Enthusiastic Today Stuck Tomorrow: Investigating the Frequency and Structure of Changes in Proximal Withdrawal States



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Recent theoretical developments have identified proximal withdrawal states (PWS) – mindsets that motivate organizational members to participate in or withdraw from their organization – as a proximal antecedent of employee turnover (Hom et al., 2012). PWS types are derived by crossing a) the employee's preferred employment status (stay versus leave) and b) their perceived control over achieving this desired end state. Although it is implied that most employees begin new jobs as “enthusiastic stayers” (i.e., those who want to and can stay), little is known about the psychological processes that spur transitions to other PWS (e.g., “enthusiastic leavers”). This study implements a panel research design to investigate how often transitions occur, what dynamic structure these changes take, and whether changes in turnover antecedents predict transitions between PWS. Results suggest that transitions do occur with regular frequency. Furthermore, some transitions between states are more likely than others but even if short term changes occur, employees have the tendency to revert to previously occupied PWS states at least 6-months later. Despite observing transitions, a combination of low cell size for some PWSs and a tendency towards stability rather than change resulted in insufficient power to probe the antecedents of PWS transitions.



Turnover, Proximal Withdrawal States