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Protean and Boundaryless Career Attitudes in New Zealand Workers

This study explored protean and boundaryless career attitudes in a sample of New Zealand workers. Recent changes to both organisational and societal structures have significantly altered how careers are acted out. Employees are now required to be flexible and adaptable, and can no longer rely on organisations to manage their career development. Individuals have had to become more open to networking and collaboration across organisational boundaries, and to working for multiple employers. These changes have resulted in two key career models emerging in the research – the protean career and the boundaryless career. The protean career is conceptualised as involving a self-directed approach to career management combined with a values-driven approach to career management. The boundaryless career is conceptualised as involving both a boundaryless mindset,i.e. wanting to work across organisational boundaries, and a mobility preference,i.e. the desire to work for more than one employer. The purpose of this study was to investigate how demographic and personality variables relate to protean and boundaryless career attitudes in New Zealand workers. Measures of the protean career attitude and the boundaryless career attitude were included in a survey, along with demographic variables, personality variables and career variables. The survey was sent to 1300 New Zealand workers via four organisations and 226 completed responses were received. Overall, demographic variables were found to relate less strongly to protean and boundaryless career attitudes than was expected. Education level was found to be the most predictive demographic variable, while age and gender were related only to one of the protean career attitudes. Overall, proactive personality was found to be the strongest predictor of three out of the four career attitudes. Supplementary analyses found that individuals on a casual employment contract had higher levels of one of the boundaryless career attitudes (boundaryless mindset) than those on a permanent contract, and there were some differences between employment sector groups on one of the boundaryless career attitudes (boundaryless mindset) and one of the protean career attitudes (self-directed career management). Values-driven career management was negatively correlated with employer, occupational and geographic mobility, and no other relationships were found between any of the career attitudes and mobility. This research has significantly added to our understanding of protean and boundaryless career attitudes in the New Zealand context. The findings highlight that protean and boundaryless careers are made up of separate but related constructs that are associated with demographic and personality variables in distinct ways. In particular, this study has shown that while differences between genders have been assumed to exist, such differences do not necessarily occur. Furthermore, individuals with higher levels of education were shown to be more likely to hold certain protean and boundaryless career attitudes. This study highlighted that mobility is not synonymous with protean and boundaryless careers as has been previously assumed in the literature. It has addressed a number of key areas that were highlighted as needing further research, such as potential gender differences in career attitudes,and it has also opened up several areas for future exploration.
Type of thesis
Morrell, H. R. (2010). Protean and Boundaryless Career Attitudes in New Zealand Workers (Thesis, Master of Social Sciences (MSocSc)). University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/5076
University of Waikato
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