Publication Date


Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Raymond Mendel, John O'Connor, Elizabeth Erffmeyer

Degree Program

Department of Psychology

Degree Type

Master of Arts


Since 1884, the courts have embraced and applied the doctrine of employment-at-will which states that employers may terminate their employees, with or without cause or notice, at any time. Recently, the courts have recognized exceptions to this doctrine. In order to avoid these exceptions, lawyers and human resource specialists have suggested that employment materials should explicitly state that all employment is at-will. However, while stating an employment-at-will policy may protect employers' rights to terminate at-will, little is known about the consequences of adopting these measures with respect to applicant and employee attitudes.

The concept of employment-at-will is explored and research that investigates the effects of explicitly stating these policies in corporate recruiting brochures is presented. First, the employment-at-will literature is reviewed. Second, variables are discussed that address the possible effects of stating an employment-at-will policy in corporate recruiting materials. Third, variables are presented that may interact with termination policy with regard to potential applicant attitudes. Fourth, a 2 X 2 X 2 factorial design was used to assess the influence of self-efficacy (high versus low), termination policy (terminate for "just cause" versus employment-at-will), and compensation policy (leading versus average) on future applicants' 1) favorableness of impression of the organization, 2) interest in pursuing employment opportunities, and 3) intention to join a union. indicated a interaction Results significant termination policy by self-efficacy for intent to pursue employment. Specifically, it was found that individuals with high self-efficacy were more favorable toward pursuing employment with an organization with a due process termination policy than an organization with an employment-at-will termination policy. Results also indicated that whether an individual has a union member in his family was associated with the potential applicant's ratings of corporate image (r = -.15, p < .05) and intent to pursue union membership (r = .23, p < .01). Finally, possible reasons for the current findings and avenues for future research are addressed.


Psychology | Social and Behavioral Sciences

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