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Examining the relationship between individual perceptions of control and contemporary career orientations

Olusegun Babalola (Lagos Business School, Pan-Atlantic University, Lagos, Nigeria.)
Nealia Sue Bruning (I.H. Asper School of Business, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada.)

Personnel Review

ISSN: 0048-3486

Article publication date: 7 April 2015




Contemporary careers research suggests that individuals are more likely to be proactive about their careers when they possess an internal, rather than an external locus of control (LOC). The purpose of this paper is to adopt the view that individuals can be both external and proactive depending on whether or not they possess an incremental implicit theory.


Self-administered surveys were completed by 127 employed individuals in Nigeria. These surveys were used to gather information on individuals’ external LOC, protean and boundaryless career orientations and implicit theory beliefs.


Results indicated partial support for positive relationships between external LOC and contemporary career orientations and that an incremental implicit theory can have a positive moderating effect on the relationship between an external LOC belief in chance and the values-driven protean career orientation.

Research limitations/implications

The study was based on a cross-sectional study in one time period and all information was self-report.

Practical implications

The results suggest that HR managers that operate in global environments should consider the importance of individual implicit theory and on career orientations and take a broader view of the role of internal and external LOC.

Social implications

The study questions whether predominant perspectives of the relationship between proactive career orientations and internal LOC applies to contexts where external LOC predominate.


This study is unique in the examination of positive relationships between implicit theory, external LOC and contemporary career orientations. Furthermore, the study examines these relationships in an unstable and unpredictable work environment context, Nigeria, where such positive relationships are highly necessary to improve the career self-management of individuals.



Babalola, O. and Bruning, N.S. (2015), "Examining the relationship between individual perceptions of control and contemporary career orientations", Personnel Review, Vol. 44 No. 3, pp. 346-363.



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Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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