Retaining talent: Assessing relationships among project leadership styles, software developer job satisfaction, and turnover intentions

by Westlund, Steven G., Ph.D., CAPELLA UNIVERSITY, 2007, 199 pages; 3288701


The retention of information technology employees has been a problem in many organizations since the 1970s. When key software developers choose to leave a firm, they may depart with critical knowledge of business processes and systems which are essential to maintaining a competitive advantage. There is even more cause for concern when turnover occurs before the completion of a project because of the increased risk of failure. The purpose of this quantitative correlational study was to assess the relationships among project leadership styles, software developer job satisfaction, and turnover intentions. The primary aim of this research was to determine whether satisfaction with supervision or overall job satisfaction is more significantly related to software developer turnover intentions. The secondary objective was to recommend leadership styles associated with job satisfaction as a means to increase retention. Data was collected from a sample of software developers in the United States using on-line and paper-and-pencil questionnaires. The survey incorporated demographic items and instruments that measured perceived transformational, transactional, and laissez-faire leadership styles, facets of job satisfaction, and turnover intentions. The researcher used principal components analysis to reduce the nine leadership styles to factors of proactive and reactive leadership. Relationships among the variables were assessed through linear regression and parametric measures of association. The results revealed that proactive project leaders tend to have more satisfied project team members. Reactive project leadership was associated with less satisfaction. The results also showed that developers who have lower turnover intentions have higher satisfaction with supervision and greater overall job satisfaction. Higher turnover intentions were associated with lower satisfaction with supervision and lower overall job satisfaction. This study showed that the participants' turnover intentions were influenced more by overall job satisfaction than satisfaction with supervision. Overall job satisfaction was found to be significantly and negatively related to turnover when controlling for the effect of satisfaction with supervision. However, the relationship between turnover and satisfaction with supervision alone was not found to be significant. This suggests that software developers quit their organizations, not their supervisors. Implications of these findings are discussed along with recommendations for researchers and IT professionals.

AdviserJohn Hannon
Source TypeDissertation
Publication Number3288701

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