, Volume 10, Issue 2, pp 225-241
Date: 25 Jan 2008

Turnover intentions of Indian IS professionals

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Abstract

One of the major challenges facing the Indian IT services industry is the high rate of turnover among Indian IS professionals. Turnover rates have been reported as high as 100% annually. Despite the serious problem, we are unaware of any academic research that has studied the determinants of turnover among Indian IS professionals. We aim to contribute to the literature by understanding Turnover Intentions of Indian IS professionals. We developed an initial model of Turnover Intentions based on the IS and Organizational Behavior literatures. The most commonly identified determinants of Turnover Intentions in these literatures were Organizational Commitment (emotional attachment to an organization) and Job Satisfaction. However, the research that identified these determinants was primarily tested on Western workers. We assessed the applicability of this model by interviewing 25 Indian IS professionals. We found strong support that Job Satisfaction affects Turnover Intentions among Indian IS professionals. However, Organizational Commitment was found to be a troublesome construct. Many Indian participants did not relate to the concept of an emotional attachment to an organization. Instead, they talked in terms that better mapped to the construct Organizational Satisfaction. The interviews also uncovered another important determinant of Turnover Intention: Social Norms. Social Norms, as evidenced by significant family pressure to reside in the same city as the employee’s family, emerged as a major reason for Turnover Intentions. Our revised model identifies Job Satisfaction, Organizational Satisfaction, and Social Norms as the main determinants of Turnover Intentions among Indian IS Professionals. We also identify four implications for practice. The most worrisome implication for Western clients is that Indian IS professionals do not like performing routine IT maintenance work or merely programming from predefined specifications—the bulk of work sent offshore. Indian IS professionals preferred client-facing activities, design and development work.

Submitted to the The Special Issue of Information Systems Frontiers on Outsourcing.