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Nurs Outlook. 2017 Jul - Aug;65(4):444-454. doi: 10.1016/j.outlook.2017.05.008. Epub 2017 May 26.

Motivational pathways of occupational and organizational turnover intention among newly registered nurses in Canada.

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Department of Human Resources Management, Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières, Québec, Canada. Electronic address:
Department of Human Resources Management, Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières, Québec, Canada.
School of Psychology, Université de Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada.



Staff turnover is a major issue for health care systems. In a time of labor shortage, it is critical to understand the motivational factors that underlie turnover intention in newly licensed nurses.


To examine whether different forms of motivation (the reasons for which nurses engage in their work) predict intention to quit the occupation and organization through distinct forms (affective and continuance) and targets (occupation and organization) of commitment.


Cross-sectional data were collected from a sample of 572 French-Canadian newly registered nurses working in public health care in the province of Quebec, Canada. The hypothesized model was tested by structural equation modeling.


Autonomous motivation (nurses accomplish their work primarily out of a sense of pleasure and satisfaction or because they personally endorse the importance or value of their work) negatively predicts intention to quit the profession and organization through target-specific affective commitment. However, although controlled motivation (nurses accomplish their work mainly because of internal or external pressure) is positively associated with continuance commitment to the occupation and organization, it directly predicts, positively so, intention to quit the occupation and organization.


These results highlight the complexity of the motivational processes at play in the turnover intention of novice nurses, revealing distinct forms of commitment that explain how motivation quality is related simultaneously to intention to quit the occupation and organization. Health care organizations are advised to promote autonomous over controlled motivation to retain newly recruited nurses and sustain the future of the nursing workforce.


Autonomous and controlled motivation; Novice nurses; Occupational and organizational commitment; Turnover intention

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