To read this content please select one of the options below:

What “career success” means to blue‐collar workers

Emilie Hennequin (CERGORS, Paris 1 Panthéon Sorbonne University, Paris, France)

Career Development International

ISSN: 1362-0436

Article publication date: 2 October 2007




Career success such as it is classically modelled and measured is not necessarily representative of the perceptions of blue‐collar workers. Therefore, the goal of the present study is to understand what it means to succeed in blue‐collar occupations. A definition and a measure are useful starting points in explaining the individual's evaluation of success and in analysing the behaviour which results from it.


After a review of literature, in order to develop the theoretical framework for the research, 25 exploratory interviews were conducted with blue‐collar workers in order to obtain their criteria for career success. The results are reported, together with the methodological decisions and a proposed explanatory model.


Success is traditionally described as having an objective and a subjective part. In order to understand the perceptions of blue‐collar workers, it is necessary to recognise that their perceptions are influenced by material, psychological and social aspects.

Practical implications

The definitions developed in this paper could be used to develop employment programmes addressing the expectations of blue‐collar workers, and to attract new employees to this kind of occupation. More generally, with the flattening of organizations, it is necessary to re‐evaluate the concept of success for all workers, and to develop policies that are appropriate to changes in the labour market.


The majority of career studies focus on “white collar” workers. Traditional career theory has developed models which consider that all the employees are guided by the same systems of values (status, power, wages, etc.). Thus, this paper fulfils a need to develop an understanding of career success from the perspective of blue‐collar workers.



Hennequin, E. (2007), "What “career success” means to blue‐collar workers", Career Development International, Vol. 12 No. 6, pp. 565-581.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2007, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Related articles