment through embeddedness and/or to reduce turnover by understanding the tenets of the unfolding model.
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This article outlines the mechanism by which brokerage provides social capital. Opinion and behavior are more homogeneous within than between groups, so people connected across groups are more familiar with alternative ways of thinking and behaving. Brokerage across the structural holes between groups provides a vision of options otherwise unseen, which is the mechanism by which brokerage becomes social capital. I review evidence consistent with the hypothesis, then look at the networks around managers in a large American electronics company. The organization is rife with structural holes, and brokerage has its expected correlates. Compensation, positive performance evaluations, promotions, and good ideas are disproportionately in the hands of people whose networks span structural holes. The between-group brokers are more likely to express ideas, less likely to have ideas dismissed, and more likely to have ideas evaluated as valuable. I close with implications for creativity and structural change.
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Investigated the relation between turnover and communication networks in 3 fast-food restaurants. Although most research assumes an independent, stochastic quality to turnover, it was hypothesized that turnover occurs in clusters that would be significantly related to the degree to which employees occupied similar informal roles as defined by perceived communication patterns. 53 employees (average age 19 yrs) completed a communication network questionnaire. Over the next month, 12 Ss left the restaurants. A social network concept called regular equivalance was used to measure the degree to which Ss were perceived similar to each other in these communication roles. Three separate analyses were conducted, each based on different assumptions about the data. A meta-analysis across the 3 sites in all 3 analytical approaches confirmed the hypothesized relation between turnover clusters and perceived roles. (15 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)