Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Retention has become a major issue facing all organizations, including the United States Air Force. Much effort has been expended trying to understand the reasons why employees voluntarily quit their jobs. In 1990 Barry Gerhart, of Cornell University, proposed a turnover model which included tenure, unemployment rates and cognitive ability as factors which influence the turnover decision. The purpose of this thesis was to validate Gerhart's model using turnover data from a sample set of 329 enlisted Air Force members up for reenlistment in 1984. This effort focused on four hypotheses: (1) Unemployment rates and cognitive ability will significantly affect an individual's perceived alternatives. (2) Perceived alternatives will be correlated with a member's intention to stay, which will then be correlated with his/her turnover decision. (3) The unemployment rate will be correlated with turnover decisions. (4) Tenure will be correlated with both intention to stay and voluntary turnover. The results showed support for cognitive ability as a predictor of perceived alternatives and for Hypothesis 2 Neither unemployment rates nor tenure were found to be predictors of the dependent variables. Recommendations for future research and a discussion of the limitations of this effort are also included.

AFIT Designator


DTIC Accession Number



Co-authored thesis.

Presented to the Faculty of the School of Systems and Logistics of the Air Force Institute of Technology, Air Education and Training Command, In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Science in Systems Management.