Students' Choice of a Business Major and Career: A Qualitative Case Study of Motivation to Study Finance and Banking
Little is known about how or why Cambodian university students choose a major and a future career. The decision regarding a major is important for a student’s life and future career. The Cambodian labour market has a shortage of graduates in science, technology, engineering, maths and agriculture and a predicted oversupply of business graduates. In recognition of the mismatch between the supply of business graduates and the demands of the labour market, the current study was designed to explore why and how Cambodian students choose a business major and a future career. This qualitative study employed a multiple case study design. The study utilized semistructured interviews to collect data from five male and five female students enrolled in finance and banking majors, who volunteered to participate in the research. Data analysis was mainly inductive with consideration given to the expectancy-value theory (Eccles, 2009) using a within-case and cross-case analysis within a thematic approach. The findings were that value beliefs were important in students’ choice of a major. Students chose a finance and banking major because they believed that this major would have good employment prospects and lead to a worthwhile career. Other reasons included the interest value related to the subject and to a career, their beliefs in their ability to earn a business degree, and usefulness to the long-term plans of business ownership. In some cases, students chose the business major over a preferred major for diverse reasons including: not wanting to move away from family; a family’s desire to provide security for female offspring; the prohibitive costs of the preferred major; and doubts about their ability to succeed in the preferred major. The extended family was influential in decisions around choice of major and career. Participants listened to the advice of older siblings. The financial support of parents was also pivotal. Farmers did not want their children to work in agriculture and saw business as offering a better life.