How does individuals’ turnover spread to other employees through network ties? Despite the intuitive assumption that employees’ decision to leave impacts their network contacts’ decision to leave, little empirical evidence has demonstrated a direct contagion effect of turnover through social ties. Further, whereas network perspectives conceptualize ties as resources extant theory is not able to explain when and how the loss of social ties represents a resource loss for the network contacts who remain, which drive turnover. Drawing on a unique dataset of 1,432 employees in a Chinese subsidiary of a Dutch multinational including four networks (information, expertise, trust and energy) and employees’ exact date of voluntary departure (271 turnover events), we trace the spread of departures through social ties over time. We estimate models inspired from the Relational Event Framework, which enables us to consider the sequence of departures and the effect of each departure on the remaining employees’ networks. We discover that turnover contagion mainly occurs through three mechanisms that depend on the type and the provider of individuals’ network resources: (1) loss of peer sources of relational energy, (2) loss of peer sources of being trusted (status), and (3) loss of supervisor sources of being trusted (status).
Eric Quintane is an Associate Professor of Organizational Behavior at ESMT. He holds a Ph.D. in Management from the University of Melbourne in Australia and is an Honorary Research Fellow in the School of Psychological Sciences at the University of Melbourne. Eric's research work focuses on understanding the dynamics of interpersonal networks and their consequences for individuals (such as creativity or burnout). His research work has been published in peer-reviewed international journals in Management, Psychology, and Sociology.