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From absence to absenteeism? A qualitative cross case study of teachers’ views on sickness absence

  • Carlsen, Benedicte
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    This is a qualitative pilot study that explores how teachers from three Norwegian upper secondary schools with different absence histories experience norms related to sickness absence. The starting point was theory and recent empirical studies which indicate that absence at the workplace level is reinforced through social interaction. Hitherto, we know little about how such spiralling processes form in different organisational contexts, and we therefore decided to conduct an explorative case study. The findings are based on interviews with teachers and management. The findings support some of the proposed processes of social interaction that supposedly underlie spiralling effects of sickness absence. In the study context, the processes seem to involve concerns about fairness and social support. Interestingly, the findings do not support an assumption that stigma linked to absence reduces as the absence level increases. On the contrary, it appears that social sanctions are activated as a counter force to increasing absence. The findings have potential implications for theoretical assumptions and for design and interpretation of future quantitative economic studies of social interaction.

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    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics).

    Volume (Year): 41 (2012)
    Issue (Month): 2 ()
    Pages: 129-136

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:soceco:v:41:y:2012:i:2:p:129-136
    Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/620175

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    1. Hesselius, Patrik & Johansson, Per & Nilsson, Peter, 2009. "Sick of your colleagues' absence?," Working Paper Series 2009:2, IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy.
    2. Røed, Knut & Fevang, Elisabeth, 2009. "Organisational Change, Absenteeism and Welfare Dependency," HERO On line Working Paper Series 2005:9, Oslo University, Health Economics Research Programme.
    3. Andrea Ichino & Giovanni Maggi, 2000. "Work Environment And Individual Background: Explaining Regional Shirking Differentials In A Large Italian Firm," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 115(3), pages 1057-1090, August.
    4. De Paola, Maria, 2008. "Absenteeism and Peer Interaction Effects: Evidence from an Italian Public Institute," MPRA Paper 11425, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    5. Elster, Jon, 1989. "Social Norms and Economic Theory," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 3(4), pages 99-117, Fall.
    6. Assar Lindbeck & Sten Nyberg & Jšrgen W. Weibull, 1999. "Social Norms And Economic Incentives In The Welfare State," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 114(1), pages 1-35, February.
    7. Charles F. Manski, 2000. "Economic Analysis of Social Interactions," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 14(3), pages 115-136, Summer.
    8. Heywood, John S. & Jirjahn, Uwe & Wei, Xiangdong, 2008. "Teamwork, monitoring and absence," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 68(3-4), pages 676-690, December.
    9. Hesselius, Patrik & Johansson, Per & Larsson, Laura, 2005. "Monitoring sickness insurance claimants: evidence from a social experiment," Working Paper Series 2005:15, IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy.
    10. Bradley, Steve & Green, Colin & Leeves, Gareth, 2007. "Worker absence and shirking: Evidence from matched teacher-school data," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 14(3), pages 319-334, June.
    11. Moffitt, Robert, 1983. "An Economic Model of Welfare Stigma," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 73(5), pages 1023-35, December.
    12. Durlauf,S.N., 2000. "A framework for the study of individual behavior and social interactions," Working papers 16, Wisconsin Madison - Social Systems.
    13. repec:att:wimass:9127 is not listed on IDEAS
    14. Bamberger, Peter & Biron, Michal, 2007. "Group norms and excessive absenteeism: The role of peer referent others," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 103(2), pages 179-196, July.
    15. Kaiser, Carl P., 1998. "What do we know about employee absence behavior? An interdisciplinary interpretation," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 27(1), pages 79-96.
    16. Manski, Charles F, 1993. "Identification of Endogenous Social Effects: The Reflection Problem," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 60(3), pages 531-42, July.
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