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Managing the Impact of Employee Turnover on Performance: The Role of Process Conformance

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  • Zeynep Ton

    () (Harvard Business School, Boston, Massachusetts 02163)

  • Robert S. Huckman

    () (Harvard Business School, Boston, Massachusetts 02163)

Abstract

We examine the impact of employee turnover on operating performance in settings that require high levels of knowledge exploitation. Using 48 months of turnover data from U.S. stores of a major retail chain, we find that, on average, employee turnover is associated with decreased performance, as measured by profit margin and customer service. The effect of turnover on performance, however, is mitigated by the nature of management at the store level. The particular aspect of management on which we focus is process conformance ---the extent to which managers aim to reduce variation in store operations in accordance with a set of prescribed standards for task performance. At high-process-conformance stores, managers use discipline in implementing standardized policies and procedures, whereas at low-process-conformance stores, managers tolerate deviations from these standards. We find that increasing turnover does not have a negative effect on store performance at high-process-conformance stores; at low-process-conformance stores, the negative effect of turnover is pronounced. Our results suggest that, in settings where performance depends on the repetition of known tasks, managers can reduce turnover's effect by imposing process discipline through standard operating procedures.

Suggested Citation

  • Zeynep Ton & Robert S. Huckman, 2008. "Managing the Impact of Employee Turnover on Performance: The Role of Process Conformance," Organization Science, INFORMS, vol. 19(1), pages 56-68, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:inm:ororsc:v:19:y:2008:i:1:p:56-68
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    File URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1287/orsc.1070.0294
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Devicienti, Francesco & Manello, Alessandro & Vannoni, Davide, 2017. "Technical efficiency, unions and decentralized labor contracts," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 260(3), pages 1129-1141.
    2. repec:eee:jbrese:v:95:y:2019:i:c:p:26-37 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Frédéric C. Godart & Andrew V. Shipilov & Kim Claes, 2014. "Making the Most of the Revolving Door: The Impact of Outward Personnel Mobility Networks on Organizational Creativity," Organization Science, INFORMS, vol. 25(2), pages 377-400, April.
    4. John P. Hausknecht & Jacob A. Holwerda, 2013. "When Does Employee Turnover Matter? Dynamic Member Configurations, Productive Capacity, and Collective Performance," Organization Science, INFORMS, vol. 24(1), pages 210-225, February.
    5. Stacy H. Lee & Jung Ha-Brookshire, 2017. "Ethical Climate and Job Attitude in Fashion Retail Employees’ Turnover Intention, and Perceived Organizational Sustainability Performance: A Cross-Sectional Study," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 9(3), pages 1-19, March.
    6. Argote, Linda & Fahrenkopf, Erin, 2016. "Knowledge transfer in organizations: The roles of members, tasks, tools, and networks," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 136(C), pages 146-159.
    7. Saravanan Kesavan & Bradley R. Staats & Wendell Gilland, 2014. "Volume Flexibility in Services: The Costs and Benefits of Flexible Labor Resources," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 60(8), pages 1884-1906, August.
    8. Gopesh Anand & John Gray & Enno Siemsen, 2012. "Decay, Shock, and Renewal: Operational Routines and Process Entropy in the Pharmaceutical Industry," Organization Science, INFORMS, vol. 23(6), pages 1700-1716, December.
    9. Allen, Mathew R. & Adomdza, Gordon K. & Meyer, Marc H., 2015. "Managing for innovation: Managerial control and employee level outcomes," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 68(2), pages 371-379.
    10. Youngsoo Kim & Ramayya Krishnan & Linda Argote, 2012. "The Learning Curve of IT Knowledge Workers in a Computing Call Center," Information Systems Research, INFORMS, vol. 23(3-part-2), pages 887-902, September.
    11. John V. Gray & Enno Siemsen & Gurneeta Vasudeva, 2015. "Colocation Still Matters: Conformance Quality and the Interdependence of R&D and Manufacturing in the Pharmaceutical Industry," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 61(11), pages 2760-2781, November.
    12. Yaa Akosa Antwi & John R. Bowblis, 2018. "The Impact of Nurse Turnover on Quality of Care and Mortality in Nursing Homes: Evidence from the Great Recession," American Journal of Health Economics, MIT Press, vol. 4(2), pages 131-163, Spring.
    13. Tat Y. Chan & Jia Li & Lamar Pierce, 2014. "Learning from Peers: Knowledge Transfer and Sales Force Productivity Growth," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 33(4), pages 463-484, July.
    14. Mohammad Iranmanesh & Suhaiza Zailani & Soroush Moeinzadeh & Davoud Nikbin, 2017. "Effect of green innovation on job satisfaction of electronic and electrical manufacturers’ employees through job intensity: personal innovativeness as moderator," Review of Managerial Science, Springer, vol. 11(2), pages 299-313, March.
    15. Linda Argote & Ella Miron-Spektor, 2011. "Organizational Learning: From Experience to Knowledge," Organization Science, INFORMS, vol. 22(5), pages 1123-1137, October.
    16. Christina Fang & Jeho Lee & Melissa A. Schilling, 2010. "Balancing Exploration and Exploitation Through Structural Design: The Isolation of Subgroups and Organizational Learning," Organization Science, INFORMS, vol. 21(3), pages 625-642, June.
    17. Carolyn D. Egelman & Dennis Epple & Linda Argote & Erica R. H. Fuchs, 2017. "Learning by Doing in Multiproduct Manufacturing: Variety, Customizations, and Overlapping Product Generations," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 63(2), pages 405-423, February.
    18. Carolyn D. Egelman & Dennis Epple & Linda Argote & Erica R.H. Fuchs, 2013. "Learning by Doing in a Multi-Product Manufacturing Environment: Product Variety, Customizations, and Overlapping Product Generations," NBER Working Papers 19674, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    19. repec:hur:ijaraf:v:8:y:2018:i:3:p:163-177 is not listed on IDEAS
    20. Jake G. Messersmith & Jeong-Yeon Lee & James P. Guthrie & Yong-Yeon Ji, 2014. "Turnover at the Top: Executive Team Departures and Firm Performance," Organization Science, INFORMS, vol. 25(3), pages 776-793, June.
    21. David G. McKendrick & James B. Wade & Jonathan Jaffee, 2009. "A Good Riddance? Spin-Offs and the Technological Performance of Parent Firms," Organization Science, INFORMS, vol. 20(6), pages 979-992, December.
    22. Edward G. Anderson & Kyle Lewis, 2014. "A Dynamic Model of Individual and Collective Learning Amid Disruption," Organization Science, INFORMS, vol. 25(2), pages 356-376, April.
    23. Alexander Bolton & John M. de Figueiredo & David E. Lewis, 2016. "Elections, Ideology, and Turnover in the U.S. Federal Government," NBER Working Papers 22932, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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