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Change-supportive employee behavior: a career identity explanation

Evgenia I. Lysova (Department of Management and Organization, VU University Amsterdam, Amsterdam, Netherlands.)
Julia Richardson (School of Human Resource Management, York University, Toronto, Canada)
Svetlana N. Khapova (Department of Management and Organization, VU University Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands)
Paul G. W. Jansen (Department of Management and Organization, VU University Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands)

Career Development International

ISSN: 1362-0436

Article publication date: 9 February 2015

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to explore how career identity informs employees’ willingness to engage in organizational change initiatives.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper draws on the findings of a qualitative case study exploring the experiences of 29 employees involved in a planned “bottom-up” organizational change initiative. At the time of the study, all interviewees were employed in a Dutch non-profit organization.

Findings

Drawing on protean career theory and the literature on other-oriented work values, we show that career identity informs both how employees make sense of the respective organizational change and their willingness to engage in it. The authors found that proactive career behavior and a focus on other-oriented work values inform higher levels of employees’ engagement in the change, while passive career behavior and self-centered work values inform employees’ lower levels of involvement in the change initiative. Based on the findings, the authors conclude this paper with a conceptual model which captures the cyclical relationship between career identity and employees’ willingness to engage in organizational change initiatives.

Research limitations/implications

Future research should consider both the individual characteristics of employees involved in change initiatives and content or contextual factors when exploring willingness to engage with change.

Practical implications

Organizational change consultants and managers need to be aware of the influence of career identity on employees’ willingness to engage in organizational change and use this information during the implementation of change initiatives.

Originality/value

The paper explores employees’ willingness to engage with organizational change initiatives through the lens of career identity.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors thank Michael Arthur for his insightful comments on a draft manuscript and the owner of the change consultancy who arranged the permission for the data collection. An earlier version of the article was presented at the 2012 Academy of Management meeting in Boston.

Citation

Lysova, E.I., Richardson, J., Khapova, S.N. and Jansen, P.G.W. (2015), "Change-supportive employee behavior: a career identity explanation", Career Development International, Vol. 20 No. 1, pp. 38-62. https://doi.org/10.1108/CDI-03-2014-0042

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited