Turnover intentions among Indian software professionals.

AuthorChalil, Gloryson R.B.
PositionBy Contribution - Abstract


During the past 20 years, Information Systems function has experienced a rapid growth in almost every organization resulting in the development of more complex and specialized jobs for software professionals (Hurang, 2001). Employment relationship has also undergone a dramatic shift wherein employees prefer to move across various organizations during the course of their working life without any commitment. For most of the software firms, retention of the organizational knowledge is closely linked with the ability to retain the employees. Approximately two thirds of the IT managers who participated in Longenecker & Scazzero (2003) study reported serious consideration about leaving the current organization. Turnover of Information System professionals has shown relationship with failed system projects and inadequate deployment of organization's resources (Igbaria & Guinmaraes, 1999). As one of the largest avoidable expenses, preventing employee turnover becomes an area of prime concern for most of the software firms.

Organizational issues cause more turnover than technological issues among managers in software firms (Longenecker & Scazzero, 2003). It means majority of the factors driving software professionals' retention are controllable for most organizations. This study is an attempt in that direction and makes three important contributions to the related literature. An inverse relationship between Turnover Intention and Job Satisfaction has been established in the literature. As the first contribution, this paper treats Job Satisfaction as two components, Intrinsic and Extrinsic Satisfaction to identify the relative importance of both in the development of Turnover Intention. Second, we consider the influence of three Burnout dimensions on various Job Attitudes in combination with Work Environmental factors, represented by Organizational Politics and Distributive Justice. Third, Distributive Justice has got comparatively less attention within justice literature in comparison with other facets of justice. This study contributes more towards the literature on this understudied facet of Justice.

Burnout among Software Professionals

Burnout among software professionals has been examined only to a limited extent in literature. Salanova, Peiro & Schaufeli (2002) in their review on the relationship between the use of information technology and Burnout have identified just three empirical studies with complementary results. Software professionals are reported to suffer from either similar or higher stress than many of their colleagues (Hurang, 2001). Analysis of typical software professionals has provided evidence of work overload, role ambiguity, and role conflict.

The three-dimensional conceptualization used by Maslach and her colleagues and its various modifications (Maslach, Schaufeli & Leiter, 2001) is still the most popular inventory to measure Burnout. Emotional Exhaustion is characterized by the lack of energy and a feeling that one's emotional resources are used up. It will usually coexist with feelings of frustration and tension. Depersonalization is characterized by the tendency of employees to treat people as objects. They start to display a detached and emotional callousness, and become more cynical towards coworkers and clients. Diminished Personal Accomplishment refers to the tendency to evaluate oneself negatively. Empirical evidence suggests that Burnout is a process that gradually develops over time resulting in various process models (Lieter & Maslach, 1988).

We also propose relationship among the three dimensions, leading to the development of Burnout among software professionals. Depersonalization is considered a dysfunctional coping and those software professionals who are not able to balance the work stressors will exhibit a tendency to distance themselves from job. Decreasing involvement with work may result in reduced accomplishments and inability to achieve success, as in past, may lead to increasing Emotional Exhaustion. A process model with Depersonalization as the starting point and Emotional Exhaustion as the final stage will help us consider Emotional Exhaustion as the connecting link between Burnout and various Job Attitudes such as Job Satisfaction, Organizational Commitment and Turnover Intention as in existing literature (Brown & Benson, 2003; Moore, 2000). Hence

H1a: Burnout development among software professionals follows a sequence wherein Depersonalization leads to reduced Personal Accomplishment and reduced Personal Accomplishment leads to Emotional Exhaustion.

Job Attitudes

Various review papers and meta-analysis have identified Job Satisfaction and Organizational Commitment as intervening variables in turnover process (Hom& Griffith, 1995; Tett& Mayer, 1993). Job satisfaction is generally recognized as a multifaceted construct with intrinsic and extrinsic job elements and research on software professionals emphasized the need to treat them separately (Hars&Ou, 2002).

Highly motivated individuals, who are strongly committed to their work, are more prone to suffer from Burnout. Working in a stressful environment will result in development of Burnout among software professionals with high intrinsic work motivation. Managers may follow a tendency to assign critical projects to highly regarded employees, and these high performers find themselves trapped in an exhaustive situation which will ultimately result in a higher propensity to leave the job (Moore, 2000). Employees who get trapped in an exhaustive situation may not be able to derive satisfaction in those motivators which had been intrinsically rewarding before. Hence,

H2a) Greater the Emotional Exhaustion among software professionals, lower their intrinsic Job Satisfaction.

While conducting research on professionals involved in open-source projects, Hars &Ou (2002) identified certain extrinsic rewards important to software professionals. Mainstream literature on Burnout and Job Satisfaction has treated both Extrinsic and Intrinsic Satisfaction as a combined variable with a negative relationship. Another objective is to compare the relative strength of the relationship of Emotional Exhaustion with both Extrinsic and Intrinsic Satisfaction. Employees suffering from Burnout may not be able to appreciate extrinsic factors such as pay, quality of supervision and administration of fringe benefits. Hence,

H2b) Greater the Emotional Exhaustion among software professionals lower their extrinsic Job Satisfaction.

Studies that have analyzed the relationship with Job Satisfaction, Organizational Commitment and Turnover have come up with conflicting results. While some researchers predict a direct negative relationship between Job Satisfaction and Turnover (Tett& Meyer, 1993) majority of studies conducted across a wide range of employees suggest a mediator role played by Organizational Commitment (Griffeth, Hom&Gaertner...

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