Department of Management


Date of this Version



Accepted for publication in Personnel Psychology; DOI: 10.1111/peps.12097


Copyright 2014 John Wiley & Sons. Used by permission.


The literature on employee referral hiring gives little attention to referrers. Synthesizing two theories in the literature (the better match and social enrichment accounts), through the lens of social resources theory, I provide a conceptual and empirical breakdown of the effects of referrer quality (referrer performance at hire and referrer tenure at hire) and post-hire accessibility (referrer employment and referrer-referral hire job congruence) on referral hire performance and likelihood of voluntary turnover. I tested my hypotheses with longitudinal data from 386 referrer-referral hire pairs at the same job level in a U.S. call center over a 2-year period. Across analyses of two performance criteria (calls/hour and quality) and likelihood of leaving, I found a nuanced mix of benefits and liabilities that illuminate potential boundary conditions of the revised theories. Referral hires from high-performing referrers performed better but had higher turnover propensities than those from lower performing referrers. Longer-tenured employees also produced better performing referral hires, up to a point. Referral hires were less likely to leave, provided their referrer remained employed, but they performed less effectively under this condition. Similarly, referral hires performed worse when their job was congruent with their referrer’s job. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed.