Performance and turnover intentions: A social exchange perspective

Michal Biron, Corine Boon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: Prior research has yielded mixed results regarding the relationship between performance and turnover intentions. Drawing from social exchange theory, the purpose of this paper is to propose that the performance-turnover intentions association may be contingent upon individuals' exchange relationships with their supervisor and co-workers. Design/methodology/approach: Surveys were conducted in six branches of an elderly care organization. All 512 employees received a questionnaire, and responses were obtained from 225 employees. Findings: Self-rated performance and manager-rated performance were both negatively related to turnover intentions. The relationship between manager-rated performance and turnover intentions was stronger under conditions of high leader-member exchange, whereas the relationship between self-rated performance and turnover intentions was weaker under conditions of high task interdependence. Research limitations/implications: High performers may be particularly sensitive to relationships with their supervisor, and low performers seem to be more sensitive to relationships with colleagues. Performance data obtained from different sources (self/manager ratings) may show different patterns of results. The value of these findings in extending notions from social exchange theory to the realm of talent engagement is discussed. Practical implications: To retain high performers, firms should promote high-quality relationships between leaders and subordinates. Social implications: The study suggests that investing in social relationships in the health care sector may be worthwhile. In particular, women represent an increasingly important share in this sector, and social mechanisms may help retain high-performing women. Originality/value: The study addresses the inconsistent findings of prior research regarding the performance-turnover relationship, and the lack of agreement on variables that may relate to the retention of valuable employees.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)511-531
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Managerial Psychology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jun 2013


  • Elder care
  • Health care
  • Leader-member exchange
  • Performance
  • Task interdependence
  • Turnover intentions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Applied Psychology
  • Management Science and Operations Research
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management


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