Explanatory Factors of Turnover Among Members of Industrial Relations Professional Organization
University of Quebec in Outaouais (formerly University of Quebec at Hull)
affiliation not provided to SSRN
University of Montreal
University of Montreal
March 15, 2000
Relations Industrielles/Industrial Relations, Vol. 55, No. 1, 2000
Recent economic and social changes pose many challenges for human resources/industrial relations professionals. Given that this profession is not as well established as other, more traditional professions such as medicine, law and engineering, its membership is quite heterogeneous. While some will succeed in meeting these challenges, others will find it relatively difficult to adjust to this new context. The problem of turnover among members of human resources/industrial relations professional associations, which was traditionally associated with the heterogeneity of the profession, could well be made worse by a certain identity crisis currently being experienced by the profession. It is thus important to better understand why human resources/industrial relations professionals decide to maintain or abandon their membership in a professional organization.
According to the conceptual model put forward in this study, the intention to remain a member of a professional organization might be influenced by both general and particular factors. General factors include professional commitment (or attachment to the profession), organizational commitment (or attachment to the professional organization), as well as satisfaction with the price-quality relationship and professional networks.
Particular factors,i.e., those specifics to the context of professional organizations, are the "image of the organization" as perceived by professionals, perception of the organization's influence, and perceived usefulness of membership in the organization. According to the hypotheses, the intention to remain a member of a professional association is positively related to professional commitment, organizational commitment, satisfaction with the services offered (for example, the price-quality relationship as pertains to activities such as training and conferences) and the image of the organization.
In addition, several variables were controlled for statistically (age, sex, training, type of professional organization). In order to test these hypotheses, data were collected by questionnaire from members of two professional human resources/industrial relations organizations in a Canadian province (916 active and 217 inactive members). In this study, the term "professional organization" includes a professional association and a professional order. The first organization (Organization A) is a professional association which serves the profession and its members. Thus, Organization A views the professional member as its client. It has no legal recognition, does not provide access to a special designated professional title, nor does it have a code of ethics. In contrast, the second organization (Organization B) is a professional order, that is, a body with a legal recognition that provides access, among other things, to a professional title and an attendant obligation to adhere to a code of ethics.
Its role is to protect the public by controlling the way its members practice the profession. It is worth noting immediately that the results of the study indicate that the intention to maintain membership is significantly higher among members of Organization B than among those of Organization A.
Regression analyses were carried out to test the hypotheses. By comparing members with a clear intention to leave (Group 1) with those with a firm intention to remain a member (Group 3), the logistic regression analysis indicates that regardless of the organization, the following common factors may explain the intention to remain a member : the perceived usefulness of membership in the organization, organizational commitment and professional commitment.
Despite the existence of these two extrême groups (clear intention to leave and firm intention to remain a member), it seems that professional organizations must manage a third important group of members, the undecided. When the undecided group is compared to the group of members with a firm intention to remain a member (Group 2 versus Group 3 in the logistic regression analysis), the same three explanatory factors — the perceived usefulness of membership in the organization, organizational commitment and professional commitment — can once again be observed, but two other variables also prove to be relevant: satisfaction with the price quality relationship and type of organization.
An analysis of the intention to remain a member by type of organization brings out interesting differences. For Organization A (the professional association), intentions to remain a member are influenced by four factors with approximately the same weight : professional commitment, organizational commitment, satisfaction with the price-quality relationship and perceived usefulness of membership. In contrast, for Organization B (the registered professional order), only the factor of organizational commitment plays an important role (foliowed by a more secondary factor, age).
Finally, the professional organizations must deal with a last group of professionals, that is, formermembers. For Organization A, the results obtained for former members indicate that the intention to rejoin the organization is positively influenced by certain factors (satisfaction with networks, satisfaction with price-quality relationship, perceived usefulness of membership and organizational commitment) and negatively influenced by others (an attractive job found, not a help to career, and age).
All the results suggest the presence of different logics of affiliation : a "professional" logic, a "professional competitive" logic, an "affective"logic, a "consumer" logic and a "purely utilitarian" logic. Each one of these different logics merits further investigation. In particular, in order to understand membership turnover, it seems necessary to differentiate further between those who, for whatever reason, interrupt their membership from those who abandon it altogether. There is also the question as to what extent a professional association can satisfy different groups of members who exhibit quite different logics. Finally, despite methodological precautions, there is always a danger that these results have been influenced by monomethod bias which only further research can clarify.
JEL Classification: M12Accepted Paper Series
Date posted: September 9, 2010
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