Changing way of career development

Term Paper, 2004

19 Pages, Grade: 1.0 (A)


Table of contents

1 Introduction
1.1 Career definition
1.2 The traditional career

2 The changing organisational context and adult development
2.1 Downsizing, evolution and decentralisation
2.2 Outsourcing
2.3 Increased global trading, multinationals and technology

3 Adult development
3.1 Theories of life development by Super, Levison and Erikson
3.2 Career anchors by Schein

4 Impact on career management and development
4.1 Organisational and individual levels
4.2 Organisational ownership replaced by self-employment
4.3 Proactive personalities
4.3.1 Career plateau
4.4 Changing psychological contract
4.5 Changing career paths
4.6 Expert’s advise

5 Implications for a career in marketing
5.1 Aims
5.2 Initial situation
5.3 Strengths and weaknesses
5.3.1 Different entry possibilities
5.4 Career opportunities in marketing

6 Conclusion


1 Introduction

Economic and business changes in the industrialised countries are radically altering the world of work (Barner, 1994). The way of career development has dramatically changed over the last decades (Kotler in Executive Female, 1995). The purpose of this paper is to discuss the changing organisational context for careers, the underlying permanent factor of adult development, and the impact this is having on career management and development. Key issues, theories and models by leading researchers such as Super, Levinson and Arthur are reviewed, shaping careers in the contemporary business environment. The final part includes the implications of the aforementioned for a career in Marketing.

1.1 Career definition

To discuss the changing way of careers, it is necessary to define the term ‘career’. Several definitions are given by the literature. For example, it can be defined as “the sequence of employment related positions, roles, activities and experience encountered by a person” (Arnold, 2003), “…a relationship between an individual and an organisation” (Cohen in Redman and Wilkinson, 2004) or the “sequence of work-related experiences and attitudes that the individual has over the span of his or her work life” (Hall, 1986). Hall and Mirvis (1996) have a more learning-orientated view, defining career as multiple shorter-term learning cycles that might last about five years, spanning many organisational boundaries (Arthur and Rousseau, 1996).

1.2 The traditional career

In contrast with the contemporary careers such as those outlined above , the emphasis regarding traditional careers was on its conception to progress in a linear stage (Levinson, 1978; Super, 1957). Tyson and York (1989) describe the traditional career as a “planned progression of working life, often within one organisation and always following it seems, an upwards direction towards a summit”. The traditional career is seen as climbing up a ladder which was reflected by the structure of the organisations in the past. Traditionally, high performance was rewarded by a promotion (McDougall and Vaughan, 1996). This allowed the employees to climb one step further.

2. The changing organisational context and adult development

According to Miles and Snow (1996), the tall, multi-layer, functionally organised structures characteristic of many large companies have changed. Redman and Wilkinson (2004) confirm that there is an irreversible change in the organisation of our working lives. Among other factors, this has been caused by downsizing, devolution, outsourcing, trade, multinational companies and rapid technological change, which are discussed in the following.

2.1 Downsizing, evolution and decentralisation

Traditionally, most companies had tall structures with multiple layers of managers, and success was defined as promotion up the organisational hierarchy and increase in salary (Hall, 1996). However, as the companies have de-layered and downsized, more employees have left the traditional career form because the organisations have fewer employees and fewer levels in the status hierarchy (Arnold, 2003). Downsizing is defined as “reducing the operating costs of a company by reducing the number of people it employs” (Collins English Dictionary, 2000). The most obvious effect of downsizing is that employees are made redundant. In the first half of the 90s, 3.1 million jobs were lost through downsizing in the US (Sahdev et all, 1999). A study by Lawer et all showed that two-thirds of the leading US firms both downsized and de-layered during the 1980s (Lawer in Arnold, 2003).

Along with organisational downsizing, researchers shed light on employment security. Hirsh (1995) states that the “belief in employment security has evaporated” and “many organisations have told their employees that they can no longer expect a career for life”. He also explains that downsizing has “swept away established career paths” (Hirsh, 1995). Holbeche adds that even though organisations are not able to offer employees a job for life with “regular promotion up the hierarchy” (Holbeche, 1995), employees have come to terms with this in the case of individual career development. Many employees who have been made redundant have discovered that their earlier work has not much helped them in terms of their employability (Arnold, 2003). However, for those who have kept their employment, such changes have resulted in significant increase in workloads and devolving responsibility (Redman and Wilkinson, 2004).

The dilemma of downsizing is that the major source of competitive advantage of an organisation is its people (Sims and Sims, 1994). Therefore, downsizing contributes not only to cost-reduction but also to the loss of expertise which often leads to higher loss in total (Sahdev et all, 1999).

Other organisational changes which affect career development are devolution and decentralisation. Arnold (2003) states that many organisations have greatly reduced the size and significance of their head offices partly because of cost cutting and de-layering.

2.2 Outsourcing

Outsourcing has become a commonly used term in recent years as more and more companies outsource specific activities or departments e.g. their production. The employees are not actually employed by the organisation. Instead, they are employed by another organisation holding a contract to deliver a certain service (Arnold, 2003). Additionally, employees are often leased. One concern is how these employees can be kept up to date regarding their skills. In the case of employee leasing, bigger companies such as Manpower are taking responsibility to update their employees’ skills (Arnold, 2003).

2.3 Increased global trading, multinationals and technology

Another factor which strongly influences the contemporary career is globalisation and the success in international trade. Success in exporting is shown by a productivity which has doubled, and turnover growing by 400 percent (Burdett, 1998). According to the WTO (2003) the annual increase of trade in the last decade has been seven percent. Through the increasing global activities the labour market needs more staff, which is able to operate internationally. Therefore, an international perspective on staffing is necessary.

With increased trade, growing multinational groups form the today’s careers. As international markets are more and more liberalised, international competition increases. The consequences are more international careers e.g. individuals living as expatriates carrying out assignments in different countries.

Finally, Martin (2001) states that “some careers change, as technology changes…as the traditional types of work are replaced by computers”.

3. Adult development

Research on careers has been strongly influenced by the theories of adult development of Super and Levison (Sullivan, 1999). Adult development presents a permanent factor which is affected by instability because of the changing organisational context. In order to understand the changing way of careers it is worthwhile to investigate ideas from developmental and human psychology. Companies have to be aware of this factor in order to manage their employees according to their current needs.

3.1 Theories of life development by Super, Levison and Erikson

A life stage theory by Super is applicable to diverse groups in diverse circumstances (Arnold, 2003). His key ideas are: (1) people differ in their abilities, interests, and personalities; (2) occupations require a characteristic pattern of abilities, interests and personal traits; (3) career development evolves to develop and implement a self-concept which is a product of the interaction of inherited aptitudes, physical make-up, and the opportunity to play various roles; (4) change through a series of life stages (Arnold, 2003). He suggests that a person’s career typically has five stages. These are: growth (expansion of a person’s capabilities and interests); exploration (of self and the world of work); establishment (proving his or her worth in a field of interest); maintenance (holding the reached position) and decline (decreasing capacities). Additionally, he identifies a number of life-roles. These include e.g. homemaker, student and child.

Another concept by Levison links the management of careers to age and suggests that optimal matches between individuals and labour markets can be achieved only if there are opportunities for people to change direction at midlife and perhaps later, too (Arnold, 2003). He uses the word ‘phases’ instead of ‘stages’ as he does not want to imply a kind of progression. He divides adulthood into three phases: early, middle and late. One of his key ideas is live ‘the dream’ which presents a person’s preferred way of life including occupation, relationship, leisure activities and their integration. His theory is well known for the midlife transition which he says is experienced as a crisis, the individual realising that the current situation is untenable but being unable readily to see anything better.


Excerpt out of 19 pages


Changing way of career development
University of Teesside  (Teesside Business School)
Career Management
1.0 (A)
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
File size
511 KB
The way of career development has dramatically changed over the last decades (Kotler in Executive Female, 1995). The purpose of this paper is to discuss the changing organisational context for careers, the underlying permanent factor of adult development, and the impact this is having on career management and development.
Changing, Career, Management
Quote paper
Volker Schmid (Author), 2004, Changing way of career development, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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