An exploratory study of the internal career orientation and the external career pattern of information technology workers in Nigeria
This study sets out to explore the internal career orientations and the external career patterns of information technology (IT) workers in Nigeria. The theoretical framework guiding this research is that societal context (social structure and institutions) has an influence on the career orientations and career patterns exhibited by individuals (Derr and Laurent, 1989; Lam, 2000; Baruch, 2004). To date, understanding the development of mainstream career theory has focused more on individual choice and life-span development, than on the complex interplay between individuals and their environment. There appears to be a relative neglect of the influence of institutional and social structure in much of the career literature. In a departure from previous career studies, which have focused largely on the individual level of analysis in developed economies of North America and Europe, this research focused on exploring both the internal and external careers of IT workers in the context of a developing economy-Nigeria. This research adopted a two-pronged methodological approach, which involved the use of qualitative and quantitative methods in addressing the research questions raised in this study. The result of this research shows that IT workers enact four different career patterns, which conform to the traditional view of careers as hierarchical and progressive, as well as to the recent models of the boundaryless careers. IT workers in Nigeria also hold six career orientations, which can be closely matched to Schein's (1978) career anchors and Derr's (1986) career success orientations. In addition, economic conditions, perception of educational qualification, sexual discrimination and ethnic allegiance were identified as the main societal factors that shape and constrain the careers of IT workers in Nigeria. Overall, the findings of this research support the notion that careers unfold through the interplay between individuals and larger societal structures (Baruch, 2004). The implication of the findings for human resource management and research is discussed.