Christian Leadership, Job Satisfaction and IT Worker Retention

Methodology

This chapter analyzes the methodology to be used for conducting the research on finding out whether or not, Christian values in management impacts job satisfaction and retention among IT employees. It would further discuss the use of qualitative methodology for conducting this research to understand the underlying reasons and motivations of leaders while also providing a base for further research.

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I propose to use qualitative research methodology for undertaking this thesis, as I believe that qualitative research is significant for investigating this sensitive and complex issue of finding a correlation between Christian leadership and the job satisfaction and retention among IT employees. A qualitative methodology is the best fit for this topic because it provides an initial understanding of the underlying reasons and motivations of leaders while also providing a base for further research. This methodology will be more subjective than quantitative surveys because I will be able to decide which quotes or specific examples to report. As the thesis deals with human psychology and how people react to a certain leadership and how it affects their jobs and thereby their decision to remain with a particular IT organization, I consider that quantitative research methodology would not be suitable for this thesis. Such a method would only help in summarizing a few key issues such as finding out the number of employees working under a Christian leadership in the IT industry or the total number of employees who resigned under a particular leader, but would not be able to provide the reasons behind the decision of employees to leave a particular organization and to establish whether there is a correlation between the role of the leadership in creating job satisfaction and retention strategies for the employees. Therefore, to understand this complex correlation, I propose to base my research on qualitative methodology.

In order to conduct the qualitative research for my paper, I would select a few IT firms from the major cities of Missouri, St. Louis, Kansas City and Springfield. The process of finding the targeted interviewees would begin by shortlisting the IT companies in these cities and then obtaining a list of leaders, especially Christian leaders, occupying key IT roles within the organization. Even before conducting the actual interview process, I would first explain the purpose of the study to the interviews so that they are prepared beforehand. Furthermore, I would clearly state the purpose of my study, which is to measure whether or not, Christian values in management impacts job satisfaction and retention among IT employees. For this particular study, I have determined to undertake the survey among a sample size of 76 individuals in the IT field.

I would also be using a Likert Scale to measure the results of the interview data that I would collect from the various IT organizations and companies that has in-house IT departments in the Missouri region. I would use this scale to measure or quantify the number of people who are satisfied with their jobs and how many people wants to remain with the company under a Christian leader. As the scaling system uses the method of measuring the responses either in a positive or negative manner, it would provide me with a perfect tool to quantify the result and provide proof for my hypothesis. Finally, the results of the survey would help me establish or refute my hypothesis that Christian values in management impact job satisfaction and retention among IT employees.

Understanding qualitative methodology

Qualitative research helps a researcher to understand how and why people feel in a certain way. The research deals with collecting in-depth information about why people behave or think in a certain collective manner. In qualitative research, the data sample to analyze the situation tends to be smaller compared with quantitative methodology, which uses much larger samples to find out the general trend about a particular issue. A qualitative researcher also uses tools such as depth interviews or group discussions for collecting information (Denzin 2005).

The qualitative researcher aims to gather information that would help him or her to gain understanding about human behavior, as well as find the reasons that cause them to act in a certain manner. The researcher through qualitative methodology tries to find out why and how a decision has been made, what were the reasons that compelled the person to make such a decision, as well as when and where the particular decision was taken. The qualitative researcher uses focused group discussion and does not rely on large data collected through random surveys. This helps the researcher in categorizing and analyzing the pattern or trend in the data and further organizes it according to the results. In a qualitative research methodology, the data can be collected through the following means, by conducting direct interviews, by observing the answers given by a focus group, through in-depth interviews, and by analyzing written documents and published records. Some of the other popular tools used by qualitative researchers are conducting focus groups and key informant interviews (Loseke 2007).

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Qualitative research and my thesis

One of the major reasons for undertaking qualitative research for this thesis is to become more experienced and gain in-depth knowledge about complex human relationships such as the one that exist between an employee and the leadership. Often times it has been observed that researchers complete their literature review on a topic of interest, and write a research proposal with hypotheses and theories based on current thinking, but eclipses direct experience of testing the hypotheses. This might lead to basing the thesis on a one-sided viewpoint, without taking into account the changes in the actual environment. Therefore, even before undertaking a multivariate analysis of finding a correlation between Christian leadership and job satisfaction and retention among IT professionals, I will be observing several works in context of understanding how leadership generally tends to effect a professional’s decision to remain with an organization. This will help me in formulating my own opinion and ideas about what are the causes of an employees leaving an organization; whether the leadership effect such a decision, and if yes, to what extent; and finally, to analyze the problem at the micro-level and understand if a particular leadership has been successful or failed to retain its employees. Such a research approach will help in formulating interesting theories and hypotheses, providing a fresh perspective to the thesis.

Furthermore, qualitative research generates detailed information about complex issues such as understanding human behavior pattern, emotional stress level, and human perception of his or her work environment. Although, researchers can undertake quantitative studies to collect lots of numeric data to find out detailed information, experts believe that such data tend to limit the analysis. For instance, if a researcher collects a simple interval-level quantitative measure, the analysis would be fairly limited as most quantitative research only focuses on generalizing tends. For my thesis, a quantitative methodology would only give me figures about employees leaving the firm under a Christian leadership, and an analysis of broad five or six reasons for their resignations. However, this particular methodology would not provide me with an in-depth understanding of the subject matter, which would be essential for me to understand this complex correlation (Patton 2002). However, using qualitative research methodology has its advantages as well disadvantages.

The major positive aspect of this methodology is that it enables a researcher to describe his or her hypothesis in great detail, quoting from the experiences of the research participants. On the negative side, this methodology often tends to blur generalizing the facts and confusing the researcher with a lot of sub-theories for his or her research. As in the case of my research, if I undertake a detailed survey of the employees, I might find varying viewpoints and some very interesting justification by employees for leaving their jobs. However, if I only focus on such interesting findings, I may fail to look at the general picture and understand the complexity of the situation from a common standpoint. Thus, a researcher, while undertaking a qualitative research needs to be careful about selecting his or her findings, and should not forgo generalization in favor of interesting facts and findings (Fischer 2005).

Collecting the data

The first step towards collecting the data involves identifying resources where a researcher can look for information. This is the most crucial step in data collation as a wrong data set might jeopardize the entire research report. The major challenge a researcher faces in this stage deals with suspending his or her own perception about the issue, as a biased opinion right at the onset of the research stage would only result in a biased hypothesis. Therefore, the researcher should consider alternative viewpoints that other people bring to social situations, and interview friends, family and peers to find out their perception about that particular issue.

Thus, before beginning any of my observations or interviews, I considered the religious issue and its implication on the employees for my research. When planning my first formative assignment, I had discovered that I need to formulate an early assessment so that I can choose the right data set. Therefore I formed a small private group of people containing my friends, their families and my peers, and interviewed each of the subjects to understand their perceptive about the issue (Denzin 2005).

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As discussed, data analysis and data collection are complementary to each other and to understand the lives of others, a researcher needs to interview the people personally. Therefore, I have decided to interview employees from the following IT organizations. I would visit IT organizations and companies with in-house IT departments in Missouri to obtain a list of individuals in IT leadership roles. After obtaining written permission to conduct this research, the supervisors/managers will be surveyed regarding their Christian religion and finding out their willingness to participate in the research (Loseke 2007).

I will also contact IT firms in the major cities in Missouri, St. Louis, Kansas City, and Springfield to obtain a list of leaders in IT roles. I would need to first explain the purpose of the study to measure whether or not, Christian values in management impacts job satisfaction and retention among IT employees to the target group before undertaking the survey process. I have determined the sample size of this study to be 76 individuals in the IT field. The data collected from these surveys will measure whether or not, Christian values in management impacts job satisfaction and retention among IT employees.

I will use a Likert Scale as the instrument for measuring job satisfaction and retention from the collected data. I would use these results in my study to find out the answers for my research hypothesis.

Data collection through interviewing

Experts define interview as a discussion between people, which can be two or more in number (Kahn 1957). This conversation or discussion is conducted to gather information that is reliable and valid which can help the researcher in finding answers for his or her questions related to that particular area of study (Saunders 2003). Experts such as Saunders believe that to conduct a successful interview, the researcher can use structured, semi-structured or unstructured questioner. The choice of the kind of questioner solely depends on what the researcher want to get from the discussion. The form would also affect the type and amount of insights or information that a researcher wants to get from the interviewee. Different experts have varied viewpoints about the interviewing techniques, with many preferring to differentiate between standardized and non-standardized interviews, while others choosing the respondent and informant interviews typology (Saunders 2003).

I think in order to collect data from a varied point of view and from different sources; interviews would be the best method to gather the data that would help me to find relevant results to prove my research hypothesis. Furthermore, interviews would help me in clarifying various questions or queries that might be relevant to prove my hypothesis. For instance, interviews would help me to establish whether people have biases towards Christian leadership, and later on based on these interviews, correlate whether employees perform better or worse under such leadership. Additionally, conduction interviews might provide me with added insights into the questions or areas that were not considered previously, but which could equally be significant for proving my hypothesis. Most experts therefore agree that an interview is the most suitable approach to attempt to obtain data when the research question deals with a complex or open-ended issue, and where the order and logic of questioning may not follow a particular pattern.

With regards to the design of the interviews, I would be choosing a semi-structured or in-depth interview structure as I feel this would be most appropriate approach for my research. Research indicates that most people find it more agreeable to face an interview, rather than completing a questionnaire, especially if the interview topic is interesting and relevant to their current work. Thus, my primary approach for data gathering would be conducting interviews with various IT organizations and companies with in-house IT departments in Missouri, St. Louis, Kansas City, and Springfield. I will consider a sample size of 76 individuals in the IT field for this study. As the research topic would be interesting and very much relevant to their current work, I am expecting to get some candid reflection from these employees, who would be willing to share their experience as it would not bind them to fill a questioner.

Further, I would use the technique of analytic interviewing to share experiences and ideas concerning individual learning and management issues. My interviews would focus on issues such as analyzing each interviewee’s experiences of individual learning; effect of management decision making on the employee; handling change and innovation by the leadership; and each individual’s philosophy of Christian leadership and its workplace implications (Saunders 2003).

Further, I would also conduct group interviews, wherein, I will assume the role of an observer and ask the group to conduct the interview. In this process, I will divide the interviewees in to groups of three, with each member assuming different roles, that of a person interviewing others, an observer looking at the entire process from a third-party perception, and finally the person who is getting interviewed. During this entire process, the interviewer would only be allowed to ask queries and could not remark or give suggestions on the entire process. The observer would take note of the content and the process of the interview and analyze the form of the questions, weather they are open ended or needs further explanation. The last would be the interviewee, who would simply respond to the questions. I would also allocate time to rotate these roles so that each member of the group has experienced all three roles. This type of interview would help me establishing the perceptions of the people surveyed, what they feel about the issue, what are their inherent questions on the topic, and how they respond to their own questions. This would also help me in establishing my hypothesis based on the collective feedback, and finding out discussion points which I did not take into account previously. However, even before conducting the actual interview, I would prepare a questioner that would guide me in asking relevant questions and help me in restrict my questions within the purview of my thesis statement. These questions would allow the interviews to be conducted in an organized and systematic manner.

In order to give me more space for asking leading questions, I would adopt a flexible method of designing the questioner in a semi-structured manner. This would also help me in leading the interviewees towards the specific questions that might aid me in my research. However, I should conduct the interviews keeping in mind the time allocated for the interviews, as a long interview might make the interviewees give repeated answers and loosing the important points in the meantime. Thus, I would need to balance the number of questions that I need to ask from my interviewees keeping in mind the time allocated me for the session. I would be intentionally crafting the questions to be open-ended, so that the interviewees are enticed to articulate their views candidly, and I could exercise some liberty to ask clarifying and/or additional questions as the occasion arises. I would also try and give the interviewees time to think about key issues, about things that impact them the most, as this would allow me to find out more about the subject at hand, and give a human perceptive to the thesis.

However, before undertaking the interviews, a written permission would obtained from the short-listed companies and then the supervisors/managers will be questioned and asked about their views regarding their Christian religion. Therefore, I would send an email to my targeted interviewees that would have a list of questions that I intend to ask them during the session, as it would help them to prepare beforehand for the interview. Furthermore, I would also attach a vision statement, explaining the aim and objective of the interview. This would help me in two ways, firstly, it would give a basic idea to the interviewees about the session and secondly it will help them decide whether they want to be the part of the research or not.

I will explain the objective of the survey that is to measure whether or not Christian values in management impacts job satisfaction and retention among IT employees to the interviewees in the same email. Such an email would help me in setting up the expectations with the interviewees and the kind of questions that they are expected to answer. Furthermore, it would also help them to understand the kind of time that would be required to finish the interview. This also helps the interviewees either to properly prepare themselves for the interview or politely decline to undertake the interview in the same email. This not only helps in choosing the appropriate candidates for the interview, but also save time to conduct the interview as the interviewees would be adequately prepared for the questions to be asked by the interviewer (Flyvbjerg 2006).

I would be following a step-by-step process, starting with conducting personal rounds of interviews with the targeted interviewees in the attendance of a representative from the company, preferably to be conducted in the office of the manager. It is often seen that interviewees are not too comfortable about recording the interview sessions. Therefore, I have decided that instead of recording the session, I would take notes during the interviews, which would help the interviewees to feel relaxed and take out their apprehension that they may have about the session. This would also help them to provide their point of view without any hesitation and result into candid discussions. Such a method would help me in getting their candid views on Christian leadership. In case of further clarifications, I would conduct further enquiries through telephone, email or fax. This would help me to elucidate my doubts that I forgot to ask or want clarification on.

Likert Scale and my research

I would be using a Likert Scale as the instrument for measuring job satisfaction and retention from the collected data. I would then use the data to find out the answer for my research hypothesis. The psychometric scale called Likert scale is used mostly to find out results from survey research and questionnaires. In a Likert scale type questionnaire, interviewees are asked to give answers based on their level of agreeing to a particular statement. This kind of scale was first described by Rensis Likert, and it was after Rensis that this scale was named (Dawes 2008). This kind of scaling system is also called bipolar scaling method that measures the responses of the interviewees based on a positive or negative answer for a particular question.

However, it has been seen that sometimes the researcher also use a four-point scale that is used as a forced choice, wherein, the interviewee could answer the question with a neither agree nor disagree answer. However, this type of scale may be subject to distortion from several causes, as respondents may agree with statements as presented; avoid using extreme response categories; or try to portray themselves or their organization in a more favorable light. As Likert scale is the sum of various Likert items, I would also study individual Likert items, which are simply a statement which the respondent is asked to evaluate. Such an evaluation is often based on either subjective or objective criteria, and gives the results based on the perception of the interviewees. The results mostly measure the degree of agreement or disagreement shown by the interviewees during the session and quantify them to draw a trend analysis (Babbie 2005). The use of this type of scale would help me getting concrete answers for measuring job satisfaction and retention from the collected data. The analysis of the collected data based on Likert scale would help me substantiating my research with figures and I would be able to use statistical tools such as mean, variance, skewness and kurtosis to further illustrate my research findings.

Sources

Babbie, Earl R. (2005).The Basics of Social Research. Thomson Wadsworth, 174.

Dawes, John (2008), Do Data Characteristics Change According to the number of scale points used? An experiment using 5-point, 7-point and 10-point scales. International Journal of Market Research, 50 (1), 61-77.

Denzin, Norman K. & Lincoln, Yvonna S. (2005). Introduction: The discipline and practice of qualitative research”. In N. K. Denzin & Y. S. Lincoln (Eds.), The Sage Handbook of Qualitative Research (3rd ed.), 1-32.

Fischer, C.T. (Ed.) (2005). Qualitative research methods for psychologists: Introduction through empirical studies. Academic Press.

Flyvbjerg, B. (2006). Five Misunderstandings About Case Study Research. Qualitative Inquiry, vol. 12, no. 2, 219-245.

Kahn, R., & Cannell, C. (1957). The Dynamics of Interviewing, New York and Chichester, Wiley.

Loseke, Donileen R. & Cahil, Spencer E. (2007). Publishing qualitative manuscripts: Lessons learned. In C. Seale, G. Gobo, J. F. Gubrium, & D. Silverman (Eds.), Qualitative Research Practice: Concise Paperback Edition, 491-506.

Patton, M. Q. (2002). Qualitative research & evaluation methods (3rd ed.).

Saunders, Mark, Philip Lewis & Adrian Thornhill (2003). Research Methods for Business Students, Financial Times Prentice Hall, Third Edition.

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