Career transitions and their causes: A country-comparative perspective

Katharina Chudzikowski, Barbara Demel, Wolfgang Mayrhofer, Jon P. Briscoe, Julie Unite, Biljana Bogicevic Milikic, Douglas T. (Tim) Hall, Mireia Las Heras, Jelena Zikic

Publication: Scientific journalJournal articlepeer-review


This empirical paper investigates how individuals conceptualize causes of career transitions, focusing on the three European countries of Austria, Serbia and Spain in comparison to the U.S. and China. Collectively these countries represent four separate cultural regions according to Schwartz (2008). Semi-structured interviews were conducted with members of three occupational groups: business people, nurses and blue-collar workers. Analysis of the data generates greater insight about the existence of both region-specific patterns as well as potentially universalistic tendencies regarding perceived causes of career transitions. Percep-tions of internal (to the person) drivers of career transitions as activating forces are evident in all five countries. The overall results support contemporary notions of occupational careers that are highly individualized, a characterization strongly emphasized in the current career literature. In the European culture clusters, causes of career transitions are attributed internally and externally. China, representing the Confucian cultural region, stresses external causes for career transitions. By contrast, in the U.S. only internal attributions of causes are reported.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)825 - 849
JournalJournal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2009

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