Academic journal article The Qualitative Report

Career Paths, Images and Anchors: A Study with Brazilian Professionals

Academic journal article The Qualitative Report

Career Paths, Images and Anchors: A Study with Brazilian Professionals

Article excerpt

Some authors have addressed issues concerning labour, employment and career, and emerging from this process we find expressions such as "The Career Chaos", in allusion to the end of solid and longstanding careers, and to the emergence of careers that are self-guided and built in the passage through various companies (Amherdt, 1999; Chanlat, 1995; McDaniels & Gylbers, 1992).

From a traditional perspective, a career can be seen as the adjustment of a person to a chosen occupation. This process of adjustment implies standards from which arises the concept of hierarchy or sequence of roles with greater responsibilities, within an occupation (Landau & Hammer, 1986).

According to Baruch (2004), the current generation is witnessing the disappearance of limits in various aspects of life. The implications of this phenomenon for careers are that they are becoming increasingly multidirectional. In a modern perspective considered by the author, careers are seen as a process of development of the employee through a trajectory of experiences and occupations in one or more organizations (Baruch & Rosenstein, 1992).

Based on this set of changes, a concept much more consistent with the type of careers that are currently being traced seems to be related to the idea of "an occupation or profession represented by stages and possibly by a progression. To pursue a career means to move on in the course of life" (Robert, 1989, p. 259). Or in the more recent definition of Arthur and Rousseau (1996), career is more appropriately seen as "the evolving sequence of a person's work experiences over time."

Greenhaus, Callanan, and Godshalk (1999) also proposed a career concept without the typical binds of the traditional approach. To these authors, a career would be a pattern of experiences related to the occupations that comprise an individual's course of the life.

If in the past career studies focused on the organizational career, nowadays they are increasingly focusing on a person's perceptions and self-constructions about career phenomena.

Following this trend, our study presents the results of longitudinal case studies that were carried out with the objective of verifying if career paths are stable or changeable by following career trajectories and obtaining the diagnosis of professional anchors and aspirations in two different stages. In the first, interviews were conducted in combination with the application of Schein's (1993) Career Anchors Inventory, and with the presentation of figures representing careers to twelve professionals that were also former students of a Brazilian masters in Business Administration program. After two years, those professionals were not only interviewed again but they also filled out the Career Anchors Inventory for a second time, and the results of this study are presented here.

Review of Literature

In this topic we present a synopsis of the current knowledge on career in order to contextualize our study and to define theoretical approach used in empirical research. First of all, we went through the development of career's concept of and its implications for professional trajectories. After this we explore Edgar Schein's (1993) approach to career which resulted in his Career Anchors Inventory, used in this study to investigate careers changes. The choose of this approach is based on the idea of the career anchors stability in different moments of professional trajectories.

It is worthy to emphasize that the choice of this instrument was due to the fact it is, at the same time, consistent with the current trend which points out that careers are being self-directed. In other words, careers are currently becoming the responsibility of the individuals themselves, who, consequently, need to be aware of their goals in life and their values regarding a career, developing appropriate skills in order to achieve so. It is important to make it clear, that the aim of this study is not to search for gaps in the career theory, but offer a support to the Career Anchor Inventory by a longitudinal study. …

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