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The “new career” and organizational commitment: Do boundaryless and protean attitudes make a difference?

Jon P. Briscoe (Department of Management, Northern Illinois University, De Kalb, Illinois, USA)
Lisa M. Finkelstein (Department of Psychology, Northern Illinois University, De Kalb, Illinois, USA)

Career Development International

ISSN: 1362-0436

Article publication date: 19 June 2009




The purpose of this paper is to establish whether positive or negative relationships exist between boundaryless and protean career attitudes (respectively) and organizational commitment and whether such relationships can be moderated by development opportunities.


Surveys from 212 part‐time MBAs were analyzed using correlation, regression, or moderated multiple regression to explore relationships between boundaryless career attitudes (boundaryless mindset, organizational mobility), protean career attitudes (self‐directed career management, values‐driven career management), organizational commitment (affective, continuance and normative), and development opportunities.


Only organizational mobility preference was correlated (negatively) with each type of commitment. Boundaryless mindset was moderated in its relationship to normative commitment in that lower development opportunities resulted in lower commitment for those with higher levels of boundaryless mindset.

Research limitations/implications

The study is limited due to sample nature and the lack of longitudinal design. Also, it does not provide implications for other types of commitment that may be impacted by career attitudes and development opportunities (occupational commitment, for example).

Practical implications

A counterintuitive finding but important implication from this research is that employers should not assume that protean and boundaryless employees (respectively) will be less committed to the organization. Another practical finding is that developmental opportunities, while important to all employees, did not generally make employees with protean and boundaryless attitudes more committed to their organization.


The paper is the first, to one's knowledge, to assess organizational commitment with specific measures of boundaryless and protean career attitudes. While the results are simple, they refute many stereotypes of the new career and, in that sense, add an important perspective to the career literature.



Briscoe, J.P. and Finkelstein, L.M. (2009), "The “new career” and organizational commitment: Do boundaryless and protean attitudes make a difference?", Career Development International, Vol. 14 No. 3, pp. 242-260.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2009, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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