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CEP discussion paper
Can a Work Organization Have An Attitude Problem? The Impact of Workplaces on Employee Attitude and Economic Outcomes
Ann Bartel, Richard B. Freeman, Casey Ichniowski and Morris Kleiner May 2004
Paper No' CEPDP0636:
Full Paper (pdf)

JEL Classification: J0; J2

Tags: work motivation; workplace attitudes; organization; performance

In this study we examine whether a workplace can induce good or bad attitudes among its employees and whether any such ¿workplace attitudes¿ affect economic outcomes. This study analyzes responses of thousands of employees working in nearly two hundred branches to the emp loyee opinion survey of a major US bank in 1994 and 1996. The results document the existence and persistence of a genuine workplace effect in how workers view their jobs and organizations. Employee attitudes differ significantly across branches in ways that cannot be explained by branches randomly drawing workers from a distribution of workers with different innate attitudes. Furthermore, newly hired workers adopt the favourable or unfavourable attitudes that the branches exhibited before they arrived. These workplace attitudes also have significant effects on economic outcomes. Branches with less favourable attitudes have higher turnover, lower levels of sales, and lower rates of sales growth than branches where workers have more favourable attitudes. Less favourable branch attitudes are also a significant predictor of subsequent branch closings. The study¿s results show that there are happy and unhappy workplaces, as well as happy and unhappy workers, with very different patterns of turnover and productivity in these workplaces.