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Title: Why dirty workers stay? : social and societal forces that increase an employee's intention to stay
Author: Kolar, Deanna
ISNI:       0000 0004 5350 0893
Awarding Body: King's College London (University of London)
Current Institution: King's College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2014
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A substantial portion of the workforce performs the jobs that other people avoid because the work is dirty, dangerous, servile or morally reprehensible. Over time, researchers have reflected on how tainted jobs are critical to the effective functioning of society (Hughes, 1951). The current study sought to understand the factors and experiences connected with a worker’s intention to stay in a dirty job. A single multinational company with 800 employees operating in the United Kingdom, France and the United States was the focus of the study. The company secures and cleans vacant properties. Most of the job sites are public housing buildings situated in high crime areas. The workers first must clear out discarded personal items and garbage scattered throughout the units by the previous occupants and squatters. The properties must be thoroughly cleaned and then steel panels are installed on the doors and windows to secure the property. Although a significant amount of literature exists on the subject of dirty work, the studies have typically employed qualitative data collection methods. In contrast, the current study diverged from this previous approach by adopting a mixed-methods style of data collection. A quantitative survey data (N=266) tested a hypothesized model of factors relating to workers’ intention to stay with the company. The researcher also performed qualitative semi-structured interviews (N=53) and job site passive participation observation to reveal distinctive traits in worker attitudes and experiences relating to their dirty job. The study identified 13 factors associated with this population of workers’ intention to stay in their job. Using quantitative and qualitative methods, data was collected to assess workers’ attitudes and experiences regarding: the characteristics of their work, attitudes toward dirty work, perceived stigma, job satisfaction and job embeddedness. Analysis of the data revealed support for the majority of the predicted hypotheses. Intention to stay was positively associated with job variety, individual and group autonomy, satisfaction with work duties, person-job fit, distributive justice, satisfaction with pay, promotion, supervision and job embeddedness. Conversely, perceived stigma and alternative job opportunities showed a negative association with the workers’ intention to stay. The qualitative results revealed worker reactions to job site conditions and experiences. The main contribution of the study lies in the identification, and analysis of, several distinct factors and related issues associated with a dirty worker’s decision to stay in a dirty job. The implications and limitations of the study are also discussed.
Supervisor: Deery, Stephen James; Walsh, Janet Teresa Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available