Is retention necessarily a win? Outcomes of searching and staying

Wendy R. Boswell, Richard G. Gardner, Jiexin Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


This research examines the issue of employee retention by considering what happens to employees that engage in the job search process yet end up staying with an organization. Grounded in the conceptualization of reluctant staying from Hom, Mitchell, Lee, and Griffeth (2012), we consider a potential downside of employee retention. Specifically, the study examines the psychological (i.e., job dissatisfaction, low organizational commitment) and behavioral detachment (i.e., neglect behavior, diminished job performance) employees may experience when they search for alternative employment yet ultimately stay with an organization. This study also examines the moderating role of the objective underlying the search behavior on job search and its criteria, arguing that the strength of the search-criteria link varies depending upon an employee's objective “to leave” the current employer. Results suggest an increase in psychological detachment and greater neglect behavior for employees that searched and stayed. These findings were not dependent on the reported objective “to leave” the employer. Implications for research on job search activity and withdrawal are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)163-172
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Vocational Behavior
StatePublished - Feb 1 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education
  • Applied Psychology
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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