Title page for ETD etd-10272008-132524

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Davis, James
Author's Email Address jdavi48@lsu.edu, jdavis@peoplenetz.com
URN etd-10272008-132524
Title The Impact of Natural Disasters on Employee Turnover: The Shocks and After-Shocks of Hurricane Katrina on IT Professionals
Degree Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
Department Information Systems & Decision Sciences (Business Administration)
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Suzanne Pawlowski Committee Chair
James Van Scotter Committee Member
Rudolf Hirschheim Committee Member
Tracey Rizzuto Committee Member
Pramon Achar Dean's Representative
  • Turnover
  • Natural Disaster
  • Disaster Recovery
  • IT Professionals
Date of Defense 2008-08-25
Availability unrestricted
Hurricane Katrina was the most destructive natural disaster in American history and created the need for organizations along the Gulf Coast to employ disaster management and recovery plans. With the ubiquitous nature of computers and technology, IT professionals were critical organizational assets in executing those plans in order to insure the safety and recovery of valuable information. The purpose of this study is to gain a deeper understanding of the impact natural disasters have on IT professionals and their subsequent turnover decisions. The theoretical guide for this study was the Unfolding Model of Turnover (Lee and Mitchell 1994) that identifies ‘shocks,’ or jarring events, as a principal initiator of voluntary turnover. A mixed methods research strategy was employed consisting of a web-based survey of 153 IT professionals affected by Hurricane Katrina and 19 in-depth interviews. Over 58% of the surveyed participants who left their pre-Katrina employers followed one of Lee and Mitchell’s theorized decision paths. The classification results increases to 84% with the inclusion of a new emergent decision path; providing evidence that the unfolding model is appropriate for studying disaster related turnover. Findings from this study indicate there are actions organizations can take to retain critical IT employees. Likewise, there are organizational actions, or ‘aftershocks’, that can initiate the cognitive decision process leading to turnover. This research constitutes an initial step toward understanding the factors that influence the turnover of IT professionals who have been affected by a natural disaster as well as providing practical suggestions for organizational disaster management planning.
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