Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Management (Business Administration)

First Advisor

Nathan Bennett


This dissertation synthesizes theory and research in economics, social psychology, sociology and management to present and test a model of employee propensity to withhold effort (PWE) in work groups in 10 organizations. The dissertation extends to work organizations Knoke's (1990) synthesized motivation model, which suggests that rational, normative conformity and affective bonding incentives act together to predict whether people will contribute to collective activities. A study of 570 private-sector employees found that when employees perceived high degrees of task visibility, group effort norms, equity and altruism, they would be less likely to withhold effort in job-related tasks. As predicted, payment of a wage premium, controlling for alternative unemployment opportunities, was negatively related to PWE in two of four variants of the dependent variable. Work group size was positively related to PWE in two of four variants of the dependent variable. Whereas the complete model was not supported in multivariate analyses, results indicated that contextual variables are important predictors of PWE and merit further study.