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Can a work organization have an attitude problem? The impact of workplaces on employee attitude and economic outcomes

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  • Bartel, Ann
  • Ichniowski, Casey
  • Kleiner, Morris
  • Freeman, Richard B.

Abstract

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

Suggested Citation

  • Bartel, Ann & Ichniowski, Casey & Kleiner, Morris & Freeman, Richard B., 2004. "Can a work organization have an attitude problem? The impact of workplaces on employee attitude and economic outcomes," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 19953, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  • Handle: RePEc:ehl:lserod:19953
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. 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.
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    4. 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.
    5. 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.
    6. Harry C. Katz & Thomas A. Kochan & Kenneth R. Gobeille, 1983. "Industrial Relations Performance, Economic Performance, and QWL Programs: An Interplant Analysis," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 37(1), pages 3-17, October.
    7. 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," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 54(2), pages 402-424, January.
    8. 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," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 54(2A), pages 402-424, March.
    9. Allen N. Berger & David B. Humphrey, 1992. "Measurement and Efficiency Issues in Commercial Banking," NBER Chapters, in: Output Measurement in the Service Sectors, pages 245-300, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    Cited by:

    1. Alexandre Mas, 2008. "Labour Unrest and the Quality of Production: Evidence from the Construction Equipment Resale Market," The Review of Economic Studies, Review of Economic Studies Ltd, vol. 75(1), pages 229-258.
    2. Andreas Georgiadis & Christos N. Pitelis, 2010. "The Interrelationship between HR, Strategy and Profitability in Service SMEs: Empirical Evidence from the UK Tourism Hospitality and Leisure Sector," CEP Discussion Papers dp0972, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
    3. Eric A. Verhoogen & Stephen V. Burks & Jeffrey P. Carpenter, 2007. "Fairness and Freight-Handlers: Local Labor Market Conditions and Wage-Fairness Perceptions in a Trucking Firm," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 60(4), pages 477-498, July.
    4. Casey Ichniowski & Kathryn Shaw, 2004. "Using "Insider Econometrics" to Study Productivity," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(2), pages 217-223, May.
    5. Arando, Saioa & Gago, Monica & Jones, Derek C. & Kato, Takao, 2011. "Efficiency in Employee-Owned Enterprises: An Econometric Case Study of Mondragon," IZA Discussion Papers 5711, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    6. Lisi, Gaetano & Ruiu, Gabriele & Lucidi, Federico, 2012. "Data report on work attitudes - Background paper," MPRA Paper 62316, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    work motivation; workplace attitudes; organization; performance;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • J0 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - General
    • J2 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor

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