IT Career under Market Contingency: Career Achievement, Firm Resilience, and Digital Entrepreneurship Post Market Crises

Project: Research

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Information technology (IT) professionals are a rapidly expanding workforce that drives technological development in the last few decades. While the IT sectorial expansion provides tremendous opportunities, less is known about IT professionals' career mobility, specifically the career patterns that facilitate success and resilience. In this project, we develop a generalist-specialist perspective on IT career trade-offs, extending the market category theories from the organizational literature to the IT context. Using 20 million job records from an online professional networking site, we systematically examine IT career mobility in the United States from 1970 to 2017. The project has three objectives. First, we intend to develop an IS career theory, refreshing the market category literature with a market evolutionary perspective while challenging its key assumption. As existing category theories assume the stability of categorical boundaries, we emphasize the fast-evolving nature of IT, with category expansion and contraction during tech boom and bust. Second, the fast-evolving nature of IT brings market contingency, due to which IT generalists and specialists experience different career outcomes under market selection. By this evolutionary, dynamic perspective on IT career, we contribute to theory development in both the IS and the organizational literature. Third, we examine the impacts of IT career mobility on firm performance and digital entrepreneurship post economic recession. Investigating these issues provides practical insight into today’s market recovery, as organizations seek the types of employees who better contribute to firm resilience and innovation after the COVID19 pandemic.  The project intends to develop three studies to examine the key arguments and hypotheses, using multiple data sources, econometric and computational methods. Study I examines the generalist-specialist trade-offs in IT career mobility under market contingency, using the 2001 dotcom crash as a natural experiment. Study II examines IT generalists’ mobility and the impact on firm performance post financial recession. Study III investigates the role of IT generalists in digital entrepreneurship after two market crises. The proposed studies address theoretical issues and gaps in the IS literature, with practical implications that are valuable to IT professionals and firms that seek success, financial resilience, and innovation in an uncertain and volatile environment. 


Project number9043245
Grant typeGRF
Effective start/end date1/01/22 → …