One Hundred Years of Employee Turnover Theory and Research

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Abstract

We review seminal publications on employee turnover during the 100-year existence of the Journal of Applied Psychology. Along with classic articles from this journal, we expand our review to include other publications that yielded key theoretical and methodological contributions to the turnover literature. We first describe how the earliest papers examined practical methods for turnover reduction or control and then explain how theory development and testing began in the mid-20th century and dominated the academic literature until the turn of the century. We then track 21st century interest in the psychology of staying (rather than leaving) and attitudinal trajectories in predicting turnover. Finally, we discuss the rising scholarship on collective turnover given the centrality of human capital flight to practitioners and to the field of human resource management strategy.

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