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Career choice in management: findings from US MBA students

Eddy S.W. Ng (College of Business Administration, California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, California, USA)
Ronald J. Burke (Schulich School of Business and Department of Psychology, York University, Toronto, Canada)
Lisa Fiksenbaum (Schulich School of Business and Department of Psychology, York University, Toronto, Canada)

Career Development International

ISSN: 1362-0436

Article publication date: 4 July 2008




This research aims to explore the role of values, family, and non‐family influences on career choice in management among a sample of US MBA students.


Data were collected using self‐reported questionnaires from 109 students in a mid‐sized university located on the west coast of the USA. The respondents were in the first semester of their MBA program. Males and females were almost equally represented in the sample.


This study did not find people (family and non‐family) to be a predictor of career decisions. Instead, these decisions reflect the independent‐self among US students in the career choice and exploration process. In particular, the students placed a strong emphasis on self‐development (i.e. education). Most of the respondents aspired to careers, and not jobs or callings, reflecting a desire for career benefits and becoming wealthy. Men and women, with few exceptions, appear to have similar patterns in the factors affecting their career choice. Many of the factors found to have relationships with variables related to career choice in management also have strong cultural influences.

Practical implications

The predictor variables generally accounted for modest variance on most career outcomes, suggesting complexity of the career choice process. There were country differences in several predictor variables associated with a career choice in management. The US sample was different from other countries, suggesting the importance of national cultures and values in career choice and career expectations.


This study builds upon the factors previously reported to influence career choice in management.



Ng, E.S.W., Burke, R.J. and Fiksenbaum, L. (2008), "Career choice in management: findings from US MBA students", Career Development International, Vol. 13 No. 4, pp. 346-361.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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