Does Academic Ambition Explain Employability: An Interpretivism Perspective

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Commonwealth of Learning (COL)

Scanty scholarly research has been concluded in the area of academic ambition at the uppermost tier of education, most especially in developing countries. Learning being a lifelong process can be elicited not only for economic, political and or social benefits but by varieties of other incitements. Dominant views associate academic aspirations to professional enhancement and economic benefits. The question of interest addressed in this study is thus: Is academic ambition triggered by the desire to secure employments typical in the case of African countries? This study seeks to explore triggers to doctorial education with employability being the focus in the case of Cameroon, Nigeria and Uganda. // This research is an exploratory case study design, buttressed with the philosophical orientations of subjectivism ontology and interpretivism epistemology. Data was sourced from five (5) focus groups purposively sampled from Cameroon, Ugandan and Nigeria, consisting of 25 doctoral students. Observed data were analysed qualitatively based on Strauss and Corbin’s systematic grounded theory procedures to achieve theoretical saturation through three levels of comparative analyses consisting of open coding, axial coding and selective coding processes. // Results were tested for validity and reliability within the parameters of credibility, dependability, conformability and transferability. This study reveals that eight different categories of triggers motivate scholars to pursue a Ph.D. including: social needs, induced factors, personal improvement, emotional needs, financial reasons, employability, contribution to knowledge and political factor. The core category that motivate scholar to pursue a PhD is related to personal improvement; specifically, the need for personal growth. However, empirical evidence that suggests employability as a trigger to pursue a PhD is rather weak as opposed to social needs and induced factors. To this effect, this study concludes that employability is less likely conceived as a trigger to pursue a PhD degree compared to personal improvement and the social needs of belonging. // Paper ID 132