In research studies independent, dependent, mediating and moderating variables are used to form a conceptual or theoretical framework (Kirschkamp, 2007). Large problems are usually broken down into specific objectives, hypotheses or propositions. Propositions and Hypotheses suggest that a change in one of the variables (independent variable) will affect change in the other variable (dependent variable) (John, 1987).
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In a hypothesis/proposition, a moderating variable can be used where a relationship between the dependent and the independent variable depends on a third variable. A mediating variable is often used to explain why an independent variable affects a dependent variable (Evans & Rooney, 2011). On introducing an intervening variable in a hypothesis, it becomes a two linked hypothesis. A variable is considered a mediator when independent variable variations largely accounts for changes in the presumed mediator. A mediating variable should also account for changes in the dependent variable. This paper will focus on a study by Chen et al., (2011) on “the power of momentum: a new model of dynamic relationships between job satisfaction change and turnover intentions”.
In Chen et al., (2011) study hypothesis one stated that “With the average level of job satisfaction during a given period held constant, job satisfaction change is negatively related to turnover intentions change: decline (increase) in job satisfaction is associated with an increase (decline) in turnover intentions” (p. 164). The independent variable in this hypothesis is job satisfaction. On holding all factors influencing job satisfaction constant, an increase in the independent variable (job satisfaction) would lead to a decrease in work turnover intentions.
The second hypothesis in Chen et al., (2011) stated that” job satisfaction change positively relates to work expectations, which, in turn, partially mediates the relationship between job satisfaction change and turnover intentions change” (p.165). Work expectation is the mediating variable in this hypothesis. Its increase or decrease would highly influence change in the independent variable (job satisfaction) and dependent variable (turn over intentions change).
The third hypotheses in Chen et al., (2011) stated that “organizational tenure moderates the relationship between job satisfaction change and work expectations: the relationship between job satisfaction change and work expectations is more positive when organizational tenure is higher” (p. 166). Organizational tenure acts as a moderating variable in this hypothesis. Its increase and decrease highly influences the change in the independent variable (job satisfaction) and dependent variable (turn over intentions change).
The fourth hypothesis in Chen et al., (2011) stated that “organizational tenure moderates the extent to which work expectations mediate between job satisfaction change and turnover intentions change: work expectations are more likely to mediate between job satisfaction change and turnover intentions change when organizational tenure is higher than when organizational tenure is lower” (p. 166). In this hypothesis, organizational tenure acts as the moderating variable and work expectations act as the mediation variable. This was a two linked hypothesis (Smith, n.d.).
Chen, G., Ployhart, R. E., Thomas, H. C., & Anderson, N. (2011). The power of momentum: A new model of dynamic relationships between job satisfaction change and turnover intentions. Academy of Management Journal, 54: 159-181.
Evans, A. N and Rooney, B. J. (2011). Methods in psychological research, 2nd edition. London, UK: Sage Publications Ltd.
John, C. (1987). Latent variable models: An introduction to factor, path, and structural analysis. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
Kirschkamp, A. (2007). “A contingency-based view of chief executive officers’ early warning behavior: An empirical analysis of German medium-sized companies.” Dissertation European Business School, Destrich-Winkel. Wiesbaden: DUV.
Smith, S. (n.d.). Creating path diagrams. Web.