Date of Award


Degree Name

EdD Doctor of Education

Dissertation Committee

Joseph C. Rost, PhD, Director; Phillip Hunsaker, DBA; Edward Kujawa Jr., PhD; James M. Burns, DBA


Ethnography, employee turnover, executive officers, leadership initiatives, Leadership studies, retention


The purpose of this research was to examine the effect on retention due to the involvement, interaction, and initiatives of leaders. As an ethnographic case study it contrasted the leadership behaviors of three chief executive officers of a medium sized electronics firm. Several conceptual models from the literature were compared and evaluated in order to construct a model of the turnover process with leadership as one of the contributory variable. Extensive use was made of biographic data, archives, interviews, and surveys of present and former employees. Individuals throughout the organization and the chief executive officers were personally interviewed. Leadership initiatives (programs) were evaluated concerning their effect on the retention of professional employees. The primary focus was on the retention of recently hired engineering college graduates. This research confirmed some of the more salient correlates of turnover identified in prior, studies. This investigation also contradicted other reported correlates of turnover from the literature. Leadership in this research, and the initiatives fostered by leaders, were shown to have a positive effect on retention, and were negatively correlated with turnover. A conceptual model of the turnover process was presented which incorporated major paradigms from previous researchers. The model included leadership as a variable in turnover. The conceptual model was enhanced by a more pragmatic systems approach to retention, and a mnemonic to reinforce both the conceptual model and the practical schema. It is recommended that research be conducted to determine if the causes of intra organizational transfers are the same that result in involuntary turnover. Another area suggested for investigation is the success of organizational interventions after employees' intention to search/quit are known.

Document Type

Dissertation: Open Access