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A Study of Career Resilience, Personality and Competencies in the Context of Career Uncertainty and Future of Work

Pasha, N. (2019) A Study of Career Resilience, Personality and Competencies in the Context of Career Uncertainty and Future of Work. DBA thesis, Henley Business School, University of Reading

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To link to this item DOI: 10.48683/1926.00105696


The thesis provides an outline of the careers literature, which reflects a pattern of how industry and work have evolved and contributed to career theory and applications for a new world of work. Moving from the early 20th century industrial age of career permanence into career transformation in the 21st century, the literature shows there has been a change from traditional career theory to postmodernist contemporary career theory, suggesting that lifelong careers have disappeared and volatility in careers is now commonplace. As such, it is important that service delivery on career and people development should also acknowledge that a career, an organisation, and people are all subject to unexpected change. In addition, literature on the future of work suggests that this level of uncertainty and nonlinearity in careers will increase further, with many authors suggesting greater levels of occupational hybridisation and contingent jobs with the rise of artificial intelligence in the workplace. Consequently, asking people to ‘choose and follow’ a certain career path becomes irrelevant, given that certainty in careers may either disappear or change beyond recognition. This thesis argues that both career and HR practitioners should move toward a delivery model that supports individuals to develop their career paths in a way that ensures they adopt adaptive qualities and skills that would increase their prospects of life-long employability and greater economic success, especially for future of work scenarios. This rationale mirrors that of organisational strategy in terms of how firms can maintain a competitive advantage by adopting a change-oriented approach, as described in the Dynamic Capabilities model. The study also examines a crucial factor of maintaining career success, defined in the literature as career resilience, which is the ability to bounce back from difficulties by building resilience. One outcome of this study is the development of an amended scale that measures career resilience, which after further testing, could be of value to practitioners in the field. The study also compares ‘linear’ and ‘nonlinear’ careers. By including graduate career destination data a year after completing a programme, this thesis aims to address the gaps in current careers knowledge by conducting a detailed comparative exploration of career choices that were nonlinear and uncertain, compared to those that were linear and certain, and explore the factors that differentiated between the two. A quantitative methodology was adopted to consider career success literature on nonlinear career paths. First, a sample of postgraduate business management students (n=153) completed a questionnaire on their personality, competencies and career resilience. Secondly, at the end of their studies, their marks and grades were recorded. Finally, a year after graduation a follow-up survey was conducted to gather data on career paths chosen by the cohort and the data was then categorized into jobs that were linear and traditional, contrasted with those that were nonlinear and non-traditional. The factors in the questionnaires were mapped against the literature on future of work qualities as well as those identified within literature on dynamic capabilities. A factor analysis of the Career Resilience scale produced five factors which measured: positive Self Concept, Adaptability and Risk, Self-Reliance, Ambition and Networking, and Motivation to Learn. The Cronbach α reliability coefficients on these ranged from .607 to .812. The Big Five Personality scale used was BFI (Big Five Instrument) developed by the University of California, Berkeley. It measures Extraversion, Conscientiousness, Openness to Experience, Agreeableness and Neuroticism (vs. Emotional Stability). Competencies were measured by the Dulewicz 12 Supra-competencies scale covering Strategic, Analysis, Planning, Leadership, Persuasiveness, Assertiveness, Sensitivity, Oral Communication, Resilience and Adaptability, Energy and Initiative, Achievement and Business Sense. The dependent variables in the models tested were overall career resilience, exam results and the employment survey results, augmented by social media tracking. Results were presented in two separate chapters. Results I presented the descriptive statistics of the sample and the results of the analyses for each of the 13 hypotheses, using correlation analysis and t-tests. Nine hypotheses were fully or partially supported. Results II summarized the results obtained for three separate models using regression and discriminant multi-variate analysis to help understand the relationships within the three different areas of research. Regression analyses were undertaken to examine the relationship between the continuous variables and discriminant analysis for the categorical dependant variable current job. The results from the employment outcomes groups dynamic (nonlinear) and traditional (linear) showed that those who chose nonlinear jobs with change and uncertainty from the outset had different qualities from those that chose traditional, linear jobs, for example in Self-reliance, Analytical Ability and Conscientiousness. These findings supported postmodern and contemporary careers literature on qualities associated with managing nonlinear, uncertain careers. These findings also align with research from organisational strategy and employability factors within Dynamic Capabilities, and specifically the qualities required for individuals to be able to work under uncertainty dynamic careers by showing qualities more associated with ‘future work’ skills. They were brought together in a proposed new 3-part model called Career Dynamism.

Item Type:Thesis (DBA)
Thesis Supervisor:Dulewicz, V. and Money, K.
Thesis/Report Department:Henley Business School
Identification Number/DOI:
Divisions:Henley Business School > Leadership, Organisations and Behaviour
ID Code:105696


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