Against all odds: determinants of doctoral candidates’ intention to enter academia in Germany

Kalle Hauss (Centre for Quality Development in Higher Education, University of Potsdam, Potsdam, Germany)
Marc Kaulisch (Institute for Research Information and Quality Assurance (iFQ), Berlin, Germany)
Jakob Tesch (Institute for Research Information and Quality Assurance (iFQ), Berlin, Germany)

International Journal for Researcher Development

ISSN: 2048-8696

Publication date: 9 November 2015



The purpose of this paper is to focus on doctoral students in Germany and the drivers behind their intention to enter an academic career. The aspirations of young researchers after graduating from doctoral training have become an important issue to policymakers in light of the changing nature of doctoral training.


Borrowing from Ajzen’s Theory of Planned Behavior, we investigate how attitudes towards a career in academia, subjective norms and perceived behavioral control determine graduates’ intentions to pursue an academic career. We extend the model of Ajzen by measurements of research and training conditions in order to estimate the impact of organizational settings. We analyze a sample of 5,770 doctoral candidates from eight universities and three funding organizations.


We find that apart from attitudes towards careers, academic career intentions are related to research and training conditions at the organizational level. Further, we find that large differences within the field of study and affiliation to a university or funding organization provide substantial explanations.


This paper explores doctoral candidates’ academic career intentions which are an important precondition for the propagation of academic staff. For developers and practitioners in the field of doctoral training, our results yield a good understanding of the relationship between organizational settings at the level of doctoral training and career intentions.



Hauss, K., Kaulisch, M. and Tesch, J. (2015), "Against all odds: determinants of doctoral candidates’ intention to enter academia in Germany", International Journal for Researcher Development, Vol. 6 No. 2, pp. 122-143.

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