Personality Factors and Job Mobility

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The mobility of workforce in Nigeria has increased drastically over the decade as individuals search for work following job pursue opportunities to advance their careers (Ojo, 2003). Job mobility has become so pervasive and frequent in the banking sector that it has been considered to be an integral part of people’s worklife (Kanfer, Wanbergand Kantrwitz, 2001). At the same time, there has been a dramatic increase in research on the prediction of job mobility behaviour and employment outcomes (Saks, 2005). Many researchers, Kanfer et al (2001), found that income and job security variables were significantly related to job mobility.

Given that job mobility is typically conceptualized as a self regulatory process initiated by goals (Kanfer et al, 2001; Saks, 2005) an important limitation of previous research has been the failure to consider the role of job mobility objectives. As noted by Dunfor, (2004), there is little understanding of job seekers goals for engaging in job search. This is perhaps not so surprising, given that most research assumes that the main if not only reason for job mobility is income (Kanfer et al, 2001). However, job mobility does not always result in low income and there are other reasons for job mobility, especially for employed individuals, such as openness to experience, consciousness and emotional stability to improve ones present job situation (Boswell et al, 2004).

Mobility has often been defined and studied in the context of external mobility. Statistics show that throughout their careers, American workers hold an average of eight jobs (Wegmann, 1991). Similar figures are found in other countries, such as Nigeria (CBN, 2005). This implies that employees leave their jobs six times, on average, throughout their active career life. This study seeks to examine personality factors and external job mobility. Knowledge about the personality that affect employee’s external mobility is important for companies’ retention policy. We selected personality components that we assumed to be related to job mobility.

Big five personality measures were included because previous studies showed relationship between some of the five personality factors and different work behaviours (De fruyt and Mervieide, 1999; Seibert and Kraimer, 2001). Although the five-factor model provides a well accepted taxonomy for understanding the relationship between personality measures and individual work behaviour, it is likely that other less broad personality constructs are better predictors for job mobility. People who often change their job might have a need for seeking new challenges. External job mobility is to look for a better job when workers are working but not satisfied with their current jobs for pecuniary and non pecuniary reasons. Most of the empirical studies on job mobility are based on observable variables such as age, job security, monthly income and educational level. However, people should be viewed as economic, psychological as well as sociological individuals. A study on job mobility behaviour should also be approached in a similar fashion to gain a better understanding of job mobility. Besides age, monthly income and job security, job mobility may also be affected by unobservable variables (Burdett, 1978). Whether or not workers are satisfied with their jobs would also affect their decisions on job change and other non-financial aspects of jobs, such as personality factors (openness to experience, conscientiousness and emotional stability are also important as well. It is interesting to see how these unobservable factors determine job mobility.

However, empirical studies on job mobility have relied largely on data from statistical reports with observable variables only, partly because of difficulties in measuring and identifying unobservable variables. Relatively fewer studies have been done to explore the relationship between...
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