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Can a Work Organization Have An Attitude Problem? The Impact of Workplaces on Employee Attitude and Economic Outcomes

  • Ann Bartel
  • Richard Freeman
  • Casey Ichniowski
  • Morris Kleiner

In this study we examine whether a workplace can induce good or bad attitudes among its employees andwhether any such ¿workplace attitudes¿ affect economic outcomes. This study analyzes responses ofthousands of employees working in nearly two hundred branches to the emp loyee opinion survey of amajor US bank in 1994 and 1996. The results document the existence and persistence of a genuineworkplace effect in how workers view their jobs and organizations. Employee attitudes differ significantlyacross branches in ways that cannot be explained by branches randomly drawing workers from adistribution of workers with different innate attitudes. Furthermore, newly hired workers adopt thefavourable or unfavourable attitudes that the branches exhibited before they arrived. These workplaceattitudes also have significant effects on economic outcomes. Branches with less favourable attitudes havehigher turnover, lower levels of sales, and lower rates of sales growth than branches where workers havemore favourable attitudes. Less favourable branch attitudes are also a significant predictor of subsequentbranch closings. The study¿s results show that there are happy and unhappy workplaces, as well as happyand unhappy workers, with very different patterns of turnover and productivity in these workplaces.

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Paper provided by Centre for Economic Performance, LSE in its series CEP Discussion Papers with number dp0636.

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Date of creation: May 2004
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Handle: RePEc:cep:cepdps:dp0636
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://cep.lse.ac.uk/_new/publications/series.asp?prog=CEP

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  1. Ann P. Bartel, 2004. "Human Resource Management and Organizational Performance: Evidence from Retail Banking," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 57(2), pages 181-203, January.
  2. Watson, David & Slack, Ann Keltner, 1993. "General Factors of Affective Temperament and Their Relation to Job Satisfaction over Time," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 54(2), pages 181-202, March.
  3. Allen N. Berger & John H. Leusner & John Mingo, 1994. "The efficiency of bank branches," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 94-26, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  4. Judge, Timothy A. & Hulin, Charles L., 1993. "Job Satisfaction as a Reflection of Disposition: A Multiple Source Causal Analysis," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 56(3), pages 388-421, December.
  5. Harry C. Katz & Thomas A. Kochan & Kenneth R. Gobeille, 1983. "Industrial relations performance, economic performance, and QWL programs: An interplant analysis," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 37(1), pages 3-17, October.
  6. Larry W. Hunter & Annette Bernhardt & Katherine L. Hughes & Eva Skuratowicz, 2001. "It's not just the ATMs: Technology, firm strategies, jobs, and earnings in retail banking," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 54(2), pages 402-424, March.
  7. Ann P. Bartel, 2004. "Human resource management and organizational performance: Evidence from retail banking," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 57(2), pages 181-203, January.
  8. David H. Autor & Frank Levy & Richard Murnane, 2000. "Upstairs, Downstairs: Computer-Skill Complementarity and Computer-Labor Substitution on Two Floors of a Large Bank," NBER Working Papers 7890, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Allen N. Berger & David B. Humphrey, 1990. "Measurement and efficiency issues in commercial banking," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 151, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
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