The People Behind the Wheel: Exploring the Policy Changes, Job Characteristics, and Social Stressors Driving Turnover Among California Truck Drivers

The People Behind the Wheel: Exploring the Policy Changes, Job Characteristics, and Social Stressors Driving Turnover Among California Truck Drivers

Abstract: 

Trucking is a critical physical link in today’s supply chains and global economy. The industry, however, faces serious issues that continue to plague not only trucking companies in general, but trickle down to affect their truck drivers in particular. Despite industry-wide driver shortages, as well as high driver turnover rates, little research has examined retention issues that surround the truck driver profession. Among the limited body of literature, extant research suggests meaningful insights may be found by investigating individual level psychologi-cal processes. Thus, the purpose of this project is to fill gaps in both management and academic understanding of psychological processes associated with California truck drivers. We performed three related studies in order to explore this topic from different angles.

The first study focuses on the stress impact from three types of policy changes: national level policy changes, California (state level) policy changes, and potential national level policy changes; the results offer insight as to how stress related to different types of policy change may induce feelings of job burnout (i.e. exhaustion, cynicism, and professional inefficacy) and ultimately affect job performance and intent to remain. The second study examines common job characteristics/assigned tasks associated with the truck driver profession and the ways in which truck drivers categorize these stressors (e.g., challenge or hindrance); the results of this study offer insight into the ways in which tasks affect burnout and, ultimately, job performance and intent to remain. The third study analyzes the differential effect of truck drivers’ organization identification compared to their professional identification on their burnout and job performance; this study also examines the extent to which perception of oneself as working in a stigmatized profession, and to which being bullied on the job, have detrimental outcomes for both burnout and job performance. Importantly, all three studies contribute to the currently limited managerial and scholarly knowledge surrounding the truck driver profession. Recommendations are made aiming at assisting CA-based transportation companies in improvement of driver retention and logistical performance.

Authors: 

JESSICA L. ROBINSON, PH.D.

Dr. Robinson is an Assistant Professor of Supply Chain Management (SCM) at California State University, Long Beach. She earned a Ph.D. in Logistics/Supply Chain Management from Georgia Southern University. She is published in Journal of Supply Chain Management, Journal of Business Logistics, International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management, International Journal of Logistics Management, and Transportation Journal. Prior to returning to academia, Dr. Robinson worked for a 3PL on the domestic supply chain for General Motors (i.e., dispatch supervisor) and then the international supply chain for General Motors (i.e., operations manager). Dr. Robinson’s research interests involve the behavioral aspects of supply chain management (e.g., social and psychological).

JEFFREY R. BENTLEY, PH.D.

Dr. Bentley is an Assistant Professor of Human Resource Management in the College of Business at California State University, Long Beach (CSULB). His research explores how people see themselves at work, and the effects of various identities on workplace behavior, as well as how workers cope with the toxic side of organizational life. Dr. Bentley is also heavily involved in research on organizational power and politics, and has been published in academic journal outlets including the Journal of Management, Frontiers in Psychology, and the International Journal of Human Resource Management. Before entering academia and pursuing his PhD, Dr. Bentley worked in the area of Training and Development in the public hospital system of New York City.

Published: 

May 2019

Keywords: 

Truck drivers
Stress
Labor force
Trucking
Turnover