Dissertation on Career Planning
The study of career needs, career development programmes and job satisfaction levels of R&D personnel: the case of Taiwan Tser-Yieth Chen, Pao-Long Chang and Ching-Wen Yeh Abstract This study sets out to explore the relative gap between career development programmes and career needs, and its subsequent causal effect on job satisfaction levels among research and development (R&D) personnel.
The study reveals that R&D personnel have diverse career needs at various stages of their career, and that job satisfaction levels among this group are particularly affected by the gap between career needs and career development programmes depending upon which stage of their career they have reached.It is also clear, for R&D personnel in particular, that not only is the gap between career development programmes and career needs an important determinant of job satisfaction, but that there are considerably higher turnover levels among researchers in the high-tech industry in Taiwan than the average level for industry as a whole.
Thus, from a pragmatic perspective, it is of particular importance to propose effective career development programmes aimed at satisfying the career needs of R&D personnel in order to improve the level of job satisfaction in this group.Keywords Career needs; career development programmes; job satisfaction.
Introduction It was highlighted in the empirical study by Garden (1990) that research and development (R&D) personnel demonstrated significantly higher turnover levels than the general industry average; furthermore, one of the findings of the study was that career development opportunities were a key factor.
Leavitt (1996) recognized that, even without offering high salaries, those companies which adopted suitable career development programmes were capable of enhancing internal job satisfaction levels. In Schein’s (1978) study, it was argued that career development programmes help to raise productivity, creativity and long-term organizational effectiveness. Indeed, a truly effective career development programme will allow staff to explore developmental opportunities according to their own abilities, leading to considerable personal satisfaction that their abilities are being fully utilized at a personal level.
Tser-Yieth Chen, Professor, Institute of Management Science, Ming-chuan University, No. 250, Chung-shan North Road, Section 5, Taipei, 111, Taiwan, ROC (tel: ? 886 2 2882 4564 ext. 2401; fax: ? 886 2 2880 9764; e-mail: [email protected] edu. tw). Pao-Long Chang, Professor, Department of Business Administration, Feng Chia University. Ching-Wen Yeh, Institute of Management Science, Ming-chuan University. The International Journal of Human Resource Management ISSN 0958-5192 print/ISSN 1466-4399 online q 2003 Taylor & Francis Ltd http://www. tandf. co. k/journals DOI: 10. 1080/0958519032000106182 1002 The International Journal of Human Resource Management From an alternative perspective, career development programmes can also help to reduce the very significant costs that are directly incurred through high turnover levels while helping to prevent the deterioration of staff capabilities as a whole. Throughout the process of an individual’s ongoing career development, personal development influences the choice of profession, the acceptance of that choice and its subsequent implementation.
Hence, personal needs will differ at different stages of a career and in response to changes in living circumstances, while the degree of importance and motivation assigned to such needs will also change according to the person, the circumstances and the time (Schein, 1980). It is clear, therefore, that individuals have unique needs at various stages of their career, and, as such, organizations have to begin to appreciate the needs of their staff at different career stages, providing them with opportunities to satisfy their expectations and creating the optimal symbiosis between personal needs and organizational goals.
In this way, an organization can succeed in enhancing job satisfaction levels and raising organizational performance. According to research by the Directorate General of Budget Accounting and Statistics (DGBAS), Executive Yuan, ROC (2001), the administration in Taiwan has placed significant emphasis on the development of the island’s high-tech industries, leading to continual growth in exports of electronic and telecommunications products.
Therefore, under the government’s official programme of cultivating high-tech industries, the effective recruitment and retention of experienced managers and R&D professionals has been recognized as a key issue. However, retention is a growing problem for human resources managers, certainly within the high-tech industry, and particularly at the Hsinchu Science-based Industrial Park (HSIP) where the current high turnover of staff is a major concern (Ma, 1998). The lack of career development opportunities is one dominant factor in the high turnover of R&D personnel (Leavitt, 1996; Garden, 1990; Dalton et al. , 1986).
Adequate career development programmes can help personnel to meet their career expectations, nurture their ideals and aspirations, and enhance independent R&D knowledge. Personnel are thereby motivated to prepare themselves for the next career development opportunity, enhancing their productivity and increasing job satisfaction. Hence, from a pragmatic perspective, it is of particular importance to propose effective career development programmes aimed at satisfying the career needs of R&D personnel in order to improve the level of job satisfaction among this particular group. Literature review and hypothesis development
Career needs and career development programmes Research and development (R&D) activities are widely recognized as an important means of creating a sustainable competitive advantage in the global marketplace; indeed, expenditure on R&D activities is invariably used these days as a measure of an organization’s attempts to stay ahead of the competition. As organizations become more dependent on technology, the ability to attract and retain competent R&D professionals becomes increasingly important, as does the pursuit of the effective management of these highly valued employees (Aryee and Leong, 1991; Petroni, 2000).
Arguably, therefore, greater effort should be placed into satisfying the needs of this particular group of professionals since they represent the organization’s future potential competitive advantage, and, if organizations are to gain an understanding of the factors influencing the performance and work attitudes of these employees, then the design of an effective career management system capable of satisfying their career values and aspirations is Chen et al. : Career needs, career development programmes and job satisfaction1003 clearly an important element of their management (Aryee and Leong, 1991; Greenhaus and Callanan, 1994).
Within most organizations nowadays, but particularly those that are heavily involved in R&D activities, effective human resource management strategies are specifically targeted at fostering innovative and creative capabilities in four major directions: human resource planning, performance appraisal, reward systems and career management (Gupta and Singhal, 1993).Of these specific requirements, the need for appropriate career management systems for industrial researchers has been much debated in both industrial and academic circles (e. . Allen and Katz, 1986; Aryee and Leong, 1991; Bailyn, 1991; Tampoe, 1993). Discussion of the findings of these scholars provides the starting point for the research reported in this paper. This study sets out to examine the career needs and appropriate career development programmes for R&D professionals, since we recognize that there have been few studies which have focused specifically on identifying the career needs of this particular group of employees during the different stages of their careers.
In an exploratory attempt to develop this area of research, this study examines empirically the career needs of R&D personnel in Taiwan, hypothesizing that a causal relationship exists between such career needs, at different career stages, and overall job satisfaction levels. Various needs of a personal nature will change with each developmental stage of a person’s career and, at given stages of their careers, in addition to distinctive psychological needs, individuals will have unique areer concerns, developmental tasks that need to be undertaken and personal challenges that will need to be overcome (Schein, 1980; Cron, 1984). At certain career stages, each individual will undoubtedly have diverse career developmental ‘duties’ and ‘goals’, depending upon the specific function that they perform (Schein, 1987), but we argue that, in Taiwan in particular, it is necessary to identify not only the career goals of R&D professionals, but also the inherent value systems and needs structures of these employees (Kim and Cha, 2000).
We believe that this research is of particular importance to Taiwan because we recognize that organizational development here has yet to move to a stage where employees feel sufficiently confident to voice these needs directly to line managers, and as such, there is still a significant lack of understanding of what it is that ‘drives’ R&D professionals in Taiwan.
Organizations everywhere have to be able to respond more effectively to the career development needs of all their employees because, through innovation, they are able to differentiate themselves from their competitors; however, the knowledge capital necessary for such innovation resides with their employees, not with the organization itself (Hoon, 2000; Petroni, 2000).
Although individuals are initially engaged by a company ostensibly to enrich the potential of the company, they nevertheless enter with their own distinctive career plans in mind, and, as such, can be attracted to a company, and retained within it, on the basis of whether or not the company adopts specific practices capable of satisfying their individual career needs (Chang, 1999).
This implies that personal career attitudes can affect the overall attitudes of individuals towards a company, and we can extrapolate from this that any company which places effort into satisfying the personal career needs of individuals will in turn reduce its staff turnover levels. We believe, therefore, that it is important, indeed crucial, for companies to address the issue of individual career needs.
As a result of employees’ changing attitudes towards their own careers, there is a need to focus attention on their perceptions of the career management practices offered by their organizations, with such perceptions arguably being more relevant to individual career outcomes than the actual career management practices themselves (Crabtree, 1999). 1004 The International Journal of Human Resource Management Organizations will have to begin to realize that career development programmes that are eminently suited to one particular group of R&D professionals may be inappropriate, or even irrelevant, to another group.
We argue, therefore, that human resource managers must recognize that there are a number of diverse groups within the R&D profession, and hence the career development programmes that are developed for these employees must be flexible enough to accommodate this diversity. Our proposed concept is based on the following setting: in line with the changes in roles and job content at different stages of their careers, the psychological needs of this particular group of employees will also change (Cron, 1984).
What is regarded as an ‘appropriate’ adjustment will naturally vary according to the career development programmes adopted by different organizations, and they will therefore have varying levels of influence on the level of satisfaction that employees have with such programmes. Given the changes that will inevitably take place from a career ‘start point’ and through the various career stages, along with the personnel maturation of an individual, various career needs will subsequently begin to emerge and further evolve.
We contend that R&D personnel will inevitably encounter career planning problems at various stages of their careers and argue that their respective career needs will come as a result of their own self-understanding, personal interests, values, professional roles and responsibilities and, moreover, the greater responsibilities that are a hallmark of the particular stage of their career that they have reached.
If we fail to consider the specific needs of R&D personnel at various career stages, then there is an increasing likelihood that the design of career development programmes will be inappropriate, and hence unlikely to have the desired effect of attracting and retaining the most valuable R&D personnel. Thus, it would be clearly inappropriate for an organization to adopt the same programmes in the hope that they will effectively satisfy the needs of all R&D personnel at different stages of their careers, since it is also clear that different career development programmes will be necessary to meet these different career needs.
Our study attempts to bridge the current gap by examining such career needs and the career development programmes currently being adopted to meet them. Based on the preceding discussion, we first of all examine the career needs of R&D personnel pursuing the following hypothesis: Hypothesis 1: R&D personnel have different perspectives on the nature of career needs, and of their significance, at different stages of their careers.
Within this study, career needs are generally defined as the changing career goals, tasks and challenges that arise due to shifts in personal career stages. A career goal may be a particular landmark to be achieved during a career, which provides the necessary direction and motivation for advancement. The motivational goals involve the determination of the main career tasks to be completed and, during the implementation of these career tasks, opportunities are continually evaluated for future potential career development, bottlenecks or challenges.
We propose that ‘career goals’ will generally focus on existing career needs and the determination of the direction of an individual’s current efforts, while ‘career tasks’ are more pertinent to those career needs that emerge in pursuit of the achievement of these overall career goals. We also contend that ‘career challenges’ relate to the future career needs that arise from subsequent opportunities for career development.
We examine these three career needs dimensions at various stages of the careers of R&D personnel, and then consider suitable career development programmes capable of catering to such needs. Chen et al. : Career needs, career development programmes and job satisfaction1005 Career goal needs In the ‘exploration’ stage of a researcher’s career, the central focus is on establishing a suitable professional field and, through self-assessment, gaining an understanding of their own interests and ability in that field.
Thus, they will evaluate their own level of interest, and then seek information on the working environment to determine the roles and responsibilities that an organization will want and allow them to take. Employees will generally wish to devote themselves to a particular field of interest, but will also wish to interact with their superiors and peers to satisfy their social support needs (Hall, 1976).
If career development programmes are to be effective at meeting the career goal needs of R&D personnel, we propose that at the ‘exploration’ stage of their careers, these programmes should include helping employees to understand their professional interests, providing appropriate job descriptions for each position, adequate support from their more experienced colleagues and discussions between employees and superiors with regard to job content.
During the ‘establishment’ stage, employees are keen to experience success and the respect of their co-workers; they are ambitious and industrious, eager to improve their knowledge and very open about their pursuit of professional goals. Since they will place significant value on their on-the-job performance and promotion, they will also be keen to keep track of their personal performance status, as well as external opportunities and threats, to determine their distinct competitive advantage. Self-directed learning and external learning are also essential elements of career development at this stage.
At the ‘establishment’ stage of their careers, if such programmes are to continue to meet the career goal needs of R&D personnel, they should include the adoption of project assignments as a means of facilitating on-the-job training, encouraging personnel to participate in seminars where they can present their project findings and offering tuition fee assistance for continuing professional development. During the ‘maintenance’ stage of their careers, the career concerns of R&D personnel are retention of their earlier accomplishments and re-evaluation of their career direction.
At this stage, they should already have achieved a certain level of on-the-job status and will be keen to retain this status while re-evaluating their future career prospects, building on their earlier achievements and seeking out motivators to encourage even greater efforts. They should also have gained a considerable level of knowledge, and have become rich in job experience, so they should be adequately qualified to direct others. Organizations should be looking to these R&D workers to take the less experienced ersonnel within their core team ‘under their wing’ and thus help to consolidate the organization. In order to meet the career goal needs of R&D personnel at the ‘maintenance’ stage, we suggest that appropriate career development programmes should include careful consideration of employees’ career paths within the organization, the possibility of offering dual-career programmes, which would enable personnel to select their own future career direction without jeopardizing their promotion prospects, and cultivating personnel to become professional consultants or specialized lecturers.
Employees at the ‘disengagement’ stage will be concerned only with successful completion of their career (Cron, 1984). We assert that, as R&D personnel come close to retirement, they place less emphasis on their current job and focus instead on other roles, in order to adapt to increasing age and waning vigour. They will be hoping to round off their professional life and arranging activities with greater relevance to retirement.
At the same time, their roles will be changing, from accepting and training themselves, to handing over the job, providing direction and consultation and passing on their experience to less experienced personnel. Their major hope at this stage will be to have 1006 The International Journal of Human Resource Management gained a reputation within their field, and their only real desire will be that their loyalty will be compensated admirably by a good pension package.
They will have accumulated extensive experience and research knowledge, with a wealth of experience in research direction and counselling. In order to meet the career goal needs of R&D personnel at the ‘disengagement’ stage, we suggest that appropriate career development programmes should include establishing succession planning, the training of replacements, providing retirement planning and counselling and consideration of establishing honorary consultancy positions for those who merit such positions.
Career task needs During the ‘exploration’ stage, employees need continually to upgrade their skills and knowledge according to the requirements of the job and so gain a complete understanding of what is required of them; thus career tasks involve obtaining the necessary knowledge to enable successful job performance.
Employees must know how to perform a specific job, and how to create a meaningful link between their own personal perspective and the overall output of the organization, ensuring that their personal job performance achieves the standards of excellence required to make an effective contribution to the company (Kerry, 1998). In order to meet the career task needs of R&D personnel at the ‘exploration’ stage of their careers, appropriate career development programmes should include the provision of on-the-job training and implementation of professional development training.
During the ‘establishment’ stage, career development tasks will involve raising professional knowledge and the level of autonomy to boost job performance, creative development and innovative skills. R&D personnel can continue to develop their professional ability to innovate, to become more intellectually mature, gain wider job experience and become much more willing to take on additional responsibilities; one of their greatest desires will be that their superiors will fully empower them, thus allowing them greater levels of autonomy.
At the ‘establishment’ stage of their careers, if such programmes are to continue to meet the career task needs of R&D personnel, they should include individual assignments involving periods of engagement in foreign training, the introduction of job rotation in order expand fields of expertise and the provision of opportunities for job enrichment. During the ‘maintenance’ stage, an important personal task is to ensure that the previously established ground is retained (Super, 1984). A personal development task will be to seek out wider job and organizational perspectives while maintaining current performance (Cron, 1984).
Promotional opportunities will be limited, since a certain status will have already been achieved within the company and, thus, effort must be placed into their decision-planning and directive roles. During this phase, employees should be adopting parallel, cross-functional means to integrate their work and widening their professional horizons in order continually to make work more interesting. The more zealous R&D personnel within an organization, those not content with limited promotional prospects, ill attempt to extend their reach outside the company, extending their career channels and attempting to scale higher career peaks. In order to meet the career task needs of R&D personnel at the ‘maintenance’ stage of their careers, appropriate career development programmes should include setting up objective performance appraisals as a means of assessing overall management performance and future development, encouraging personnel to learn additional interpersonal skills, counselling skills and so on and assisting employees to jointly formulate a development plan that would involve more demanding roles.
Chen et al. : Career needs, career development programmes and job satisfaction1007 During the ‘disengagement’ stage, as retirement age nears and responsibilities begin to decline, most employees will choose to maintain acceptable levels of performance while preparing for retirement (Cron, 1984). An important developmental task at this stage is to maintain an acceptable level of performance while building a stronger sense of self-identity outside work and attempting to adjust schedules in order to shift time and energy towards other pursuits (such as family life, friendships, religion and so on).
In order to meet the career task needs of R&D personnel at the ‘disengagement’ stage, we suggest that appropriate career development programmes should include providing employees with the means of undertaking self-assessment in order both to maintain their current level of performance and to strive for continuous improvement, setting basic job standards and encouraging participation in professional associations. Career challenge needs
At the ‘exploration’ stage, the major career challenge is continually to acquire professional knowledge and participate in self-improvement activities related to enhancing professional knowledge and skills. A more personal challenge is to establish a good initial professional self-concept (Cron, 1984) in order to strive to live up to recognized professional behavioural standards and criteria for professional elationships, which represent additional challenges to be met. Workers must also try continually to employ professional knowledge within an organization, to enjoy a measure of recognition and attention from superiors and co-workers regarding their professional calibre within a certain field and thereby secure more challenging work.
In order to meet the career challenge needs of R&D personnel at the ‘exploration’ stage of their careers, appropriate career development programmes should include the provision of specifically targeted training to fully realize the potential of each employee, the provision of guidance aimed at helping employees to improve their job performance and clarification by superiors of the continuing requirements for the job in terms of characteristics, content and qualifications.
At the ‘establishment’ stage, the major career challenges for R&D personnel are the desire to continue to perform well, to gain promotion and to balance the requirements of the job with family responsibilities. Hence, they will seek promotional opportunities by demonstrating superior performance in their role, leading to the receipt of various rewards (not limited solely to material enrichment), and secure a role with greater autonomy.
Employees at this stage are keen to receive early promotion and will tend to place a great deal of effort into their work. They are likely to be spending more of their time at work in order to create an impact on their superiors; however this can be to the detriment of their family lives because of the imbalance created between their professional and private lives.
At the ‘establishment’ stage of their careers, if such programmes are to continue to meet the career challenge needs of R&D personnel, they should include performance evaluation so as to help employees to adjust their efforts accordingly and to provide them with an understanding of promotional prospects and routes and assisting employees to find the appropriate balance between their jobs and their family life.
At the ‘maintenance’ stage, R&D personnel need to retain their established organizational status, prioritize work functions and maintain motivation, professionalism and competitiveness, with career tasks involving broadening their job horizons and extending their professional reach. There may also be a growing threat of challenges from newcomers; thus, the need for continuous innovation is paramount. R&D personnel will have reached their professional peaks and will be seeking to retain their status, with 1008 The International Journal of Human Resource Management he hope of permanent job assurances and benefits being provided by their employers. When faced with potential threats, the reaction may be somewhat intense, leading to protective walls being built around their domain. Those already high up in the organizational hierarchy have fewer promotional opportunities; this can inevitably lead to a greater orientation towards the present, which will often manifest itself in an increasing desire for immediate monetary rewards (Hall, 1986; Cron, 1984; Rabinowitz and Hall, 1981).
In order to meet the career challenge needs of R&D personnel at the ‘exploration’ stage of their careers, appropriate career development programmes should include the design of appropriate (material) rewards and motivational systems; subsidizing external educational activities; and providing interpersonal relationship counselling and guidance, according to specific needs. During the ‘disengagement’ stage, retirement can be a problem in itself.
Being accustomed to a business career, employees will have now reached a stage where they must give it up and adapt to a more non-productive lifestyle, staying at home to face the strange experience of being idle, with no specific duties. Some people can find self- affirmation and the maintenance of a belief in their own worth to be a formidable challenge (Dessler, 1996). Hence, R&D employees will be retrospectively examining their careers, and pondering how they intend to while away their future. In seeking out another crossroad in life, they will be adjusting their roles and lifestyles, and accepting and developing a new self-identity.
These retirees also face the prospect of spending more time with their families, and of how they will handle it. Examining a passing career produces a need to accept achievements and to adjust one’s self-identity, leading to problems of psychological adaptation. Thus, businesses must offer career counselling at this stage in order to help their R&D staff to develop a positive attitude, and to avoid at all costs a pessimistic or negative outlook. Retiring employees should be counselled to encourage their participation in social and leisure activities, and family life, while roviding guidance to help these employees to plan their life as a retiree, and thereby maintain a positive and optimistic attitude. According to Hoon (2000), managers generally consider the provision of career planning, management and development for their employees as key human resource management functions that will increase employee job satisfaction and organizational commitment; indeed, the ongoing career development of employees is frequently cited as a positive investment by corporations, capable of creating a more positive job attitude (London, 1988).
Nevertheless, the disappointment for many professional workers is that current management practices and policies fail to incorporate an adequate understanding of their needs and expectations as professionals (Petroni, 2000). Thus, irrespective of the amount of career development practices that an organization provides and actively pursues, the whole process will prove to be totally ineffective if employees perceive this developmental effort as unproductive, non-utilitarian or, indeed, non-existent (Crabtree, 1999).
Organizations must therefore pay particular attention to the career aspirations of each individual and be aware of their attitudes towards the organization’s career management practices. Cordero et al. (1994a, 1994b) noted that development opportunities that were capable of satisfying the expectations of technological personnel would lead to enhancement of their overall job satisfaction levels, and, in a study of professional engineers, Petroni (2000) found a strong association between the inadequate understanding of their expectations and their general level of dissatisfaction with their overall career direction.
This suggests that there may be a widespread need to develop career management systems, particularly among groups of professionals, which are congruent with the career aspirations of each individual. Such efforts at matching programmes with aspirations will Chen et al. : Career needs, career development programmes and job satisfaction1009 learly have an influence on overall satisfaction levels and on decisions about whether to remain within an organization or whether to seek alternative employment (Granrose and Portwood, 1987; Aryee and Leong, 1991). Based on our proposals for career development programmes, we further examine the career development status of individuals in order to determine whether any gaps exist between their career needs and the career development programmes provided.
If such a gap does exist, it would be of interest to establish whether or not the gap differs noticeably at various career stages. If the gap between the career needs of R&D personnel and the available career development programmes becomes excessive, their inner needs will not be met and, in accordance with motivational process theory, these unsatisfied needs will subsequently produce nervousness and stress among workers, ultimately impacting on job satisfaction (Robbin, 1998).
If this gap is controllable, we can further argue that job satisfaction levels can be reasonably predicted, since organizations have the ability to boost job satisfaction levels through the provision of appropriate career development programmes capable of satisfying unfulfilled career needs. Based upon this discussion, we can propose the following hypothesis: Hypothesis 2: The gap between career development programmes and career needs has a negative correlation with job satisfaction.
We can also argue that this influence on job satisfaction from the gap between career needs and career development programmes will vary with different career stages because R&D workers at the ‘establishment’ stage are keen to forge ahead and focus on the level of compatibility between their career needs and career development programmes; this compatibility level therefore has a strong influence on their overall level of job satisfaction.
In contrast, those at the ‘exploration’, ‘maintenance’ and ‘disengagement’ stages of their careers are either total newcomers, those maintaining their earlier achieved status or those preparing themselves for retirement, and therefore less likely to place so much emphasis on compatibility between their career needs and career development programmes (Super, 1957; Cron, 1984; Weeks et al. , 1999).
The gap between career development programmes and career needs is therefore likely to have less impact on the job satisfaction of workers in all but the ‘establishment’ stage of their careers. Based on this well-founded supposition, we propose the following hypothesis: Hypothesis 3: Career stages may moderate the negative effect on job satisfaction from the gap between career development programmes and career needs. Method Data source
The sample in this study was drawn from R&D personnel in the high-tech industry in the Hsinchu Science-based Industrial Park (HSIP). A pre-tested questionnaire was used with proportionate stratified sampling being carried out according to both the year 2000 manpower monthly report issued by the HSIP management and the ratio of R&D personnel within certain sectors to the total R&D personnel within HSIP. The sample data were collected by mail.
A total of 1,300 questionnaires were distributed, of which 385 were returned, giving a response rate of 29. 6 per cent; eighteen questionnaires were invalid, leaving a total of 367 valid questionnaires as the sample; thus, the overall return rate of valid questionnaires was 28. 2 per cent. Since a total of only eleven R&D workers were currently in a stage of ‘disengagement’, it was not possible to undertake any statistical analysis of this group that could claim to have any real validity. 010 The International Journal of Human Resource Management Measures Career stages There are a number of reasons for using age as a proxy for career stages, as follows: First of all, there is no consistent, widely accepted means of measuring employee career stages and, as demonstrated in a general review of the extant research, a wide variety of approaches has been adopted in an effort to carry out an appropriate and acceptable assessment (Mehta et al. , 2000).
Second, alternative operational definitions of career stages have been used in multiple research investigations. These include Super’s (1957) adult form, which comprise four career stages; Gottfredson’s (1981) complex theory of occupational circumscription and compromise, within which there are several recursive career stages based on childhood and adolescent processes; tenure (Stumpf and Rabinowitz, 1981); Levinson’s (1986) career stage groupings based on four life eras; and indeed, age (e. . Cron, 1984; Hafer, 1986; Dalrymple and Strahle, 1990; Kao et al. , 1997; Weeks et al. , 1999). These studies also attracted a general recognition of the discordant way in which career stages have been operationalized across studies (Swanson, 1992). Third, our study uses age to represent career stages in similar fashion to the way in which many others have done when testing Super’s (1957) model (e. g. Gould, 1979; Slocum and Cron, 1985; Weeks and Kahle, 1990). Fourth, Weeks et al. 1999) also argued that ‘since age can be measured quite accurately, it can be argued that this measure has adequate reliability and objectivity when compared to the reliability and objectivity of other measures of career stages’. Finally, we must also concede that all research is confronted by the practical realities of costs and deadlines (Cooper and Schindler, 1998), and this was evident in our study in terms of the depth of our questionnaire, costs, time and the rate of response. Career stage categorization in this study is therefore similar to that used in many previous studies (Cron, 1984; Weeks et al. 1999), and we regard the age of R&D personnel as an indication of their professional ability and job experience, which usually increases with age, and which moves forward with the career stage of these employees. Thus, we adopt age to measure career stages, but we also concede that it represents one of the limitations of our study; that is to say, in order to clarify different career needs at various stages, we do not consider that some of the R&D personnel included within the study may be in a period of transition from one career stage to another.
In this study, therefore, career stage is also represented by age. The sample was broken down for analysis into four age groups corresponding to the Cron (1984) career stage categories, with respondents in the ‘exploration’ stage being equal to or less than 30 years of age, respondents in the ‘establishment’ stage being aged between 30 and 45 years, respondents in the ‘maintenance’ stage being aged between 46 and 65 years and respondents in the ‘disengagement’ stage, being those of 66 years of age or above.
Career needs Career needs are defined as the personal needs of goals, tasks and challenges in a person’s career, and it is recognized that career needs change with the various career stages. This study proposes various primary career needs for the various career stages, constructing a thirty-two-item scale to measure these career needs. In order to indicate their needs, participants were provided with a 5-point Likert-type response scale, ranging from ‘strongly disagree’ to ‘strongly agree’. The details of the career needs scale is attached as an appendix.
The internal consistency reliability (alpha coefficient) of the measure of career needs was 0. 737. Career development programmes Based on the career needs of R&D personnel, this study proposes three general categories of response in the form of career development programmes: career goals-oriented development programmes, career tasks-oriented Chen et al. : Career needs, career development programmes and job satisfaction1011 development programmes and career challenges-oriented development programmes.
This study refers to Ivancevich and Glueck (1989), adjusting and revising the itemized issues and some of the detailed assessment indices, with the aim of associating these with career needs while also taking into account the status of career development in Taiwan’s high-tech industry. Thereafter, a thirty-three-item scale was developed to measure the perceived career development programmes. Participants were provided with a 5-point Likert-type response scale ranging from ‘very dissatisfied’ to ‘very satisfied’.
Details of the contents of the career development programmes are attached as an appendix. The internal consistency reliability (alpha coefficient) of the career development programme measures was 0. 856. The gap between career development programmes and career needs The gap between career development programmes and career needs is determined as ‘the discrepancy between the career needs of R&D personnel and their awareness level of the career development programmes currently in use by their companies’.
We use such gaps to evaluate whether the career needs of this group are being satisfied by their companies’ career development programmes. Such gaps are measured by subtracting the average awareness values of career development programmes from average career needs values. Job satisfaction Job satisfaction was defined by Gregson (1987) as the positive emotional state resulting form the appraisal of one’s job or experience. The measurement of job satisfaction within this study was undertaken using a composite of five sub-scales (satisfaction with: pay, promotion, supervisors, co-workers and work).
These five items are from the original thirty-item Job Descriptive Index scale of Smith et al. (1969) and we have chosen (and occasionally modified) these items to ensure the best fit with the situation in the firm being studied. This is an approach which has been used effectively in previous sales force studies (Teas, 1983; Johnston et al. , 1990). We include one additional item, which asks participants to indicate their overall level of satisfaction with the job.
Participants were provided with a 5-point Likert-type response scale ranging from ‘very dissatisfied’ to ‘very satisfied’ to indicate their level of satisfaction with the following aspects of their present job: (1) job content; (2) supervision; (3) co-worker relations; (4) opportunities for promotion; (5) pay; and (6) their overall level of satisfaction with their organization. The sample items included: ‘The amount of challenge you have in your job’, ‘Your chances for promotion’ and ‘The recognition you get for good work (your job, overall)’.
A summed averaged of the six items was produced to form the job satisfaction score (Cronbach’s alpha coefficient ? 0:920). In addition, MANOVA data analysis was carried out to test whether, at different stages of their careers, R&D personnel had differing viewpoints on their career needs. Regression analyses were conducted to examine the effects on job satisfaction from the gap between career development programmes and career needs, the moderating effects of career stages on the relationships between the gap and job satisfaction. Empirical results
The empirical results of this study, providing the means of the three types of career needs – career goal needs, career task needs and career challenge needs – of R&D personnel at different stages of their careers, are presented in Table 1a. In addition, the results of the ANOVA analysis of the repeated measures are presented in Table 1b. The overall mean for career goal needs was 4. 31, of which the ‘establishment’ stage (4. 39) was larger than the ‘exploration’ stage (4. 32), ‘disengagement’ stage (4. 18) and ‘maintenance’ stage (3. 6). As Table 1b shows, there are statistically significant 1012 The International Journal of Human Resource Management Table 1a The means of career needs of R&D personnel at different career stages Career needsCareer stages | |Exploration |Establishment |Maintenance |Disengagement |Mean | |Goals |4. 32 |4. 39 |3. 96 |4. 18 |4. 31 | |Tasks |4. 57 |4. 49 |4. 15 |4. 36 |4. 8 | |Challenges |4. 30 |4. 35 |3. 76 |4. 00 |4. 26 | Table 1b ANOVA of career needs of R&D personnel at different career stages |Source of variation |Sum of squares |Degrees of |Mean square |F-value |p-value | | | |freedom | | | | |(1) The repeated measures ANOVA | |Career stages |21. 1 |3 |7. 136 |14. 27*** |0. 001 | |Career needs |5. 22 |2 |2. 61 |19*** |0. 001 | |Interaction |1. 92 |6 |0. 32 |2. 33* |0. 031 | (2) The simple main effects on career stages |Career goal needs |6. 15 |3 |2. 05 |8. 2*** |0. 001 | |Career task needs |5. 36 |3 |1. 79 |7. 51*** |0. 01 | |Career challenge needs |11. 83 |3 |3. 94 |13. 74*** |0. 001 | (3) The simple main effects on career needs |Exploration |5. 69 |2 |2. 84 |30. 98*** |0. 001 | |Establishment |1. 92 |2 |0. 96 |6. 14** |0. 002 | |Maintenance |2. 83 |2 |1. 42 |7. 11** |0. 001 | |Disengagement |0. 73 |2 |0. 36 |2. 3 |0. 083 | Notes ***p , :001; **p , 01; *p , :05: differences between the various career stages (F ? 14:27; p ? 0:001) and also between various career needs (F ? 19; p ? 0:001). Moreover, the interaction between career needs and career stages also produces significant levels (F ? 2:33; p ? 0:031), that is to say, at different stages of their careers, R&D personnel do display different career needs. Since the interactions were significant, it was clear that a test of the simple main effects should be further conducted.
First of all, from the test of the simple main effects on career stages, the results indicated that, at different stages of their careers, R&D personnel showed significantly different viewpoints on the significance of their career goal needs (F ? 8:2; p ? 0:001). Furthermore, the mean values showed that for those members of this group at the ‘establishment’ stage, career goal needs had reached a higher level of importance than they had for those at the ‘exploration’ and ‘maintenance’ stages of their careers ? 4:39 . :32 . 3:96? : Second, at different career stages, R&D personnel demonstrated significantly different viewpoints on the significance of their career task needs (F ? 7:51; p ? 0:001). In addition, the means also showed that, for those members of this group at the ‘exploration’ stage of their careers, career task needs had reached a higher level of importance than they had for those at the ‘establishment’ and Chen et al. : Career needs, career development programmes and job satisfaction1013 maintenance’ stages of their careers ? 4:57 . 4:49 . 4:15? : Third, at different career stages, R&D personnel demonstrated significantly different viewpoints on the significance of their career challenge needs (F ? 13:74; p ? 0:001). The means also showed that, for those members of this group at the ‘establishment’ stage of their careers, career challenge needs had reached a slightly higher level of importance than they had for those at the ‘exploration’ stage ? 4:35 . 4:30? but a much higher level than they had for those at the ‘maintenance’ stage ? 4:35 . 3:76? : Following the test for simple main effects on different career stages, a further test of the simple main effects was conducted on the three kinds of career needs. The respective F-values on the viewpoint of those R&D personnel in the ‘exploration’, ‘establishment’ and ‘maintenance’ stages of their careers on the significance of the three kinds of career needs, were 30. 98, 6. 14 and 7. 11, all reaching the significance level ( p-value ? 0. 05).
These values indicate that those members of this group at the ‘exploration’, ‘establishment’ and ‘maintenance’ stages of their careers have significantly different viewpoints on the significance of at least two kinds of career needs. The means revealed that, for those members of this group at the ‘exploration’ stage, career task needs reached a higher level of importance than career goal needs and career challenge needs ? 4:57 . 4:32 . 4:30? : Likewise, for those at the ‘establishment’ stage, career task needs again displayed a higher level of importance than career goal needs and career challenge needs ? :49 . 4:39 . 4:35? : Finally, for those at the ‘maintenance’ stage of their careers, career task needs also reached a higher level of importance than career goal needs and career challenge needs ? 4:15 . 3:96 . 3:76? : Thus, hypothesis 1 is supported. According to the figures provided in Table 1a, among the three kinds of career needs, as far as R&D personnel are concerned, the significance of career task needs is highest, with career goal needs coming next and career challenge needs being the least significant.
The reason behind this would seem to be that the needs of the career tasks are a principal demand in the process of R&D, within which these personnel must be experienced in order to achieve their targets. In their efforts during the present stage, to attain the situation of satisfying their career goal needs, R&D personnel would necessarily have stronger career task needs. Once they have achieved their career goals during the present stage, they would then be in a position to assess their chances of developing their future career, and thus achieving a breakthrough, namely, advancement to career challenge needs.
For researchers in Taiwan, career challenge needs can often reach a much higher level of importance for their professional recognition, the capabilities required for completing actual research tasks and the performance level actually attained. This is because these factors are perhaps the most visible indicator, and a critical requirement for promotion to higher R&D positions, or for acceptance of a position of lesser importance.
It should be noted, however, that, during our survey, Taiwan was unfortunately embroiled in the global economic recession that affected all economies, and which will clearly have led to these R&D personnel being somewhat shortsighted and practical, albeit temporarily, in their career task needs. In order to explore whether there is any significant relationship between the dependent variable (job satisfaction) and the independent variables set (the gap between career development programmes and career needs), a multiple regression analysis was conducted as part of this study.
The ‘gap between career development programmes and career needs for goals’, the ‘gap between career development programmes and career needs for tasks’ and the ‘gap between career development programmes and career needs for challenges’ were each entered into the model, and, as Table 2 indicates, all three items had a statistically significant level, with the signs, as expected, being negative. 1014 The International Journal of Human Resource Management
Table 2 Regression analysis results of the gap between career development programmes and career needs on job satisfaction Sourceb T-valueR2F-value DR2p-value The gap between career development programmes and career needs for challenges The gap between career development programmes and career needs for goals The gap between career development programmes and career needs for tasks 2 0. 36***2 7. 420. 44291. 090. 440. 001 2 0. 26***2 5. 860. 52196. 330. 080. 001 2 0. 25***2 5. 250. 55149. 620. 030. 001 Note **p , :001: This denotes that the larger the gap, the lower the job satisfaction of R&D personnel. The items predict that job satisfaction levels among R&D personnel will be in the order of ‘the gap between career development programmes and career needs for challenges’, ‘the gap between career development programmes and career needs for goals’ and ‘the gap between career development programmes and career needs for tasks’, which are able jointly to predict 55 per cent of the variance in job satisfaction.
As to the level of each individual prediction, the gap between career development programmes and career needs for challenges was highest, explaining 44 per cent of the variance; the gap between career development programmes and career needs for goals was next, with an R2 increment of 8 per cent. Therefore, hypothesis 2 is also supported.
This study divided the gap between career development programmes and career needs into three, ‘high’, ‘medium’ and ‘low’, sub-sections according to the mean (plus/minus one) standard deviation in order to explore whether there was any significant difference between these three sub-sections in terms of job satisfaction. Analysis of whether career stages can moderate the negative direct effect on job satisfaction stemming from the gap between career development programmes and career needs has also been undertaken within this study.
The results are provided in Table 3a, which reveals that the interaction between career stages and ‘the gap between career development programmes and career needs’ was significant for job satisfaction (F ? 3:59; p ? 0:002). In order to determine the actual influence of the two independent variables on the dependent variables, tests of the simple and main effects were conducted. First of all, a test of the simple and main effects was conducted on the independent variable, i. . the ‘the gap between career development programmes and career needs’. As Table 3a shows, the F-value reached a level of significance ? a ? 0:05? ; indicating that a significant difference does exist between the four career stages of R&D personnel in terms of the influence on job satisfaction of the gap between career development programmes and career needs; the means are provided in Table 3b.
Among all of the R&D personnel surveyed, the group with a ‘low’ gap between career development programmes and career needs demonstrated a significantly higher attitude towards job satisfaction than the groups with a ‘medium’ and ‘high’ gap between career development programmes and career needs, while the attitude towards job satisfaction of those in the group with a ‘medium’ gap between career development programmes and career needs was also significantly higher than the group with a ‘high’ gap between career Chen et al. : Career needs, career development programmes and job satisfaction1015
Table 3a MANOVA of the effects on job satisfaction from the gap between career development programmes and career needs at different career stages |Source of variation |Sum of squares |Degrees of |Mean square|F-value |p-value | | | |freedom | | | | |(1) MANOVA | | | | | | |Career stages |1. 63 |3 |0. 54 |1. 62 |0. 185 | The gap between career evelopment programmes and career needs 49. 26224. 6373. 44***0. 001 Interaction7. 2361. 213. 59**0. 002 (2) The simple main effects on the gap between career development |Exploration |39. 99 |2 |19. 99 |67. 58*** |0. 001 | |Establishment |95. 07 |2 |47. 53 |134. 31*** |0. 001 | |Maintenance |12. 24 |2 |6. 12 |14. 08*** |0. 001 | |Disengagement |4. 62 |2 |2. 31 |26. 26*** |0. 001 | 3) The simple main effects on career stages Low gaps between career development programmes and career needs Medium gaps between career development programmes and career needs High gaps between career development programmes and career needs 2. 3330. 782. 720. 052 0. 7330. 240. 810. 489 5. 9931. 993. 96*0. 012 Notes ***p , :001; **p , :01; *p , :05: Table 3b Mean comparison of job satisfaction Career stages The gaps between career development programmes and career needs | |High (72) |Medium (230) |Low (65) |Mean | |Exploration (128) |2. 4 |3. 47 |4. 57 |3. 65 | |Establishment (190) |2. 24 |3. 44 |4. 33 |3. 34 | |Maintenance (38) |2. 71 |3. 62 |4. 85 |3. 73 | |Disengagement (11) |3. 33 |3. 67 |4. 89 |4. 30 | |Mean |2. 45 |3. 47 |4. 63 |3. 47 | Note Values represent cell means. Number of cases is given in parentheses. development programmes and career needs.
This indicates that, along with the increase in the gap between career development programmes and career needs, there is an apparent decline in job satisfaction levels among R&D personnel. We may find that the attitude towards job satisfaction of those R&D personnel at the ‘establishment’ stage of their careers is lower as the gap increases. In addition, as the gap increases, compared to those 1016 The International Journal of Human Resource Management personnel at all other stages (with the exception of the ‘disengagement’ stage), the attitude towards job satisfaction of R&D personnel is highest at the ‘maintenance’ stage.
We also find that those at the ‘establishment’ stage are most conscious of the gap between career development programmes and career needs, and that their consciousness of job satisfaction decreases gradually as the gap between career development programmes and career needs increases. Those R&D personnel at the ‘maintenance’ stage are less conscious of the gap between career development programmes and career needs because they have already reached the peak of their careers and often enjoy plentiful resources within their organizations.
Therefore, the attitude towards job satisfaction in the group at the ‘maintenance’ stage of their careers, which also indicates a ‘high’ gap between career development programmes and career needs, is higher than at any of the other career stages. In addition, as Table 3a indicates, in the group indicating a ‘high’ gap between career development programmes and career needs, there are significant differences demonstrated between the different career stages.
The means show that those R&D personnel at the ‘establishment’ stage of their careers, and also indicating a ‘high’ gap between career development programmmes and career needs, have the lowest level of job satisfaction (2. 24). In the group of R&D personnel indicating a ‘high’ gap between career development programmes and career needs, the respective attitudes towards job satisfaction of those at different stages are: the ‘exploration’ stage (2. 84) . the ‘maintenance’ stage (2. 1) . the ‘establishment’ stage (2. 24). Therefore, hypothesis 3 is also supported. Concluding remarks This study set out with the aim of examining the gap between career development programmes and career needs, and the relationships with job satisfaction. One of the features of this study has been the attempt to define the factors influencing R&D personnel’s job satisfaction levels from a perspective of the gap between career development programmes and career needs.
With Taiwan eagerly working towards enhancing its high-tech competitiveness and becoming increasingly involved in high- tech R&D, an investigation into the existing gaps between perceived career development programmes and expected career needs of R&D personnel may improve the job satisfaction of R&D personnel. This study has attempted to provide an understanding of the career needs of R&D personnel, which, it is hoped, will lead to the development of appropriate career development programmes in response to these needs.
It has further investigated the relationship between career needs and career development programmes and job satisfaction. The results reveal that, at different stages of their careers, R&D personnel do indeed have distinct career needs. For R&D personnel, of the three types of career needs referred to in this study, career task needs take priority, with career goal needs in second place and career challenge needs demonstrating the lowest priority. An explanation for this is that career task needs are part of the path that has to be travelled to achieve career goals.
In order to achieve the current needs for career goals, R&D personnel demonstrate a stronger need for career tasks. Once they do achieve their career goals, they can then evaluate the developmental opportunities for their future career, hence producing the career need for challenges that have yet to be faced and overcome. Furthermore, R&D personnel generally display a high evaluation of the know-how necessary actually to perform their jobs and of their on-the-job performance levels, since these are the most obvious indices, and a key deciding factor in the promotion, or passing over, of R&D personnel.
It was clear, when conducting this research – which took place Chen et al. : Career needs, career development programmes and job satisfaction1017 during a period of global recession – that R&D personnel were prone to the pursuit of short-term, pragmatic career task needs at that time. In addition, the results of the stepwise regression reveal that the three kinds of gaps between career development programmes and career needs are significant predictors of job satisfaction (R2 ? 55:3 per cent).
Furthermore, this study has also revealed that the widening of the gap between career development programmes and career needs leads to a corresponding lowering of job satisfaction levels among R&D personnel. Finally, this study finds that the interaction between career stages and the ‘gap between career development programmes and career needs’ does in fact influence job satisfaction, that is to say, the influence upon job satisfaction, from the gap between career development programmes and career needs, varies with the different career stages of R&D personnel.
As the gap widens (with the exception of those in the ‘disengagement’ stage), those in the ‘establishment’ stage of their careers demonstrate the lowest job satisfaction levels, while those in the ‘maintenance stage’ of their careers demonstrate higher levels of job satisfaction than those in all other career stages. During the ‘establishment’ stage, their awareness of the gaps between career development programmes and career needs is the highest, relative to awareness levels at other career stages, and it is also at this stage that the highest turnover intentions are demonstrated.
Perhaps because of higher levels of ambition among R&D personnel in the ‘establishment’ stage, of desire to set up relationships between themselves and the organization, and to get ahead and become valuable professional members of the organization, this group is likely to work particularly hard in the pursuit of success and realization of personal needs. At this time, they will define, on the one hand, the relationship between themselves and the organization and, on the other, their personal needs, as against organizational goals.
Personal ambitions are reflected in career needs, making for exaggerated career needs. If, during this time, organizational career development programmes do not satisfy such ambitions, then considerable gaps can develop between career development programmes and career needs. R&