Advancement Rejection:
The Value of Those Who Say No

Master's Thesis and 2004 APA Convention Poster









Employees and employers have a transitory relationship based on insecurity and low commitment. However, employees continue to be asked to take positions with increased responsibility. The purpose of this study was to develop a detailed description of how six software engineers who rejected advancement offers viewed their experiences and their organizations. Through interviews they shared their understanding of the advancement choices available to them, their experiences of making and living with decisions based on these choices, as well as their understanding of the culture where these choices were made.

A qualitative design and phenomenological theoretical framework guided the investigation. A detailed narrative described the findings and participants' quotes were used to further enrich this description.

Several significant value misalignments were found which influenced advancement rejection. Success was questioned as defined by advancement on a management ladder demanding sacrifice of families, personal lives, and sometimes, personal integrity. Fully employing the energies of those who reject advancement offers (as well as other employees who share their values) may require a redefinition of success. However, those most likely to engage organizations in this redefinition may be the same employees who reject leadership positions.

This study lends itself to further research about how individuals, organizations, and society at large can benefit when organizations support leaders who foster and practice values in alignment with a new definition of success.


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Elena Marie Papavero, Ph.D.







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