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Exploring four generations' beliefs about career: Is “satisfied” the new “successful”?

Nicky Dries (Department of Work, Organisational and Economic Psychology, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Brussels, Belgium)
Roland Pepermans (Department of Work, Organisational and Economic Psychology, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Brussels, Belgium)
Evelien De Kerpel (Department of Work, Organisational and Economic Psychology, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Brussels, Belgium)

Journal of Managerial Psychology

ISSN: 0268-3946

Article publication date: 7 November 2008

10455

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to examine whether four different generations (Silent Generation, Baby Boomers, Generation X, and Generation Y) hold different beliefs about career. Career type, career success evaluation and importance attached to organizational security are to be scrutinized for each generation.

Design/methodology/approach

A total of 750 people completed a vignette task, rating the career success of 32 fictitious people. Each vignette contained a different combination of five career features (functional level, salary, number of promotions, promotion speed, and satisfaction) at two levels (low and high). Furthermore, several items were added in order to determine each participant's career type and the extent to which they attached importance to organizational security.

Findings

The majority of participants still had rather “traditional” careers, although younger generations seemed to exhibit larger discrepancies between career preferences and actual career situation. Overall, satisfaction appeared to be the overriding criterion used to evaluate other people's career success. No significant differences were found between generations. With regard to importance attached to organizational security, the Silent Generation and Generation Y scored significantly higher than the other generations.

Research limitations/implications

The convenience sampling strategy led to large differences in sample size per generation. Using a vignette design limited the amount and richness of information that could be offered to participants. Perhaps other criteria relevant to real‐life career success evaluation should have been incorporated in this study.

Originality/value

The study raises questions about the validity of career success operationalizations frequently used in research. It is the first study to examine career success evaluation by means of vignettes.

Keywords

Citation

Dries, N., Pepermans, R. and De Kerpel, E. (2008), "Exploring four generations' beliefs about career: Is “satisfied” the new “successful”?", Journal of Managerial Psychology, Vol. 23 No. 8, pp. 907-928. https://doi.org/10.1108/02683940810904394

Publisher

:

Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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