The Impact of Sexual Harassment on Turnover Intentions, Absenteeism, and Job Satisfaction: Findings from Argentina, Brazil and Chile

By Merkin, Rebecca S. | Journal of International Women's Studies, November 2008 | Go to article overview
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The Impact of Sexual Harassment on Turnover Intentions, Absenteeism, and Job Satisfaction: Findings from Argentina, Brazil and Chile


Merkin, Rebecca S., Journal of International Women's Studies


Abstract

This study, which tested the effects of sexual harassment on consequences previously indicated in US studies, (i.e., overall turnover intentions, overall absenteeism and job dissatisfaction), was conducted with 8108 employees chosen by the International Labour Organization (ILO) in three Latin American countries--Argentina, Brazil, and Chile. Multivariate and logistic regression were employed while controlling for age, education, gender, marital status, and race to analyze ILO's database. Significant results revealed that Latin American employees who were sexually harassed were likely to have more turnover intentions and to engage in more absenteeism; yet they did not experience a significant decrease in job satisfaction. These results differ from US findings indicating that there are cross cultural differences in the consequences of sexual harassment. However, the more costly outcomes of sexual harassment (i.e., turnover intentions and absenteeism) are consistent with US findings, indicating the need for multinational companies to establish sexual harassment policies in Latin America as well despite their different legal systems.

Keywords: Sexual harassment, logistic regression, Latin America, absenteeism, turnover, job satisfaction

Introduction

There is an enormous body of research discussing sexual harassment in the US workplace; primarily because sexual harassment negatively impacts employees on the personal level. For example, workplace sexual harassment has been shown to be responsible for undermining job satisfaction and affective commitment (Fitzgerald, Drasgow, Hulin, Gelfand & Magley, 1997; Shaffer, Joplin, Bell, Lau, & Oguz, 2000; Shupe, Cortina, Ramos, Fitzgerald, & Salisbury, 2002); as well as increasing psychological distress, increasing physical illness (Huerta, Cortina, Pang, Torges, Magley, 2006), increasing odds of illness and injury (Rospenda, Richman, Ehmke, & Zlatoper, 2005), and even increasing disordered eating (Cleary, Schmieler, Parascenzo, & Ambrosio, 1994; Cortina, Magley, Williams, & Langhout, 2001; Cortina, Swan, Fitzgerald, & Waldo, 1998; Fitzgerald, et al., 1997; Gutek, 1985; Huerta, et al., 2006).

Findings also show that sexual harassment is responsible for negative workplace psychological conditions such as stress, depression, and anxiety which, in turn, result in declines in organizational performance and productivity (Adams, 1988; Baba, Jamal, & Tourigny, 1998; Williams, Giuffre, & Dellinger 1999). Sexual harassment has also been shown to be responsible for excessive absenteeism (Coles, 1986; USMPB, 1087). Finally, sexual harassment has been found to be associated with increased turnover (Brough & Frame, 2004; Fitzgerald, Hulin, & Drasgow, 1994; Willness, Piers, & Kibeom, 2007).

These consequences are sufficiently grave to create concern among multinational organizations. Furthermore, although sexual harassment incidences have steadily climbed throughout the global marketplace, partly due to different cultural values and perceptions (DeSouza & Hutz, 1996; DeSouza, Pryor, & Hutz, 1998; Pryor, Desouza, Fitness, Hutz, Kumpf, Lubbert, Pesonen & Wang, 1997; Sigal, Gibbs, Goodrich, Rashid, Anjum, Hsu, Perrino, Boratav, Carson, Baarsen, van der Pligt, & Pan 2005), the number of crosscultural studies on sexual harassment is fairly limited (Matsui, Kakuyama, Onglatco, & Ogutu, 1995; DeSouza, Solberg' & Elder, 2007). Therefore, the purpose of this study is analyze whether US workplace sexual harassment behavioral patterns apply to a cross cultural contest, by testing previously established consequences (i.e, sexual harassment and turnover, absenteeism, and job satisfaction) in three Latin American countries (Argentina, Brazil, and Chile). The assumption behind testing conclusions found in US studies is that the experience of sexual harassment is compelling enough to transcend cultural differences by similarly influencing Latin American responses.

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