Title

"As you like I.T.": Occupational culture and commitment of new information technologists

Date of Award

5-2006

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Information Management and Technology

Advisor(s)

Jeffrey Stanton

Keywords

Occupational culture, Commitment, Information technologists, Socialization

Subject Categories

Management Information Systems | Organizational Behavior and Theory

Abstract

As information technologies (IT) have become more and more essential to produce goods and services in organizations, the role of IT workers has become correspondingly more critical in the development, acquisition, management, use, support and maintenance of these information technologies and systems. Unfortunately, in recent years, the general trend in the U.S. has been decreasing enrollment in academic programs in information technology majors, underrepresentation of women and ethnic minorities and high turnover intentions which have been reported even at early stages of their careers. This dissertation topic pertains to the cultural factors that adversely influence the adjustment and commitment to the IT occupation, especially by underrepresented groups.

According to Trice (1993) occupational cultures comprise unique clusters of ideologies, beliefs, cultural forms, and practices that arise from shared educational, personal and work experiences of individuals who pursue the same profession. Results of a previous study suggest that IT professionals indeed occupy a recognizable "occupational culture" that crosses and transcends the organizational cultures within which those IT professionals are embedded (Guzman et al., 2004). This dissertation investigated the possible cultural clashes presented by students or recent graduates of IT-related majors with some type of pre-professional work experience in the socialization process. Particularly the differences of perceptions by gender and ethnicity were examined. This dissertation presents a sequential mixed methodology approach composed of two linked phases: The first qualitative phase includes 25 interviews conducted with students in order to obtain their impressions of the occupational subculture of IT. Verbatims from interviews suggested that pre-professional experiences had given these students a realistic preview of IT occupational subculture. In the second phase, students' impressions received from the interviews were transformed into a set of evaluative dimensions relevant to the characteristics of IT occupational subculture. A survey instrument was implemented and then administered to N=215 participants to see if any differences existed among students grouped by gender or ethnicity. Finally, the measures of these evaluative dimensions were used to predict occupational commitment. Some differences did arise among different groups of students. Results showed that adaptation to occupational subculture predicts occupational commitment.

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