CEC Theses and Dissertations

Title

Revitalizing the Midcareer Computing Technical Professional

Date of Award

1998

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Graduate School of Computer and Information Sciences

Advisor

Steven R. Terrell

Committee Member

John A. Scigliano

Committee Member

Michael Moody

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to address the question why computing technical professionals such as programmers and systems analysts appear to have low motivation for adapting to changes in job skill demands resulting from technological change. The question was addressed by examining existing research that might reveal answers to the issues relevant to the problem.

The problem is indicated by the symptoms resistance to change, technical obsolescence, and career stagnation of midcareer computing technical professionals. This condition is detrimental to the careers of the affected individuals, to their professions, and to the organizations which employ them. Many interrelated underlying factors contribute to these symptoms. Some of the roots, such as personality and motivational characteristics of the population, are long-term issues, and others, such as rapid technological change in the computing industry and profound changes in organizational structures and jobs, have developed more recently. Attitudes associated with the midcareer stage and with midlife are also involved.

The research methodology was meta-analysis of studies that have addressed underlying issues of the problem within the target population and in referent occupational groups, such as engineers. In addition to personality, motivation, and career development issues, these studies have examined such constructs as job satisfaction, organizational commitment, and organizational climate as they relate to technical obsolescence. Specific procedures were to state criteria for including studies in the meta-analysis, identify and locate all studies that met the criteria, code substantive and methodological data from the selected studies, apply meta-analytic techniques, analyze the results, and state conclusions, implications, and recommendations. Studies that met the selection criteria had employed survey and qualitative methods, therefore traditional quantitative meta-analysis techniques were found not to be applicable. An exploratory, inductive approach was then adopted. The analysis revealed consistency in what is known about the personalities and motivation of computing technical professionals. More importantly, major gaps in research for this population were revealed. The study concluded research focusing on the target population is needed in the areas resistance to change, technical obsolescence, career stages, career plateaus, job involvement, organizational climate, and joint individual and organizational responsibility for technical updating.

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