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Local worker perspectives from Nicaraguan surf tourism: revisiting career anchors in non-standard work contexts

Michelle Mielly (People, Organizations, Society, Grenoble École de Management, Grenoble, France)
Amanda Peticca-Harris (People, Organizations, Society, Grenoble École de Management, Grenoble, France)

Career Development International

ISSN: 1362-0436

Article publication date: 2 February 2022

Issue publication date: 5 April 2022




This qualitative study explores, through the lens of Schein's (1978) career anchor theory, the internal career perceptions (self-perceived values, challenges and capabilities) of local surf workers in the highly internationalized sector of surf tourism in Nicaragua.


Semi-structured interviews were carried out with 22 local surf tourism workers. Participant experiences were analyzed using thematic analysis to distinguish their career anchor orientations.


The results indicate the sustained value and instrumentality of Schein's original career anchor theory, specifically in terms of the interconnectedness of dominant and supporting anchors and the relevance of anchor groupings for workers in non-standard working environments. The anchors of lifestyle, entrepreneurial creativity, and security and stability were closely interrelated and complementary, as participants from this context were ultimately striving for security and stability.

Research limitations/implications

Future research should consider more explicitly the role of the socio-political, environmental or economic context in shaping the internal career self-concepts and experiences of workers.

Practical implications

This study sheds light on the internal career drivers — the unique dilemmas, challenges, passions and motives — of local workers in a resource-constrained environment. Managers, business owners and other economic actors stand to gain important insights into the realities of workers they employ, but do not intimately understand. Such insights could be generalizable to a variety of work settings in which there are high material, social or cultural constraints.

Social implications

Non-standard work contexts and local worker voices are both thematically underrepresented in the careers scholarship. Research on these topics can contribute to broader discussions of sustainability, sustainable development goals and decolonial perspectives in social science scholarship. Bringing local workers from the Global South into view means turning scholarly attention towards less-visible “others” working alongside those having received the lion's share of academic discussion, i.e. expatriate workers on a global assignment or self-initiated expatriates, most often from the Global North.


This is one of the first studies to explore the career anchors of local workers in the Global South in a non-standard, non-bureaucratic vocational setting. The study sheds light on local workers' career decisions, an often-neglected perspective within international human resource management.



Mielly, M. and Peticca-Harris, A. (2022), "Local worker perspectives from Nicaraguan surf tourism: revisiting career anchors in non-standard work contexts", Career Development International, Vol. 27 No. 2, pp. 245-259.



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