Absenteeism When Workers Have a Voice: The Case of Employee Ownership  - CLEO Skip to main content


Used R. M. Steers and S. R. Rhodes’s model as a framework for examining patterns of absenteeism and their predictors among 112 workers (mean age 44 yrs) in an employee-owned organization. The focus of the study was the effect of job satisfaction on voluntary absenteeism, which is traditionally thought to be either negative or canceled out by pressures to attend work. An alternative hypothesis is offered by A. O. Hirschman’s (1970) exit, voice, and loyalty (EVL) model, which suggests that workers who are loyal to their employer and believe that they can improve undesirable conditions will come to work when they are dissatisfied because they can voice their complaints instead of withdrawing silently. Results show that absenteeism was affected primarily by organizational and financial commitment but that job satisfaction was not a predictor. Voluntary absenteeism declined after transfer to employee ownership but was offset by an increase in involuntary withdrawal as employees began publicly to legitimize their absenteeism. Results suggest that a better understanding of the psychological processes leading to temporary withdrawal could come from an examination of the costs to the worker of being present, in addition to the traditional focus on the rewards of working.

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