Academic journal article Career Development Quarterly

Evaluation of a Goal Orientation Model of Vocational Identity

Academic journal article Career Development Quarterly

Evaluation of a Goal Orientation Model of Vocational Identity

Article excerpt

Vocational identity is an important construct because it reflects personal agency in the career domain: it represents control over career development processes and behaviors, including exploratory actions, reflection, goal setting, planning, and career goal pursuit (Hirschi, 2011). In industrialized countries, acquiring a vocational identity is one of the most important tasks for young people because it is critical for success in 21st-century labor markets (LaPointe, 2010). Those with a well-developed identity are more likely to be aware of their life and vocational interests; have a realistic appraisal of their capabilities and temperament; and be engaged in setting, monitoring, and making progress toward important, careerrelated goals (Holland, Daiger, & Power, 1980). However, despite its importance, there has been little theoretical development of the construct of vocational identity, and few studies have explored factors that might foster or impede its development (Skorikov & Vondracek, 2007, 2011). We aimed to contribute to the career literature first by examining goal orientation as an antecedent of vocational identity, and second by testing the direct and indirect effects of goal orientation on career-related strategies and career-specific affect.

Vocational Identity

Vocational identity denotes having "an explicit and relatively stable picture of . . . [one's] goals, interests, skills, and suitable occupations" (Holland, 1996, p. 403) and, based on Marcia's (1980) operationalization of Erikson's (1968) identity model, is assessed primarily by using measures of career exploration and commitment (Skorikov & Vondracek, 2007). This approach yields four identity statuses. An identity-achieved status results when career-related commitments are based on extensive self- and environmental exploration. A foreclosed identity status reflects commitments made with insufficient exploration; a moratorium status involves exploration with an inability to commit; and a diffused status results when both exploration and commitment are low. We operationalized vocational identity using measures of career exploration and commitment and assessed their independent associations with other study variables, as assessing statuses would mask underlying mechanisms of the identity process (Skorikov & Vondracek, 2007).

Vocational Identity and Career Strategies

Because vocational identity is the primary mechanism for agency in the career domain, it underpins the integration of self- and world-of-work knowledge, facilitates decision making and goal setting, and drives self-regulatory actions related to achieving goals (Hirschi, 2011). Critical self-regulatory actions are the individual's career-enhancing strategies. These reflect an active career focus and are facilitated, for example, by developing expertise, expanding personal networks, and increasing interpersonal attractiveness (Nabi, 2003). Consistent with the notion that vocational identity drives self-regulatory actions, vocational identity, when operationalized as a single measure (e.g., the My Vocational Situation scale; Holland et al., 1980), is associated positively with self-regulatory behaviors, such as personal development initiative (Duffy, Douglass, Autin, & Allan, 2014), environmental mastery, and positive relations with others (Strauser, Lustig, & Çiftçi, 2008). Additionally, career exploration, when assessed independently, is related positively to proactivity and career planning (Hirschi, Herrmann, & Keller, 2015), and commitment is related positively to problem solving and career decision confidence (Stringer & Kerpelman, 2010).

Identity and Affect

Many theories (e.g., psychosocial, Erikson, 1968; social cognitive, Fugate, Kinicki, & Ashforth, 2004; and cybernetic, Kerpelman, Pittman, & Lamke, 1997) link a positive vocational identity to reduced levels of distress. These models propose that the agency processes required to develop vocational identity (e. …

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