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Should I stay or should I go? A study of IT professionals during a national crisis

Carlo Gabriel Porto Bellini (Department of Management, UFPB, João Pessoa, Brazil)
Prashant Palvia (University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Greensboro, North Carolina, USA)
Valter Moreno (Universidade do Rio de Janeiro (UERJ), Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) (Faculdades Ibmec, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)
Tim Jacks (Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, Edwardsville, Illinois, USA)
Alexandre Graeml (Applied Computing Graduate Program, Universidade Tecnologica Federal do Parana, Curitiba, Brazil)

Information Technology & People

ISSN: 0959-3845

Article publication date: 18 March 2019

Issue publication date: 19 November 2019




The purpose of this paper is to discuss two important behaviors related to job mobility in the IT profession, namely, changing jobs to move to another organization (turnover) and changing the profession entirely (turnaway), during a national crisis. Based on the theoretical foundation of the push–pull–mooring perspective, a research model is developed that includes professional self-efficacy (PSE), job insecurity (JI) and job satisfaction (JS) as important antecedents.


Using a positivist approach and a survey method, the authors analyzed data from IT professionals from different economic segments in Brazil. Data collection occurred in two distinctive moments of the largest crisis in modern Brazilian history – a pre-awareness moment (first half of year 2015) and a crisis-conscious moment (first half of year 2016).


The findings reveal that PSE negatively influences JI and positively influences JS, JI positively influences turnaway intention, and JS negatively influences both turnover intention and turnaway intention. The effect of the national crisis was observed in that it further accentuated the intention of IT professionals to leave the profession. Another effect was related to age, as older professionals are less willing to turn over but more willing to turn away.

Research limitations/implications

Besides developing a parsimonious model to study both the intention to leave the organization and the intention to leave the profession, the study sheds light on how IT professionals react to economic crises and how the reaction varies by age.

Practical implications

The study puts to question the common belief that IT professionals are secure in the job market due to high demand for their skills and investments made by organizations to keep them on the job. Employers must pay attention to JI and turnover/turnaway intentions.


This study is among the few to study JI and aspects of the theory of human migration in IT. It is also possibly the first to discuss the effects of a national crisis on the mobility patterns of IT professionals.



The authors thank Administradores ( and its CEO, Leandro Vieira, for promoting the online questionnaire, thus helping the authors to collect most of the data. The authors are also thankful to all respondents who kindly agreed to provide the data.


Porto Bellini, C.G., Palvia, P., Moreno, V., Jacks, T. and Graeml, A. (2019), "Should I stay or should I go? A study of IT professionals during a national crisis", Information Technology & People, Vol. 32 No. 6, pp. 1472-1495.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited

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