© 2007 The Authors. Journal compilation © 2007 International Association of AppliedPsychology. Published by Blackwell Publishing, 9600 Garsington Road, Oxford OX4 2DQ,UK and 350 Main Street, Malden, MA 02148, USA.
APPLIED PSYCHOLOGY: AN INTERNATIONAL REVIEW, 2008,
(1), 128–150doi: 10.1111/j.1464-0597.2007.00286.x
Blackwell Publishing LtdOxford, UKAPPSApplied Psychology0269-994X © International Association for Applied Psychology, 2007xxx 200756XXXOriginal ArticleTHE UNFOLDING MODEL OF VOLUNTARY TURNOVERMORRELL ET AL.
Mapping the Decision to Quit: A Reﬁnement andTest of the Unfolding Model of Voluntary Turnover
University of Warwick, UK
John Loan-Clarke and John Arnold
Loughborough University, UK
Griffith University, Australia
We report a test of an inﬂuential theory of employee turnover: the unfoldingmodel (Lee & Mitchell, 1994; Lee, Mitchell, Holtom, McDaniel, & Hill, 1999).We describe and critique this classiﬁcatory model, and propose both theory-based and empirical reﬁnements. The two extant tests of the current versionof the model have both been with accountants in the United States, so thegeneralisability of the model is as yet unproven. We present results of anattempt to classify 352 nurse leavers from the United Kingdom’s NationalHealth Service using the unfolding model. In contrast to the ﬁndings of Leeet al. (1999), the model failed to classify a substantial number of nurse leavers,and speciﬁc hypotheses derived from the model received only partial support.Classiﬁcation failures were investigated using both quantitative and qualita-tive data. Leavers were more likely to be classiﬁed if they had no dependantsand described their quit as avoidable. Although the unfolding model incorpor-ates more kinds of turnover than traditional turnover models, such systematicclassiﬁcation failure casts doubt on claims that it offers a comprehensiveaccount of turnover. We explain failures with reference to: (i) shortcomings ina key measure; (ii) the characteristics of the occupational group studied; and(iii) the extremely tight labor market for this group of leavers.Nous testons la théorie influente concernant le turnover des salariés: theunfolding model (Lee & Mitchell, 1994; Lee, Mitchell, Holtom, McDaniel & Hill,1999). Après avoir décrit et critiqué ce modèle de classification, nous proposonsdes améliorations tant au niveau théorique qu’empirique. La version actuelledu modèle a été testée à deux reprises auprès de comptables des Etats-Unis,
* Address for correspondence: Kevin Morrell, Institute of Governance and Public Manage-ment, Warwick Business School, University of Warwick, Coventry CV4 7AL, UK. Email:Kevin.Morrell@wbs.ac.uk