Publication Date

January 2002


The purpose of this research is to investigate a previously overlooked yet important objective for an employee engaging in job search – seeking alternative employment to obtain leverage against the current employer. We focus specifically on how employees conduct job search to obtain leverage, and then turn to the question of what motivates employees to adopt this objective. Using a sample of high-level managers, our results indicate the leverage-seeking job search predicts both preparatory and active search beyond the more traditional reason for engaging in job search (i.e., to change jobs). However, as expected, leverage-seeking search was a weaker predictor of the job search processes compared to searching to leave and was not significantly related to job satisfaction. Hierarchical level, perceived alternatives, financial independence, and the meaning attached to money significantly predicted leverage-seeking search, while compensation level, equity, and career plateau showed little effect. Implications for practice and future research on job search and employee retention more generally are discussed.


Suggested Citation
Boswell, W. R., Boudreau, J. W. & Dunford, B. B. (2002). “You’re nobody ‘til somebody loves you”: The use of job search for bargaining leverage (CAHRS Working Paper #02-01). Ithaca, NY: Cornell University, School of Industrial and Labor Relations, Center for Advanced Human Resource Studies.