Academic journal article Career Development Quarterly

Work Values Similarities among Students from Six Countries

Academic journal article Career Development Quarterly

Work Values Similarities among Students from Six Countries

Article excerpt

This study examined high school students' selected work values in six countries. The data were analyzed for between-country correlation. Also, the data were analyzed with sex as a variable. The findings indicated selected work values were more similar than dissimilar across countries and cultures. Gender specific results suggested a higher degree of transnational agreement among girls than among their male peers.

For the past 35 years behavioral scientists have studied how work values and occupational choice relate. As early as 1957, Rosenberg examined the role of work values in college students' occupational choice.

Rosenberg's work stemmed from the sociological and anthropological theory and research of his era. In 1970, Super asserted that values are objectives sought to satisfy a need. Occupational choice, according to Super, is an attempt to maximize need satisfaction through value realization. Later, Dawis and Lofquist (1984) referred to values as "standards of importance for the individual" (p. 4). These standards influence choice of work environment and, ultimately, level of satisfaction. These early vocational psychology conceptions were platforms for research on the relation of work values and occupational choice. This research typically has found a strong relationship between an individual's work specific values and his or her choice of occupation (Dawis & Lofquist, 1984; Pine & Innis, 1987; Zytowski, 1970a).

A related but different type of study emerged from early research into the nature of work values. Instead of examining the relationship between values and choice of occupation, these later studies assessed work values within distinct groups and then contrasted results across groups. For example, Ben-Shem and Avi-Itzhak (1991) compared the work values of freshmen students interested in the helping professions with freshmen interested in other professions; Beutell and Brenner (1986) compared the selected work values of men and women; Fouad and Kammer (1989) studied the work values of women with different gender role orientations; Kanchier and Unruh (1989) contrasted the work values of managers who changed jobs with those who did not; Shapira and Griffith (1990) compared the work values of engineers with managers, production, and clerical workers; and Vodanovich and Kramer (1989) studied the work values of children and parents. These studies have all reported significant differences in work values between their respective comparison groups. In contrast, Lindsay and Knox (1984) reported strong evidence of stability in work values among young adults (high school seniors) followed longitudinally.

A subset of intergroup studies have focused specifically on transnational or cross-cultural comparisons. Engel (1988) contrasted work values of American and Japanese men and Vondracek, Shimizu, Schulenberg, Hostetler, and Sakayanagi (1990) studied the work values of American and Japanese students. These two transnational studies reported significant differences between the work values of American and Japanese citizens. Loscocco and Kalleberg (1988) compared work commitment and work values of American and Japanese employees. They found more commitment to work among older men than among younger men in both American and Japanese samples, the same pattern of commitment in American women but not in Japanese women, and greater contrast in the importance placed on good pay between younger and older Japanese workers than between younger and older American workers (American workers of all ages value good pay highly).

In another transnational comparison, Elizur, Borg, Hunt, and Beck (1991) studied work values across eight countries: the United States, Germany, Holland, Israel, Korea, Taiwan, China, and Hungary. The samples consisted mostly of college-educated, employed men. To facilitate cross-sample comparison, Elizur and his colleagues rank ordered the 24 work values used in their study within each sample group or country. …

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