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Turnover of highly educated R&D professionals: The role of pre-entry cognitive style, work values and career orientation


Correspondence should be addressed to Dr Jin Nam Choi, College of Business Administration, Seoul National University, Shinlim-dong, San 56-1, Gwanak-gu, Seoul, 151-742, South Korea (e-mail:


Retention of key R&D experts has been recognized as a critical managerial challenge for many technology-based companies. In this study, we propose that turnover of highly educated professional workers is meaningfully related to individual characteristics such as cognitive style, work values and career orientation. We tested the hypotheses using data collected from a sample of 132 R&D professionals with PhD degrees in engineering or natural science in a Korean electronics firm. The time-dependent risk of turnover was estimated by survival analysis using a proportional hazards regression model. The results showed that over the 7-year period after their organizational entry, R&D professionals with high levels of intrinsic values and cosmopolitan orientation were more likely to leave the organization than were their counterparts with low levels of intrinsic values and cosmopolitan orientation. The hazard function showed that the positive effect of intrinsic work values on turnover was particularly salient in the third and fourth year of R&D professionals' organizational tenure. We found that the positive effect of cosmopolitan orientation on turnover increased over time, introducing a greater risk of turnover with increasing tenure. The present findings have practical implications for the retention of highly educated R&D professionals in a corporate setting.