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  From anchors to orientations: Towards a contemporary theoryof career preferences Ricardo Rodrigues  a, ⁎ , David Guest  b , Alexandra Budjanovcanin  b a Department of Leadership, HRM and Organisation, Kingston Business School, Room Kh-Bs305, Kingston Hill Campus, Kingston-Upon-Thames, Surrey KT2 7LB, UK  b Department of Management, King's College, London, 150 Stamford Street, London, SE1 9NH, UK  a r t i c l e i n f o a b s t r a c t  Article history: Available online 9 April 2013Received 9 December 2012 The way people make sense of their careers in the contemporary world can no longer beusefully captured by objective benchmarks of career success, such as salary growth andpromotion. Commentators have highlighted the need to address subjective criteria reflectingidiosyncratic needs, values and goals underpinning people's career choices and behavior. Ourpaper contributes to this debate by discussing and empirically exploring the core features of acontemporary theory of career preferences. Taking Schein's influential work on career anchorsas a point of departure we identify and explore a set of research questions among a sample of professional workers. Our findings suggest that orientations are partially shaped in the broadsocial and family context; that people can have primary and secondary orientations; thatorientations are adaptable to people's work and life circumstances; and that career preferencesare, to a large extent, context specific limiting generalizations across national and occupationalcultures.© 2013 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. Keywords: Career preferencesCareer orientationsCareer anchorsBoundaryless career 1. Introduction Foranumberofyearssomecommentatorshavearguedthattraditionalcareers,inwhichindividualsmoveonwardsandupwardswithin an organization, have been irreversibly compromised (Arthur, 1994). A burgeoning literature on the  “ new career ”  hasproposed an alternative, inter-organizational, lens for analyzing careers in what some have termed the boundaryless career era. Itsadvocates argue that the way people make sense of their career experiences can no longer be captured by objective benchmarks of career success, such as salary growth and promotion, but should instead be found in the subjective criteria reflecting idiosyncraticneeds,valuesandgoalsunderpinningpeople'scareerchoicesandbehavior(Arthur,Khapova,&Wilderom,2005).Wethereforeneeda clear understanding of the subjective side of career and, particularly, how career preferences shape career attitudes and behaviors.Recognizingitsimportancevariousresearchershaveattemptedtocapturethesubjectivecareerusingarangeofoverlappingconceptsand classifications of career aspirations (Mayrhofer et al., 2005), career orientations (Carlson, Derr, & Wadsworth, 2003; Derr, 1986; Mallon, Duberley, & Cohen, 2005), and career anchors (Schein, 1996). This has stimulated a number of empirical contributions exploringtheprevalenceoftypesofcareerpreferencesamongdifferentgroupsofworkers(Igbaria,Greenhaus,&Parasuraman,1991)andtheirkeycorrelates.Eventhoughthisresearchhasproducedvaluableinsightsaboutthewaypeopleconstruetheircareersithasnotdevelopedtheunderlyingtheoryabouttheformation,evolutionandkeycharacteristicsofcareerpreferences.Ourpaperseekstoaddressthisomissionbypresentingandreportingapreliminaryexplorationofasetofresearchquestionsleadingtothedevelopmentof the key features of a contemporary theory of career preferences.Several of the issues that need to be addressed in a theory of career preferences were previously identified by Schein whoseinfluentialworkoncareeranchorsformsourpointofdeparture.Scheinhasdevelopedthemostwidelycitedandutilizedclassificationof careerpreferences or what heterms “ careeranchors ” . Inaddition,hehas alsoproposed a set of theoreticalassumptionsaboutthe  Journal of Vocational Behavior 83 (2013) 142 – 152 ⁎  Corresponding author. E-mail addresses: (R. Rodrigues), (D. Guest), (A. Budjanovcanin). 0001-8791/$  –  see front matter © 2013 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. Contents lists available at SciVerse ScienceDirect  Journal of Vocational Behavior  journal homepage:  derivation,developmentandinfluenceofanchorsoncareerbehavior.Thisisarguablythemostimportantanddistinctiveaspectofhiscontribution but has been largely neglected in the literature.While the metaphor of the anchor has proved attractive, it seems to have two important limitations. First, it is grounded in anindividualistic perspective of careers that emphasizes agency over structure. Even though individual identity is certainly relevant inthe shaping of career preferences, it can be argued that the role of social and family relations and institutional pressures areinsufficientlyconsideredinSchein'stheory.Researchershavearguedthatcareersaremorethanindividualwork-relatedexperiences.Some people's careers are an extension of those of their parents, as is the case for instance with familial entrepreneurship (Bruin &Lewis, 2004), or are intertwined and co-evolve with the careers of others, like the careers of architects Herzog and De Meuron(Svejenova, Vives, & Alvarez, 2010). Careers are also shaped by the broad social, family and employment context which providesindividuals with scripts of expected actions and guidelines to follow (Dany, Louvel, & Valette, 2011). This certainly seems to be thecaseamong professionals whosecareers are significantly shaped byoccupational boundaries and rulesimposedby membership of aprofessionalbody.Thissuggeststhattheprocessofformationandmaturationofrelativelystablecareerpreferencesneedstotakeintoaccount the interplay between individuals' career motives and their relationships and circumstances from childhood onwards.Second, given its connotations of stability and immovability, the idea of an anchor may ultimately prove limiting and potentiallymisleading. Contemporary careers are depicted as physically and psychologically boundaryless (Sullivan & Arthur, 2006). Peopleshould then expectto movethrough frequentcareercycles topromotecontinuouslearningand employability rather than achievingand seekingto prolongthe maintenance stage of their career. The anchor metaphor, underpinnedbythe idea thatneeds, values andabilities developed in the first five to ten years of work shape the remainder of one's career does not seem to reflect the nature of contemporary careers. We will therefore hereafter adopt the term  ‘ orientation ’  instead of anchor. Building on the utilization of thisconceptbysociologists(Derr,1986;Goldthorpe,Lockwood,Bechhofer,&Platt,1968)wedefineorientationsasrelativelystablecareerpreferences emerging inter alia from the interaction between self-identify, family relationships, social and cultural background,education, work experiences and labor market conditions. We believe this notion is more fluid and flexible and rooted in a widersocial context than Schein's career anchors. Our aim is therefore to move beyond Schein's approach. The core components of ourtheory include the classification of career preferences, the derivation and development of preferences, the question of whetherindividuals have one or more preferences and the stability of preferences. 2. Towards a contemporary theory of career preferences  2.1. The classi  󿬁 cation of career orientations Schein(1977,1980, 1992,1996) initiatedhis researchon careeranchorsinthe 1960's,followinga panelof 44 MIT alumnifor aperiodof 10 to 12 years.Subjects wereinterviewedonseveral occasionsabouttheir workattitudes andvalues,and careerchoicesand changes. Although their career histories varied significantly, Schein identified what he described as unambiguous patternsunderpinning people's reasons for working and changing jobs. He labeled these career anchors and defined them as  “ a syndromeof motives, values, and self-perceived talents which guides and constrains the person's career ”  (1977:49). In his studies during thelate1960'sandmid-70's,fivedistinctanchorswereidentified.Inthe1980's,Scheinaddedthreemoreanchorssothathismostrecentclassification consists of eight career anchors (Schein, 1996). Three anchors  –  autonomy/independence, pure challenge, and service/ dedicationtoacause – aregroundedinpeople'svalues.Twoanchors – security/stabilityandlifestyle – reflectpeople'spsychologicalneeds. Finally, the remaining three anchors  –  technical-functional, general managerial competence, and entrepreneurial creativity  – are based on people's abilities.Schein argued that his anchors  “ can probably be found in all occupations ”  (Schein, 1978: 128) and that  “ most people can bedescribed in terms of the ( … ) anchors discussed ”  (1980: 20). While studies offer overall support for Schein's classification, somevariations in the factor structure of career anchors have been reported. For instance, Igbaria et al.'s (1991) study of informationsystems workers in the US produced eleven initial factors, with the security, technical – functional and pure challenge anchorseach splitting into two factors. More recently Danziger, Rachman-Moore, and Valency (2008) argued that a nine factorclassification, where creativity and entrepreneurship represented two separate constructs, fitted their sample of Israeli workersbetter than Schein's eight anchors.Even though some inconsistencies between the findings of different studies are to be expected, accepting the generalizabilityof Schein's categories carries two risks. First, as Schein himself noted when he added further categories to his classification, newanchors might emerge among contemporary workers reflecting changes in work-related values. Second, Schein's srcinal studywas based on a small sample of American managers and although he later expanded it to include a more varied sample, criticshave argued that his typology may need adjusting to fit the views of different groups of workers (Mallon et al., 2005) and of workers in different countries (Gerber, Wittekind, Grote, Conway, & Guest, 2009; Ituma & Simpson, 2007). This body of evidencesuggests that orientations should be identified in their specific context and are limited if they are confined within a singleclassification. This leads to our first research question: Is the content of orientations likely to vary across occupations and nationaland professional cultures in a way that is incompatible with the use of a standard classification?  2.2. The derivation of career orientations The second issue concerns the derivation of career orientations. Several streams of research in psychology and sociologysuggest that career choices and relatively stable career drivers, can be at least partially shaped fairly early in life. For example, the 143 R. Rodrigues et al. / Journal of Vocational Behavior 83 (2013) 142 – 152  literature on the concept of a  ‘ calling ’ , a notion which broadly overlaps with Schein's service anchor, suggests that many people,particularlyprofessionals,mayentertheircareersdrawnbysomeperceivedforcetopursueameaningfulcareerpath(Berg,Grant,& Johnson,2010).Additionalevidencestemsfromthestudyoftheimpactofcareeraspirationsandsocialbackgroundonlifeandcareertrajectories. Inthe UK, longitudinal researchby Schoonand colleagues (Ashby &Schoon, 2010; Gutman &Schoon, 2012; Schoon, 2001)showed not only that teenage job aspirations are predictive of their future occupations but also that family, social status and parentalaspirations influence individual's future social status and earnings.In contrast to this prevailing view, Schein argues that occupational identity is formed in the first five to seven years of work, aspeople experience different work environments and become aware of their deeper career motivations. He considers that whenpeople start working they have  “ many ambitions, hopes, and fears but relatively little good information about themselves,especially in the area of their abilities and talents ”  (1980:2). It is only when people confront their preferences, values and abilitiesagainst actual work experience and the feedback of colleagues and supervisors that they become aware of their overarchingcareer preferences. Schein then distinguishes vocational choice from the formation of anchors (Feldman & Bolino, 1996). Heconsiders that vocations lead to initial career choices and may explain, for instance, why someone decides to become a lawyer.Anchors, in contrast, account for one's career path within a chosen occupational field. Anchors explain why some lawyers chooseto enact managerial roles, whereas others prefer to work for organizations that encourage professional growth and development,and still others decide to build their own business. As we have suggested, this view is open to challenge.An additional questioniswhethercareerpreferencesdevelopand mature atdifferentlifeand career stages.Schein'sclusteringof anchors as need, ability and value-based potentially suggests that people may become aware of their abilities when they experienceworkand receive feedback. Incontrast,it ispossible thatneed and value-based anchors develop previouslyin the broader socialandfamily context. Recognizing the challenges facing Schein's claims, and building on the dominant body of literature, our secondresearch question is as follows: Do career orientations develop over a period of time influenced by factors such as social andeducational environment, parental influence and early career aspirations as well as work experiences?  2.3. One or more orientation? The third issue that merits discussion is whether people have one dominant orientation or can have multiple, or primary andsecondary,orientations.Scheinarguesthatinthefirstyearsofworkpeoplecrafttheiroccupationalself-conceptbycloselyidentifyingwithoneof theeightmutuallyexclusiveanchorsin hisclassification.Consequently,  “ bythisdefinition there canonlybeoneanchor ” (Schein,1980:24).Ananchorultimatelyembodies “ thevaluesandmotivesthatthepersonwillnotgiveupifforcedtomakeachoice ” (Schein, 1996: 80). Schein argues that if someone is not able to clearly identify his or her dominant anchor, that is because theiroccupational identity is not yet formed.The single anchor argument, as Arnold (1997) notes, is almost impossible to prove or refute and is therefore unhelpful fortheory building. Moreover, as Schein (1977) himself acknowledges, even when people are able to identify one dominant anchorthey still relate in various degrees to the values, needs and abilities encompassed by other anchors. Exploring the role of secondary drivers in shaping one's career decisions is therefore a promising avenue for further understanding how careerpreferences shape career behavior. In Schein's main study, 10 of the 44 panelists reported having either two or three dominantanchors. Feldman and Bolino (1996) have addressed this issue by suggesting that people may have primary and secondaryanchorsfrom different clusters.Even thoughtheir proposition is worth exploring empirically, the possibilityof people havingtwoanchors from the same cluster should also be considered. In addition, the assumption that people have a single dominant anchordoes not consider counter-evidence suggesting that people can have multiple equally strong career preferences. This is supportedby the sociological research on orientations to work of  Blackburn and Mann (1979) who found that unskilled blue-collar workerscan have  “ strong ”  or  “ weak ”  orientationsto work.Even thoughsome workers in their study reported a single strong orientation, asizeable proportion of their sample was not able to single out one orientation at the expense of all others. If we are to more fullyunderstand the way people make sense of their careers we need to consider the presence and the role of any additional, perhapssecondary or supporting orientations in shaping the direction of people's careers. This is reflected in our third research question:Do individuals typically have one orientation or a combination of primary and secondary orientations?  2.4. The stability of career orientations Schein argued that anchors are stable over time, suggesting that  “ if the process of learning about oneself leads to a clearer andmore articulated self-image, a clearer picture of what we are good at, want, and value, it would be [his] prediction that such aself-image would increasingly become a stable part of the personality ”  (1980: 21). The argument, however, seems somewhatinconsistentwithotherassumptionsunderpinninghismodel.Ontheonehand,Scheinconsidersthatanchorsareformedintheinitialstage of one's career, therefore minimizing the importance of an individual's background and prior socialization experiences in theformation of career anchors. Onthe other hand, he assumes that work and life experiences lose their ability to shape people's careerpreferences once an occupational identity is formed.Whether or not the argumentfor the stability of careeranchorsis plausible, it is not underpinnedby strongempiricalevidenceor solid theoretical justification. As Schein himself acknowledges, he followed a panel of young managers for a period of ten totwelve years which, according to his theory, is just enough time for them to establish their anchor. While he found consistency inthe reasons why people chose particular jobs and decided to change organizations, his research is focused on people at an earlycareer stage and therefore does not offer clear insights about how people enact their careers later in life, when other roles and 144  R. Rodrigues et al. / Journal of Vocational Behavior 83 (2013) 142 – 152  prioritiesmay becomesalient. An additional issue is the impact of career anchor fulfillment  –  whichis more likelytobeexperiencedby people at a later career stage  –  on the stability of career preferences. The motivation literature, for instance, suggests that oncesatisfied,manypsychologicalneedsnolongerdrivebehavior(Ryan&Deci,2000).Thisargumentindicatesthatneed-basedanchorsatleast are potentially flexible.The same seems to holds true for value-based anchors. Research on work values has extensively explored how values areformed and shaped by gender, age, race/ethnicity, and social background, and also how values influence one's attitudes andbehaviors.Eventhoughthereis apaucityof longitudinalresearchonthelong-termstabilityof workvalues,theavailableevidenceindicatesthatvalueschangeaspeopleageandenactmajorlifeandcareerroles(Smola&Sutton,2002).Thesebackgroundfactors,reflecting an individual's social context and life experiences, are of central importance to the concept of orientations developedand utilized by sociologists (Goldthorpe et al., 1968). The idea that age influences attitudes, preferences and orientations, can alsobe found in the literature on life and career stages (Kooij, De Lange, Jansen, Kanfer, & Dikkers, 2011).This body of literature suggests that career orientations are potentially flexible and adaptable to people's changing work andlife circumstances. This is reflected in our fourth research question: How flexible and adaptable are career orientations?We have outlined a series of research questions around which to explore a potential theory of career orientations. In doing so,we have drawn on a body of evidence that enables us both to build on but go beyond the seminal work of Schein. The second aimof the paper is to present a preliminary exploration of empirical evidence to explore these questions through a qualitative studyamong a sample of professional workers. 3. Method  3.1. Participants The research was conducted among a sample of 37 professional pharmacists in the UK. This was considered to be an interestingsample for three reasons. First, professionals offer a contrasting population to the managerial sample used by Schein to develop hisclassification of career anchors. Second, they operate in a different cultural context and British pharmacists have varied careerpathways and can perform a wider variety of roles, including managerial and entrepreneurial roles, than pharmacists in many othercountries. Third, there has been a long-term shortage of pharmacists in the UK whichprovides theseprofessionals with the scope toselect a preferred career and employment pattern.Intervieweeswere accessed through contacts in the profession using a snowball approach. In order to capture a wide diversityof career perspectives and trajectories the sampling strategy ensured that people from both genders (nine men; 28 women),different ethnic backgrounds (14 white; 23 non-white) and age cohorts (mean age 44), and who worked in different pharmacyand pharmacyrelated sectors(five participants workingin community pharmacy;18 in hospital pharmacy;13 in other pharmacysectors; and one in a pharmacy-related sector were selected). The pharmacy profession in the UK is becoming increasinglyfeminized and ethnicized and this is reflected in our sample. All participants had a minimum of five years of work experience.  3.2. Data collection To meet the aims of this study, a decision was taken to use semi-structured interviews since it was necessary to explore thereasons behind career decisions, in other words, to explore both  ‘ what ’  and  ‘ why ’  questions. We developed a protocol forsemi-structured interviews to explore people's career preferences. Participants were informed about the study's aims and wereasked tosign a consentform. Confidentiality was assuredand interviewswere recordedandfullytranscribed.Interviewstypicallylasted 90 min.The interviews were conducted by two authors of this paper. The interview focused on four key areas. First, we asked anumber of questions designed to capture career orientations (e.g. Why did you take this job? What have been your reasons forchanging jobs/organizations? Looking back can you identify any consistent underlying reasons for changing jobs?). Second, weaimed to identify when career orientations are shaped. We explored the extent to which orientations develop prior to their first job and, more specifically, if they can be relatedto choiceof occupationor familyinfluence (e.g. When did youfirst consider goinginto pharmacy? What attracted you to pharmacy /this pharmacy sector? What influenced your decision?). Third, we exploredwhether people held one or more orientations. A set of questions probed for the salience of any specific career theme (e.g. If youwere to pick a new job is there one specific thing you wouldn't give up? What would your ideal job be like?). Finally, we exploredthe stability of career orientations over time by asking people whether they were able to identify significant shifts in their careermotivations and priorities or patterns of career mobility (e.g. What would you say were your ambitions and goals when youstarted your career? Would you say that with time your ambitions and goals have changed? What were those changes and whydid they happen?)  3.3. Data analysis Ourdataanalysisfocusedonthefourareasdescribedaboveandfollowedathematicanalysisapproach(Ritchie&Spencer,1994).First, we have sought to identify participants' career orientations. We began by jointly identifying all the instances in whichparticipants referred to the underlying reasons for taking a job or changing organizations, what they most valued at work and whattheir core career aims were. We used the qualitative data analysis software NVivo to facilitate this task. There was strong consensus 145 R. Rodrigues et al. / Journal of Vocational Behavior 83 (2013) 142 – 152
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