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Politicization, bureaucratic closedness in personnel policy, and turnover intention

Previous studies have overlooked how the type of national bureaucracy influences the turnover intentions of bureaucrats. In this article, Kohei Suzuki examines how bureaucratic politicization and closedness are associated with the turnover intentions of bureaucrats in 36 countries.

Kohei Suzuki, Hyunkang Hur
30 August 2023
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Over the past two decades, voluntary turnover and turnover intention among bureaucrats have been significant issues for public organizations. Previous studies have identified various factors influencing bureaucrats' intentions to leave their organizations and the consequences of employee turnover. However, the level of analysis in previous literature has been limited to individual, organizational, and managerial factors, with turnover considered as a HRM (human resource management) outcome. Few studies approach bureaucratic turnover and turnover intention from a macro or international comparative perspective. In particular, political factors have been under-examined in studies of employee turnover.

This article investigates the association between two macro-level institutional factors, politicization and bureaucratic closedness, and the turnover intention of bureaucrats. This article makes two contributions to literature on employee turnover intention and comparative studies of bureaucracy. First, the authors apply a comparative and institutional perspective to the study of turnover intention, which has been lacking despite increasing scholarly interests in contextual and institutional-level factors in public management. Second, the article examines how political factors are associated with turnover intention, which has often been overlooked in studies of employee turnover. While previous studies have investigated the role of political factors in bureaucratic turnover, their focus has been on senior executive turnover, leaving a gap in knowledge regarding how politicization and closedness of bureaucracy affect the turnover intentions of rank-and-file public servants across countries.

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