When Bureaucrats Get the Blues: Responses to Dissatisfaction Among Federal Employees


Requests for reprints should be sent to Dr. Caryl Rusbult, Department of Psychology, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY 40506.


Rusbult and Farrell's general model of responses to job dissatisfaction is utilized to assess reactions to declining satisfaction among public sector employees. Four general categories of response-exit, voice, loyalty, and neglect-are described and explored. Data from the “Federal Employee Attitude Survey, 1979” were examined to evaluate the predictive ability of the Rusbult and Farrell model. Consistent with their model, higher levels of employee satisfaction and greater degree of investment size encouraged tendencies toward voice and loyalty while discouraging exit and neglect. Also, higher quality job alternatives promoted exit and voice while inhibiting neglectful tendencies. Contrary to predictions, better alternatives also encouraged loyalist responding. The implications of these findings in light of increasing dissatisfaction in the federal bureaucracy are discussed.