Dissertation on Career Planning

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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: þ 886 2 2882 4564 ext. 2401; fax: þ 886 2 2880 9764; e-mail: tychen@mcu.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.uk/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...
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