J. Ellis Blanton, Thomas Schambach and Kenneth J. Trimmer did a small study in one metropolitan area of IT professionals, measuring variables that the earlier literature on professional obsolescence and how they interact with these IT pros keeping up (professional development to avoid obsolescence). What they found:
First, recruiting job candidates possessing high achievement drive and self-confidence may result in a professional staff that is motivated to remain proficient, exerts updating efforts in order to maintain high levels of professional competency, and are cognitively involved in learning environments. In fact, considering the path coefficients from the research model analysis, personality differences affect the competency of ITP more than the characteristics of work assignments and organizational updatin climate.
Second, personality differences should be considered an important component of professional development programs and technology transition programs…
Requisite Organization (RO) would offer that this is about capability (capacity for information processing). Their statement that “Organizations planning major technological changes that require new knowledge and skill sets should … first elevate the self-efficacy and achievement need of persons targeted for retraining” sounds good, but fails in implementation.
It is interesting how intuitively satisfying their results are: we already know that this is true from experience. There are people who seem more interested in learning new things than others. I’m not sure that this always bleeds over into competence — I learn constantly, partly out of fear and partly out of sheer psychological need.
“Factors Affecting Professional Competence of IT Professionals”, by J. Ellis Blanton, Thomas Schambach and Kenneth J. Trimmer. From Proceedings of the 2000 ACM SIGCPR Conference on Computer Personnel Research(?)
Image credit: Final mission of Space Shuttle Atlantis launches. NASA photo by Bill Ingalls.