Document Type

Thesis

Publication details

Tseng, CY 2010, 'The retention of software development employees in the IT industry in Taiwan', DBA thesis, Southern Cross University, Lismore, NSW.

Copyright CY Tseng 2010

Abstract

This thesis is about retention of software development employees in the IT industry in Taiwan. Retention involves the management of voluntary staff turnover so that effective staff are encouraged to remain in the employ of the organization. The core concept of this thesis is to manage voluntary turnover of these software development employees and provide a tentative set of retention guidelines appropriate to IT companies in Taiwan.

The rationale for this research is that the loss of software development employees not only involves the costs of a departing employee, but also involves loss of knowledge, social capital and company memory which may cause IT companies to fail. This is because IT companies’ tacit knowledge gained from experience and know-how may not be passed on from senior workers to junior workers. Consequently, the competitive advantages of IT companies may not be sustained and they could be forced to leave the business.

In addition, there are two research background problems identified for this study, which are a decreasing core workforce resulting from the aging population, and insufficient software development employees resulting from Taiwan’s education system. Both factors make the study significant, as software development employees are a key source of profit, skill and sustainable competitive advantage for IT companies. Therefore, the aim of this thesis is to identify what retention factors are important in retaining software development employees in the IT industry in Taiwan.

A quantitative approach was used for this study and an empirical retention model has been established involving six retention factors. These six retention factors were identified as independent variables and their relationships with the dependent variable, which was the software development employees’ decision to stay, were examined. These six retention factors are: job appreciation, fair remuneration, freedom in decision making, new challenging work, development, and workplace flexibility.

The target population of this study was full-time software development employees who work in the R&D departments of HsinChu Science Park (HCSP) in Taiwan. There were three different types of software development employees identified for this study, namely software engineers, project leaders and assistant managers. A web-based online survey was used.

The findings of this study indicate that two unique and four common retention factors could be related to software engineers and assistant managers’ decisions to stay. One unique and five common retention factors could be related to project leaders’ decisions to stay. In addition, these three different types of software development employees are in different career stages. Therefore, tentative guidelines for retention policy and practice in IT companies could be developed based on a mixture of the career stages and unique retention factors of each different type of software development employee.

The recommendations of this study suggest that most software engineers and some junior project leaders could be in the career stage of Exploration, in which they could seek a comparable salary and could need technical skills development. Most project leaders and some senior software engineers could be in the career stage of Establishment, in which they could seek to pursue dual career development. This stage may activate job-hopping attitudes. Finally, assistant managers could also be in the career stage of Establishment, in which they could seek for more freedom in decision making and different pay level and pay content.

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