Employees and employers have a transitory relationship based on insecurity and
low commitment. However, employees continue to be asked to take positions with
increased responsibility. The purpose of this study was to develop a detailed
description of how six software engineers who rejected advancement offers
viewed their experiences and their organizations. Through interviews they
shared their understanding of the advancement choices available to them, their
experiences of making and living with decisions based on these choices, as
well as their understanding of the culture where these choices were made.
A qualitative design and phenomenological theoretical framework guided the investigation.
A detailed narrative described the findings and participants' quotes were
used to further enrich this description.
Several significant value misalignments were found which influenced advancement
rejection. Success was questioned as defined by advancement on a management
ladder demanding sacrifice of families, personal lives, and sometimes,
personal integrity. Fully employing the energies of those who reject
advancement offers (as well as other employees who share their values) may
require a redefinition of success. However, those most likely to engage organizations
in this redefinition may be the same employees who reject leadership positions.
This study lends itself to further research about how individuals, organizations,
and society at large can benefit when organizations support leaders who
foster and practice values in alignment with a new definition of success.