Theoretical Voices Directing the Career Development Journey: Holland, Harris-Bowlsbey, and Krumboltz

By Feller, Rich W.; Honaker, Stevie L. et al. | Career Development Quarterly, March 2001 | Go to article overview

Theoretical Voices Directing the Career Development Journey: Holland, Harris-Bowlsbey, and Krumboltz


Feller, Rich W., Honaker, Stevie L., Zagzebski, Lynn M., Career Development Quarterly


The counselor's role in facilitating career development remains dynamic as lifelong learning, expanding lifestyle options, and the changing workplace present new opportunities. In response, most practitioners follow some common theoretical assumptions as their foundation. As the career development field celebrates its place and embraces the millennium, the work of John Holland, the developmental perspective promoted by JoAnn Harris-Bowlsbey, and John Krumboltz's social learning theory are captured through this personal view of the career development journey. Unique insights about the context of their work and view of the future workplace are shared.

Career development evolved from interpretations of rather simple worldviews, narrow discipline perspectives, and a world observed to be moving much slower than it now appears. Counseling a client, developing a guidance intervention, building a computer-assisted guidance program, or training career coaches now demands greater respect for more diverse and turbulent organizational, societal, and economic contexts. Described in a wide range of career development literature, this complexity has led to speculation about the counselor's role in facilitating career development (Feller & Davies, 1999; Feller & Walz, 1996; Figler & Bolles, 1999; Miller-Tiedeman, 1999; Peterson & Gonzalez, 2000).

Yet, the practitioner's journey is most frequently directed by assumptions and practices advanced by John Holland's work, the developmental perspective promoted by JoAnn Harris-Bowlsbey, and John Krumboltz's social learning theory. For this reason this article includes a portion of the written responses for a 1999 interview related to their respective theories and the workplace of the future.

No counselor completes training without understanding the Holland model of Realistic, Investigative, Artistic, Social, Enterprising and Conventional (RIASEC) and Holland's theoretical assumptions about vocational choice and adjustment. With more than 500 publications stimulated since his original theoretical explanation in the 1959 publication of A Theory of Vocational Choice, Holland's theory stands as the most influential of the extant theories (Isaacson & Brown, 1999, p. 26.). Having successfully combined the science and practice of career development, Holland has authored several books, including among others Self--Directed Search for Career Planning (Holland, 1970), Manual for the Vocational Preference Inventory (Holland, 1967), the Vocational Exploration and Insight Kit (Holland et al., 1980), My Vocational Situation-An Experimental Diagnostic Form (Holland, 1980), and Dictionary of Holland Occupational Codes (Gottfredson, Holland, & Ogawa, 1982). He has maintained a focused agenda of improving RIASEC theory and research for 40 years.

Q: How does your career choice reflect your personal Holland Code?

John Holland (JL): My aspirations, work history, work roles, and personality appear consistent with my SDS [Self-Directed Search] profile. Different forms of the SDS and VPI suggest that I am an AS, IE, RC person. (Underlining indicates scales with trivial differences.) I have had a lifelong interest in music and art. I have been a researcher and a supervisor for 40 years and a teacher for 10. Twenty years of retirement have included more research and writing as well as piano and voice lessons. Some people never give up.

Q: How do you assess your contribution to career theory and career counseling practice?

JL: See Gottfredson's [ 1999] summary in the Journal of Vocational Behavior. Gottfredson (personal communication July 23, 1999) says that I have made the only useful contribution since Frank Parsons.

Q: What would be the best outcome ofyour work-s continued influence on career development research and practice?

JL: The developmental view will disappear, research will flourish, practical applications will continue to proliferate, and researchers will continue to test the theory so it could be revised. …

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