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The effect of career adaptability on career planning in reaction to automation technology

Wenguang Zhang (Beijing Normal University, Beijing, China)
Xiaoyu Guan (Beijing Normal University, Beijing, China)
Xueqin Zhou (Beijing Wuzi University, Beijing, China)
Ji Lu (Department of Business and Social Sciences, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Canada)

Career Development International

ISSN: 1362-0436

Article publication date: 19 June 2019

Issue publication date: 16 October 2019




This study investigated employees’ career planning in preparation for the impact of manufacturing transformation triggered by automation technology. Built on career construction theory, the purpose of this paper is to conceptualize career planning as an attempt to integrate oneself into the social environment. In this process of integration, career adaptability is a critical psychological resource for adaptation to anticipated changes.


Through an online survey, 476 participants answered questions regarding the following aspects: perceptions of the threats and opportunities posed by automation technology; career adaptability, that is, career-related concern, control, curiosity, and confidence in adapting to occupational transitions; and career plans and actions to address the challenge, including short-term job crafting behaviors and long-term career adjustment plan.


The results showed that opportunity and threat perceptions were associated with one’s job crafting behavior and long-term career adjustment plan and such relationships were moderated by career adaptability and work experience relevant to automation technologies. Specifically, career adaptability is a psychological resource helping individuals deal with perceived challenges, while relevant work experience moderated one’s strategies to catch opportunities.


This study contributes to the understanding of psychosocial determinants for better career planning in the midst of the industrial revolution. Policies that aim to prepare workers for the upcoming social transition may benefit from this study to leverage adaptive and proactive behaviors at a societal level.



Zhang, W., Guan, X., Zhou, X. and Lu, J. (2019), "The effect of career adaptability on career planning in reaction to automation technology", Career Development International, Vol. 24 No. 6, pp. 545-559.



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