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Nurses' labour absence

Preston, Alison (1990) Nurses' labour absence. Masters by Research thesis, Murdoch University.

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While there is still no fully acceptable framework for the study of absenteeism it would appear that the foci of economic and psychological research is converging. Traditionally economists have relied on labour - leisure choice theories, consistent with psychology expectancy theories, where employees are assumed to be utility maximisers choosing absence levels which they believe will maximise the gains from work and non - work time. More recently theorists from both disciplines recognise that individual absence decisions are also influenced by work group norms (ie beliefs and attitudes on work attendance) which may favour high or low attendance. In addition, absence may also reflect occupational status, where employees are awarded above market clearing wages with the expectation of good attendance (efficiency wages theory).

Economists have tended to use aggregate data (eg economy wide data) in the analysis of labour absence while psychologists tend to rely on micro data sets ( eg. case studies). This analysis uses a micro data set to examine absence within a particular organisation. The basic framework of analysis adopted is the labour - leisure choice model which has been dominant in economic analysis. This model, however, is also consistent with decision making models of psychology theory and can also be placed in a broader context to allow for other absence determinants such as work group norms and altitudes. The model is tested using unit record data for a sample of nurses employed at a large Western Australian public hospital during 1987 /88. Three of the most commonly employed absence measures (absence rate, total absence and frequency of absence) are used in the analysis.

As with previous research frequency measures are found to be the most reliable indicators of chosen absence. Economic, demographic and workplace/occupation specific variables are all shown lo affect attendance behaviour. Support for the labour - leisure choice model was found for those nurses who were employed throughout the survey period. Furthermore the results demonstrate the need to control not only for the presence of dependants, but also their ages. The presence of children aged between 5 and 15 years results in significantly less absence, possibly reflecting the financial burden of child rearing and consequent necessity to attend work. Finally, work group norms and attitudes are also believed to influence attendance behaviour.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters by Research)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Economics and Commerce
Notes: Note to the author: If you would like to make your thesis openly available on Murdoch University Library's Research Repository, please contact: Thank you.
Supervisor(s): Dawkins, Peter and Moy, Paul
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