An Empirical Study of Career Orientations and Turnover Intentions of Information Systems Personnel in Botswana

An Empirical Study of Career Orientations and Turnover Intentions of Information Systems Personnel in Botswana

K. V. Mgaya (University of Botswana, Botswana), F. M. E. Uzoka (Mount Royal University, Canada), E. G. Kitindi (University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania), A.B. Akinnuwesi (Bells University of Technology, Nigeria) and A. P. Shemi (University of Botswana, Botswana)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-1637-0.ch008
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A number of studies on career orientations of information systems (IS) personnel have focused on developed countries. This study attempts to examine career anchors of IS personnel from the perspective of a developing country, Botswana. The results of the study show that IS personnel in Botswana exhibit career orientations similar to those identified in literature. However, there are some variations, which are attributed to cultural and socio-economic peculiarities. The study indicates that life style does not feature as a significant career anchor in Botswana. The dominant career anchors include organizational stability (security) and sense of service (service). Gender, age, and educational qualifications tend to moderate the career anchors significantly; thus creating a partition of the anchors across demographic groups. The major contributors to the turnover intentions of IS personnel in developing economies are job satisfaction and growth opportunities. Career satisfaction, supervisor support, organization commitment, length of service, and age did not contribute significantly to turnover intention.
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Organizations all over the world are looking for information systems (IS) specialists in computing, programming, systems analysis, networking and user support. Demand exceeds supply. Scarcity of IS personnel affects both developed and developing countries albeit in differing magnitudes. Niederman et al. (1991) identified human resource management as one of the critical issues facing the IS profession in the 1990s. Recruitment and retention of IS personnel are the major problems affecting many organizations worldwide (Cone, 1998; Jiang, 2000). Monetary incentives tend to work during the early years of the career after which employees tend to strive for achievement and authority (Jiang, 2000). Over time, there exists a career self-concept, which results from the coalescing of the employees’ motives, values and talents (control elements), moderated by environmental, socio-cultural and demographic concomitants (Beecham et al., 2007).

Research done in the developed world, especially the USA, shows that the most prevalent career orientations of Management Information Systems (MIS) employees are technical and managerial. Most systems programmers, application programmers and software engineers tend to be more technically oriented while most systems analysts, project leaders and computer managers tend to be more managerially oriented (Igbaria & Greenhaus, 1991). Schein’s earlier work (Schein, 1978) had suggested the following eight major anchors that drive an individual’s career decisions: 1). security and stability, 2). autonomy and independence, 3). technical/functional competence, 4). managerial competence, 5). entrepreneurial creativity, 6). service and dedication to a cause, 7). pure challenge, and 8). life style.

Closely related to career anchors are factors that affect turnover intentions of IS personnel. A number of researchers have studied IS personnel turnover intentions especially in the developed world and some Asian economies (Igbaria & Greenhaus, 1992; Lacity & Iyer, 2008; Muliawan et al,. 2009). The environmental, socio-economic, and cultural contexts of developing countries vary considerably from those of developed countries, and could probably affect the job characteristics and turnover intentions of IS personnel. It is noted by Schein (1985) that societal and organizational cultures greatly affect careers in terms of prestige, legitimacy of motives, clarity of the career concept itself, and the importance attached to career versus family and self development. The career anchors and turnover intentions of IS personnel in developing countries is less researched and under-represented in literature (Pringle & Mallon, 2003; Ituma & Simpson, 2007). This research intends to contribute to the filling of that knowledge gap and is expected to provide important information that will help employers to better understand the characteristics of their IS and potential IS staff in order to attract, motivate and retain appropriate IS personnel. Understanding the factors that could trigger employee turnover would be an important managerial information that could assist in stemming the tide of IS employee turnover, especially in a less predictive economy.

In this study, we examine the career anchors and turnover intentions of IS personnel in Botswana in the light of Schein’s classifications (for careers anchors) and Igbaria’s model of IS employee turnover intentions (Igbaria & Greenhaus, 1992). Botswana is a unique African country which shows a seeming alloy of characteristics of developed and developing worlds, with a number of cultural peculiarities such as high level of patriotism, contentment and a degree of xenophobia (Campbell, 2003). Botswana is a relatively small country in sub-Saharan Africa with a population of about 1.84 million (“Internet World Stats”, 2008), but with one of the most thriving and well managed economies in the world. Diamond exploitation, tourism and cattle trading are the key sources of National income. The economic growth rate of Botswana is one of the highest in the world (Isaacs, 2007).

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