Research Method and Design Order Description

Research Method and Design

Order Description

Research Method and Design
Provide a two- to three-sentence introduction to the section (optional).
Research Method
This section is an extension of the Nature of the Study in Section 1. The first paragraph of the Nature of the Study section required a description and justification of the methodology. Here you will extend that conversation by providing more information and additional resources. Be sure to include at least three sources for each decision you make.
Research Design
This section is an extension of the Nature of the Study in Section 1. The second paragraph of the Nature of the Study section required a description and justification of the design. Here you will extend that conversation by providing more information and additional resources. Be sure to include at least three sources for each decision you make.
make sure you hit everything listed in this rubric …Supports every decision with a minimum of three scholarly peer reviewed or seminal sources NOT OLDER THAN 2013 sources must be peer reviewed or seminal sources

I have also attached a few examples I have attached my draft in process.. please please pay attention
(2.4) Research Method: Expands on the discussion in Section 1.5 (Nature of the Study).a. Identifies the use of a specific research method by indicating whether the proposed study is quantitative, qualitative, or mixed methods.
b. Justifies the use of the research method over the other research methods.
c. Supports every decision with a minimum of three scholarly peer reviewed or seminal sources.
(2.5) Research Design: Expands on the discussion in Section 1.5 (Nature of the Study).a. Identifies the use of a specific research design.
b. Justifies the use of the research design over other key designs for the study.
c. For qualitative studies, identifies how the student will ensure data saturation.
d. Supports every decision with a minimum of three scholarly peer reviewed or seminal sources.
Must follow the APA

Doi or url address must be giving on the reference page!! Please follow the APA 6thed format
Walden University
College of Management and Technology
This is to certify that the doctoral study by
Shannon Thomas
has been found to be complete and satisfactory in all respects,
and that any and all revisions required by
the review committee have been made.
Review Committee
Dr. Patricia Fusch, Committee Chairperson, Doctor of Business Administration Faculty
Dr. Alexandre Lazo, Committee Member, Doctor of Business Administration Faculty
Dr. Patsy Kasen, University Reviewer, Doctor of Business Administration Faculty
Chief Academic Officer
Eric Riedel, Ph.D.
Walden University
2015
Abstract
Exploring Strategies for Retaining Information Technology Professionals: A Case Study
by
Shannon J. Thomas
MS, Troy University, 2006
BS, Albany State University, 1999
Doctoral Study Submitted in Partial Fulfillment
of the Requirements for the Degree of
Doctor of Business Administration
Walden University
January 2015
Abstract
In the 21st century, retaining information technology (IT) professionals is critical to a
company’s productivity and overall success. Senior IT leaders need effective strategies to
retain skilled IT professionals. Guided by the general systems theory and the
transformational leadership theory, the purpose of this qualitative exploratory case study
was to explore the retention strategies used by 2 senior IT leaders in Atlanta, Georgia to
retain IT professionals. Semistructured interviews were employed to elicit detailed
narratives from these IT leaders on their experiences in retaining IT professionals. A
review of company documents, as well as member-checking of initial interview
transcripts, helped to bolster the trustworthiness of final interpretations. Those final
interpretations included 4 main themes: (a) job-related benefits and compensation; (b)
people-related approaches such as promotion, rewards, and recognition; (c) management,
organizational, and leadership essentials that include recruiting, hiring, and retaining
employees; and (d) barriers, critical factors, and ineffective strategies affecting the
retention of IT professionals. By implementing supportive management practice and
encouraging employees to embrace the organization culture, company leaders can
succeed in retaining key IT staff. These findings may influence social change by
uncovering strategies to retain IT professionals within the company and help IT
professionals understand leaders’ retention strategies.

Exploring Strategies for Retaining Information Technology Professionals: A Case Study
by
Shannon J. Thomas
MS, Troy University 2006
BS, Albany State University, 1999
Doctoral Study Submitted in Partial Fulfillment
of the Requirements for the Degree of
Doctor of Business Administration
Walden University
January 2015
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Dedication
To my Lord and Savior and the only Son of God, Jesus Christ, this is for your
glory. I dedicate this research project to Larry, Victoria, and Caleb. We believe, and we
can achieve greater things than ever before.
Acknowledgments
The completion of this doctoral study would not be possible without the support
of so many people. I would first like to thank my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for the
strength, determination, and desire to be all that he has created me to be. I would like to
offer a special thanks to my husband and children for their continued support and
sacrifice during this journey. To Willie and Beverly Metts, only you know all the
sacrifices you made to help me achieve such a goal, today is for you. To Shirley Gooden,
no words can express my gratitude for your love, encouragement, and support. I hope that
this achievement compensates for the trouble you endured because of me.
I would like to acknowledge my amazing committee, Dr. Patricia Fusch, you are
simply amazing, and my success is a reflection of your knowledge and commitment. Dr.
Alexandre Lazo and Dr. Patsy Kasen, thank you for your support and expertise. To Dr.
Gene Fusch and Dr. Freda Turner thanks for believing in my work and working with me
until to end, both of you make Walden University a great institution of higher learning.
Special thanks to my peers and encouragers Dr. Alvin Perry, Dr. Noah Shannon, Dr.
Jonathan Jenkins, and Dr. Cantice Green for your support and assistance. In addition, I
would like to thank Dr. Cheryl McMahan and Dr. David Moody for assisting me along
the way.
Special thanks to my siblings and family. In addition, thank you Ausha Jackson,
Fanee Johnson, the HUB, Harriette Haynes, Hortense Jackson, Michelle Mirzaiee, Alpha
Sigma Upsilon, and host of friends and supporters for your encouraging words and
prayers.
i
Table of Contents
List of Tables ………………………………………………………………………………………………………..v??
Section 1: Foundation of the Study …………………………………………………………………………..1??
Background of the Problem ……………………………………………………………………………….2??
Problem Statement ……………………………………………………………………………………………4??
Purpose Statement …………………………………………………………………………………………….5??
Nature of the Study …………………………………………………………………………………………..5??
Research Question ……………………………………………………………………………………………6??
Demographic Questions ……………………………………………………………………………… 7??
Interview Questions …………………………………………………………………………………… 7??
Theoretical or Conceptual Framework ………………………………………………………………..8??
von Bertalanffy’s General Systems Theory …………………………………………………… 8??
Bass’s Transformational Leadership Theory …………………………………………………. 9??
Definition of Terms…………………………………………………………………………………………10??
Assumptions, Limitations, and Delimitations ……………………………………………………..12??
Assumptions ……………………………………………………………………………………………. 12??
Limitations ……………………………………………………………………………………………… 12??
Delimitations …………………………………………………………………………………………… 12??
Significance of the Study …………………………………………………………………………………13??
Contribution to Business Practice ………………………………………………………………. 13??
Implications for Social Change ………………………………………………………………….. 14??
A Review of the Professional and Academic Literature ……………………………………….14??
ii
The IT Workforce ……………………………………………………………………………………. 16??
Turnover in IT …………………………………………………………………………………………. 17??
Cost of Turnover ……………………………………………………………………………………… 18??
Research on Retention ……………………………………………………………………………… 20??
Retention of IT Professionals …………………………………………………………………….. 23??
Retention Strategies …………………………………………………………………………………. 25??
Transformational Leadership …………………………………………………………………….. 36??
Organizational Culture in General Systems …………………………………………………. 42??
Transition and Summary ………………………………………………………………………………….46??
Section 2: The Project …………………………………………………………………………………………..49??
Purpose Statement …………………………………………………………………………………………..49??
Role of the Researcher …………………………………………………………………………………….50??
Participants …………………………………………………………………………………………………….51??
Research Method and Design …………………………………………………………………………..53??
Method …………………………………………………………………………………………………… 54??
Research Design ………………………………………………………………………………………. 55??
Population and Sampling …………………………………………………………………………………58??
Ethical Research ……………………………………………………………………………………………..60??
Data Collection ………………………………………………………………………………………………61??
Instruments ……………………………………………………………………………………………… 62??
Data Collection Technique ……………………………………………………………………….. 63??
Data Organization Techniques …………………………………………………………………… 65??
iii
Data Analysis Technique …………………………………………………………………………………66??
Demographic Questions ……………………………………………………………………………. 66??
Interview Questions …………………………………………………………………………………. 67??
Reliability and Validity ……………………………………………………………………………………71??
Reliability ……………………………………………………………………………………………….. 71??
Validity ………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 72??
Transition and Summary ………………………………………………………………………………….73??
Section 3: Application to Professional Practice and Implications for Change ………………75??
Overview of Study ………………………………………………………………………………………….75??
Presentation of the Findings……………………………………………………………………………..77??
Demographic Characteristics of the Participants ………………………………………….. 78??
Emergent Theme: Essential Strategies for Company Leaders to Retain IT
Professionals. ……………………………………………………………………………….. 79??
Emergent Theme: Most Effective Strategies for Retaining IT Professionals ……. 87??
Emergent Theme: Management, Organizational, and Leadership Essentials
for Retaining IT Professionals. ……………………………………………………….. 93??
Emergent Theme: Barriers, Critical Factors, and Ineffective Strategies
Affecting the Retention of IT Professionals ……………………………………… 98??
Applications to Professional Practice ………………………………………………………………104??
Implications for Social Change ……………………………………………………………………….106??
Recommendations for Action …………………………………………………………………………107??
Recommendations for Further Study ……………………………………………………………….108??
iv
Reflections …………………………………………………………………………………………………..109??
Summary and Study Conclusions ……………………………………………………………………110??
References …………………………………………………………………………………………………………113??
Appendix A: Informed Consent for Participants over 18 Years of Age ……………………..157??
Appendix B: Semistructured Interview Questions …………………………………………………..159??
Appendix C: Consent to Use and Reproduce …………………………………………………………161??
v
List of Tables
Table 1. Frequency of Themes for Essential Strategies for Business Leaders to Retain IT
professionals. ……………………………………………………………………………………………… 82
Table 2. Frequency of Themes for Most Effective Strategies for Retaining IT
Professionals ………………………………………………………………………………………………. 90
Table 3. Frequency of themes for Management, Organizational, and Leadership
Essentials for Retaining IT Professionals ……………………………………………………….. 95
Table 4. Frequency of Themes for Barriers, Critical Factors, and Ineffective Strategies
Affecting the Retention of IT Professionals ………………………………………………….. 100
1
Section 1: Foundation of the Study
The ability to retain experienced professionals in the workforce is one
measurement of success for companies (Chew & Entrekin, 2011). If companies are not
efficient in retaining skilled talent in Information Technology (IT), it is unlikely that the
organization will prosper in business operations (Davidson, Timo, & Wang, 2010).
Voluntary turnover negatively affects companies due to the high cost of retaining,
training, and developing new professionals (Ballinger, Lehman, & Schoorman, 2010;
Sanchez, 2010). When professionals leave, companies often experience a decrease in the
quality of products and services (Abii, Ogula, & Rose, 2013). Employee turnover is
costly (Kim, 2012) and companies cannot afford to lose skilled professionals with
significant knowledge (Dinger, Thatcher, Stepina, & Craig, 2012; McKnight, Phillips, &
Hardgrave, 2009). Therefore, businesses are under pressure to create retention strategies
to retain experienced professionals (Mohlala, Goldman, & Goosen, 2012).
The focus of this study was to explore the strategies and perceptions of senior IT
leaders who have successfully retained IT professionals to understand what retention
strategies company leaders need. A qualitative exploratory case study allowed the
researcher to study the need for retention strategies in a real-life setting (Gibbert &
Ruigrok, 2010). As a result, the experiences of senior IT leaders with supervisory and
hiring responsibilities are vital in understanding what strategies are useful in retaining IT
professionals. The implications of this research project may include the determination of
effective and ineffective strategies for retaining skilled IT professionals. In addition,
2
company leaders desiring to sustain profitability, competitiveness, and organizational
knowledge by retaining skilled IT professionals can receive information that will assist in
achieving that goal.
Background of the Problem
Sustainability is one of the most important management objectives for all business
leaders and is integral to competitive success (Galbreath, 2011). From a global
perspective, technical innovations are a key factor driving corporate competitive
advantage and sustainability (Poonpool, Limsuwan, & Satchawatee, 2013). In 2011,
companies spent 3.7 trillion dollars in IT products and services and IT is a critical
function within 21st century corporations (Wang, Laing, Zhong, Xue, & Xiao, 2012).
Within the past 30 years, computer technology incorporated 50% of the world’s top 20
innovations (Taylor, 2010).
Due to these technological advances, 21st century businesses rely upon IT and IT
professionals to sustain a competitive advantage (Coombs, 2009; Kaminski & Reilly,
2004). Information technology will contribute to the drive of the recovery of the global
economy by creating 5.8 million new IT jobs and 75,000 new businesses by 2014
(Microsoft, 2009). As a result, IT professionals are an important factor in the U.S.
economy (Brooks, Reimenschniedier, Hargrave, & O’Leary-Kelly, 2011). Information
technology professionals are also essential to organizational success and can influence
the success or failure of IT implementations (Kappelman, McLean, Luftman, & Johnson,
2013). Technology workers are vital resources to business organizations (Brooks et al.,
3
2011).
In the U.S. workforce, there is a high demand for skilled IT professionals and the
need for IT professionals is on the rise (Bureau of Labor Statistic, 2014). Due to the
retirement of baby boomers and advances in technology, there is an increasing demand
for more skilled IT professionals (Luftman, Kempainh, & Rigoni, 2009). Retaining the
right IT talent is critical to business operations and sustainability because these factors
influence profitability (Galbreath, 2011; Mohlala et al., 2012).
Retention of the IT workforce within the United States is problematic for business
organizations (Allen, Armstrong, Reid, & Riemenschneider, 2008; Ford, Swayze, &
Burley, 2013; Meszaros, Creamer, & Lee, 2009) because of the cost to turnover (Ezulike,
2012). Retaining skilled IT professionals with the competencies to support IT functions
continues to challenge organization leaders (Abii et al., 2013; Von Hagel & Miller,
2011). Since early computing, turnover among IT professionals continues to plague
companies (Sumner & Neideman, 2004). American companies are still experiencing high
turnover among IT professionals in the workforce (Berrios-Ortiz, 2012; Bureau of Labor
Statistics, 2014). Information technology professionals are exiting the IT workforce
(Armstrong, Nelms, Reimenschnieder, & Reid, 2012; Caputo & Kohun, 2011). Turnover
of IT professionals negatively affects the competitive advantage, profitability and
productivity of business organizations because technology workers often have advanced
expertise (Mastracci, 2009; Sanchez, 2010).
The cost to replace an IT professional is expensive (Sanchez, 2010). The turnover
4
among IT professionals cost businesses up to three times the job’s salary (Bairi, Manohar
& Kundu, 2011). Cost associated with turnover may be a direct cost including recruiting,
training, and developing a new professional or an indirect cost such as the loss of
corporate knowledge and experience (Quan & Cha, 2010), a decrease in employee
morale, and reduces performance and production (Berrios-Ortiz, 2012).
Corporate sustainability depends on the commitment and actions of several
stakeholders including the employees (Galbreath, 2011) and retaining a team of
experienced and productive IT employees is essential for maintaining corporate
advantage (Coombs, 2009). Retaining IT professionals is a major concern for business
leaders (Luftman & Ben-Zvi, 2010; Luftman & Derksen, 2012; Luftman et al., 2009).
Companies can take steps to address employee turnover in IT and design retention
strategies to better address the issue (Qua & Cha, 2010). The development of strategies to
retain IT professionals can be difficult (Coombs, 2009), and researchers studying
turnover among IT professionals often concentrate on the factors regarding employees
leaving, and does not provide a clear method for developing effective retention strategies.
Problem Statement
Business leaders must retain skilled IT professionals to maintain a competitive
advantage (Ford & Harding, 2011). Von Hagel and Miller (2011) noted that employee
turnover cost IT organizations $80,000 to $800,000 per employee. Moreover, turnover of
IT professionals increased by 25% between 2012 and 2013 (Kappelman et al., 2013). The
general business problem is that IT professionals voluntarily leave companies creating a
5
loss in organizational profitability and productivity. The specific business problem is that
some company leaders lack strategies to retain IT professionals.
Purpose Statement
The purpose of this qualitative exploratory single case study was to explore what
strategies company leaders need to retain IT professionals. The population for this study
included two senior IT leaders with supervision and hiring responsibilities from a midsized
utility company in metropolitan Atlanta, Georgia. Senior IT leaders participated in
semistructured interviews because these leaders were most suited to identify the
strategies leaders need to retain professionals. I also reviewed company documents to
explore information regarding retention strategies to triangulate the data (Walshe, 2011).
The implications for positive social change included the potential to impact business
practices by contributing new knowledge for use by business leaders looking to retain
skilled IT professionals by developing creative strategies to retain these professionals.
Nature of the Study
The qualitative methodology was the research method for the proposed study. A
qualitative method allows the researcher to see phenomena from the perspective of the
participants and to explore themes based on what participants have experienced (Toloie-
Eshlaghy, Chitsaz, Karimian, & Charkhchi, 2011). A major focus of the study was to
explore strategies from the perspective of the senior IT leaders, thus, making the
qualitative method appropriate for this study. A quantitative method is not appropriate
because the study is not testing a theory or hypothesis and not collecting numerical data
6
for inferential statistical testing (Hoare & Hoe, 2013).
A single exploratory case study design was the most appropriate design for this
study. A qualitative case study design is an in-depth exploration strategy enabling
researchers to explore a specific and complex phenomenon within its real-world context
(Yin, 2013). An investigation through an exploratory case study also allows the
investigator to conduct exploratory or explanatory research and ask how or what
questions to comprehend the characteristics of real-life events (Yin, 2011b). These types
of studies identify working links between events over time (Andrade, 2010; Baxter &
Jack, 2008; Yin, 2009). I considered the following qualitative designs for this study:
grounded theory, phenomenology, and ethnography. Grounded theory focuses on
systemically discovering theories within the data (Walker, 2012; Wilson, 2012), which
was not the primary goal of this study. The primary goal of phenomenology is to study
the human experience from the view of those living the phenomenon (Wilson &
Washington, 2007), which was not the intent of this study because the goal of this study
was to explore strategies companies need to retain IT professionals. An ethnographic
study was not appropriate because the researcher focuses on studying an entire culture of
people to gain perspectives from those who live in that culture (Hanson, Balmer, &
Giardino, 2011; Yin, 2009).
Research Question
The overarching research question for this study was: What strategies do
company leaders need to retain IT professionals?
7
Demographic Questions
1. How many years have you served in senior IT leadership?
2. What is the total number of employees in your company?
3. In the last two years, how many IT professionals have voluntary resigned
from your department?
4. What was your area of service?
5. How many direct and indirect (reports) employees are you responsible for
leading?
6. What is the average tenure of IT professionals in your
organization/department?
Interview Questions
1. What strategies do you use to retain IT professionals?
2. What are the critical factors you use to retain IT professionals?
3. What retention strategies do you use to retain IT professionals in your IT
organization?
4. What strategies do you use that are least effective in retaining IT professionals
in the IT organizations?
5. What strategies do you use that are most effective in retaining IT
professionals?
6. What other strategies and leadership characteristics do you use that are
beneficial in retaining IT professionals?
8
7. In your experience, what barriers prohibit retention strategies from being
successful?
8. What other information would you like to provide that we have not addressed
already?
Theoretical or Conceptual Framework
The objective of this study was to explore the strategies that senior IT leaders are
practicing to retain IT professionals. Two conceptual frameworks informed this study and
assisted me in exploring and explaining the strategies senior IT leaders may be using to
retain IT professionals. Bertalanffy’s (1972) general systems theory serves as a lens to
understanding strategies senior IT leaders need to retain IT professionals. In addition,
Researchers can use Bass’ (1985) transformational leadership theory to address issues
that provide basis for the dynamics of retention strategies. I will apply these theories in
order to gain an understanding of the strategies senior IT leaders are practicing to
successfully retain IT professionals.
von Bertalanffy’s General Systems Theory
von Bertalanffy’s (1972) general systems theory is a conceptual framework that I
used in this study. von Bertalanffy originally introduced the conceptualization for general
systems theory in 1937, but further developed the theory in 1949 and again in 1972
(Drack & Schwarz, 2010). The driving idea behind system theory is the concept of
system wholeness (Drack, 2009; Drack & Schwarz, 2010). Therefore, von Bertalanffy’s
theory focuses on complete organizational systems with human beings, sociality, and
9
technology working in sync to ensure organizational goals are met (Wilson, 2012).
Viewing retention through this theory offered an explanation for retention strategies
(Shannon, 2013) upon the foundation that IT leaders view retention strategies as a subset
of a whole system to retain IT professionals and maintain productivity and profitability.
As applied to this study, the general systems theory allowed me to explore perceptions of
interactive strategies of senior IT leaders pertaining to the whole concept of retaining
critical IT professionals.
General systems theory continues to evolve (Troncale, 2009). One evolution of
general systems theory is the general systems logical theory (GSLT), which focuses on an
input–output model by means of class theory concepts (Drack & Schwarz, 2010). General
systems logical theory is said to be complementary to and has the same aim as the more
problem-solving oriented general systems problem solver (GSPS), which is also an
extension of general systems theory and is usable for management problem solving
activities (Drack & Schwarz, 2010). Furthermore, human system therapy (HST) also
evolves from general systems (Paritsis, 2010). Human systems theory allows researchers
to examine human intelligence through interventions, which may also include activities
such as retention strategies (Paritsis, 2010).
Bass’s Transformational Leadership Theory
Transformational leadership was also a conceptual framework that I used in this
study to explore retention strategies. J. M. Burns developed the transformational
leadership framework (Warrick, 2011). Bass (1985) later extended the work of Burns.
10
King (2012) and Vinkenburg, van Engen, Eagly, and Johannesen-Schmidt (2011) utilized
transformational leadership to offer an explanation for leadership based upon the premise
that leaders are able to inspire followers to change expectation, perceptions, and
motivations to work toward commons goals. Key propositions underlying the theory are:
(a) individual consideration, (b) intellectual stimulation, (c) inspirational motivation, and
(d) idealized influences (Vinkenburg et al., 2011). As applied to this study, using
transformational leadership theory allowed me to explore perceptions and a leader’s
transformational characteristics as they pertain to retention strategies senior IT leaders
need.
Over the years, transformational leadership theory has continued to evolve
(Epitropaki & Martin, 2013). For example, leader-member exchange (LMX) theory
derives from transformational and transactional leadership theory (Harris, Wheeler, &
Kacmar, 2011). Grant (2012) noted that although transformational leadership increases
followers’ performance by motivating them to achieve company goals, rhetoric alone
might not be enough to make transformational leadership an effective leadership strategy,
which may serve as a limitation of transformational leadership. Transformational
leadership is most effective in encouraging employees when the rhetoric connects to the
individual recipients of their work. This highlights how vision has important significance
for other people (Grant, 2012).
Definition of Terms
Information technology: Information technology is using hardware, software,
11
support services, and computer infrastructure to manage and supply information via
voice, data, and video (North Dakota Information Technology Department, 2013, para 1).
Information technology professional: Information technology professionals are
computer programmers, system analysts, computer technicians, application developers,
and project leaders who support and maintain computer systems (Bennett, 2009).
Leadership: Leadership is a person’s use of interpersonal skills to influence and
motivate others to follow or commit to the goals of a group (Kaiser, McGinnes, &
Overfield, 2012).
Retention: Retention is actions that an organization takes to encourage
professionals to maintain employment with the organization for the maximum period of
time (James & Mathew, 2012; Ratna & Chawla, 2012).
Senior IT Leader: A senior IT leader is a person serving in a IT position such as
chief executive officer (CEO), chief operating officer (COO), executive vice president,
vice president, director, senior application developer, and senior project manager (Alimo-
Metcalfe, 2010).
Strategies: A strategy is the creation, implementation, and evaluation of decisions
within an organization that enable the organizational leaders to achieve their long-term
objectives (Buchanan, 2013; Pretorius & Maritz, 2011).
Turnover: Turnover is when an employee totally separates from an organization
and includes cessations, resignations, layoffs, and discharges (Bureau of Labor Statistics,
2014; Hom, Mitchell, Lee & Griffith, 2012).
12
Assumptions, Limitations, and Delimitations
Assumptions
As the researcher, I assumed at least two suitable participants would be available
to participate in interviews. I also assumed that participants of the study would give
truthful responses with an understanding that their responses are confidential. The final
assumption was that interviews would offer an opportunity to explore common themes
involving the retention strategies senior IT leaders practice and the effectiveness of these
strategies.
Limitations
One key limitation of the study was that my professional background as a director
in IT could have potentially influenced the research approach and analysis of the data. In
order to mitigate bias, a researcher can identify the bias and engage in bracketing or the
process of exposing bias that cannot readily be eliminated (Wilson & Washington, 2007).
I had opinions about what strategies senior IT leaders are practicing to retain IT
professionals. However, to minimize bias, I bracketed my own views and followed the
research protocol closely, asking questions and not injecting my own observations, to
address this limitation. As suggested by Loiselle, Profetto-McGrath, Polit, and Beck
(2010), I emailed the transcribed interview data back to the participant for verification
and included only data verified by the participant.
Delimitations
The first delimitation was that IT professionals not in senior leadership were not
13
included in the study. Interviewing only senior IT leaders represented delimitation
because I could have interviewed professionals who are in not in IT leadership positions;
however, these professionals may not have known what retention strategies senior IT
leaders are practicing to retain IT professionals. Identifying IT professionals with
previous desires to leave but the company was able to retain may have presented a
challenge because these IT professionals do not have a unique identifier. I could easily
identify senior IT leaders by a position title. For this reason, both Mohlala et al. (2012)
and Tay (2010) interviewed senior IT leaders when studying retention strategies to retain
IT professionals, which justified using senior IT leaders as research participants in this
study. The second delimitation was the relatively small sample size; a larger sample
would have added more time and cost. The third delimitation was that the geographical
location of the population was restricted to the metropolitan Atlanta, Georgia area for
convenience. The fourth delimitation was that I selected participants through purposive
sampling, which is nontransferable to a larger population.
Significance of the Study
Contribution to Business Practice
This study could fill a gap in the literature and contribute to business practice by
providing knowledge for organizational leaders looking to retain IT professionals by
developing creative retention strategies to retain professionals. Understanding strategies
that senior IT leaders are practicing could provide insight on successful and ineffective
methods to retain skilled IT professionals, reduce cost associated with employee
14
turnover, safeguard operational efficiency and sustain competiveness. Business leaders
may also use the findings from this study to evaluate the effectiveness of the current
strategies organizations are practicing in an effort to retain skilled professions. Skilled
professionals are essential in producing better business results (Herring, 2009). It is
critical for organization leaders to understand the issues surrounding turnover factors that
influence retention so that they can control turnover in the organization (Ghapanchi &
Aurum, 2011). Identifying and understanding effective strategies senior IT leaders are
practicing can assist in sustaining profitability, retaining corporate knowledge, and
increase employee morale.
Implications for Social Change
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (2014), the demand for IT
professionals is rising and will grow higher than other industries. Therefore,
understanding what strategies senior IT leaders are practicing to retain professionals was
essential in ensuring that companies retain IT professionals. From a social change
perspective, the proposed research may be valuable to IT organization leaders because IT
professionals provide support for business operations in their efforts to provide quality
services and products. Information technology professionals can gain an understanding of
the efforts of organization leaders, which may result in higher job satisfaction and
employee retention in the IT workforce.
A Review of the Professional and Academic Literature
The intent of the qualitative study is to identify what strategies company leaders
15
need to retain IT professionals. I will investigate the retention strategies influencing
productivity and performance through a qualitative exploratory case study qualitative
research method by studying senior IT leaders in a mid-size company in metropolitan
Atlanta, Georgia. Effective leadership is important in retaining experienced employees
and may influence productivity (Harris et al., 2011). The research design includes a midsized
company that provides utility services. The company consists of approximately
eight IT professionals with two senior IT leaders. The following research question
underpin this study: What strategies do company leaders need to retain IT professionals?
I conducted a review of literature on retention strategies, which includes peerreviewed
articles and journals, books, dissertations, websites, and corporate and
government reports. The specific focus areas included professional in IT, the IT
workforce, turnover in IT, cost of turnover, retention in IT, retention strategies,
compensation and reward, training and development, work-life balance, organizational
culture, qualitative research methods, quantitative research methods, case study research,
transformational and transactional leadership, and general systems theory. Primary
research libraries and databases included the Walden University Library, Clayton State
University Library, ProQuest, Google Scholar, Thoreau, SAGE, and EBSCO Primary.
The total number of all references used in each category is: (a) 8 books, (b) 266 journals
and articles, (c) 12 dissertations, (d) 2 government and corporate reports, and (e) 2
websites. Of the 290 references, 266 (91.72%) were published within the last five years,
and 256 (including the dissertations) were peer-reviewed and were published in the last
16
five years (88.27%). The literature review contains 126 peer-reviewed journal articles
(including the dissertations), of which 118 (93.4%) were published within the last five
years.
The IT Workforce
Information technology enables business organizations to become more effective
and efficient in business operations (Lin, Ku & Huang, 2013). The emphasis on business
transformation creates a demand for skilled IT professionals (Hawk et al., 2012). In
addition, Hawk et al. (2012) noted that an increase in globalization and companies
seeking a competitive advantage drives the growth of the IT workforce. Therefore, IT
professionals are essential to the organization’s performance (Mohlala et al., 2012).
Information technology professionals are individuals with the responsibility of
managing the latest technology, developing technology systems to solve business
problems, and provide technical support to end users (Rutner, Reimenscheinder,
O’Leary-Kelly & Hargrave, 2011). Hawk et al. (2012) further discussed ideas describing
IT professionals as employees whom companies employ to provide IT services, support,
and products to clients. Furthermore, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2014) listed IT
professionals as computer network architects, computer programmers, computer support
specialist, computer system analyst, database administrators, and web and software
developers.
Many of the IT jobs are complex and require higher levels of education for IT
professionals (Brooks et al., 2011). Allen et al. (2008) posited that IT professionals
17
demonstrate characteristics that are unique from professionals in other industries.
Information technology professionals provide an essential resource to organizations as
the demand of IT services continues to increase.
The demand for IT professionals is strong (McKnight et al., 2009). The private
and public sector are competing for skilled IT professionals (Coombs, 2009). As the IT
industry continues to grow (Harris, Cushman, Kruck & Anderson 2009), the number of
companies requiring IT jobs will increase. Stockholders benefit from a strong IT
workforce (Hawk et al., 2012). For companies with the primarily business function of
providing technical support to other businesses, IT professionals are an essential resource
for business profitability (Hawk et al., 2012). However, retaining IT professional creates
a challenge for many business leaders (Mohlala et al., 2012; Von Hagel & Miller, 2011).
Turnover in IT
Turnover in IT is problematic for organization leaders (Armstrong et al., 2009;
Ladelsky & Catana, 2013, Ratna & Chawla, 2012). Several industries including business
(Abii et al., 2013; Dailey, 2011; Von Hagel & Miller, 2012), education (Holmes, 2006)
and government (Kim, 2012; Sanchez, 2010) are experiencing high turnover among IT
professionals. Turnover among IT professionals is a global problem, and researchers in
Brazil (Ramos & Joia, 2013), South Africa (Mohlala et al., 2012), and India (James &
Mathew, 2012) have investigated the turnover of IT professionals. Turnover among IT
professionals in the United States and abroad, negativity affects business organizations
(Ghapanchi & Aurum, 2011).
18
According to Sanchez (2010) turnover among IT professionals has a critical
impact on a companies’ productivity and performance. McKnight et al. (2009) contend IT
professionals often have specialized skills, which is difficult to replace and creates
turnover. McKnight et al. and Ghapanchi and Aurum (2011) posited the demand for IT
professionals creates turnover because skilled IT professionals can easily find new jobs.
In contrast, Hancock, Allen, Bosco, McDaniel and Pierce (2013) purported that
turnover is not always detrimental to organizations performance and profitability.
According to Hancock et al. (2013), there are some benefits associated with turnover that
may prevail over the cost. Ghapanchi and Aurum (2011) also suggested that there are
benefits of turnover such as lower paid replacements workers, opportunities to promote
professionals who stay with the company. In addition, the emergence of new ideas, and
the experiences and knowledge brought to the company that may come with a new IT
professional (Ghapanchi & Aurum, 2011). Ratna and Chawla (2012) suggested that
turnover among low performing IT professionals does not constitute voluntary turnover.
However, the cost of voluntary turnover plays a role in the success of the company.
Cost of Turnover
In general, employee turnover happens in every industry (Jain, 2013). Employee
turnover is costly and can cost up to 100% of the annual salary of the position (Bryant &
Allen, 2013; Jain, 2013). Hom, Mitchell, Lee and Griffith (2012) further suggested that
turnover costs organizations between 90% and 200% of the annual salary for that
position. In addition to the financial cost, turnover is also disruptive to company
19
operations. Through a cost analysis, Jain (2013) noted that there is high price associated
with turnover. The cost of turnovers expands beyond the cost associated with hiring
procedures (Milman & Dickson, 2013). In addition, the cost of employee replacement is
increasing (Frey, Bayon, & Totzek, 2013).
A business experience several costs when an employee voluntary leaves the
company (Jain, 2013). Administrative cost, advertising cost, psychological exams
expenses, interview and screening expenses, cost of training the new employee, public
relations cost, and increases in employment insurance expenses are all costs a company
may experience due to the voluntary turnover of staff (Jain, 2013). Companies have
concerns with employee turnover because it influences the bottom line (Wallace &
Gaylor, 2012). Organizations should be mindful of the cost of employee turnover
(Wallace & Gaylor, 2012). Within IT, turnover can cost organizations up to $800,000 per
employee (Von Hagel & Miller, 2011).
James and Mathew (2012) studied turnover in India and contended that turnover
not only creates loss for organizational production, but also is expensive due to the cost
the companies must pay to replace an IT professional. Ghapanchi and Aurum (2011) also
purported that IT turnover is costly to organizations and losing essential laborers can
negativity impact the business organization effectiveness due to skilled professionals
leaving the organization. The turnover cost in IT may result in projects failure or
unsuccessful implementations of projects, which is costly to the organization (Kappelman
et al., 2013). Coombs (2009) who studies the retention of IT professionals in the UK,
20
argued departing IT professionals take with them important knowledge and experience
when leaving the company. Luftman and Ben-Zvi (2011) found senior IT leaders concern
themselves with the direct and indirect cost of the IT functions.
The cost organizations incur when losing a professional is high, in addition,
turnover of key professional negativity affects the organization’s success and
effectiveness (George & Alex, 2011). The cost of turnover among IT staff impacts the
ability to function as an organization business unit. Dinger et al. (2012) and Kim (2012)
studied IT turnover among government IT professionals and contended that the cost of
turnover of IT professionals warrants the attention of senior IT leaders and exploration.
From a different view, Vijayakumar (2012) suggested that in addition to the cost
of employee turnover there are both tangible and intangible losses for the company. The
intangible cost of employee turnover includes the loss of production, an increase in
supervision of a new employee, a decrease in profitability, a decrease in a leaving
employee’s productivity prior to their departure and the hiring cost of a new employee
(Inabinett & Ballaro, 2014).
Research on Retention
Research on retention of employees covers both small business (Gialuisi &
Coetzer, 2013) and large corporations (Samson, 2013). No matter what size a company
is, retention is a key factor to its success (Shore, 2013). Therefore, retention continues to
be a growing concern for many business leaders (Shore, 2013). In many companies, the
human resources are more important than the physical assets the company owns (Shore,
21
2013). Shore (2013) noted that retention is the result of influence stemming from
additional job opportunities and the culture of the workplace. Shore also noted that
retention is a global problem.
The retention of employees depends on the satisfaction of the employee (Dinger,
Thatcher, & Stephina 2010; Milman & Dickson, 2014; Mobley, Griffeth, Hand, &
Meglino; 1979). Therefore, as companies continue to pull through the recent difficult
economic times, maintaining a good relationship with employees and understanding why
they stay with a company is useful as retention continues to be an area of major concern
(Milman & Dickson, 2014). In every industry, retention continues to plague companies
(Self & Self, 2014). Even with amusement companies such as Six Flags or Disney World,
an employee can take three months to become fully acclimated enough to the business
procedures to be beneficial to the company (Milman & Dickson, 2014). Therefore,
retaining these employees is critical. Likewise, in professional services employee
turnover continues to be detrimental to success of companies (Frey et al., 2013).
According to Shore (2013), retention is critical in protecting a company’s human
resources. However, from a different perspective, retaining employees may not always be
in the best interest for the company (Self & Self, 2014). When companies retain
employees who are not benefitting the company, these businesses participate in negligent
retention (Self & Self, 2014). Therefore, Self and Self (2014) posited that companies
should identify those counterproductive employees and work to terminate their
employment. Shore (2013) posited retention in the IT industry might be more severe
22
because IT requires skills that are more specialized.
Within IT literature, researchers continue to explore IT staffing concerns from
various angles (Dinger et al., 2010). The majority of research on IT turnover explores the
phenomenon from the individual level and not from an organization level. Prior research
on turnover in IT focuses on themes such as job satisfaction (Milman & Dickson, 2014),
and barriers women face in IT (Appelbaum, Asham, & Argheyd, 2011a, 2011b).
Researchers continue to study the factors influencing turnover among IT professionals
including the employee’s perception of the work environment (McKnight et al., 2009).
The majority of the research focusing on IT professionals’ turnover explores the IT
professional’s personal feeling regarding the IT organization or job (Dinger et al., 2010).
Literature regarding IT professionals explores the turnover of IT professionals from an
individual perspective (Dinger et al., 2010) instead of the strategy IT organizations are
using to retain IT professionals. Research that explores retention strategies IT
organizations are utilizing are essential, and because many organization leaders lack
effective strategies to retain IT professionals (Mohlala et al., 2012) investigation of
retention strategies is critical for business and organization leaders.
In contrast, Von Hagel and Miller (2012) investigated turnover among IT
professionals from a corporate view and found 20% of participants indicated that a fight
with direct managers as a factor in leaving the company. In addition, 30% of participants
felt that the company did not value the professional or respects how the IT professional
contributes to the team. When asked to state what organizations can do differently, if
23
anything to prevent IT professionals from leaving their jobs, 70% of the participants felt
that the organization’s leaders should improve the quality of corporate politics and
corporate management relations. Von Hagel and Miller (2012) also found 35% of
participants believed that valuing employees and better relationship with direct
supervisors would prevent IT professionals from leaving their jobs. The research finding
confirms that the behavior of IT leaders in business organizations is an important factor
in retaining IT professionals.
Mohlala et al. (2012) studied retention among IT professionals in a South African
bank and found that IT leaders are finding it difficult to retain IT professionals due to the
lack of retention strategies. Coombs (2009) contended that retaining a skilled and
committed IT team is critical for maintaining a competitive advantage. According to
Dinger et al. (2012), to understand the phenomenon of turnover among IT professionals
and strategies that companies use, it is critical to explore the practices of the organization.
Retention of IT Professionals
Retention involves organizations taking strategic action to encourage
professionals to stay employed with the company for an extended period of time (Ratna
& Chawla, 2012). Retaining IT professionals is a critical problem for both technologybased
and non-technology based organizations (Coombs, 2009; Mourmant, Gallivan, &
Kilika, 2009) and the inability to retain key IT professionals continue to increase
(McKeen, Smith, & Jin, 2009; Ratna & Chawla, 2012). Trauth, Quesberry, and Huang
(2009) stated that the demand for IT professionals will not be met because of the
24
imminent retirement of the baby boomers and the decline of students enrolled in IT
degree programs, this would require organizational leaders to focus on factors that
influence the retention of IT professionals. Ratna and Chawla (2012) studied retention in
Indian telecom workforce and posited that retaining professionals is more important that
hiring a professional. Quan and Cha (2010) argued that there is an expectation for
turnover among IT professionals to increase as the economy rebounds.
Dinger et al., 2012 purported the retention of IT professionals among their top
five concerns in the IT industry. McKnight et al. (2009) also indicated that the retention
of IT professionals is vital to organizations because these professionals have knowledge
regarding how IT systems interact with business processes. In a study of IT professionals
in Karala, George and Alex (2011A) found that retention is a critical concern for
organizations. However, a study by Mohlala et al. (2012) found that some organizations
do not have retention strategies in place to retain IT staff.
For business organizations, creating effective strategies for IT professionals is
challenging. Despite incorporating flextime and increasing salaries, many organizations
including state governments are reporting a turnover rate of 11% among IT professionals
(Coombs, 2009). The finding from Kim (2012) suggested that senior IT leaders replace
traditional personnel management strategies with strategic retention practices effectively
to retain IT professionals in state government. This idea may also benefit IT
organizations in the private sector.
From a different perspective, The IT environment is stressful and employees put
25
in long hours to meet goals. Some businesses expect high turnover (Zhao & Rashid,
2010). Information technology employees often deal with frequent technological and
organizational changes, which often result in voluntary turnover. Therefore, companies
need retention strategies in place to ensure that IT professionals stay within the IT
workforce.
Retention Strategies
Retaining employees contributes to the success of businesses (Frey et al., 2013)
and retention strategies relate to the organization strategy for competitive advantage
(Allen, Bryant, & Vardaman, 2010). Retention strategies require companies to invest
time and resources, and every professional is of equal value to the company (Allen et al.,
2010). Retaining those employees who are critically important to the company may be
essential to the success of the company (Allen et al., 2010). However, investing resources
into a retention strategy may not be successful without understanding the underlying
cause of turnover (Allen et al., 2010). Gialuiss and Coetzer (2013) found that individuals
leave companies because of several reasons including their relationship with management
and peers, lack of advancement opportunities, lack of work-life balance, and job related
stress. Despite the research on attrition, there is little information on retention efforts
(Allen et al., 2010).
The development of a retention strategy is a critical task because of today’s labor
markets (Ortlieb & Sieben, 2012). Allen et al. (2010) described several strategies for
retaining professional, including proper recruitment, proper selection of employee,
26
training and development, compensation and reward, engaging the employee, and strong
managerial relationships. Employees having fun in the work environment is also a
strategy managers can use to retain employees (Milman & Dickson, 2013).
There are best practices that all managers can use to retain important staff (Allen
et al., 2010). However, one misconception regarding retention strategies is that one-sizefits-
all retention strategies are most effective for business (Allen et al., 2010). Allen et al.
(2010) posited that there are two distinct types of retention strategies, systemic and
targeted (Allen et al., 2010). Systemic strategies are general retention strategies a
manager can use to reduce turnover (Allen et al., 2010). Target strategies are more
specific retention strategies that an organizational can use to retain a specific group of
employees (Allen et al., 2010).
According to James and Mathew (2012) organizational leaders can work to
mitigate turnover among IT professionals through the implementation of retention
strategies. The high turnover among IT professionals is a key indicator of why IT
organizations need retention strategies (Mohlala et al., 2012). Kim (2012) found that IT
leaders must commit to considering and implementing strategies to retain IT
professionals.
Holmes (2006) who studied retention strategies among IT professionals in higher
education noted that retention drives a mix of intangible and nonmonetary benefits.
Holmes also noted that some companies have a catalog of strategies to keep IT
professionals. Holmes found that IT professionals in higher education stay with the
27
organizations for several reasons including: flexibility, working relationship with
teammates, how challenging the job is, and limited opportunities elsewhere. Although
Holmes study focused on the educational environment, the findings parallel research
results from the corporate sector (Riemenschneider, Armstrong, & Moore, 2009).
According to DeMers (2002), there is not a magical solution to the retention
challenges senior IT leaders and businesses face. DeMers studied retention strategies in
the public sector and noted employee’s recognition, training and education, and
flexibility as retention strategies that senior IT leaders can utilize to retain staff. Ezulike
(2012) stated that while organizations as a best practice have effective policies in place to
address staff development and recognition and compensation for key professionals, the
demand for critical IT professionals makes having an effective retention strategy in place
more of a need than a desire for businesses. Agarwal and Ferratta (2002) noted
performance management, recognition and compensation, lifestyle accommodation, job
security, opportunities for development and training, and quality of leaders as strategies
business organizations utilize to retain IT professionals.
As previously noted, employee recognition and reward, compensation, work life
balance, training and development, and opportunity for promotion are common threads
among previous studies relating to retaining IT professionals. Holmes (2006) argued
better manager-employee relationships, valuing staff, higher compensation, and better
communication as strategies IT professionals recommends for retaining IT professionals.
Opportunity for advancement and promotions, training and development, pay and reward,
28
supervisory communities, satisfaction, and family friendly policies are some strategies to
retain IT professionals as well (Kim, 2012). According to Ezulike (2012), different
factors motivate different people; therefore, it is not only about business organizations
offering IT professionals good compensation, promotion opportunity motivate some
professionals (Ezulike, 2012). In addition, job security and a challenging work
environment also motivate IT professionals (Ezulike, 2012).
Compensation. Compensation is one of the most important factors influencing
the effectiveness of staff (Gupta & Shaw, 2013). In addition, compensation decisions are
among the most important decision a company can make (Barnes, Reb, & Ang, 2012).
Most companies in the United States have a pay-for-performance strategy to retain
professionals (Gerhart & Fang, 2013). Compensation influences the retention of
employees (Gupta & Shaw, 2013). Compensation is a powerful incentive and can
influence the effectiveness of business.
From an organizational leader’s perspective, it is critical that companies structure
the compensation systems correctly (Gupta & Shaw, 2014). Compensation is among one
of the highest recommended strategies for retaining staff (Kennedy & Daim, 2010).
Compensation decisions have important implications to the retention of staff (Barnes et
al., 2012). Therefore, compensation acts as a strategy for retaining IT professionals. Anis
et al. (2010) posited compensation is a valuable tool leaders can use to retain staff.
Compensation is monetary and nonmonetary remuneration that an employer gives to an
employee in exchange for services the employee renders. Employers give merit increases
29
based on job performance (Gerhart & Fern, 2013). Aris et al. (2010) also stated that it is
beneficial for employees to receive compensation based on the accomplishment of a
desired goal.
According to Barnes et al. (2012), undercompensating staff can lead to employee
turnover. Luftman and Ben-Zvi (2011) noted that the retention of IT professionals is an
issue IT leaders should consider. Compensation research shows that companies develop
compensation strategies to align with the business strategy (Torres & Alder, 2012).
Companies with high compensation systems have higher employee retention rates than
companies with lower compensation systems (Arit et al., 2010).
To influence employee retention, managers who develop compensation can
consider the employee contributions to the organization and the competitiveness of the
salary (Torres & Alder, 2012). Competitive compensation involves a company
determining the amount of salary based on what other companies are paying (Torres &
Alder, 2012).
Holmes (2006) also found that higher compensation was the second most listed
recommendations for retaining IT professionals. Compensation is not the most important
factor in retaining IT professionals (DeMers, 2002). Abii et al. (2013) also argued
compensation is not the only factor in retaining IT professionals.
Some may view compensation differently (Anis et al., 2010). Holmes (2006)
noted that salary is seldom the only factor when a professional voluntarily leaving the
company. DeMers (2002) posited that there are retention strategies that are not based on
30
salary compensation. Furthermore, Holmes found that higher compensation was the
second most important recommended strategies for retaining IT professionals. According
to Ezulika (2012), IT professionals are willing to take a decrease in pay for flexible
working hours. Although, benefits and compensation is a major factor in employee
retention, strategies such as recognition is just as important according to retain IT
professionals (Chew & Entrek, 2011).
Reward and recognition. Extrinsic rewards drive employee motivation that leads
to retention (Stumpf, Favonto, & Smith, 2013). Reward and recognition are motivators
that each employee seeks on a consistent basis (Wiley & Kowski, 2012). Employee
recognition positively influences performance by 15% (Wiley & Kowski, 2012).
According to Wiley and Kowski (2012), employee’s best enjoy recognition that comes
from their immediate supervisor. Johnson (2014) revealed how companies treat
employees have an impact of voluntary turnover. However, many employees stated that
companies only recognize the most productive employees (Wiley & Kowski, 2012).
Chew and Entrekin (2011) studied retention strategies in Australia argued that
professionals stay employed with a company if the company recognizes and appreciates
the performance, work effort and capability of the individual employee. Reward and
recognition are nonmonetary rewards IT professionals receive from senior management,
which indicates a job well done according to Erturk (2014), who studies retention of IT
professionals in Turkey. This sense of accomplishment serves as a motivating factor for
employees (Chew & Entrek, 2011). Chew and Entrekin (2011) also found employees
31
ranked valuing employees as the top four of five strategies that are effective for retaining
staff. Crew and Entrekin (2011) also noted the companies with valuing employees ranked
as number four out of five as the most important strategy have a turnover rate up to 10%.
Findings from this study may indicate a greater need for senior IT leaders to prioritize
rewarding and recognizing employees due to its impact on retention. Crew and Entrekin
(2011) indicated that a reward and recognition program is important. Their findings are
especially true with the ever-changing demands that IT professionals must endure.
Employees often view that employee-employer relationship as an exchange of
interactive reciprocal activity (McGrath, 2012). The employees must determine if the
level of reward and recognition the company gives is an acceptable exchange for the
effort the employee gives (Allen, Armstrong, Reid & Riemenschneider, 2008). One
important factor in retaining professionals is the retention system a business organization
has in place (Ladelsky & Catana, 2013). Recognizing and rewarding IT professionals
positively influence IT professionals (Ladelsky & Catana, 2013;Mastracci, 2009). Erturk
(2014) found that managers must focus on IT professional’s needs and recognize their
efforts to retain these professionals. Erturk (2014) also noted that there is a strong
correlation between recognition and turnover intention of the retention of staff. In
addition to recognizing and rewarding IT professionals, work life balance may also help
senior IT leaders retain IT professionals.
Work life balance. Work-life balance is challenging in several industries
including IT, causing professionals to make career decisions based on how well the
32
organization works to help the employee facilitate this balance (Ghazzawi, 2010). A
career in IT often requires completing work beyond the traditional nine-to-five workday
or even 24-hour-a-day availability (Ashcraft & Blithe, 2009). Many IT professionals
experience an ongoing conflict between family responsibilities and the demands of a
career in IT (Ashcraft & Blithe, 2009).
Work life balance is among several strategies some companies are using to retain
key professionals. De Cieri, Holmes, Abbott and Pettit (2005) noted from the view of an
employee, work life balance is the maintaining a balance between work and home
responsibilities. Laddha, Singh, Gabbab and Gidwani (2012) noted three levels of
retention strategies ranging from low-level employees retention strategies to high-level
employee retention strategies and promoted work life balance as a primary strategy for
retaining IT employees. By developing flexible schedule offering, extended leaves of
absences and developing services such as on campus daycares, companies can assist in
fostering a stronger work life balance for employee (Laddha et. al, 2012).
Many business organizations offer more flexible work arrangements and continue
to adopt policies to encourage greater work life balance (Shockley & Allen, 2010), which
is an important factor for IT professionals. McNamara, Pitt-Catsouphers, Matz-Cost,
Brown and Valcon (2012) studies work life balance found participants negativity
associated the number of hour worked with work life balance. For this reason, Darcy et
al. (2012) posited incorporating work life balance activities as a strategy for reducing
turnover and retaining professionals.
33
In contrast, Darcy et al. (2012) noted that there is a lack of consensus regarding
the effectiveness of the work life balance. McCarthy, Darcy and Grady (2010) posited the
implementation of the strategy may be different among different organization units,
departmental managers, and senior level executives and its effectiveness often depend on
the practices of the line managers. Since work life balance include strategies such as parttime
work schedules, some mid-level and senior level managers find it challenging to
maintain productivity while incorporating strategies that promote flexible work
schedules, which is the foundational ideas of work life balance (McCarthy et al., 2010).
However, the business organizational ability to develop and implement work life balance
strategies produce more satisfied employees and impacts the organizational ability to
retain key professionals (McCarthy et al., 2010). Kim (2012) argued IT leaders should
acknowledge practices such as work life balance activities to address retention issues.
Chou and Pearson (2012) found that IT professionals might not have the high levels of
stress that previous research incident.
Development and training. To remain successful companies can make an
investment into the training and the development of its employee (Gogel, 2011).
Research shows that companies that invest into training efforts for their employee
experience higher employee productivity and higher financials perforations well (Cogel,
2011). U.S. companies spend up to 6% a tier payroll on training employee (Cogel, 2011).
Training and development not only influence the company productivity and profitability,
but also helps to create a winning attitude for employee (Latif, 2012). Employee
34
development is an important human resume function of the organization (Sawitri & Muis,
2014).
In general, training employee produce companies that a valuable to the employee
company and other companies as well (Koster, DeGrip, & Fouarge, 2011). Training and
development opportunities are a factor in enhancing retention of staff (Govaert, Kyndt,
Dochy & Baert, 2011). Govaerts et al. (2011) noted that employee with significant
training and development is not as motivated to leave the company. According to Kosler
et al. (2011) companies work to reduce turnover by provide supporting the personal
development of an employee, which may lead to a greater commitment to the company.
However, an employer’s investment in training may increase the valuable for other
companies, which they company may not intend so (Haines, Jalette, & Larose, 2010).
Wierschem, Guoying Zhang, and Johnston (2010) argued that managers use
training and development to retain IT professionals within government businesses.
Brooks et al. (2011) found that IT professionals required unique training as compared to
professionals in other sectors. Training is an important factor in the company’s
profitability (Ameeq-ui-Ameeq & Harif, 2013). The main purpose in training employee is
to ensure more profitability for the company (Ameeq-ui-Ameeq & Harif, 2013). Kenneth
(2013) noted that some employers utilize training and development for equipping
employees. Training can include on the job or off-site training (Ameeq-ui-Ameeq &
Harif, 2013). Ameeq-ui-Ameeq and Harif (2013) also noted that employer who engages
in training and development will likely have a considerable amount of job satisfaction,
35
motivation, and job commitment. Furthermore, Kenneth (2013) posited that when
determining to stay or leave a company an employee often consider the amount of
training he will receive.
To retain qualified workers a company should have more consideration for the
relationship between employee turnover and training (Kenneth, 2013). To increase
employee’s retention, it is common for companies to offer company learning
opportunities, training and development, and tuition reimbursement (Laddha et al., 2012).
Garavan and Carbery (2012) defined training and development as formal learning and
support initiatives to develop employees. According to Salas, Tannenbaum, Kraiger, and
Smith-Jentshch (2012), U.S. Companies spend billions on training and development each
year. Many companies focus on training because training employees gives the company a
competitive advantage (Salas et al., 2012). Training often produces innovation and helps
companies reach its goal.
In contrast, Smith, Stokes and Wilson (2013) found that job satisfaction levels in
long-term employees does not relate to training and development of employees. In
additional, some employers have a different view of training and development as it
relates to employee turnover and retention (Kenneth, 2013). Many employers feel that if
given the opportunity for training and development, an employee feel that if given the
opportunity for training and development, an employee will leave the company (Kenneth,
2013).
Leadership. Holmes (2006) studied retention of IT professionals in higher
36
education found that 42% of participants identified IT management as the greatest factor
in retaining IT staff. Participants in Holmes study felt that IT management influences the
voluntary turnover of IT professionals. Participants in the study also felt that management
can work better to understand and value IT professionals. One participant stated that
senior IT leaders should examine their leadership philosophy and determine if that
philosophy aligns with the actions of that leader. According to Ghapanchi and Aurum
(2011) some factors influencing the turnover of IT professionals are within the control of
IT senior leaders, therefore, understanding and disabling these factors might be
significant for IT leaders in retaining IT professionals. Therefore, transformational
leadership may be a strategy that helps senior IT leaders retain IT professionals.
Transformational Leadership
Literature regarding transformational leadership theory is foundational in
leadership studies. Many scholars (Kuppusamy, Ganesan, & Rosada, 2010; Phipps,
Prieto, & Verma, 2012) have approached leadership through this lens. Bass (1985)
described transformational leaders as goal setters and encouragers who are supportive
and passionate. Moreover, Bass believed leaders with these traits show the ability to
change an organization and its employees. Furthermore, Bass also believed leaders
express leadership traits through four dimensions.
Transformational leadership has four dimensions: (a) idealized influence, which
refers to charisma or the ability to provide a clear vision, instill pride, and earn the respect
of followers; (b) inspirational motivation, the ability to communicate expectations and
37
significant undertakings through symbols and to motivate people; (c) intellectual
stimulation, the ability to foster creativity, promote understanding, and solve problems;
and (d) individual consideration, or taking a personal interest in people (Warrick, 2011).
Transformational leadership characteristics tend to be present when a leader displays
creativity, open-mindedness, courage, resilience, social intelligence, and fairness (Sosik
& Cameron, 2010).
Idealized influence. Idealized influence uses leadership characteristics such as
charisma, and models high ethical and moral behaviors when leading subordinates
(Sosik, Chun, Blair, & Fitzgerald, 2014). Idealized influence draws people and appeals to
the values and belief systems of followers; this process helps followers to honor
leadership (Kuppusamy et al., 2010). Idealized leadership causes the employee to connect
with, trust, and respect the leader (Syrek, Apostel, & Antoni, 2013). According to Tse,
Haung, and Lam (2013), idealized influences such as impersonal trust and support
between the employee and employers may lead to the employee staying with the
company.
Inspirational motivation. Inspirational motivation includes leadership traits that
inspire peers and subordinates to envision a desirable future and to create a better
tomorrow (Harper, 2012; Sosik & Cameron, 2010). Furthermore, leadership
characteristics of inspirational motivation encourage personal sacrifice for the greater
good of the team and impart expectations of excellence from followers (Sosik &
Cameron, 2010). Motivating leaders direct and engage their followers in such a way as to
38
inspire them (Resick, Whitman, Weingarden, & Hiller, 2009). Employees are inspired to
work hard because of inspirational motivation (Syrek et al., 2013). Through inspirational
motivation, transformational leaders can foster an alignment between the employee’s
personal interest and organizational interest, which facilitates a stronger employeremployee
relationship, which is beneficial in retaining key professionals (Wright,
Moynihan, & Pandey, 2012).
Intellectual stimulation. Leadership characteristics of intellectual stimulation
include encouraging employees to think creatively and solve problems (Syrek et al.,
2013). Decision making and creative reasoning are paramount leadership characteristics
associated with intellectual stimulation (Sosik et al., 2004). Through intellectual
stimulation, transformational leaders challenge assumptions and integrate viewpoints
from all employees prior to decision making (Sosik & Cameron, 2010). Intellectual
stimulation is a characteristic employers use when encouraging employees to push
beyond mediocrity and use creative, and is known to foster employee retention (Tse et
al., 2013; Tse & Mitchell, 2010).
Individual consideration. Coaching and mentorship are significant leadership
characteristics within individual consideration (Sosik & Cameron, 2010). By appreciating
diversity and serving employees selflessly, leaders encourage their followers (Sosik &
Cameron, 2010). Providing employees with personal attention is an essential leadership
characteristic in this category (Syrek et al., 2013). According to Hughes, Avery and
Nixon (2012), by ensuring personal consideration, leaders can influence the retention of
39
staff and build a strong relationship with the employee.
The leadership of an organization helps to shape an employee’s perception of the
organization (Aaron, 2006). Transformational leaders motivate, create a vision, and
influence the attitudes of followers (Fitzgerald & Schutte, 2010; Mohammed, Othman, &
Silva, 2012). Some researchers believe that transformational leadership increases intrinsic
motivation among staff (Aaron, 2006) and can reduce voluntary turnover (Peachey &
Burton, 2011). A study conducted across several industries concluded that
transformational leadership positively relates to subordinates’ job satisfaction (Peachey &
Burton, 2011). Raja (2012) confirmed transformational leadership correlates with career
satisfaction, which influences retention.
The presence of transformational leadership may increase an employee’s desire to
maintain employment as an IT professional. Leadership style is relevant because leaders
give direction and encourages employees to overcome barriers so as to accomplish goals
(Peachey & Burton, 2011) and can influence the retention of professionals. Because
leadership is connected to employee performance, work attitudes, and workplace
perceptions (Aaron, 2006), transformational leaders may provide a more stimulating
environment that stimulates retention.
Bass (1985) described transformational leaders as encouraging and supportive,
which thereby produces passionate followers. IT leaders may use transformational
leadership to create a more nurturing environment for IT professionals (Syrek et al.,
2013). Tse, Huang, and Lam (2013) studied transformational leadership and employee
40
turnover and explained that senior leaders influence voluntary turnover in the
organization.
Aaron (2006) and Wells and Peachey (2011) applied the concept of
transformational leadership in exploring employee turnover and retention strategies.
Syrek, Apostel, and Antoni (2013) who studied factors that influence retention such as
stress among IT professionals in Germany applied transformational leadership theory as a
lens to understand the phenomenon. Bennett (2009) also applied transformational
leadership in exploring factor leading to voluntary turnover such as employee burnout.
Raja (2012) explored whether transformational leadership influenced career satisfaction.
Abouelenein and Diala (2012) considered whether the use of a transformational
leadership style is a factor in retaining employees in IT professions in higher education.
In contrast, transformational leadership is different from transactional leadership.
Hargis, Watt, and Piotrowski (2011) stated transactional leaders identify what their
followers need and work to meet those needs, contingent upon certain objectives being
met. Transactional leaders have several leadership traits: (a) assisting followers in
establishing goals, (b) rewarding followers based on work efforts, and (c) responding to
followers only when it is mutually beneficial (Groves & LaRocca, 2011). Zhu, Sosik,
Riggio, and Yang (2012) argued that transactional leaders are less effective leaders than
their transformational counterparts are. Transactional leaders are more likely to be
controlling, inflexible, and detached from staff than transformational leaders (Groves &
LaRocca, 2011). The relationship between a transactional leader and the follower is
41
similar to an economic transaction (Harper, 2012). The transactional leader conveys an
all-about-business approach to leadership (Hargis et al., 2011). Followers of a
transactional leader are not motivated to engage beyond clearly predefined goals (Bryant,
2003). Hamstra, Van Yperen, Wisse, and Sassenberg (2011) indicated transactional
leadership places more emphasis on setting and accomplishing goals and less emphasis
on the needs, values, and perceptions of the follower than transactional leadership.
Therefore, transactional leadership may not be the best strategy to retaining IT
professionals.
Although some view transformational leadership as more effective than
transactional leadership, leaders use characteristics found in transactional leadership in
managing employees (Piccolo et al., 2012). In many organizations, ideal managers have
characteristics such as assertiveness and dominance (Kark, Waismel-Manor, & Shamir,
2012). Despite leadership style, Harris et al. (2011) indicated that organizational leaders
and leadership are required to retain skilled staff and capabilities and maximize
individual contribution to achieve organizational effectiveness and to sustain a
competitive advantage. Therefore, transformational leadership is beneficial to retaining
IT professional than other leadership styles (Syrek et al., 2013). Organizational culture
relates to leadership within an organization, according to Maran and Soro (2010).
Effelsberg, Solga, and Gurt (2014) offered critiques of transformational
leadership and believed that employee motivation that stems from transformational
leadership may be good for the company but not for greater good of society. Although
42
transactional leadership can influence retention and work for the good of the company,
however, it is unclear whether transformational leadership encourages the well-being of
society at large (Effelsberg et al., 2014). What may be good for the company may not be
good for the larger community (Effelsberg et al., 2014). According to Effelsberg et al.
(2014) employee loyalty, which stems from transformational leadership may, produces
practices such as false accounting, corruption although it might help to increase company
profits. Therefore, the unethical nature of these activities negatively influences the greater
society although the employee was loyal to the company (Effelsberg et al., 2014).
Organizational Culture in General Systems
General systems theory is an interdisciplinary exploration method connecting
daily experiences to social systems (Dominici & Levanti, 2011; Drack, 2009; Shannon,
2013). General systems provide a lens for understanding the wholeness of organization
systems (Kaine & Cowan, 2011) by emphasizing organized functions, including
management and leadership (Drack & Schwarz, 2010; Duek, Brodjonegoro, & Rusli,
2010). The driving idea behind system theory is the concept of system wholeness (Drack,
2009; Drack & Schwarz, 2010).
According to Wilson (2012), general systems theory focuses on whole
organizational systems with human beings, sociality, and technology working in sync to
ensure that organizations met their goals. A business organization is an integrated set of
subsystems, and each unit and function within the system works together to accomplish
the business’s organizational goals. Achieving organizational goals builds supporting
43
relationships and enhances the decision-making process (Wilson, 2012). A general
system within organizational culture is concerned with understanding the behavior of the
organization as a whole rather than on understanding the behaviors of individual
components (Kaine & Cowan, 2011).
General systems theory also provides a view of management principles and
strategies that apply to all organizations and serves as theoretic foundation for
management (Kast & Rosenzweig, 1972). General systems theory applies to leadership
and management (Walstrom, 2012). Dominici and Levanti (2011) argued that system
theory expands to business practices. Walstrom (2012) believed that organizations
leaders can apply system theory to organizational leadership and this theory can be
beneficial to understand leadership activities and concepts. Lichtenstein and Plowman
(2009) applied general systems to leadership practices by identifying communication and
organizational culture as part of the wholeness of business systems. Perry (2012) also
applied system theory to explore strategies small business owner implement to sustain
success. Previously, Porra, Hirschheim, and Parks (2007) associated this theory with IT
functions success factors. Shannon (2013) applied general systems to mitigating turnover
among marine recruits, which has some parallel to the retention of IT professionals.
Drack and Schwarz (2010) noted that systems theory provides organization
leaders with a valuable tool by expanding the perceptions of how different parts of a
system interact with and influences other components within the systems. By utilizing
system theory, researchers can explore the subsystem of retaining staff in view of the
44
whole function of organizational success. von Bertalanffy’s (1972) general systems
theory provides a theoretical lens for the phenomenon under exploration and is
appropriate to underpin the dynamics of retention strategies.
Sturmberg, Martin, & Katerndahl (2014) analyzed the general systems theory.
Sturmberg et al.(2014) found that factors such as complexity science, self-organizations,
emergence, dynamics in systems, science of network and evolution and adaptation were
all a part of systems theory. These factors create a broad perspective of general systems
theory, which is practical for developing retention strategies (Drack & Schwarz, 2010).
One key factor in general systems theory is evolution, which results in the development
of subsystems with new characteristics and dynamics (Sturmberg et al., 2014).
General systems theory is applicable to this study because it offers a theoretical
lens to interpret how retention strategies affects the organization as a whole and why
retaining skilled professionals interacts and influence organizational profitability and
competitiveness. The holistic perspective of general systems may explain organizational
activities and factors that affect turnover among IT professionals and suggest strategies
senior IT leader can use to retain IT professionals. Organizational culture is a subset of a
business organization general system
Managing organizational culture. Organizational culture is the means of
understanding human systems (Rai, 2011). Employees embrace organizational culture
through its values and ideas (Wood, 2009). Tipu, Ryan, and Fantazy (2012) characterized
organizational culture by the behaviors, ideas, values, and processes that an organization
45
utilizes to make decisions and transact business. All members of the group can share
characteristics of organizational culture (Kissack & Callahan, 2010). This culture of
philosophies, rituals, norms, and rules of the game plays a part in behavior and decision
making within organizations (Ghinea & Braionu, 2012). An organization’s sense of
togetherness derives from its culture (Wood, 2009), and the organization’s leaders
influence organizational culture and its workforce (McFarland, 2010).
Organizational culture is a factor in the retention of IT professionals, as well as in
determining how IT employees perceive their work environment and their fit in the IT
field (Guzman & Stanton, 2009). Catanzaro, Moore, and Marshall (2010) and Ghazzawi
(2010) believed organizational culture is a key factor in recruiting factors such as the
applicant’s decision whether to accept a job within an organization, and retaining factors
such as the length of time a person stays with the company once hired. A person’s
alignment with the organizational culture indicates how well that person will fit within
the organization (Bishop, 2012). A person’s alignment with the business may also be an
important explanatory factor of the retention of professionals in the IT (Ladelsky &
Catana, 2013).
Furthermore, an emphasis on hierarchical relationships is more prominent in
competitive than in supportive organizational cultures. Most U.S. corporations have a
competitive organizational culture, and the IT industry specifically is a driven
environment (Catanzaro et al., 2010). Leaders of organizations with a competitive culture
often display characteristics such as competitiveness, dominance, and aggression.
46
Although many organizations have competitive organizational cultures, many
organizations are working to identify strategies to balance the professional and personal
needs of IT professionals in the field (Laddha et al., 2012). This strategy may be useful in
retaining IT professionals.
The relationship between organizational culture and stress is complex, according
to Gladies and Kennedy (2011) whose study of organizational culture and its impact on
IT professionals found a relationship between the IT work environment and stress.
McKnight et al. (2009) found that workplace factors play a critical role in retaining IT
professionals. McKnight et al. (2009) study also suggests that IT leaders may influence
workplace factors. Furthermore, a study by Chou and Person (2012) revealed that IT
professionals might cope with the stress associated by the IT work environment by
involuntary leaving IT organizations.
Transition and Summary
IT professionals continue to make a significant impact on business organization’s
productivity and profitability (Coombs, 2009; Kim, 2012). Bennett (2009) defined IT
professionals as computer programmers, computer analyst, network engineers, and
developers. Due to the global dependence on technology, there is an increasing demand
for IT professional (U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2014). The U.S Bureau of Labor
Statistics (2014) noted that the IT demand for IT professionals is growing faster than all
other sectors. In fact, by 2018, the United States will need to fill 1.4 million IT positions
to maintain competitiveness (Ashcraft & Blithe, 2009). The impending retirement of
47
baby boomers further escalates the need for business organizational to retain critical IT
professionals (Trauth, Quesberry, & Huang, 2009).
Despite the demand for IT professionals, senior IT leaders continue to face
challenges in retaining IT professionals, which hinders the profitability, productivity, and
the competitiveness of U.S. business organizations. Previous research provides clues to
the nature of these challenges including job dissatisfaction in the work environment and
the constantly changing environment of IT, which warrants the need for senior IT leaders
to use retention strategies to retain IT professionals. Retention strategies uncovered by
this literature review includes a compensation, reward and recognition, work life balance,
opportunities for development and training, quality of leaders, and organizational culture.
Having an understanding of these strategies may contribute toward the
development of effective strategies for retaining critical IT professionals. Several
researchers (Kim, 2012; Von Hagel & Miller, 2011) studied retention strategies for
retaining IT professionals to understand the phenomenon. These researchers confirmed
the need for retention strategies for retaining IT professionals.
Senior IT leaders may explore retention strategies through the viewpoints of
transformational leadership and general systems theory. For the proposed exploratory
qualitative case study, Bass’ transformational leadership theory and von Bertalanffy’s
general systems theory will provide a theoretical framework. Both frameworks offer
insights as to the strategies contributing to retaining IT professionals and the leadership
characteristics of senior IT leaders, and may influence the retention of IT professionals.
48
Retaining IT professionals in an organization often depends upon the culture of
that organization. Transformational leadership may be a way to build an organizational
culture more amenable to IT professionals and thus encouraging more IT professionals to
stay in the IT workforce. Transformational leadership, as well as von Bertalanffy general
systems theory, helps researchers understand the most effective strategies senior IT
leaders are using to retain IT professionals. von Bertalanffy’s general systems theory
elucidates how retentions strategies are a subcomponent of a whole system that interacts
to retain skill IT professionals in the workforce and maintain competitive advantage,
profitability and organizational success. Both von Bertalanffy’s and Bass’s theories are
useful in understanding the strategies senior IT leaders using to retain IT professionals.
49
Section 2: The Project
The focus of this exploratory qualitative case study is to understand the strategies
senior IT leaders need to retain IT professionals. I collected data from IT professionals
currently serving in senior level IT leadership positions using semistructured interviews. I
also collected data through the review of corporate documents such as exit interviews,
and the company’s human resource policies. Understanding the retention strategies senior
IT leaders demonstrate may assist in retaining IT professionals, resulting in more IT
professionals deciding to continue employment in IT organizations. Section two of this
study covers (a) the restatement of the purpose, (b) the role of the researcher, (c) research
participants, (d) research method and design, (e) population and sampling, (f) ethical
research, (g) data collection instruments, (h) data collection techniques, (i) data
organization techniques, and (j) reliability and validity of the study. Section three will
present the findings of the study.
Purpose Statement
The purpose of this qualitative exploratory single case study was to explore what
strategies do some company leaders need to retain IT professionals. The population for
this study included two or more senior IT leaders with hiring supervising responsibility
from a mid-sized utility company in metropolitan Atlanta, Georgia. Senior IT leaders
participated in semistructured interviews because these leaders are most suited to identify
the strategies leaders need to retain professionals. I also reviewed company documents to
discover information regarding retention strategies to triangulate the data (Walshe, 2011).
50
The implications for positive social change include the potential to impact business
practices by contributing new knowledge for use by business leaders looking to retain
skilled IT professionals by developing creative strategies to retain skilled IT
professionals.
Role of the Researcher
I served the primary data collection instrument. I collected data in a trustworthy
manner and mitigate bias (Chenail, 2011; Smit, 2012). I am familiar with the topic of this
study because I am an executive leader in IT with experience in retaining IT
professionals. I conducted the doctoral study in the metropolitan area where I live, but not
in my own backyard, which is conducting research at my own place of employment.
Avoiding backyard research is critical to the integrity of data collected (Coupal, 2005).
In order to mitigate bias, a researcher should identify the bias and engage in
bracketing or the process of exposing bias that cannot readily be eliminated (Wilson &
Washington, 2007). Oftentimes it is difficult for researchers to understand the vantage
point of other individuals (Richardson & Adams St. Pierre, 2008). However, as
researchers identifies their personal viewpoint and accepts their personal bias they can
better understand the viewpoint of others (Fields & Kafai, 2009; Marshall & Rossman,
2011). To enhance each interview session, I used an appropriate interview procedure that
applied to all the research participants (Turner, 2010). I preserved all ethical standards
throughout the study by adhering to the protocols set forth in the Belmont Report (Bird,
2010; Ross et al., 2010).
51
Participants
A researcher may conduct a qualitative study using a single unit with multiple
participants within the same setting (Yin, 2011a). Therefore, I conducted research on a
single mid- size utility company in metropolitan Atlanta, Georgia. Prior to commencing
the study, I obtained written permission from the research site. The IT department of the
utility company included two senior IT leaders and eight IT professionals. This study
included a purposeful sample of senior IT leaders. I selected participants who have
experiences of serving as senior IT leaders with hiring responsibilities using leadership
qualities who are successful in retaining IT professional staff. The criteria for senior IT
leadership with retention success are that these senior IT leaders have supervisory
responsibility for at least two IT professionals, without any voluntary turnover within one
year of the commencing of the interview. Senior IT leaders who met these criteria are
eligible to participate in the study. Chief information officer (CIO), chief technology
officer (CTO), vice president, senior vice president, directors and assistant directors or
the equivalent meetings these requirements will be eligible to participate in the study.
Prospective participants received an invitation to participate via e-mail.
Participants then signed an informed consent forms that I will retrieved in person
indicating their agreement to participate. A sample consent form is located in Appendix
A. All documents are securely stored for five years on a password-protected flash drive in
a locked storage cabinet. Once IRB approved the research proposal, I commenced the
study.
52
I selected participants through purposeful sampling. A desirable sample size is
smaller in qualitative research than in quantitative research regarding five to 50
participants as an adequate sample size in qualitative study (Dworkin, 2012). A sample
size of one is within the adequate range for a qualitative case study (Sandelowski, 1995).
To ensure there is enough data to analyze, I interviewed all senior IT leaders within the
research company so that I could receive data saturation (Guest, Bunce, & Johnson,
2006).
I gained access to participants from the recommendations of the human resources
coordinator of the company. I obtained the contact information of potential participants
from the HR coordinator and reviewed the company’s website to obtain contact
information. I employed professional networking by accessing the company’s contacts on
LinkedIn and or through Google if I cannot retrieve that information from the company’s
officials.
Adequate ethical research involves obtaining the permission of a research ethics
board (REB) and ensuring compliance with principles such as confidentiality, autonomy,
and respect for participants (Aluwihare-Samaranayake, 2012). Through the requirements
outlined by the Walden University Institutional Review Board (IRB), I followed a
process designed to ensure adequate ethical protection of participants. Research
participants had a full understanding of the research process and their rights as a
participant. This was achieved by informing all participants of their rights through the
informed consent form (Aluwihare-Samaranayake, 2012; see Appendix A), which details
53
the scope of research to participants and asked them to provide their signature as
evidence of their willingness to participate in the study. I assigned the participants
alphanumeric codes from P1 to P5 to conceal participant identities. In addition, I assigned
the company a fictional name to mask the organization’s identity. In addition, I stored
signed informed consent forms, interview recordings and transcriptions, and company
documents in a locked storage cabinet on a password-protected flash drive for five years
to ensure that no one except me have access to confidential data. After five years of
retaining the data I collected and analyzed, I will destroy the password protected flash
drive.
Building a working relationship with participants is essential to successful
qualitative research (Swauger, 2011). I was clear about my intentions, principles, and
position when establishing a working relationship with participants (Swauger, 2011), I
did not use power to control the participants and worked to ensure that the participant felt
comfortable withdrawing from the research study at any point in the research process. I
also employed an ethic-of-care approach as described by Swauger (2011), which involves
intentionally connecting with participants through consistent communication and
maintaining principles of the researcher’s responsibility to the participants. I established a
working relationship with the participants through consistent communication by phone
and email once a subject has agreed to participate in the study.
Research Method and Design
When selecting a research method, the investigator can identify the most effective
54
method for achieving the goals of the study and answering research questions (Hayes,
Bonner, & Douglas, 2013). The focus of this study was to explore, from the perspective
of senior IT leaders, the strategies that IT leaders need to retain IT professionals. There is
a need for retention strategies in IT organizations (Cha & Quan, 2011; Chauhan & Patel,
2013; Demaiter & Adams, 2009; Ford et al., 2013); however, research regarding effective
retention strategies that senior IT leaders need to be successful is not widely available. To
understand the experiences of those currently in senior IT leadership positions, I utilized
a qualitative exploratory single case study.
Method
Qualitative research aligns with an examination of the dynamics relating to
retaining skilled IT professionals, because it allows participants to express their
perceptions of the phenomenon in their own words (Coenen, Stamm, Stucki, & Cieza,
2012). Qualitative researchers explore a person’s behavior in a descriptive way.
Providing insight into what the person has experienced is the essence of this research
method (Kramer-Kile, 2012). Qualitative exploration focuses on the meaning of the
participants’ perspectives and collects data through participant dialogue (Wisdom,
Cavaleri, Onwuegbuzie, & Green, 2012). Qualitative research is ideal for asking how
instead of how many, which is the focus of quantitative research (Pratt, 2009). Von Hagel
and Miller, (2011) who studied retention of IT professionals used the qualitative method,
which justifies the use of a qualitative research method for this study. Through qualitative
research, researchers can collect data from the viewpoint of the participant (Brod, Tesler,
55
& Christenson, 2009) in the form of interviews, conversations, or observations (Borrego,
Douglas, & Amelink, 2009). For this reason, a qualitative research method was best for
this study.
Qualitative research was most appropriate for the study because of the differences
between qualitative and quantitative research methods. The goals of the two research
methods are not the same (Barnham, 2012). Quantitative research uses numerical data to
prove or disapprove a hypothesis (Hoare & Hoe, 2012, 2013). The quantitative research
method is suitable for testing hypotheses through measurement of specific variables
(Borrego et al., 2009).
I considered a mixed-method approach for this study. Mixed-methods researchers
use a combination of both qualitative and quantitative methods (Hayes et al., 2013). This
is an appropriate approach when neither a quantitative nor a qualitative approach is
sufficient by itself to comprehend the research topic, or when research requires one
method to inform or clarify another (Wisdom et al., 2012). A mixed-method study
includes using quantitative data (Wisdom et al., 2012). My intent, however, was to
understand what strategies senior IT leaders need to retain IT professionals. Thus, neither
a solely quantitative nor a mixed-method approach was appropriate for this study because
the qualitative research method alone was a sufficient data collection method to complete
the purpose of this study.
Research Design
The research questions drive the research design (Borrego et al., 2009), which
56
aims to answer questions of what or how in qualitative research. The nature of a case
study inquiry is specifically suited for addressing research questions that require an
exhaustive understanding of social or organizational processes (Moll, 2012). Case study
researchers also explore events and programs over a prolonged period. Furthermore, case
study research is most suitable when one is conducting evaluations, studying the
phenomenon in a natural setting, or determining what happened or why it happened (Yin,
2011a; 2013). A case study approach provides an opportunity for exploration of the
issues with context of work, which was the intent of this proposal study (Moll, 2012).
The benefit of a case study is the opportunity investigators have to get close to the
individuals and interactions in a day-to-day practice (Moll, 2012). Therefore, case studies
are common for research design in business (Yin, 2009). For this reason, I selected a case
study inquiry for the study. A few researchers (Mohlala et al., 2012; Tay, 2010) used this
approach to examine retention strategies or human resources practices. Qualitative
researchers conduct research through other research designs (Wilson, 2012).
Qualitative researchers can also conduct research through a phenomenological
approach, grounded theory, and ethnographic design. I considered each qualitative
design’s appropriateness and found the case study inquiry the most appropriate for this
study because this study sought out to explore the retention program for IT professionals.
I considered a phenomenological research method for this research study because through
phenomenological research the researcher can capture the experiences of individuals
from their perspectives and uncover themes that challenge structural or normative
57
assumptions (Tirgari, 2012). Although using phenomenology is suitable when the
purpose is to understand an lived experience (Hanson et al., 2011), the phenomenology
design was not the most appropriate method to explore an program such as a retention
strategy program in its nature environment, which was the intent of this study. Grounded
theory was not an appropriate research design as well because the primary goal of a
grounded theory design is to develop a theory from data collection (Zarif, 2012).
Grounded theory allows researchers to develop theory based on interactions with
a large number of people (Zarif, 2012). In this approach, data that the researcher collects
grounds a developing theory by exploring the actions and social interactions of
participants (Zarif, 2012). The primary goal of the present study was not to systemically
develop theory, but rather to explore the experiences of senior IT leaders (Moll, 2012).
Researchers should use grounded theory design when developing a theory (Hanson et al.,
2011). For this reason, the grounded theory approach was not the most appropriate for
this study.
Ethnographic researchers study cultural groups in a natural environment over a
prolonged time frame (Wilson, 2012). This research design requires researchers to
become a part of the cultural group in order to study people of that culture (Boddy, 2011).
Boddy (2011) also described ethnographic research as the comprehensive evaluation of
individuals in a routine manner, which requires ongoing participant observation for data
collection. Ethnographic research can be time-consuming and expensive (Boddy, 2011).
The focus of ethnographic research is not to understand the phenomenon from the
58
viewpoint of the participants, but to understand the behaviors of a culture. For this
reason, ethnography was not the most appropriate method for this study.
Population and Sampling
The population for the study was senior IT leaders within a mid-sized utility
company in metropolitan Atlanta, Georgia. An exploratory single-case study is an
appropriate design if participants are representatives within the same setting (Yin, 2009).
A researcher can utilize purposeful snowball sampling for case study interviews (Suri,
2011). Sample sizes for qualitative explorations are much smaller than those used in
quantitative studies (Mason, 2010), furthermore, data for a case study may come from
various sources including documents, interviews, direct observations, and participant
observations (Yin, 2009), which deters the need for a large sample size.
I selected a sample of senior leaders in IT for this study, due to their success of
implementing retention strategies in IT organizations. Senior leaders in IT include the
positions of CIO, CTO, vice president, senior vice president, directors, assistant directors,
senior application developer, and senior project manager (Alimo-Metcalfe, 2010). The
participants from a mid-sized utility company in metropolitan Atlanta, Georgia will
include an IT director and an IT supervisor. Senior IT leaders could also oversee
departments, subordinates, and budgets.
Eligible participants must meet the following criteria for inclusion in the study:
they must currently hold a senior IT leadership position in the mid-sized utility company
in metropolitan Atlanta, Georgia with supervisory responsible for a least two IT
59
professionals. A senior IT leader is successful in retraining staff if that leader does not
have a voluntary turnover in the past year of the date that the study will commence.
Leaders who did not meet all of these parameters were not eligible to participate in the
study. Through the signed consent form, I ensured that all participants meet these
requirements.
I selected participants through purposeful sampling. Richardson (2009) described
purposeful snowball or typical case sampling as a nonprobability sampling technique that
is most effective when researchers need to understand participants’ perspectives.
Purposeful sampling allows researchers to intentionally sample a group of people who
have the best information about the problem under investigation (Walker, 2012).
Purposeful sampling is appropriate for qualitative research such as case studies, which
justified a purposeful sample for this study (Draper & Swift, 2011).
Moreover, saturation determines the purposeful sample size (Walker, 2012). An
appropriate sample size is one that is adequate to address the research question but not
too big that the amount of data disallows in-depth analyses (Sandelowski, 1995). In
addition, the number of participants required to achieve saturation in a qualitative study
could range from five to 50 (Dworkin, 2012). Guest et al. (2006) demonstrated that
saturation may be achieved within the first six interviews. A researcher’s work attains
data saturation when no new data is collected, no new themes emerge, and there is
enough information to replicate the study (Guest et al., 2006). Overall, the research
justified a small sample size of participants for this study. I collected data by interviewing
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the participants in an appropriate interview setting.
The interview setting offered a comfortable and nonthreatening environment,
enabling participants to be open and honest about their personal experiences (Wilson &
Washington, 2007). I held interviews at the participants’ convenience (Javalgi, Granot, &
Alejandro, 2011). I conducted face-to-face interviews at public places such as public
libraries or other comfortable locations the participant and I agrees upon. I could have
also conduct face to face interviews are the research site’s headquarters, which eliminates
the requirement for the researcher or participant to travel (Knox & Burkard, 2009) and
enables the participant to be wherever he or she feels most comfortable. I asked
participants to select a setting that minimizes interruptions. I will schedule interviews for
a period of 60 minutes.
Ethical Research
For ethical protection of research participants, I sought the permission of the
Walden University IRB prior to commencing research. Upon selecting a prospective
research site and participants, I obtained the permission of the study site to complete the
study with that company. Once the business granted me permission to complete the
study, and after the IRB granted me the permission to commence the study, I sent a
participation inquiry to those who meet the criteria for participation in the study. I
presented in person an informed consent form to those who agree to participate. I also
noted the assurance of confidentiality and detailed the intent of the study in the consent
form. I asked participants to sign the form to indicate their voluntary willingness to
61
participate in the study (see Appendix A). I informed participants in person of their right
to withdraw from the study at any point in the research process. As I stated in the consent
form, participants could withdraw from the study verbally or in writing without penalty. I
did not offer any incentive for participation in the study to avoid coercion. As a
researcher, I worked to ensure the confidentiality of participants as a fundamental guide
in ethical research (Fein & Kulik, 2011).
To guarantee confidentiality and privacy, I masked the names of participants and
the research organizations to maintain confidentiality. I used a unique fictional company
name to conceal the identity of the mid-sized utility company. I labeled that company
name as XYZ Company and Participant 1 and Participant 2 to ensure confidentiality and
privacy. I stored signed informed consent forms and interview recordings in a locked
storage cabinet on a password-protected flash drive. I will store the password protected
flash drive for five years. After the five years, I will destroy all consent forms, interviews
recording, and transcribed data by wiping and burning the password protected flash drive.
Data Collection
Qualitative case study researchers often use interviews to collect data interviews
(Yin, 2009). I augmented data collected from interviewing with company documents and
or archival records to ensure methodological triangulation (Yin, 2009). Prior to data
collection, I obtained IRB approval and a signed informed consent from each participant
and permission from a mid-sized utility business in metropolitan Atlanta, Georgia to
obtain data. I analyzed data from interviews according to Yin (2011b).
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Instruments
As the researcher, I was the primary data collection instrument. I used a
semistructured interview instrument for data collection. Each interview consisted of nine
open-ended interview questions covering the participant’s experience and perception of
strategies senior IT leaders need to retain IT professionals (see Appendix B). I adopted
several interview questions with permission from Shannon (2013) who sought to uncover
the perceptions and lived experiences of successful Marine Corps recruiters in mitigating
attrition at 15 different recruiting substations across Georgia (p. 5). Interview questions 1-
6 and 8 related to von Bertalanffy (1972) general systems theory and interview questions
7 and 9 related to Bass’ transformational leadership theory. In addition, company’s
documents, archival records data and other external sources such as business magazines,
sector sources and internet web site will compliment semistructured interviews for data
collection. Both Pettinao (2010) and Yin (2009) recommended triangulating interview
data with other data sources.
The goal of this instrument was to measure perceptions and ideas about the
retention strategies needed in order to retain IT professionals in IT organizations. The
central research question directed the interview questions of the study and by answering
the interview questions; participants described their experience of implementing and
practicing retention strategies. I ensured the research instrument was reliable before
implementing a full study.
Prior to commencing the study and after IRB approval, I encouraged potential
63
participants to become part of the study by emailing them a consent form describing the
study (see Appendix A). I scheduled face-to-face interviews. Each interview lasted 30-60
minutes. Those who agreed to participate signed an informed consent form that I
collected in person from each participant. Once I answered any questions or concerns the
participants signed and returned the informed consent form,
To ensure the reliability of the instrument, I utilized the expert validation strategy,
which is presenting the interview questions to experts for their views on the instrument as
recommended by Ekekwe (2013). I selected expert researchers with previous research
experience on retention in IT, including Berrios-Ortiz (2012). To further address
reliability of the instrument, I used strategies mentioned in the section regarding validity.
See the Appendix for transcribed interview data.
Data Collection Technique
Qualitative researchers collect data through transcribed interviews (Machtmes et
al., 2009; Nicholls, 2009). I conducted semistructured interviews in this study following
an interview protocol. I scheduled semistructured interviews for a time, date, and
location that both the participant and I can agree upon. I used public meeting spaces such
as private rooms in libraries as locations for semistructured interviews. I arranged
semistructured face-to-face interviews at specific dates and times convenient to the
participant. Each interview lasted 30-60 minutes.
In addition to in-depth interviews, I augmented data collected from the interview
with other company data. Document and archival records data were useful as I studied
64
company’s documents and other external sources such as business magazines, sector
sources and internet web site as recommended by Pettinao (2010). Case study research
allows for collecting data from several data sources such including interviews (Yin,
2009).
I took notes on the nonverbal expressions and key comments during each
interview in addition to audiotaping. For successful data collection and an interview
protocol, I employed the following techniques suggested by Turner (2010), as well as
testing the instrument prior to the interview. Turner (2010) noted that reviewing the
recorder occasionally to ensure that the device is working, asking the participant only one
question at a time, maintaining neutral expressions during interviewing, avoiding
expressing emotions during note taking so as not to influence answers, informing the
interviewee when it is time to move to another question, and maintaining control of the
interview to avoid running out of time as a method to ensure a successful interview.
Upon receiving approval from the Walden University IRB, I used the following
process to conduct the proposed study. I requested and received permission to conduct
research study from Walden University IRB. I gathered contact information of potential
participants. I made initial contact with potential study participants and introduced the
informed consent form. I followed-up with potential study participants and clarified any
questions about the informed consent form. I retrieved in person a signed informed
consent form indicating the study participants’ voluntary agreement to participate in the
study. I scheduled interviews with the study participants. At the beginning of each
65
interview, I reiterated the study participant rights from the informed consent. I collected
data face-to-face or by telephone and import data into Nvivo 10. Prior to importing
textual transcripts into a Microsoft Word and commencing the process of data analysis, I
sent the interview data back to the participants to verify the accuracy of the data through
a process of member checking as suggested by Loiselle et al. (2010). If the participant
wanted to make changes to the transcript, I kept the transcript as originally written and I
made notes regarding how the participant changed the response. I analyzed data
according to Yin (2011b), who recommended compiling the data, disassembling the data,
reassembling the data, interpreting the meaning of the data, and concluding the meaning
of the data (Yin, 2011b).
Data Organization Techniques
A researcher can achieve confidentiality and anonymity of each participant by
assigning generic codes to each participant (Gibson, Benson, & Brand, 2013). For this
study, I used alphanumeric codes to mask the participant’s identities. I gained permission
to audio record the interview through the signed content form. I assigned each participant
an identifying number ranging from 1 to 2 or greater if needed, preceded by the letter P
(for participant). I audiotaped the interviews with the content of the participant.
Furthermore, I inserted the transcribed audiotaped interviews verbatim into a Microsoft
Word document. I kept folders containing the transcribed interview and written records
for each study participant (Jacob & Furgerson, 2012). I used the NVivo 10 software to
input and store data for coding and exploration of themes while maintaining the
66
confidentiality of research participants.
I stored confidential data to ensure participants’ protection as recommended by
Fein and Kulik (2011). Therefore, I stored data on a password-protected flash drive in a
locked storage cabinet, and I will keep data for a period of 5 years. After that time, I will
shred paper notes and destroy the flash drive.
Data Analysis Technique
Qualitative researchers can to ask open-ended interview questions to collect data
and explore meanings within the study (Wilson, 2012). Through the establishment of an
interview protocol, I asked each participant the interview questions listed in Appendix B
and below.
Demographic Questions
1. How many years have you served in senior IT leadership?
2. What is the total number of employees in your company?
3. In the last two years, how many IT professionals have voluntary resigned
from your department?
4. What was your area of service?
5. How many direct and indirect (reports) employees are you responsible for
leading?
6. What is the average tenure of IT professionals in your
organization/department?
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Interview Questions
1. What strategies do you use to retain IT professionals?
2. What are the critical factors you use to retain IT professionals?
3. What retention strategies do you use to retain IT professionals in your IT
organization?
4. What strategies do you use that are least effective in retaining IT professionals
in the IT organizations?
5. What strategies do you use that are most effective in retaining IT
professionals?
6. What other strategies and leadership characteristics do you use that are
beneficial in retaining IT professionals?
7. In your experience, what barriers prohibit retention strategies from being
successful?
8. What other information would you like to provide that we have not addressed
already?
In addition to data collected from face to face interviews methodological
triangulation of other data sources such as data collected from company documents,
achieve record augmented interview data (Walshe, 2011). The purpose of my data
analysis was to uncover themes that answered the central research question. The most
significant step in qualitative research is the process of data analysis (Onwuegbuzie &
Leech, 2006). In this case, data analysis provided a framework to understand the retention
68
strategies that senior IT leaders need to retain IT professionals in IT organizations.
After I collected data, I analyzed the data. Data analysis involves working through
data to discover meaningful themes, patterns, and descriptions that answer the central
research questions of the study (Yin, 2011a). Initially, I organized the collected data in a
category, relating to retention strategies. I selected the initial categories deriving from the
findings from the literature review. For strategies, I used categories such as the
compensation and benefits, opportunities for promotion, training and development, workfamily
balance and flexible schedules, management relationships, and managing
organizational culture. For leadership qualities, I used motivation, creativity, relational,
consideration for others, supportiveness, coaching, encouraging, inspirational, charisma,
visionary, self-confidence, and decision-making. Although these classifications were an
idea of what categories was; however, data collected was the true dictator the categories.
Other categories may emerge as I analyze the data. If new information did not fit the
initial categories but emerged during subsequent interviews, I established additional
categories and reviewed previous interviews for information that I should have included
in the new category. This approach identified and highlighted the strategies that senior IT
leader need to retain IT professionals, which may reduce turnover. I analyzed data using
the Yin’s data analysis method (Yin, 2011b). This process included the following five
steps: (a) compiling the data; (b) disassembling the data; (c) reassembling the data; (d)
interpreting the meaning of the data, and (e) concluding the data (Yin, 2011b). Buchanan
(2013) used this method for data analysis for qualitative single-case studies and
69
confirmed its appropriateness.
I imported textual transcripts into NVivo 10 from Microsoft Word. After this
process, I compiled the data. Compiling is the process of organizing the data (Yin,
2011b). After compiling the data, I begun disassembling the data. Disassembling the data
involves a formal procedure of coding data (Yin, 2011b). Coding is the process of
tagging segmented data with category names or descriptive words and then grouping the
data (Wilson, 2012). Coding of data is essential in identifying patterns and themes (Smit,
2012). I used the auto-coding feature in the NVivo 10 software to identify similarities in
data and prevalent themes, thereby observing consistencies among the perspectives of
participants.
Once I dissembled the data, I begun the process of reassembling the data.
Reassembling is the data analysis process involving considering the data under several
arrangements until emerging themes are satisfactory (Yin, 2011b). Successful
reassembling is evident in the emergence of themes in data analysis (Yin, 2011b). The
next step of data analyzing was interpreting the meaning of the data (Yin, 2011b).
Interpreting the meaning of the data is the process of making sense of the data (Turner,
2010). Interpreting the data involves the researcher giving their own meaning to the data
(Yin, 2011b). The researcher’s ability to understand and describe the data is critical
during data interpreting (Carcary, 2011). The final step in the data analysis was
concluding the data (Yin, 2011b). Concluding is the development of a sequence of
statements noting the findings of a study from the viewpoint of a larger set of ideas
70
(Buchanan, 2013; Yin, 2011b). Concluding themes and patterns deriving from the central
research question was fundamental in understanding the findings of a qualitative research
study (Yin, 2011b).
Researchers can use data analysis software for creating themes (Garrett-Howard,
2012). NVivo 10 software allowed me to input, storage, code, and explore themes and
patterns. The Nvivo 10 software was suitable for identifying themes (Garrett-Howard,
2012). Advantages of using NVivo 10 included the ability to keep data in a single
location with easy access to information and the ability to use a continuous coding
scheme (Bergin, 2011). Utilizing NVivo increased the rigor in qualitative research (Leech
& Onwuegbuzie, 2011). The NVivo software helped me in aligning the collected data
with previous literature (Garrett-Howard, 2012).
The conceptual framework is the connection between the literature, methodology,
and results of the study (Borrego, Foster, & Froyd, 2014). I analyzed data in view of
Bass’ transformational leadership theory and von Bertalanffy’s general systems theory. I
used these frameworks to help me in interpreting the meaning of data collected. By
examining retention strategies through the lens of von Bertalanffy’s theory and Bass’
theory, I compared the data collected with established theories relevant to the
phenomenon. I also used member checking to verify data. I measured data by the
frequency of recurring themes found in the data and compared my findings to previous
studies such as those of Von Hagel and Miller (2011) to validate the findings.
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Reliability and Validity
Reliability
In qualitative research, validity refers to the credibility of the findings (Yildirim,
2010). A researcher achieves credibility when research data provides a rich, thick
description, or is the in-depth, detailed articulation of the meanings of data in order to
understand the phenomenon under investigation (Tracy, 2010). Demonstrating reliability
and validity confirms that a study has suitable rigor (Morse, Barrett, Mayan, Olson, &
Spiers, 2002). A qualitative researcher uses various strategies to achieve reliability and
validity.
Reliability is the ability and the assurance for a researcher to replicate a previous
study and get similar results given that the research settings are similar (Ali & Yusof,
2011; Grossoehme, 2014). One way a researcher can demonstrate reliability is to
document research procedures during the process in a research journal (Grossoehme,
2014). To ensure reliability, I documented the sequences of the process through the
stages of data collection, analysis and interpretation (Ali & Yusof, 2011). In addition, by
explaining the procedural structure and strategies used in the study, unfolding the basis
for participant selection, understanding the researcher roles in the study and the
relationship the researcher has with the participants, the researcher ensured reliability (Ali
& Yusof, 2011). Furthermore, the researcher documented the analysis process and
procedural approach for producing the data as suggested by Ali and Yusof (2011).
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Validity
Validity in research is dependent upon the trustworthiness and the experience of
the researcher (Thomas & Magilvy, 2011). In qualitative research, credibility is the
corresponding term to validity in quantitative research (Charleston, 2012; Hodges, 2011).
Validity relates to the accuracy of the findings (Thomas & Magilvy, 2011). To achieve
internal validity, an investigator should review data for similarities among participants
(Thomas & Magilvy, 2011). Qualitative researchers can use validation procedures for
documentation of accuracy (Hanson et al., 2011). Thomas and Magilvy (2011) suggested
that researchers use various strategies in achieving both internal and external validity.
Since the case study research design has a foundation in collecting data from
multiple sources, methodological triangulation of data sources was a principle strategy
supporting the principles of case study research (Baxter & Jack, 2008) and validity.
Methodological triangulation improves the validity of a case study (Yin, 2013).
Therefore, strategies to establish validity for a case study included using several sources
of evidence, maintaining a link between evidence, and by member checking (Amerson,
2011).
I employed the following strategies to achieve internal and external validity
(Thomas & Magilvy, 2011). I used member checking, or presenting the preliminary
findings and interpretations to participants to check for accuracy and ensured that I have
captured the meaning of what the participant said. Member checking is the most valuable
way to confirm the credibility of the study (Loiselle et al., 2010). Furthermore, I also
73
used peer debriefing, or an external evaluation of the research process by advisors or
peers, ensuring honest analysis of the method and data interpretation (Morse et al., 2002).
To achieve an honest examination for achieving validity, I submitted the proposed study
for review by a doctoral study committee including a professional methodologist to
ensure a proper peer evaluation and debriefing. In addition, I also used detailed
description to document the research process in detail with transparency, allowing other
researchers to replicate it (Roulston, 2010). Furthermore, interview techniques such as
utilizing detailed and organized interview questions, enabled me to probe interviewees
for comprehensive responses (Hanson et al., 2011). Methodological triangulation
provided confirmation of similarities found in different data collection sources
(Houghton, Casey, Shaw, & Murphy, 2013; Walshe, 2011).
Transition and Summary
The purpose of this qualitative exploratory case study using Yin’s (2011b)
analysis process was to understand retention strategies that senior IT leaders need to
retain IT professionals. I utilized semistructured, audiotaped interviews to collect data
and explored the strategies and personal perceptions of the participants. In addition, I
triangulated the data I collect with a review of company documents. I used a purposeful
snowball sampling technique to select IT professionals serving in senior IT leadership
positions in a mid-size utility company in metropolitan Atlanta, Georgia. Prior to data
collection, I obtained permission from the Walden University IRB to commence the
study. I also collected data using face-to-face interviews, recorded, and transcribed the
74
data verbatim. Once transcribed, I loaded the data into NVivo 10 qualitative software to
identify emerging themes and patterns within the study.
In section two, I discussed the research methodology, purpose statement, role of
the researcher, participants and sample size, research method and design, data collection
and analysis, and testing the reliability and validity of the data collected. In section three,
I will include (a) the presentation of findings, (b) applications to professional practice, (c)
implications for social change, (d) recommendations for action, and (e) future study.
Finally, I will end section 3 with a summary and conclusions.
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Section 3: Application to Professional Practice and Implications for Change
Section 3 provides the finding of the research study. In addition, section three
includes an (a) overview of the study, (b) presentation of the findings, (c) application to
professional practice, (d) implication for social change, (e) recommendation for actions,
(f) recommendations for further study, (g) reflections, and (h) summary and study
conclusion. I presented the findings of the study by main themes.
Overview of Study
The purpose of this qualitative exploratory case study was to investigate the
strategies senior IT leaders need to retain IT professionals. I conducted semistructured
interviews with senior IT leaders in a mid-sized utility company in metropolitan Atlanta,
Georgia to obtain data and to answer the following research question: What strategies do
company leaders need to retain IT professionals. I qualified each participant based on
their experience of retaining IT professionals. Interviews took place in an environment
where participants could feel comfortable with providing detailed responses to answer
each semistructured interview question. Participants responded to six demographic
questions and eight semistructured interview questions (see Appendix B) that indicated
the strategies used by some managers to retain IT professionals. The results from
interview questions showed comprehensive responses from each participant (Marshall,
Cardon, Poddar, & Fonenot, 2013; Marshall & Rossman, 2011). A review of company
documents correlated with data obtained from interviews.
As I described in Section 2, the Yin 5-step approach (Yin, 2011b) formed the
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basis for data analysis of collected data. After transcribing the two interviews and
gathering company records. I imported data collected from semistructured interviews and
the review of company documents into NVivo 10 qualitative analysis software for
coding. I analyzed all the data and identified 16 core emergent themes. The emergent
themes showed the strategies noted in company documents such as the employee
handbook and meeting minutes and the participants’ views, experience, and perceptions
regarding retention strategies to answer the central research question.
Based on the main research question, data analysis of interview responses, and a
data analysis of company documents, I identified 16 core emergent themes, which I
grouped into four main themes. The four main themes encompassed (a) the essential
strategies for business leaders to retain IT professionals, (b) most effective strategies, (c)
management, organizational, and leadership essentials; and (d) barriers, critical factors,
and ineffective strategies affecting the retention of IT professionals. The essential
strategies for all leaders were: (a) compensation and benefits, (b) opportunities for
promotion, (c) reward and recognition, (d) training and development, and (e) work life
balance and flexible schedules. The most effective strategies were: (a) hiring employees
that fit the culture, (b) most effective strategies, and (c) self-management, creative
ownership, and value. Management, organizational, and leadership essentials were: (a)
leadership characteristics, (b) leadership relationships, (c) organizational culture, and (d)
staff performance evaluations. The barriers, critical factors, and ineffective strategies
affecting the retention of IT professionals were (a) barriers to retention strategies, (b)
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critical factors, (c) ineffective retention strategies, and (d) retention policies.
Presentation of the Findings
I used semistructured interviews to gain an understanding of strategies the
participants used to retain IT professionals. In addition to semistructured interviews, I
also reviewed XYZ Company’s employee handbook, meeting minutes, and other
business records regarding retention strategies to triangulate and confirm interview data.
I scheduled both semistructured interviews on an offsite location near the XYZ Company
in a private meeting room. Interviews did not last more than sixty minutes.
Following the collection and analysis of data collected through semistructured
interviews and a review of company documents, sixteen themes emerged, which I
grouped into four main themes. The first main theme related to essential strategies for
business leaders to retain IT professionals. The second main theme related to most
effective strategies in retaining IT professionals. The third main theme related to
management, organizational, and leadership essentials for retaining IT professionals. The
fourth main theme referred to barriers, critical factors, and ineffective strategies affecting
the retention of IT professionals.
The conceptual frameworks for this research project were general systems theory
and transformational leadership theory. Many of the responses made by the participants
supported transformational leadership theory and general systems theory. General
systems theory applies to management practices when multiple strategies and factors
work together as a whole system to achieve the organization’s goal of retaining IT
78
professionals (Montgomery & Oladapo, 2014; Shannon, 2013). From another view, the
transformational leadership theory identifies the leadership characteristics leaders use that
influence retention (Tebeian, 2012; Tonvongval, 2013). Within this study, I viewed both
frameworks as it relates to their correlation with the findings in order to gain a better
understanding of the effectiveness and ineffectiveness of strategies, barriers, and other
critical factors that influence the retention of IT professionals. Ertürk and Vurgun (2014)
noted the growth of information technology creates a demand for organizations to retain
skilled IT professionals, which requires the use of retention strategies. Developing
retention strategies have challenged some organizations because of the characteristics of
the IT labor market (Ertürk & Vurgun, 2014). A case study approach served as an
effective way to explore a phenomenon in a real-life setting (Cronin, 2014).
Demographic Characteristics of the Participants
The first six questions revealed the participants’ demographics. Demographic
questions indicated the number of years each participant served in senior IT leadership,
total number of employees in the company, number of voluntary resignations in the IT
department within the last two years, and the participants’ area of service. Demographics
responses also showed the number of direct and indirect reports under the participants’
leadership and the average tenure of IT professionals in XYZ Company’s IT department.
Participant P1 has served 2.5 years in senior IT leadership while P2 has served 20 years
leading IT professionals. Both P1 and P2 reported no voluntary resignations in the IT
department within the last two years. The area of service for P1 is operations. P2 has
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responsibility for all IT areas including applications, infrastructure, and strategy. P1 has
seven directs reports and P2 has13 direct reports. Both participants expressed that many
of XYZ Company’s IT professionals have at least ten years of service in the IT
department.
Emergent Theme: Essential Strategies for Company Leaders to Retain IT
Professionals.
Essential strategies for business leaders to retain IT professional is the first main
theme. Participant responses to interview questions number one, three, and six indicated
the basic strategies leaders used to retain IT professionals. Some themes emerged from
the findings as being essential strategies for company leaders to retain workers. Literature
was supportive, and in some cases, conflicting with the data collected regarding the
emergent themes. Within the first main theme, there are several themes as identified
through P1and P2 responses, within company records, and then confirmed by current
research. Participants’ responses and company records such as the employee handbook
showed the importance of having primary retention strategies. These essential strategies
are appropriate compensation and benefits, opportunities for promotion, rewarding and
recognizing IT professionals, providing training and development, as well as encouraging
work-life balance activities. Van Dyk and Coetzee (2011) noted that compensation, job
characteristics, opportunities for training and development, supervisor support, career
opportunities, and work-life balance are strategies that organizations can consider to
retain staff.
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Findings of this study indicated that having these basic strategies in place is
necessary for company leaders to retain IT professionals. Therefore, having the fiscal
budget to compensate IT professionals is a key factor in retaining the professionals
(Ezulike, 2012). Company leaders should establish a reward and recognition strategy to
acknowledge IT professionals for their work and to demonstrate their value to the
company, which promotes retention (Kim, 2012). Company leaders also need to ensure
that IT professionals have opportunities for training and development (Rutner et al.,
2011). Findings indicated that company leaders should offer opportunity for promotion to
IT professionals, which may require the need for leaders to conduct staff development
planning for IT professionals to prepare these professionals for when opportunities
became available. The findings of this study were consistent with the research of Vispute
(2013), who noted that more pay, opportunities for training and career advancement helps
organization retain staff.
My analysis of company documents and participants’ answers showed that
essential retention strategies (see Table 1) play a crucial supportive role in influencing IT
employees to remain employed with a company. Building on the conceptual frameworks
of this study, which were the general systems theory and the transformational leadership
theory, the research findings of the first main theme indicated persuasive strategies and
leadership practices of company leaders and undergirded the need for a system of
retention strategies to retain IT professionals. This suggests that one strategy alone is not
sufficient for retention efforts, which aligns with general systems theory, because general
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systems theory requires multiple factors working together as a whole to ensure success
(Drack & Schwarz, 2010). Therefore, compensation and benefits, opportunity for
promotion, reward and recognition, training and development, and work-life balance and
flexible schedules all work together as a system to retain IT professionals.
Furthermore, transformational leadership characteristics also related to strategies
found in the first main theme. Participants demonstrated transformational leadership
behaviors by giving employees individual consideration in work-life balance activities,
which is a foundational principle in the transformational leadership theory (Vinkenburg
et al., 2011). Transformational leadership consists of behaviors leaders can use to
motivate, inspire, and encourage employees is effective in retaining employees
(Abouelenein & Diala, 2012).
Table 1 shows the core themes that emerged from the data analysis regarding the
essential strategies for business leaders to retain IT professionals. The retention strategies
that emerged from the data analysis were (a) compensation and benefits, (b) opportunity
for promotion, (c) reward and recognition, (d) training and development, and (e) worklife
balance and flexible schedules.
As Table 1 indicates, the frequency of occurrence of core themes affirmed that
essential strategies are useful in retaining IT professionals. Through the employee
handbook, meeting minutes, and participant responses, the findings of the study indicated
that essential strategies are fundamental in retaining IT professionals. These findings
confirmed previous research by Mastracci (2009).
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Table 1
Frequency of Themes for Essential Strategies for Business Leaders to Retain IT
professionals.
Theme n
% of frequency of
occurrence
Compensation and Benefits 31 29.25 %
Opportunities for promotion 13 12.26 %
Reward and Recognition 34 32.08 %
Training and Development 24 22.64 %
Work-family balance and flexible
schedules
4 3.77 %
Note: n= frequency
Training. Participant responses and company documents showed XYZ Company
leaders used training as a retention strategy. P1 noted that the company provides training
opportunities for IT professionals through online methods and for traveling to seminars
and trainings aboard. P2 discussed having people who belong to professional
associations, and that the company encourages that; the company pays for their dues.
P1’s response confirmed P2’s statement by mentioning training opportunities and
conference attendance as a strategy to retain IT professionals. Naqvi and Bashir (2012)
denoted a similar finding, and emphasized that an IT professional’s training,
development, and compensation relate to organizational commitment, which influence
retention. Training and learning new tools and skills may prevent employee burnout and
foster continued engagement and job satisfaction (Liao & Teng, 2010).
P2 indicated that all IT staff members have training opportunities. Both P1 and
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P2 responses aligned with information listed in company employee handbook. XYZ
Company offers a financial incentive for attaining industry certifications. The company’s
meeting minutes of June 2011 also showed IT and other professionals participated in
team building training, which confirms training as a retention strategy used by business
leaders. As related to training as a retention strategy, P1 stated, while referring to IT
professionals, “we want them to learn” (personal communication, September 30, 2014).
Both participants and company records showed that training and compensation are
essential factors in retaining IT professionals, which Ramall (2012) also noted. P1 and P2
confirmed the thoughts of Anis et al (2010) who mentioned that the compensation was
not a strong suit for the company, but detailed other benefits such as training
opportunities as key strategies. The findings indicated that business leaders should create
training opportunities and competitive compensation and benefits in developing retention
strategies. XYZ Company’s employee handbook and meeting minutes of July 2013 that
leadership development, competency assessments, development planning, assessing
current job performance, and establishing executive talent development committees are
all factors in preparing employees for opportunities for promotion.
Compensation and benefits. As it relates to compensation and benefits,
responses from participants and the company’s employee handbook confirmed the
findings of previous research. Toress and Adler (2012) found that compensation is
essential to retention and compensation influences retention. Findings of this research
project confirmed Toress and Adler (2012), as P1 revealed that XYZ Company is a mid84
sized firm and the pay scale is not commensurate with corporate salaries. However, P1
also disclosed that XYZ Company compensates for pay through the company’s
retirement package, which is, a defined retirement income payout package. P2 echoed
P1’s statement and stated that compensation, in the past few years, was not as much as
before.
Both P1 and P2 mentioned that compensation was not as competitive as other
companies were, but detailed other benefits such as training opportunity and the
retirement benefit as essential complimentary strategies. Barnes et al. (2012) suggested
that a lack of adequate compensation would increase employee turnover, as supported by
the findings of this study. Kavitha, Geetha, and Arunachalam (2011) found that
compensation attracts employees, but that benefits increase retention. Some turnover is
due to lack of benefits (Anis et al., 2011). Kavitha, Geetha, and Arunachalam (2011) and
DeMers (2002) indicated that compensation is not always the most important factor.
Other benefits such as healthcare and life insurance, retirement plans, bonuses, and
annual leave may supplement for lower than market pay structures and may positively
influence retention (“Employee benefits provision,” 2010), as revealed by P1 and P2.
However, Idris (2014) disagreed with the statements of P1 and P1 and further noted that
financial benefits are not a sustainable retention strategy.
Reward and recognition. Reward and recognition of employees showed the
greatest frequency among essential retention strategies (see Table 1). Both P1 and P2
responses correlated with company records and validated previous research findings.
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Davis (2013) found that workers like rewards, as also noted by P1, P2. XYZ Company
reports indicated at the beginning of every board of directors meeting business leaders
recognized IT and other employees for a job well done. Meeting minutes of February
2011, March 2011, and July 2012 also specified reward and recognition for 15, 20, 25,
and 30 years of service, safety awards, excellence awards, customer service award, low
hazards awards, and other employee incentive programs designed to recognize and
reward company staff. Chen et al. (2010) found that acknowledging employees for doing
a good job influenced retention, which also supports the findings of P2, who expressed
recognizing IT workers when they took the lead on a project involving IT, indicating that
they did not have to go beyond what the job requires.
Opportunity for promotion. The participants spoke to the importance of the
opportunity for promotions. P1 also noted that XYZ Company started a successionplanning
program wherein once management has identified a skilled person, the company
can mentor that professional to advance. P1 allowed IT professionals to work with
different technology to train, develop and prepare staff for another position or promotion.
Latif, Jan, and Shaheen (2013) shared the views of P1 and noted that training is a means
for development and is an important factor in fostering a sense of advancement.
A review of XYZ Company’s employee handbook validated P1 remarks by
uncovering that managers can fill all company vacancies by several options, including
promoting an employee to a vacant position. Previous research (Jain, 2013; Mohamed,
Singh, Irani, & Darwish, 2012) aligns with the approach of XYZ Company. Webster and
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Beehr (2013) expressed that it is more important that organizations consider current
employees when hiring employees for higher-level positions. Company reports of July
2013 further noted the succession planning strategy mentioned by P1. P2 told a different
perspective about retention strategies; that sometimes a manager has to prepare for an
employee leaving the company. This might result in hiring someone from the outside if
an internal employee cannot move into that new position or if the company requires a
unique IT skill set.
Work-life balance. For XYZ Company, work life balance was both a recruiting
tool and retention strategy. P1 indicated that work-life balance was the reason for
choosing to work for XYZ Company rather than a corporation and further explained that
work-life balance plays a significant role in the entire team choice to work for XYZ
Company, because IT employees valued spending time with their family and children. P2
noted that IT employees in XYZ Company do not work much overtime, unlike many
some IT departments in other companies, because the company desires for IT staff to
have work-life balance. XYZ Company’s employee handbook supported the responses of
both P1 and P2 responses and revealed that IT professionals earned annual leave.
Moreover, the company allows flexibility for employees by allowing employees to take
off with needed and work flexible schedules. Similar to the findings of this study, Dinger
et al., (2010) confirmed that organizations might choose to offer flexible working hours
or telecommuting to aid in work life balance. Buys, Matthews, and Randall (2010)
posited that IT jobs are often very stressful and require 24-hour availability. Policies that
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foster work-life balance is critical to both the employee’s well-being and IT staff
retention (Bairi, Manohar, & Kundu, 2011).
Therefore, in addressing the central research question, data indicated that
company leaders need reward and recognition, compensation and benefits, training and
development, opportunity for promotion, and work-life balance as primary strategies to
retain IT professionals. As shown from the analysis of data, these findings lend support to
the argument that, while compensation is important in retention and influence retention
significantly (Torres & Adler, 2012), compensation and benefits coupled with other
factors play a crucial role in the company’s ability to retain employees (Gupta & Shaw,
2013). Furthermore, the variation in the frequencies of occurrence of core themes (see
Table 1) might suggest that, among these essential strategies, company leaders should
consider prioritizing the development of reward and recognition, compensation and
benefits, as well as training and development when developing retention strategies.
Emergent Theme: Most Effective Strategies for Retaining IT Professionals
The second main theme identifies the most effective strategies for retaining IT
professionals and I asked interview question five to identify the most effective retention
strategies. Within this theme, there were several strategies mentioned by P1, P2, in
company documents, and confirmed by previous research. I found that hiring IT
professionals that fit the organization culture, having robust retirement benefits, valuing
IT professionals, engaging technology employees, encouraging work-life balance,
providing training opportunities, allowing decision-making autonomy, and allowing
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creative ownership and self-management are among the most effective strategies for
retaining IT professionals.
The findings indicated that during the hiring process, business leaders should
evaluate the applicant on factors critical to maintaining the desired organization culture
along with their skill set and experience. The findings also indicated senior IT leaders
need to correct any issues preventing the utilization of annual leave time and allow
flexible working schedules to assist in preventing stress. The high frequency of the core
theme of reward and retention (see Table 1), indicated that a reward and retention
program is paramount to retention success as found in the study; therefore business
leaders should have both departmental and company-wide reward programs. Incentives
listed in XYZ Company’s employee handbook and meeting minutes of September 2013
and a personal email (personal communication, September 24, 2014) revealed XYZ
Company leadership could use promotions, quarterly incentives, and financial incentives
as a representation of a few strategies in the company’s greater retention efforts.
Given the emergent themes from the most effective strategies (see Table 2), there
was clear evidence for alignment with general systems theory and the transformational
leadership theory, specifically by using a system of retention strategies. General systems
theory requires systems of factors working together to achieve organizations goals
(Drack, 2009). Within the second main theme, a system of strategies included hiring IT
professionals that fit the organization culture, robust retirement benefits, valuing IT
professionals, engaging technology, encouraging work-life balance, training, decision89
making autonomy, and allowing creative ownership and self-management. The findings
of this study indicated that these strategies are among the most effective ways for
retaining IT professionals. XYZ Company leaders implemented these strategies as a
whole retention system to retain IT professionals, which aligns with general systems
theory (Shannon, 2012).
The findings of main theme two indicated an application of transformational
leadership theory. Company leaders applied transformational leadership factors of
encouraging ownership and engaging followers. XYZ Company meeting minutes of
September 2013 and April 2014 showed the use of transformational practices by P1 and
P1 and listed in meeting minutes of April 2014 and August 2014 such as valuing IT
professionals and company leaders encouraging ownership of projects and task. These
practices are essential components of transformational leadership theory (??ebeian, 2012).
Table 2 shows the core themes that emerged from the data analysis regarding the
most effective strategies to retain IT professionals. Retention strategies that emerged
from the data analysis includes (a) hiring employees that fit the culture, (b) most effective
strategies, and (c) self-management, creative ownership, and valuing IT professionals.
As table 2 indicates, the frequency of occurrence of core themes revealed the most
effective strategies in retaining IT professionals. The highest frequency of occurrence
ranged from 1-5. Previous research supports these findings.
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Table 2
Frequency of Themes for Most Effective Strategies for Retaining IT Professionals
Theme n
% of frequency of
occurrence
Hiring employees that fit the
culture
1 14.29 %
Most effective strategies 1 14.29 %
Self-management, creative
ownership, and valuing IT staff
5 71.43 %
Note: n= frequency
Most effective strategies. Interview question five related to the most effective
strategies for retaining IT professionals. Participant responses spoke to the effectiveness
of retention strategies. Findings from this study indicated that the most effective
strategies are communication, which aligned with research by Iyer and Israel (2012),
reward and recognition as argued by Chew and Entrekin (2011), valuing employees as
mentioned by Hewitt (2012), and training opportunities and engaging employees as found
by Johnson (2014). As revealed, the findings from this study aligned with the results of
previous research. For example, P2 noted chatting with IT workers on a regular basis to
understand what are experiencing personally and professionally. In addition, within XYZ
Company’s meeting minutes of April 2014, August 2014, and October 2013, I found
several instances in which company leaders communicated with employees, particularly
relating to decision making.
P2 also noted that employee recognition was the most effective retention
strategies, which aligns with Iyer and Isreal (2012). P2 referenced XYZ Company’s
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rewards program, and noted that the rewards program provides management with an
opportunity to recognize IT professionals who have done an excellent job. I confirmed P2
assertion by a review of company records, including the employee handbook and meeting
minutes of February 2011, November 2011, and December 2011. Within the recognition
program, managers give employees an acknowledgement card, in which that the IT
professional enters into a larger drawing to win a monetary gift card. The employee
handbook and meeting minutes of February 2012, March 2011, and July 2012 and a
personal email (personal communication, September 24, 2014) showed that XYZ
Company leaders used reward efforts such as a reward programs on a departmental and
company wide basis including in the IT department. Ramlall (2012) also noted the
success of reward programs such as the one that XYZ Company used.
P1 restated training and allowing IT professionals to work on projects that these
workers are not typically responsible for as an effective retention strategy because IT
employees can learn a new skill. Mohamed et al. (2012) found that training and
development are important factors for retaining skilled professionals, which confirmed
P1 responses. In addition, P1 responses aligned with research by Igbaria and Siegel
(1992), who found that allowing staff to work on organizationally significant projects
influences retention. P2 responses aligned with P1’s; P2 also allows staff to work on a
project or some technology that is not a part of their usual job. P1 and P2 regarded
training as an effective for retention, so when job opportunities become available, trained
IT workers are ready for promotion or advancement. Chang, Jiang, Klein, and Chen
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(2012) supported P1 and P2’s arguments.
Hiring employees that fit the culture. The theme emerged as being critical to
the ability of company leaders in retaining IT professionals. P1 noted that, when hiring an
employee, managers avoid hiring people who are task-oriented because the IT culture in
XYZ Company is more creative and self-managing. Ladelsky and Catan?? (2013)
endorsed P1’s statement by finding that leaders should include recognition, inclusion, and
having the right employee for the right job. Johnson (2014) confirmed that many
organizations recruit talent for organizational fit. These findings indicated company
leaders need to hire the right person with the right organizational culture fit to aid in
retention.
Self-management, creative ownership and valuing. P1 also noted that valuing
employees and making staff feel good about what they are doing was an effective
strategy in retaining IT professionals. P1 also argued that people want to feel valued, as
supported by Bass (1985) as well as Bessick and Naicker (2013). P2 expressed that IT
management recognized workers when taking the lead on a project involving IT, because
employees did not have to go beyond the requirements of the job responsibility. The
findings from meeting minutes of September 2013 and April 2014 and the XYZ
Company’s employee handbook indicated how the company values its employees, as
leaders gave individual and group awards, recognition, and opportunities for promotion
to employees. P1 concluded that retention strategies used by XYZ Company includes
engaging, valuing and evaluating IT professionals, which are strategies that positively
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influence retention (Mendes & Stander, 2011). From the responses of P1 and P2, I
deduced that these management practices are an effective strategy because P1 and P2
confirmed the findings of several researchers including Ezulike (2012) and Kim (2012).
Emergent Theme: Management, Organizational, and Leadership Essentials for
Retaining IT Professionals.
The third main theme related to management, organizational, and leadership
essentials for retaining IT professionals. Interview question six addressed other strategies
and leadership characteristics beneficial in retaining IT professionals. Themes that
emerged as being important in retaining IT professionals are performance staff
performance evaluations, transformational leadership qualities, open management
relationships, and having an organizational culture that professionals desire to embrace
are foundational in the ability to retain IT professionals. The findings indicated that
companies that implement these retention strategies foster a greater environment for
retention success.
Given the emergent themes from management, organizational, and leadership
essentials it seems that there was clear alignment with transformational leadership theory,
specifically, including IT professionals in IT projects, by building solid supportive
relationships, and aiding in the process of an employee embracing the organization’s
culture. In addition to these factors, XYZ Company leaders demonstrate transformational
leadership behaviors collectively so that the company can effectively use these strategies
to retain IT professionals. Specifically, the organizations addressed transformational
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leadership (Bass, 1985) as XYZ Company’s senior IT leaders motivated staff, give
individual consideration to IT employees, and fostered encouraging relationships with
followers through communication. These strategies are consistent with activities
demonstrated in transformational leadership theory.
Concepts of general systems theory were also evident in the findings of the third
main theme. I found that evaluations, management relationship and communication, and
leadership qualities implemented in XYZ Company worked as a system of retention
strategies to retain IT professionals. The foundation of general systems theory relates to
several units working together to retain professionals (Shannon, 2012).
Table 3 shows the core themes that emerged from the data analysis regarding
management, organizational, and leadership essentials to retain IT professionals.
Retention strategies that emerged from the data analysis include (a) leadership qualities,
(b) leadership relationships, (c) organizational culture, and (d) staff evaluations.
As table 3 indicates, the frequency of occurrence of core themes demonstrated the
management, organizational, and leadership essentials in retaining IT professionals.
Through company documents and participant responses, the findings of the study showed
the leadership practices needed for successful retention efforts. These findings align with
previous research.
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Table 3
Frequency of themes for Management, Organizational, and Leadership Essentials for
Retaining IT Professionals
Theme n
% of frequency of
occurrence
Leadership qualities 3 9.09 %
Leadership relationships 12 36.36 %
Organizational culture 13 39.39 %
Staff performance evaluations 3 9.09 %
Note: n= frequency
Staff performance evaluations. P2 expressed that staff evaluations equate to
likely pay increases. Therefore, P2 noted frequently checking on IT staff to see how they
are doing and providing feedback on how they are performing. A review of the XYZ
Company’s employee handbook confirmed P2 comments; within the compensation
program, employees receive salary increases based on performance evaluations. P2
concluded that evaluating IT employees is essential, which is a strategy that positively
influences retention. Mendes and Stander (2011) aligned with P2’s conclusion. Da Silva
& Shinyashiki (2014) explained that annual evaluations are critical to and a key factor in
retention.
Leadership relationship and communication. Participant’s comments and
company documents indicated the importance of leadership relationship and
communication. P1 provided a simple response and stated, “I always try to make sure I
include logic, and I can explain that logic… so that they can see why the decision was
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made” (personal communication, September 30, 2014). P2 said communicating with staff
regularly was effective with retention because it keeps workers engaged in the affairs of
the company. Findings from XYZ Company’s meeting minutes of October 2013, April
2014, and August 2014, showed that company leaders consistently communicated with
IT professionals on projects and engaged IT professionals in conversations leading to IT
professionals input in decision-making.
P2 focused on several employee retention factors including reiterating the need
for people to feel valued, maintaining constant communication, and taking their ideas and
implementing them within the company as strategies and leadership characteristics P2
affirmed an approach also discussed by P1, who suggested IT professionals should
understand where they fit in the bigger picture within IT and the company. Recent
research (Ertürk & Vurgun, 2011) aligned with the practices of P1 and P2 and found that
greater autonomy and participation in decision-making significantly decreases the
turnover intentions of IT professionals. P2 also expressed the importance of
communication with staff; P2 discussed taking the time to explain to employees what
s/he is doing, and why s/he is doing it, and why it is important. Several researchers (Iyer
& Isreal, 2012; James, 2012) have indicated communication as an effective strategy.
Leadership qualities. There are opportunities for leaders to demonstrate
leadership qualities to retain IT professionals. P2 considered recognizing the concerns of
IT professionals, and sharing with professionals what management can do to address the
issue. P1 shared that s/he explained decisions that s/he makes and the logic that went
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behind it. P2 expressed trying to keep IT staff involved in the affairs of the IT department
and the company and wanting to make sure that they are thoroughly engaged in what they
are doing. Vincent??Höper, Muser, and Janneck (2012) found engagement relates to
transformational leadership quality, which leads to retention and aligns the findings of
this study.
The findings indicated transformation leadership exchanges shown by P1 and P2
through sensitivity to employee issues, engaging employees, and communicating, which
are leadership characteristics found to positively influence the ability to retain employees
(Liu, Cai, Li, Shi, & Fang, 2012). Company board meeting of July 2013 revealed
company leaders developed a leadership competency model as a success benchmark for
the XYZ Company leaders.
Organizational culture. Company documents and participants’ responses
contained information regarding the organizational culture. XYZ Company’s board of
director meeting minutes of February 2011 noted that the organization’s success could
not be possible without the significant contributions of the entire staff. XYZ Company’s
board of directors meeting minutes of October 2013 further revealed the consistent use of
IT employees in decision-making. Business leaders conduct employee development
through regular review sessions using a standard format as explained by XYZ Company’s
employee handbook. P1 indicated that the company encourages an environment that
allows for self-management and ownership of processes. Strategies found through the
data analysis aligned with Ladelsky and Catan?? (2013), who encouraged team leaders to
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develop an organizational culture that fits with IT employees.
Emergent Theme: Barriers, Critical Factors, and Ineffective Strategies Affecting the
Retention of IT Professionals
The fourth main theme related to barriers, critical factors, and ineffective
strategies affecting the retention of IT professionals. Interview question seven revealed
that barriers prohibited retention strategies from being successful. As the findings
indicated, there are strategies that are most effective in retaining IT professionals, and
then there are ineffective strategies, barriers, and other factors that prevent successful
implementation of strategies.
The findings of this study indicated business leaders should understand the factors
that prevent retention strategies from being effective. The inability to compensate IT
employees fairly is a significant barrier in a company’s ability to retain professionals.
Therefore, company leaders should ensure the availability of sufficient financial
resources available before commencing retention activities. In addition, operating in a
leadership style opposite of what technology employees needs influences the
effectiveness the retention strategy. Therefore, business leaders should be aware of the IT
professionals in their company with a significant skill set. Skillful professionals are hard
to replace and could create challenges in production if the company fails to retain the
employee. The third main theme denoted critical factors that business leaders must
consider when implementing strategies to retain the IT staff.
General systems theory and transformational leadership theory are both
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significant in the findings of main theme four. The research findings presented in this
main theme showed ineffective strategies, critical factors, retention policies, and barriers
that prevented effective retention. These critical factors such as the value of an IT
professional (P1, P2), barriers such as compensation (P1, P2), retention policies (XYZ
Company’s employees handbook), and ineffective strategies (P1, P2) affects retention,
and therefore plays a part in the general system of retention. As noted previously,
general systems theory requires various elements working collectively as a whole to
achieve organizational goals (Drack & Schwarz, 2010). Therefore, the findings listed in
main theme four align with general systems theory.
Furthermore, transformational leadership behaviors also related to strategies
found in the main theme four. Participants demonstrated transformational leadership
behaviors by giving individual consideration to identity IT professionals with a particular
skill (P2), as noted within the critical factor theme. Transformational leadership involves
considering employees individually, and encouraging ownership, which both aids in
retention efforts (Abouelenein & Diala, 2012). Also by extending the flexibility to be
creative and allowing employees to take ownership, P1demonstrated transformational
leadership.
Table 4 shows the core themes that emerged from the data analysis regarding the
barriers, critical factors, and ineffective strategies. The retention strategies that emerged
from the data analysis were (a) barriers to retention strategies, (b) critical factors, (c)
ineffectiveness retention strategies, and (d) retention policies.
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As table 4 indicates the frequency of occurrence of core themes revealed barriers,
critical factors, and ineffective strategies as affecting the retention of IT. Therefore,
through company documents and participant responses, the findings of the study revealed
the barriers to retention strategies. Previous research supported these findings (Chang,
2010; Mabuza & Gerwel Proches, 2014).
Table 4
Frequency of Themes for Barriers, Critical Factors, and Ineffective Strategies Affecting
the Retention of IT Professionals
Theme n
% of frequency of
occurrence
Barriers to retention strategies 1 14.29 %
Critical factors 3 42.86 %
Ineffective retention strategies 2 28.57 %
Retention policies 1 14.29 %
Note: n= frequency
Ineffective strategies. Responses from interview question four revealed strategies
that are least effective in retaining IT professionals. P1 expressed that giving too much
leeway to IT professionals is not an effective strategy. From P1’s perspective, managing
creative self-managed people and task-oriented people as well are not effective. P1
specified that somebody who is more task-oriented might feel alienated if allowed to
complete the process on their own. Therefore, P1 indicated that s/he does not hire people
who are task oriented. Hewitt (2012) supported P1’s argument and noted every IT
professional should feel as if he or she is a natural fit for the organization.
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P2 discussed over-communicating as a least effective strategy strategies; he said
over-communicating does not help with retaining someone. P2 declared that it comes
down to getting the job done and if something is communicated to IT professionals that
they are not receptive of, then communication is ineffective regardless of the number of
times a leader communicates it. P2 contradicted James (2012) regarding communication
as it relates to retaining professionals. James emphasized that communication with staff
promotes organizational commitment.
There were some differences in P1 and P2’s perspectives of least effective
strategies; therefore, a reasonable deduction is that the right amount of communication is
useful; however over-communicating is not effective in retaining IT professionals. In
addition, while providing a self-managing environment for creative staff is good, that
strategy may not be as efficient with IT professionals who are more task oriented.
Barriers. Participants’ responses revealed their perceptions of the barriers in
retaining skilled IT professionals. P1 and P2 voiced that the compensation is a barrier. P1
noted that XYZ Company is a quasi-government company and that pay scale is not as
high as in the private sector. P1 noted there is a budgetary wall and XYZ Company
cannot offer the salaries that the private sector can. Therefore, compensation is always a
barrier. P2 confirmed P1’s conclusion and detailed that compensation, especially in the
past several years, was not as much as before and that compensation is a significant
barrier. P2 claimed the pay structure is difficult to address, and felt that to get people on
the open market with the same skills is difficult, because XYZ Company compensation is
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less than what other companies pay. However, P2 did feel that the benefits package
offered by the company compensates for the compensation challenges. From a different
view, the employee handbook showed that company leaders conduct annual salary
reviews to determine if the pay structures are competitive in the market. For many IT
professionals, compensation is not the main reason to leave the company (Chandrasekar,
2011). Aside from compensation, P2 explained that IT professionals get tired of doing the
same tasks repeatedly; he mentioned the need to keep IT professionals engaged in new
things.
Critical factors. Participants’ comments revealed their perceptions of the critical
factors influencing the retention of skilled IT professionals. Participant P1 discussed the
value of an IT professional and how critical that employee is to the company, and noted
the need to retain a person with a significant skill set. P2 explained why a professional’s
value to the organization is a key factor because “there are certain skills that I know
based on experience that are harder to replace than others (personal communications,
October 6, 2014).” Chang (2010) confirmed the participant’ response and noted, due to
the particular technical expertise of IT professionals, that turnover creates productivity
problems for companies. Therefore, these professionals are different from other
employees. P2 also mentioned there are not multiple people that know a particular job;
therefore, if a person leaves the company, it creates productivity challenges in the IT
department. P1’s response aligned with P2’s; s/he, too, expressed that the company is
working to identity IT professionals with a particular skill or talent that may help them
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advance to another level in their role or into management. Therefore, the harmony of both
P1’s and P2’s responses showed that identifying IT professionals with a unique skill is an
essential element used in the retention of IT professionals. P1 summarized previous
statements and said giving employee leeway to be creative, manage their tasks, and take
ownership of their work are critical factors.
Retention policies. Participant interview responses detailed information on
retention policies. P2 acknowledged that there have not been many turnovers in the IT
department but argued the need to prepare for the other side of retention, which is an
employee voluntarily leaving the company. P2 noted that, if someone does leave, having
a plan in place is important. P2 also insisted on recognizing which positions require a
unique skill set and understanding that there may be a need to hire from the outside. P1
revealed that s/he was unsure if the company has a formal retention policy; however, the
company’s employee handbook did reveal retention efforts, such as promotions, training,
and salary increases. Company records including meeting minutes of April 2014 and the
employee handbook policies are consistent with Smith, Oczkowski, and Smith (2011)
who found that human resource management policies appeared to reduce turnover.
Summary
Overall, the research findings were consistent with the purpose and significance
of the study and related to both general systems theory and transformational leadership
theory. All the main themes that emerged, as shown in Tables 1, 2, 3, and 4, played a
crucial role in helping to understand the research phenomenon in addition to addressing
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the central research question. This study has contributed to the understanding of the
strategies company leaders need to retain IT professionals. According to Owens and
Khazanchi (2011), company leaders should thoroughly understand the importance of
retaining talented IT professionals. Vijayakumar (2012) suggested that employee
retention is a systematic effort by employers to foster the atmosphere that encourages
workers to remain employed with the company by having policies and practices in place
that address each employee’s needs. Therefore, when there are no strategies in place to
retain IT professionals, business leaders may have a greater challenge in retaining skilled
employees and maintaining profitability and sustainability.
Applications to Professional Practice
This research is meaningful to retention practices in numerous ways. The main
objective of the study was to explore participants’ views about the strategies company
leaders need to retain IT professionals. The retention of IT professionals has been an
increasing concern for company leaders (James & Mathew, 2012). The findings from this
study are relative to general systems theory and indicated that company leaders need an
entire system of effective strategies to retain IT professionals (Shannon, 2013;
Yamamoto, 2011). The findings are also relative to transformational leadership because
company leaders used transformational leadership behaviors, which influence retention
(Weberg, 2010). Not only should company leaders understand the strategies companies
need, but they should also be able to identify the most effective and ineffective strategies
best suited for the company (Laddha et al., 2012).
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Leaders can implement strategic human resource practices to achieve a desirable
employee outcome (Ananthan & Sudneendra, 2011). Therefore, it is in the best interests
of company leaders to implement essential retention strategies as posited by Shore
(2013). The implementation of the strategies identified by P1 and P2 in the first main
theme, such as fair compensation and benefits, as well as work life balance, are
organizational strategies (Idris, 2014) and may assist senior IT leaders in retaining IT
professionals and sustain the company’s profitability, sustainability, and reduced
voluntary turnover. Having retention strategies in place may prevent the need for
companies to pay the high cost related to hiring new skilled professionals because leaders
can prevent voluntary turnover (Yamamoto, 2011). Thus, the application of retention
strategies also presents an opportunity for the company leader to invest in the training and
development of IT employees (P1; P2) and retain the knowledge of skilled professionals
in the company (Larkin & Burgess, 2013). Yamamoto indicated that benefits packages
and rewards systems add value to an IT professional’s commitment to the company,
which was also identified by P1 as well as supported by this study’s findings.
Business leaders can apply factors found within the second and third main theme
such as understanding the effectiveness of strategies for retaining IT professionals.
Therefore, company leaders may experience greater employee retention success. Senior
leaders can implement strategies that are more effective and disregard ineffective
strategies (Laddha et al., 2012. P1 confirmed previous research by Bottger and Barsoux
(2012) that stated hiring the right person is the most effective strategy. However, not all
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strategies are best suited for every IT environment, as confirmed by P1, and the
application of most effective strategies may provide greater retention success (Allen et al,
2010). While the essential strategies explained in the first main theme may assist all
businesses in retaining IT professionals, understanding the most effective strategies prior
to commencing a retention program may assist in overcoming ineffective strategies,
barriers, and otherwise critical factors. P2 confirmed research by Potgieter (2012) who
posited that self-management is effective for employability.
Applying encouraging leadership characteristics and management practices as
noted in the third main theme may lead to strong retention strategies and can foster an
environment for greater success for business leaders. P1 noted that having benefits was
the most effective strategy in retaining of IT professionals. P2 noted valuing and
encouraging IT professionals is an effective strategy, as evident from the results found by
Vijayakumar (2012). As company leaders understand these strategies, the result of the
study may assist company leaders in developing effective retention plans to retain key
professionals within the company.
Implications for Social Change
I found the following retention strategies that included benefits and compensation,
training and development, and opportunity for promotion. These strategies might assist
company leaders retain skilled professionals including IT professionals as well as support
corporate sustainability (Gialuisi & Coetzer, 2013). The adaptation of these strategies
may also affect social change by influencing IT professionals to maintain employment
107
with a company, build a more valuable and sustainable workforce, and induce greater job
satisfaction of IT professionals (Allen et al., 2010).
Moreover, retention strategies may have a positive effect on the commitment of
IT professionals, company profitability, and strengthen the economy. Implementation of
retention strategies may contribute to company leaders developing knowledgeable IT
professionals, which may have a positive impact on society (Govaerts et al., 2011).
Implications of retention effective strategies include the motivation of IT professionals
looking to secure long-term employment, which positively affects the well-being of IT
professionals and the workplace culture (Jain, 2011). Researchers could utilize the
finding of the study to develop a greater understanding of retention strategies company
leaders need to retain IT professionals in all sectors.
Recommendations for Action
Company leaders may consider evaluating their strategies against those listed in
the first main theme, which are the essential strategies all companies can use to retain IT
professionals. Executives need to begin seeking retentions strategies to maintain
profitability, sustainability and reduce turnover (Ford et al., 2013). If strategies do not
exist within the company, managers should develop the most effective retention strategies
to retain employees in that IT organization. If company leaders decide to implement
retention strategies, they should consider evaluating their strategies against commonly
known effective retention programs. Senior IT managers should also consider the fiscal
budget and then allocate funding to support retention strategies. Company leaders should
108
work within the human resources guidelines to ensure that retention strategies align with
business goals.
Findings from this study are important to company managers, senior IT leaders,
and IT professionals. The application of effective retention strategies may allow company
leaders to use palpable methods to successfully retain IT professionals and sustain
profitability. Moreover, all company stakeholders involved in the retention of
professionals may be interested in the findings of this study. Understanding the result of
this study may be particularly benefitting to current IT professionals, by exposing the
strategies that companies leaders may have in place to retain these employees. I will
disseminate the results of the study through conferences, scholarly journals, and business
journals. Furthermore, I may circulate the result of this study through training and
seminars regarding retention strategies company leaders need for retaining IT
professionals.
Recommendations for Further Study
The findings from this study warrant additional exploration of retention strategies
for IT professionals because companies need retention strategies to retain IT
professionals to maintain profitability, productivity and sustainability (Ghapanchi &
Aurum, 2011). Therefore, researchers should conduct further studies to explore problems
not covered in the study and to address delimitations. The finding of this study warrant
exploration of retention strategies needed from the view of IT workers not those in
leadership positions. In addition, since this study focused on the metropolitan Atlanta,
109
Georgia area, I recommend exploring the need for and impact of retention strategies
company leaders need within a different geographic location. I further recommend the
exploration of retention that companies need with a larger sample size or larger
organization.
I would also suggest conducting a study to compare retention strategies of the
private versus non-profit companies. A comparison between these business types could
uncover retention strategies best suited for the budgets allocation and operations for each
business category. The findings of this study warrant further exploration to examine
essential strategies for all businesses to investigate the determining factors for prioritizing
retention strategies. In addition, considering the impact of retention strategies on a
company’s stability and profitability, I further suggest a study to investigate the financial
impact of the development of in-depth formal retention programs for IT professionals on
the company profitability.
Reflections
During the research process, my prospective and understanding of doctoral level
research expanded. The level of detail and alignment that this research required
challenged and amazed me. I felt overwhelmed by the data that emerged during the
semistructured interviews and from the review of company records. Both participants
were passionate about retaining IT professionals in XYZ Company, and expressed the
desire to engage the staff. In the future, to facilitate retention, company leaders should
ask themselves the following question: how do we offer salaries that are more
110
competitive for IT professionals?
The finding of this study affects me personally as a senior IT leader. The findings
of the study were similar to what I have experienced in trying to retain IT professionals.
Although there were some differences with each participant’s perspective, I was able to
recognize many similarities and challenges that all face as senior IT leaders looking to
retain skilled employees. The findings from this study exposed me to additional strategies
and practices that I can utilize in my retention efforts.
Summary and Study Conclusions
Technology workers are vital resources to business organizations (Brooks et al.,
2011), and retaining IT professionals is critical to a company’s productivity and overall
success (Luftman, & Johnson, 2013). Senior IT leaders need effective strategies to retain
skilled IT professionals (Kim, 2012; Mohlala et al., 2012). Therefore, the specific
business problem for this research project was some company leaders lack strategies to
retain IT professionals. The purpose of this qualitative exploratory case study was to
explore retention strategies company leaders need to retain IT professional and answer
the following research question: What strategies do company leaders need to retain IT
professionals? Two senior IT leaders from a mid-sized utility company in metropolitan
Atlanta, Georgia participated in semistructured interviews and a review of company
documents augmented the interview data.
After collecting and analyzing data, four main themes emerged from the data
including: (a) essential strategies for business leaders to retain IT professionals, (b) most
111
effective strategies in retaining IT professionals, (c) management, organizational, and
leadership essentials for retaining IT professionals; and (d) barriers, critical factors, and
ineffective strategies affecting the retention of IT professionals. The findings indicated
that leaders need strategies such as compensation, benefits, opportunities for promotion,
rewards and recognition, and providing training opportunities to retain IT professionals.
The findings also indicated that company leaders should understand effective retention
strategies and address any barriers preventing the success of retention strategies.
There are several conclusions to this research project. It is important to mention
that participants of the study answered semistructured interviews questions doing. In
addition to participants answering all questions asked during the interview, a review of
company documents, including an employee handbook and meeting minutes were also
used to collect data. I triangulated data collected through semistructured interviews and
company data with current literature to support the findings.
The initial findings of this study are that there are essential strategies that all
companies need in order to retain IT professionals. In addition, not all strategies are
equal; some strategies are can be most or least effective in retaining IT professionals
(Laddha et al., 2012). In addition, management practices, leadership characteristics, and
organization culture also influences a leader’s ability to retain IT professionals (Ladelsky
& Catan??, 2013). Therefore, understanding the critical factors, barriers, and ineffective
strategies is also important when determining the need for and developing and
implementing retention strategies (Kim, 2012).
112
Business leaders must consider several factors when addressing needed strategies
(Laddha et al., 2012). As noted in the constructs of general systems theory, retaining IT
professionals requires not just one strategy, but a system of strategies working as a whole
to retain IT professionals (Shannon, 2013). While having the best strategies in place is
vital for retaining IT professionals, transformational leadership characteristics also play a
significant role in the retention process (Syrek et al., 2013). Company leaders who desire
to be successful in retaining IT professionals should consistently motivate value,
encourage and communicate with IT professionals (Litwin, 2011).
113
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Appendix A: Informed Consent for Participants over 18 Years of Age
You are invited to take part in a research study of the strategies senior IT leaders are
practicing to retain IT professionals. You were chosen for the study because you are (a)
are serving as a senior leader in IT in a mid sized utility company in the State of Georgia.
(b) you have supervisory responsibility for at least two IT professionals. This form is part
of a process called “informed consent” to allow you to understand this study before
deciding whether to take part.
This study is being conducted by a researcher named Shannon Thomas, who is a doctoral
student at Walden University.
Background information:
The purpose of this study is to explore strategies senior IT leaders are practicing to retain
IT professionals. Themes from senior leaders in the IT industry regarding retention
strategies may be helpful in developing effective strategies for retaining IT professionals.
Procedures:
If you agree to be in this study, you will be asked to:
?? Participate in a semistructured, audiotaped interview with the researcher regarding
retention strategies senior IT leaders are practicing to retain IT professional. The
duration of the interview will be thirty to sixty minutes.
?? Member check the interview data, which is ensuring your opinions about the
initial findings and interpretation is accurate.
Here are some sample questions:
1. What strategies do you use to retain IT professionals?
2. What are the critical factors you use to retain IT professionals?
Voluntary nature of the study:
This study is voluntary. Everyone will respect your decision as to whether or not you
choose to be in the study. No one will treat you differently if you decide not to be in the
study. If you decide to join the study now, you can still change your mind later. You
may stop at any time.
Risks and benefits of being in the study:
The time commitment related to this study is that you will be required to complete the 30
to 60 minute interview during or after normal work hours. You will be given a copy of
the results of this study for your personal information. There are no other risks related to
this study. More importantly, your participation will contribute to the knowledge base
158
relevant to strategies senior IT leaders can practice to retain IT professionals.
Compensation:
No compensation will be provided for your participation in this study.
Confidentiality:
Some individuals in the company may know that you participated in the study, however,
any information that you provide (i.e. responses to interview questions) will be kept
confidential. The researcher will not use your personal information for any purposes
outside this research project. Also, the researcher will not include your name or anything
else that could identify you in the study reports. The electronic information will be stored
on a password-protected flash drive, and documents related to this study will be kept in a
locked file storage cabinet which only the researcher will have access. Data will be kept
for a period of at least five years, after which they will be destroyed.
Contacts and questions:
You may contact the researcher, Shannon Thomas, at 404-xxx-xxxx or
[email protected] You may also contact the researcher’s faculty mentor
and doctoral study chair, Dr. Patricia Fusch, at 360-xxx-xxxx or
[email protected] If you want to talk privately about your rights as a
participant, you can call Dr. Leilani Endicott. She is the Walden University
representative who can discuss this with you. Her phone number is 1-800-925-3368,
extension 3121210. Walden University’s approval number for this study is 09-16-14-
0190607 and it expires on September 15, 2015.
Statement of consent:
I have read the above information and I feel that I understand the study well enough to
make a decision about my involvement. By signing this consent form I am agreeing to
participant in the study based on the terms described above and will receive a copy of the
signed consent form for my records.
Printed name of participant _______________________________
Date of consent _______________________________
Participant’s written signature _______________________________
Researcher’s written signature _______________________________
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Appendix B: Semistructured Interview Questions
Demographics Questions
1. How many years have you served in senior IT leadership?
2. What is the total number of employees in your company?
3. In the last two years, how many IT professionals have voluntary resigned
from your department?
4. What was your area of service?
5. How many direct and indirect (reports) employees are you responsible for
leading?
6. What is the average tenure of IT professionals in your
organization/department?
Interview Questions
1. What strategies do you use to retain IT professionals?
2. What are the critical factors you use to retain IT professionals?
3. What retention strategies do you use to retain IT professionals in your IT
organization?
4. What strategies do you use that are least effective in retaining IT professionals
in the IT organizations?
5. What strategies do you use that are most effective in retaining IT
professionals?
6. What other strategies and leadership characteristics do you use that are
160
beneficial in retaining IT professionals?
7. In your experience, what barriers prohibit retention strategies from being
successful?
8. What other information would you like to provide that we have not addressed
already?