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Willingness to relocate is just one factor that companies use to profile the ideal employment candidate. While most of the relocation literature focuses on the relocation of current employees, this study investigates the issue through the eyes of paramilitary officers. These officers were surveyed relative to their attitudes toward relocation.

Findings from the study indicates that dual earner couples demonstrates higher willingness to relocate for their organisation than their counterparts with spouses who are not working [t(345) = 2.39) P< .05]. Also, the study found that employees do consider salary level (β = -.182, t = -3.455, P<.05) and their involvement with the job  (β = .124, t = 2.348, P<.05) before accepting relocation duties for their organisation.

This study concludes on the following points employees in single-earner marriages having spouses who do not work are less willingness to move than those in dual-earner marriages having spouses who work.

Finally, the study has shown that willingness to relocate is determined by a number of factors and one factor alone cannot be used to predict an employee’s willingness to relocate for his or her organisation.

Keywords: Willingness to relocate, job involvement, salary level.



1.1: Background

Rapid globalization and boundary less business ventures is increasingly contributing to a growing number of employees relocating for their organisation. As a result of this, it is increasingly important that organisations sending their employees for relocation assignments consider how the employees feel about the transfer. For organisations, the task of relocating to new premises is exacting and time consuming as this involves job mobility. Job mobility refers to patterns of intra- and inter-organizational transitions over the course of a person’s work life (Hall, 1996; Sullivan, 1999). As organizational lay-offs and restructuring are now common (Littler, Wiesner, & Dunford, 2003), it is not surprising that employees today realize that lifelong job security may not be a realistic employment goal and many are ready to become more mobile (Arthur & Rousseau, 1996). Additionally, individuals have become more self-directed about obtaining a variety of work experiences and knowledge across jobs and organizations (Bird, 1996). Thus, many workers are willing to relocate to build their skill sets.

Employees’ attitudes toward relocation to other geographic areas are important for at least three reasons: (1) employers use employee transfers as a strategy for staffing organizations and developing rnanagers (Carruthers & Pinder, 1983]; (2) relocation may be a useful strategy for personal career enhancement (Hall, 1976); (3) there is some evidence indicating that workers are becoming less willing to geographically relocate for career reasons (Magnus & Dodd, 1981). As the length of time an individual has lived in an area increases, the area’s attractiveness may increase. Over time, a person is likely to become increasingly integrated into the social structure of a community (Swanson, Luloff, & Warland, 1979). Hence, willingness to relocate should decline as the length of time an individual has lived in an area increases (Gould & Penley, 1985).

Employee’s attitude to relocate may be determined by some factors which includes background and situational factors. The demographic makeup of the Nigerian workforce is cause for concern among human resource managers who are responsible for recruiting, selecting, and hiring employees. First off, a vast majority of business students enter the workforce as salespeople (Stevens & Kinni 2007). One time-based factor is age. Veiga (1983) reports that propensity to change jobs within the same geographical area lessens with increased age. Therefore it is expected that willingness to relocate to another geographical area will decline in later career stages. Another time-based factor, length of time in the job, has been linked with low upward mobility (Ferrence, Stoner, & Warren, 1977). Veiga (1983) reports that average length of time in a job has a small but significant negative correlation with the propensity to change jobs within the same geographical area. Hence, it is likely to be negatively associated with the willingness to relocate as well.

Situational factors include job-related factors and family-related factors. Two job-related factors that may be related to willingness to relocate are salary level and job involvement. Salary may be positively related to the willingness to relocate for two reasons: (1) individuals with high salaries may be in a better position to receive relocation opportunities than are employees with low salaries, as the first group has higher exposure and visibility (Hall, 1976); (2) relocation involves some degree of financial risk (Magnus & Dodd, 1981), including unrecoverable moving expenses. Clearly, persons with higher salaries are more likely to have the surplus financial reserves needed to cover the financial risks of relocation than are those with lower salaries. Hence, it is expected that a high salary level may be positively related to willingness to relocate. Job involvement on the other hand, is another factor that is likely to be related to willingness to relocate. Job involvement, as defined by Lodahl and Kejner (1965), entails a strong attachment to a job, which should be reflected in a low willingness to relocate.

Two family-related factors are: (1) spouse’s work status, and (2) family status. Several researchers (e.g., Maynard & Zawacki, 1979) argue that individuals in families having two wage earners are less likely to relocate since a relocation would jeopardize the spouse’s income-earning potential. Hence, it is expected that persons in such families will be less willing to relocate than those who are sole wage earners for a family. Family status may also be related to willingness to relocate. Gould and Werbel (1983) have shown that the presence of children in families having two wage earners is related to increased involvement in a job and identification with an organization. Additionally, parents of teenage children may hesitate to relocate because their children may be hurt socially by a move (Veiga, 1983). Hence, it is anticipated that willingness to relocate will be lower when there are children in the home.

Given this background, we can begin to understand the factors that may be considered when predicting one’s willingness to relocate. Understanding such factors can be a powerful recruitment and selection tool for employers. Unfortunately, there are few, if any relocation studies that focus on a combination of factors as its subject and their attitudes toward relocation.

1.2: Statement of the problem

With companies relocating about half a million employees annually (Fusco, 1990), job-related relocation is an important human resource planning and development activity in many organizations (Ahlburg & Kimmel, 1986; Sell, 1983). Notwithstanding this high rate of employee mobility, recent trends suggest that companies will face increasing difficulty in their efforts to maintain a mobile workforce. Between 1986 and 1989 employee refusal of transfers requiring relocation almost doubled, growing from a 36% refusal rate to a 70% refusal rate (Ricklin, 1991). Similarly, the Employee Relocation Council (ERC) found that around 65% of the companies surveyed reported employee resistance to geographic moves (ERC, 1993). With increasing resistance to job-related moves, research is needed to understand the predictors of employee willingness to relocate. Willingness to relocate is just one factor that companies use to profile the ideal employment candidate (Buehrer, Mallin & Jones 2007). While most of the relocation literature focuses on the relocation of current employees, there is still a dearth of literature investigating the critical factors that determine employee willingness to relocate especially in a Nigerian population.

To address the problem, this research will explores the relationship between family related factors and job related factors attitudes toward relocation and their stated willingness to relocate. A vast amount of research can be found in the social science literature regarding issues, problems and concerns expressed by HR professionals regarding the willingness of their current work force to relocate. However, there is little empirical data regarding the willingness of workers to relocate. Findings of relocation studies conducted on employers’ existing work force (Frank 2000; Hendershott 1995; Reimer 2000; Stroh 1999; & Wong 1990) reveal that responsibility for children, number of previous moves, attitude toward the destination, involvement in the community, career motivation, and perceived stress associated with a move are all attitudinal factors impacting a worker’s willingness to relocate (Buehrer, et., al. 2007). Demographic factor research in the relocation literature exists but provides mixed findings. In many organizations employees move repeatedly, sometimes as often as every 2 or 3 years (Cooper & Makin, 1985) and, on average, every 5 to 7 years (Brett et al., 1990). Mobile employees also have past experiences to draw upon which may influence their attitudes about moving again (Barrett & Noble, 1973; DeJong & Fawcett, 1981). This suggests that some of the predictors of employee willingness to relocate may be unique among the Nigerian population, warranting closer study. Employee willingness to relocate is an individual’s intention to perform a specific type of behavior (i.e., relocate for the organization), not the actual decision of whether to move. While many predictors of willingness to relocate have been examined (Brett, Stroh, & Reilly, 1992), it is neither feasible nor prudent to include all these variables in the current study. Rather, a subset of predictors are selected based on both theoretical and empirical support. These variables can be grouped into three categories: Background Factors, job related factors and family related factors.

1.3: Purpose of the study

This study is highly relevant to understanding the factors that will make an officer to be willing to relocate. This will make their various commands to understand how to arrange transfers and relocation processes so that the most suited employees for various types of jobs involving relocation can be sent to such areas.

The findings of the present study will be relevant to Nigeria employees’ and most especially employees of para-military departments in understanding the employee’s willingness to relocate.

1.4: Significance of the study

This research is important to recruiters since gaining an understanding of this relationship may aid in identifying, interviewing, and selecting the right recruits to meet firms’ long-term employment needs. For business faculty and career services professionals, such knowledge can enhance the process of identifying employees with specific job location needs. For all involved in the placement, recruitment, and selection process, this may be a needed step in the matching of employees to satisfying and long-term careers.

1.5: Scope of Study

This study encompasses employees from various para-military arms of Nigerian workforce. This is because the predictors of willingness to relocate, though not discipline specific may be most common to such jobs. Employees from across several organisations may indicate different levels of wiliness to relocate for their organisation. In this regard, the main objective of this study is to investigate the critical factors predicting employee willingness to relocate for the firm. Other objectives includes to examine the critical background, job related and family related factors that can influence an officer’s willingness to relocate for his or her organisation. Specifically, this study intend to achieve the following objectives

–         To examine the influence of family related factors such as single earner marriages vs dual earner marriages and number of children on officer’s officer’s willingness to relocate for their organisation.

–         To investigate if background factors such as marital status, age and can predict an officer’s willingness to relocate.

–         To determine the measured relationship between job related factors such as salary level and job involvement and employees willingness to relocate

1.6: Theoretical Framework


The TRA was formulated in 1967 as an attempt to provide consistency in studies of the relationship between behaviour and attitudes. (Fishbein & Ajzen, 1975; Ajzen & Fishbein, 1980; Fishbein, 1980). TRA suggests that a volitional or voluntary behaviour (B) can be predicted directly by individual’s intention to perform the behaviour (I). This involves people’s expectancies about their own behaviour in a given setting (Fishbein & Ajzen, 1975). This intention to act (I) is a function of two determinants, one personal in nature and the other reflecting social influence (Ajzen & Fishbein, 1980). The attitudinal component is termed attitude toward the behaviour or act (Aact) (an evaluation of the behaviour as favorable or unfavorable) and the normative component is termed subjective norm (SN) (the perceived social pressure to perform or not to perform the behaviour). The relative importance of these two determinants in predicting intention to act is expected to vary with the type of behaviour, situation, and based on individual differences (Ajzen & Fishbein, 1975). Variables other than attitude toward the behaviour and subjective norm are assumed to influence intention to act and behaviour indirectly through these two determinants.

Based on this theory, employee’s willingness to relocate may be predicated on the employeesattitude toward the behavior, that is, “the employee positive or negative feelings about relocating”. Attitudes toward relocating are predicated on the employees belief system and the perceived importance the employee places on the combined set of these beliefs (Fishbein & Ajzen 1975). Such beliefs may be formed based on childhood experiences (e.g., children of parents who move a lot) or adult career modeling (e.g., one’s family moved frequently to advance a parent’s career).


One of the most commonly used and accessible theory of attitude is Ajzen’s Theory of Planned Behaviour (TPB), which is formed on the basic premise that attitudes are significantly correlated to behavioural intentions, which in turn are the proximal determinants of behaviour.

Ajzen (1985, 1988, 1991) developed the TPB because the TRA is limited to predicting behaviours over which individuals have volitional control (Ajzen & Fishbein, 1980) (i.e., behaviours that do not require special skills, resources, or support and hence can be performed at will) and Ajzen (1985, 1988, 1991) recognized that the extent to which some intentions to act can be carried out depends partially on the levels of control individuals have over behaviours. Consistent with Bandura’s (1977, 1982) work on self-efficacy [i.e., ‘‘the conviction that one can successfully execute a behaviour’’ (Bandura, 1977), the TPB therefore adds perceived behavioural control (PBC) (i.e., the belief as to how easy or difficult performance of the behaviour is likely to be) as a predictor of intention to act and behaviour. Perceived behavioural control is assumed to reflect the opportunities and resources needed to engage in behaviour. Thus, the path between perceived behavioural control and intention to act reflects individuals’ perceived control over the behaviour, whereas the path between perceived behavioural control and behaviour reflects actual control over the behaviour (Ajzen, 1985). As with the TRA, the relative importance of the three determinants in predicting intention to act is expected to vary with the type of behaviour and situation, and is based on individual differences (Ajzen, 1985, 1988, 1991).

According to the theory of planned behavior, subjective norms are also considered in the formation of behavioral intentions. Such norms are employees beliefs about how other people they care about (e.g., friends and family) will view the relocation. This was reinforced by the research of Kracke (1997) who found that parents play a major role in the decision-making process of their children. In the context of relocation, a worker may form a negative attitude about moving based on the belief that a family member may require them to remain nearby. Likewise, friends and spousal attitudes toward moving may serve to capture normative influences (Brett & Reilly 1988). For example, a worker who has a positive attitude about the relocating may indicate so by the attitudinal statement. One’s attitude toward the destination may shape his/ her willingness to relocate. A worker who has a positive attitude about the destination and has some familiarity with the area is likely more willing to relocate than one who is unfamiliar with the new territory (Carruthers & Pinders 1993). Likewise, studies have indicated that negative attitudes toward relocation may be formed when the relocation destination is viewed as dissimilar to what the individual considers “home” (Vardi 1977). According to Riemer (2000), the concept of home is more than just a physical location or house rather it is a more all-inclusive concept. Home is an area where people identify themselves relative to childhood memories and feelings of belonging. When someone moves, he/she is losing a part of him/herself; a major part of him/her is changing. To these people, relocation signifies a new beginning (Riemer 2000). One’s sense of career development and advancement may also serve to form attitudes toward relocation. A worker may view relocation a necessary part of being successful in the job or advancement of one’s career.

1.6.3: Herzberg two factor theory of motivation

To better understand employee attitudes and motivation, Frederick Herzberg performed studies to determine which factors in an employee’s work environment caused satisfaction or dissatisfaction. He published his findings in the 1959 book The Motivation to Work. The studies included interviews in which employees where asked what pleased and displeased them about their work. Herzberg found that the factors causing job satisfaction (and presumably motivation) were different from those causing job dissatisfaction. He developed the motivation-hygiene theory to explain these results. He called the satisfiers motivators and the dissatisfiers hygiene factors, using the term “hygiene” in the sense that they are considered maintenance factors that are necessary to avoid dissatisfaction but that by themselves do not provide satisfaction. The following table presents the top six factors causing dissatisfaction and the top six factors causing satisfaction, listed in the order of higher to lower importance.


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