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Research Project

Digital Work: The Influence of Social Context on IT Professional Fluctuation

(Project duration: 2020 to 2023)

Funding body: DFG - German Research Foundation

Logo of the German Research Foundation © Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft


A key research subject in business informatics is the individuals who design, develop, implement, operate, and maintain information systems (Wiesche, Joseph, Thatcher, Gu, & Krcmar, 2019). Not only these IT workers, but also their tasks and the market for IT labor have specific characteristics. In particular, the termination behavior of IT employees poses great challenges to organizations due to the high market demand and due to the caused costs for recruitment, training, and the disruption of business processes (Niederman, Sumner, & Maertz Jr, 2007). Therefore, many, IT-specific aspects of termination behavior have already been studied in business informatics (Joseph et al., 2007; Zylka & Fischbach, 2017). However, so far, the focus has been on job- and organization-specific factors and the impact of the social environment has not been investigated.

Project Objectives

This research project answers the question of how the social environment influences the termination behavior of IT employees. The basis of this research is a predefined model of social comparison developed on Social Comparison Theory (SCT), which relates the influence of the social environment on IT employees (Festinger, 1954). The research project follows an explanatory mixed-methods approach to combine perceived aspects in the termination process with actual termination behavior (Creswell, 2009). Thus, the project has to achieve three goals: (1) to examine the immediate social context in IT work as it has a strong influence on the turnover behavior of IT professionals, (2) to explain how similarity in domain-specific attributes shapes the turnover behavior of IT professionals, and (3) to lay a foundation for conceptualizing how social comparison leads to turnover between groups of IT professionals.

Work Packages

  • Preparation of the data set
  • Development of the organizational network
  • Dynamic analysis of the organizational network
  • Survival analysis
  • Interview-based data collection
  • Exploratory analysis
  • Mixed-method analysis
  • Consolidation and dissemination of results


Creswell, J. W. (2009). Research design: Qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods approaches: Sage Publications, Inc.

Festinger, L. (1954). A Theory of Social Comparison Processes. Human Relations, 7(2), 117-140.

Joseph, D., Ng, K.-Y., Koh, C., & Ang, S. (2007). Turnover of Information Technology Professionals: A Narrative Review, Meta-Analytic Structural Equation Modeling, and Model Development. MIS Quarterly, 31(3), 547-577.

Niederman, F., Sumner, M., & Maertz Jr, C. P. (2007). Testing and Extending the Unfolding Model of Voluntary Turnover to IT Professionals. Human Resource Management, 46(3), 331-347.

Wiesche, M., Joseph, D., Thatcher, J., Gu, B., & Krcmar, H. (2019). IT Workforce. MIS Quarterly Research Curation.

Zylka, M. P., & Fischbach, K. (2017). Turning the Spotlight on the Consequences of Individual IT Turnover: A Literature Review and Research Agenda. ACM SIGMIS Database: the DATABASE for Advances in Information Systems, 48(2), 52-78.

Location & approach

The campus of TU Dort­mund University is located close to interstate junction Dort­mund West, where the Sauerlandlinie A 45 (Frankfurt-Dort­mund) crosses the Ruhrschnellweg B 1 / A 40. The best interstate exit to take from A 45 is "Dort­mund-Eichlinghofen" (closer to Campus Süd), and from B 1 / A 40 "Dort­mund-Dorstfeld" (closer to Campus Nord). Signs for the uni­ver­si­ty are located at both exits. Also, there is a new exit before you pass over the B 1-bridge leading into Dort­mund.

To get from Campus North to Campus South by car, there is the connection via Vogelpothsweg/Baroper Straße. We recommend you leave your car on one of the parking lots at Campus North and use the H-Bahn (suspended monorail system), which conveniently connects the two campuses.

TU Dort­mund University has its own train station ("Dort­mund Uni­ver­si­tät"). From there, suburban trains (S-Bahn) leave for Dort­mund main station ("Dort­mund Hauptbahnhof") and Düsseldorf main station via the "Düsseldorf Airport Train Station" (take S-Bahn number 1, which leaves every 20 or 30 minutes). The uni­ver­si­ty is easily reached from Bochum, Essen, Mülheim an der Ruhr and Duisburg.

You can also take the bus or subway train from Dort­mund city to the uni­ver­si­ty: From Dort­mund main station, you can take any train bound for the Station "Stadtgarten", usually lines U41, U45, U 47 and U49. At "Stadtgarten" you switch trains and get on line U42 towards "Hombruch". Look out for the Station "An der Palmweide". From the bus stop just across the road, busses bound for TU Dort­mund University leave every ten minutes (445, 447 and 462). Another option is to take the subway routes U41, U45, U47 and U49 from Dort­mund main station to the stop "Dort­mund Kampstraße". From there, take U43 or U44 to the stop "Dort­mund Wittener Straße". Switch to bus line 447 and get off at "Dort­mund Uni­ver­si­tät S".

The H-Bahn is one of the hallmarks of TU Dort­mund University. There are two stations on Campus Nord. One ("Dort­mund Uni­ver­si­tät S") is directly located at the suburban train stop, which connects the uni­ver­si­ty directly with the city of Dort­mund and the rest of the Ruhr Area. Also from this station, there are connections to the "Technologiepark" and (via Campus Süd) Eichlinghofen. The other station is located at the dining hall at Campus Nord and offers a direct connection to Campus Süd every five minutes.

The AirportExpress is a fast and convenient means of transport from Dort­mund Airport (DTM) to Dort­mund Central Station, taking you there in little more than 20 minutes. From Dort­mund Central Station, you can continue to the university campus by interurban railway (S-Bahn). A larger range of in­ter­na­tio­nal flight connections is offered at Düsseldorf Airport (DUS), which is about 60 kilometres away and can be directly reached by S-Bahn from the university station.

The departments of TU Dort­mund University are spread over two campuses, the larger Campus North and the smaller Campus South. Additionally, some areas of the university are located in the adjacent "Technologiepark".

Street navigation from and to the TU Dortmund University:

OpenStreetMap Routing Machine

The document and the graphic represent the motorways and federal highways around the TU Dortmund University in a very simplified way:

Environment map (PDF)

Environment map (graphic)

This interactive map helps you find and navigate between facilities and buildings on campus:

Interactive campus map

This document contains a simple campus map in German and English:

Campus map (PDF)