Organisational Careers versus Boundaryless Careers: Insights from the Accounting Profession

By Smith, Theresa; Sheridan, Alison | Journal of Management and Organization, November 2006 | Go to article overview

Organisational Careers versus Boundaryless Careers: Insights from the Accounting Profession


Smith, Theresa, Sheridan, Alison, Journal of Management and Organization


ABSTRACT

Much of careers research in recent times has focused on the so called move away from traditional 'organisational careers' to what Arthur (1994) coined the 'boundaryless career'. This paper discusses research that challenges the applicability of the boundaryless career and the claim that 'organisational careers are dead'. Drawing on interviews with nearly 60 accountants in Australia, the research demonstrates that employees are pursuing an organisational career. For this occupational group, the lack of proactive HR involvement in career development and the emphasis on selfdirection was not appreciated. Rather, the research highlighted that the lack of organisational career management had negative implications for employee attitudes and motivation. The issues raised by the participants suggest it is timely to consider whether the unique characteristics of the accounting profession represent an ideal environment for the maintenance of an 'organisational career'.

Key words: organisational careers; boundaryless careers; accounting profession; career managment

INTRODUCTION

Much of careers research in recent times has focused on the so called move away from traditional Organisational careers' to what Arthur (1994) coined the 'boundaryless career'. Historically, organisational careers or 'bounded careers', described the majority of employees who progressed through an orderly series of upward moves receiving increasing income, status, power and security. Such careers generally developed within a single, mainly large and stable organisation. However, by the late 1980s and 1990s, Arthur and Rousseau (1996a) believed a shift was occurring toward boundaryless careers. They argued that careers in the twenty-first century would no longer be automatic nor linear, they would be boundaryless. The career would be directed by the individual, not the organisation, and driven by changes in the person and in the environment. The individual would need to be more flexible and adaptive. Employment transitions would occur across multiple roles, organisations and occupations.

Heeding Pringle and Mallon's (2003) call to take a more critical approach to the boundaryless career theory and the need to attend to the context in which it is employed, the purpose of this paper is to discuss research that challenges the applicability of the boundaryless career and the claim that 'organisational careers are dead'.

The research presented in this article is taken from a larger research thesis which examined the key personal, inter-personal, and organisational factors that influence the career development of men and women in the accounting profession in Australia (Smith 2006). The broader research was undertaken from a human resource perspective. While not the primary focus of the research, an interesting theme to emerge from the research which we believed warranted specific attention concerned the issue of traditional versus boundaryless careers.

Drawing on a sample of men and women employed in the accounting profession in Australia, the research discussed in this article suggests that contrary to Arthur and Rousseau's (1996a) and Hall's (1996) theory on boundaryless careers, the accounting employees in the study are pursuing an organisational career. Two aspects of career development are examined. First, whether participants in the research remained loyal to the one organisation for the majority of their careers; that is, did they follow an 'organisational career'? Second, what was the attitude of participants towards career management? That is, did they believe the organisation had a role to play in managing their careers (organisational career management); or did they take sole responsibility for their career management (boundaryless careers)? The research showed that for this occupational group, the lack of proactive HR involvement in career development by their organisations was not appreciated. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Organisational Careers versus Boundaryless Careers: Insights from the Accounting Profession
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.