Determinants of Turnover Intention of Social Workers: Effects of Emotional Labor and Organizational Trust

Yoon Jik Cho, Hyun Jin Song

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

63 Citations (Scopus)


This research explores determinants of turnover intention of social workers. Retention of social workers is critical in the social welfare field because a high turnover rate is directly related to the deterioration of service quality. Of the many factors affecting turnover intention, this research focuses on emotional labor and organizational trust. The former characterizes social workers' tasks in that they are regularly in contact with service clients. Surface acting, one of the emotional labor strategies, has shown a negative impact on employee attitudes. However, representing a psychological state of employees toward their organization, organizational trust leads to positive attitudes and behaviors. This research also explores antecedents of emotional labor and organizational trust. Interaction characteristics of emotional labor are considered for the former, and supervisory support and autonomy are tested for the latter. To examine the relationships among the variables, the research conducts structural equation model analysis on 242 social workers in South Korea. The analysis confirms that emotional labor increases turnover intention whereas trust reduces it. The analysis also demonstrates that autonomy and supervisory support enhance organizational trust, while surface acting is affected by the variety of emotions displayed and the duration of emotional labor.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)41-65
Number of pages25
JournalPublic Personnel Management
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Mar 1

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the National Research Foundation of Korea Grant funded by the Korean Government (NRF-2014S1A3A2044630).

Publisher Copyright:
© SAGE Publications.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Public Administration
  • Strategy and Management
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


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