An examination of personnel instability in public organizations
Stritch, Justin Michael
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There have been relatively few studies examining how personnel instability affects the management and performance of public organizations. In this dissertation I examine the organizational consequences of two sources of personnel instability: 1) managerial succession; and 2) collective employee turnover. I consider personnel instability’s theoretical relationships with performance, organizational human capital, social climate, and management. Additionally, I integrate the current public administration research and theory with literature from education policy, general management, and sociology to theoretically explore multiple causal paths among the variables. I formulate hypotheses on the nature of the relationships between the variables over time. I use approximately 1,000 New York City elementary, intermediate (K-8), and middle schools over five years (2006-2011) to test my hypotheses with Generalized Estimating Equations. The advantages of using GEE models in this situation are three-fold: 1) The technique addresses unobserved school-level effects; 2) I can estimate a population average effect without using the degrees of freedom needed to estimate unit specific effects (random or fixed); 3) I can leverage the data to adjust for the error correlation structure that actually exists—not the one I assume exists and impose on the model. This dissertation makes a considerable number of theoretical and empirical contributions to current public management scholarship. First, while I find evidence that collective employee turnover has a nonlinear relationship with performance; I find that performance has a negative relationship with both collective teacher turnover and managerial succession in future time periods. Second, contrary to existing scholarship, I find evidence that the effect of principal succession on performance is contingent on past performance and that a change in principal at a low performing school negatively affects performance, while a succession in a high performing school provides a boost to performance. Third, I find evidence that schools with high-levels of collective teacher turnover will turn to inexperienced teachers to staff the organization, but that these are the employees that are most likely to leave in the future. Finally, I find evidence that managerial succession can undermine the organization’s social climate and management.