Behavioral Intentions and Retention of Technical and Scientific Staff in Research and Development Organizations

Behavioral Intentions and Retention of Technical and Scientific Staff in Research and Development Organizations

Andrea Valéria Steil (Federal University of Santa Catarina, Florianopolis, Brazil), Gertrudes Aparecida Dandolini (Federal University of Santa Catarina, Florianopolis, Brazil), João Artur de Souza (Federal University of Santa Catarina, Florianopolis, Brazil), Denise de Cuffa (Federal University of Santa Catarina, Florianopolis, Brazil) and Rejane Costa (UFSC, Florianopolis, Brazil)
DOI: 10.4018/IJHCITP.2018040102


This article describes how for different reasons effect professionals' decisions to stay on or leave their current jobs, impacting the ability of companies to retain these professionals. It is a quantitative empirical study on private research and development organizations from the Greater Florianópolis, Santa Catarina, Brazil. This article presents indicators preceding the intention of an employee to leave or stay, and the retention of such technical and scientific professionals. Data was collected via online questionnaires between December, 2014 and March, 2015. They presented a negative relation to the intention to leave the organization, and a positive relation to the intention to stay in the organization, to job satisfaction and to supervisor support. Training and development opportunities and organizational culture presented a negative relation only to the intention to leave the organization. The article discusses these results and presents suggestions for future studies.
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Retaining technical and scientific professionals is one of the main concerns of managers of research and development organizations (R&D). These organizations are immersed in a highly mobile job market (O’Neal, 2005) and face a scarcity of qualified professionals (Armstrong & Murlis, 2007). Since R&D organizations market intangible assets, great part of their knowledge lies with their professionals (tacit knowledge), making them valuable to organizations. Tacit knowledge is not easily copied or transferred (Massingham, 2008), and when professionals leave an organization, they take with them all the critical knowledge regarding “work practices and routines and knowledge about company’s failures and successes.” (Daghfous, Belkhodja, & Angell, 2013, p. 641). Research shows that qualified technical professionals are harder to replace than other professionals (Upadhyay, 2009) and that they voluntarily leave organizations more often than they are fired.

Staff retention is the organizational competence of keeping value added employees working for the organization (Bode, Singh, & Rogan, 2015; Brown et al., 2012) so that organizational strategic goals are reached (Frank, Finnegan, & Taylor, 2004). Many studies have directed efforts toward identifying the antecedents of people retention in organizations. Some of these antecedents include job market (Carrell, 2007); organizational environment and learning (Govaerts et al., 2011); gender (Huang, Lin, & Chuang, 2006); motivation (Mgedezi, Toga, & Mjoli, 2014, 2001); training (Carrara et al., 2014; Hillman & Foster, 2011; Oliveira, Ckagnazaroff, Silveira, & Moraes, 2012); benefits (Carrara et al., 2014;Yamamoto, 2011); job satisfaction (Yamamoto, 2011; Terera & Ngirande, 2014); organizational identification (Hytter, 2007); and education (Kyndt, Dochy, Michielsen, & Moeyaert, 2009).

Prior research on people retention has associated this construct to employees’ cognitions influencing the actual behaviours of continuing to work in the organization (intention to stay) or voluntarily leaving it (intention to leave the organization) (Paille, 2013). Intention to stay refers to the conscious willingness to stay at the current job (Mowday, Porter, & Steers, 1982). On the other hand, intention to leave consists of the conscious willingness to leave the current job in the near future (Mobley, Horner, & Hollingsworth, 1978; Mowday, Porter, & Steers, 1982). Intention to leave involves thoughts about the desire to search for other work opportunities, or, simply, the possibility of leaving the organization (Cho, Johanson, & Guchait, 2009).

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