Adolescent Experiences and Adult Work Outcomes: Connections and Causes: Volume 25

Table of contents

(14 chapters)
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Purpose

Multiple forces that shape the identities of adolescents and young adults also influence their subsequent career choices. Early work experiences are key among these forces. Recognizing this, youth service programs have emerged worldwide with the hope of shaping participants’ future trajectories through boosting engagement in civically oriented activities and work. Despite these goals, past research on these programs’ impact has yielded mixed outcomes. Our goal is to understand why this might be the case.

Design/Methodology/Approach

We rely on interview, archival, and longitudinal survey data to examine young adults’ experiences of a European youth service program.

Findings

A core feature of youth service programs, namely their dual identity of helping others (i.e., service beneficiaries) and helping oneself (i.e., participants), might partly explain the program’s mixed outcomes. We find that participants focus on one of the organization’s identities largely to the exclusion of the other, creating a dynamic in which their interactions with members who focus on the other identity create challenges and dominate their program experience, to the detriment of a focus on the organization and its goals. This suggests that a previously overlooked feature of youth service programs (i.e., their dual identity) might prove both a blessing for attracting many diverse members and a curse for achieving desired outcomes.

Originality/Value

More broadly, our results suggest that dual identity organizations might attract members focused on a select identity, but fail to imbue them with a blended identity; thus, limiting the extent to which such organizations can truly “redirect” future career choices.

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Purpose

A work orientation represents a person’s beliefs about the meaning of work – the function work plays in the person’s life and the constellation of values and assumptions the person holds about the work domain. Research has suggested that adults tend to favor one of three primary work orientations: job, career, or calling. Empirical studies have shown that adults with different primary work orientations tend to experience different work and career outcomes; however, scholars have not analyzed how or why an individual first develops a work orientation. In this study, we take a first step toward investigating the origins of adults’ work orientations.

Design/methodology/approach

We propose hypotheses drawing on extant literature on the development of work values and occupational inheritance. We test hypotheses using a retrospective research design and survey methodology, with a sample of working adults.

Findings

Work orientations are developed through socialization processes with parents during adolescence. There are different patterns of development across the three work orientation categories: stronger calling orientations are developed when both parents possess strong calling orientations; stronger career orientations develop in accordance with fathers’ career orientations; and job orientations are related more to the nature of the adolescent’s relationship with parents than with parents’ own work orientations.

Originality/value

This research provides the first empirical study of the origin and development of work orientations.

Research limitations/implications

This research offers insight into ways generations are connected through the perceived meaning of their work, even as the nature of work changes. We encourage future scholars to use this as a starting point for research on the development of work orientations, and to continue exploring these questions using additional methods, particularly longitudinal study designs.

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Purpose

Research has consistently shown that the children of business owners are more likely to become business owners themselves. However, what mechanism(s) underlies this intergenerational correlation is still not clear. In this research I assess the importance of several mechanisms proposed to drive the children of business owners to expect to become business owners.

Methodology/approach

Quantitative analyses of representative data from the 1988 to 1992 National Education Longitudinal Study are employed.

Findings

Results are inconsistent with arguments asserting that the children of business owners expect to become business owners because of: the transmission of human capital or financial capital; the expectation of inheriting a business; a heightened awareness of the viability of business ownership; or preferences for having lots of money, leisure time, being successful in work, or steady employment. Findings are consistent with the notion that the intergenerational correlation in business ownership is a result of shared preferences and/or traits, and this effect is particularly strong when accompanied by awareness of paternal business ownership.

Originality/value

Identifying which mechanism underlies the intergenerational transmission may inform how to increase rates of business ownership, particularly among underrepresented groups, which is a matter of increasing policy interest. However, our understanding is limited because: the intergenerational transfer is consistent with numerous mechanisms; and employment outcomes are often used to make inferences about preceding processes. This chapter focuses on expectations that precede outcomes to clarify which mechanism operates in one stage of the transmission process.

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Purpose

Young adults are living and working in uncertain economic climates and increasingly exposed to precarious work. Are preferences for job security and actual job stability a result of proximal conditions, or do experiences in adolescence also play a role? The adolescent’s environment and experiences may help explain differences in preferences with regards to stable work, as well as work outcomes in early adulthood.

Design/methodology/approach

In this chapter, I use data from the Youth Development Study (YDS) to test three facets of the adolescent experience between ages 14 and 18 – parental work and educational characteristics, adolescents’ academic achievement, and youth employment – as factors shaping (1) respondents’ preferences for stable employment, (2) respondents’ perceived job insecurity, and (3) respondents’ likelihood of being in nonstandard work in early adulthood, age 31–32, approximately 15 years later.

Findings

Adolescent experiences and environments are related to young adults’ preferences for stable employment, likelihood of being in nonstandard work, and likelihood of reporting job insecurity in early adulthood, suggesting the significance of early life experiences as well as the importance of intergenerational transmission processes for the early adult years.

Originality/value

This study points to the important role of adolescent experiences in initiating a trajectory of work preferences and attainment.

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Purpose

This chapter tests whether adolescent counter-normative behaviors increase voluntary and involuntary job exits in young adults. This prediction extends the social sorting view of employment outcomes to cover concealable background characteristics, which has implications for involuntary mobility after entering the job.

Methodology

The National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY) 1997 data are analyzed through survey-weighted Cox models of involuntary and voluntary job change. The key variables are adolescent use of alcohol and illegal drugs, and early sexual debut.

Findings

The findings show that sex and use of drugs in the early teens increase involuntary job exits, controlling for current behaviors, but do not have discernible effects on voluntary job exits. The effects of adolescent behavior appear stronger in multi-establishment firms and for Hispanic and black individuals.

Social implications

The findings indicate that employee sorting of individuals based on background does not end at the point of hiring, but continues through post-hiring rates of job exit. The findings indicate differential treatment of employees as a function of stigmatized behaviors in the past, and thus reveal a form of discrimination that has not been investigated earlier.

Value of the chapter

The findings in the chapter provide support for a theoretical view of social sorting by the employer as a driver of job exits. It extends the scope of characteristics that may result in social sorting to those who are concealable at the point of hiring, and with consequences after hiring. Because these include adolescent behaviors that are stigmatized, it shows a new mechanism linking adolescent experiences with adult work outcomes.

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Purpose

Theories of income inequality frequently cite child and adolescent labor as a societal problem. In contrast to such theories, we propose that path dependency coupled with enhancement of human and social capital enables some adolescents who work to find more attractive jobs later in life.

Methodology

Using the longitudinal Youth in Transition Survey (YITS) spanning over 10 years, we find support for a positive relationship between adolescents’ number of work hours and future desirable professional outcomes such as being employed, income, person-organization fit, knowing where to look for a job, and career networking.

Findings

The positive relationship, in many instances, is curvilinear and highlights the downfall of working excessive hours. We also explore whether adolescent work for a stranger or family member leads to different outcomes, and find that working in a family business leads to enhanced later life utilization of career networks as well as better person-organization fit.

Social implications

While we find that adolescent work intensity is linked to positive later life outcomes such as higher income, better fitting jobs, and better career networks, we also find maxima whereby additional hours worked have a diminishing effect on the outcomes. This suggests the need for societal norms and/or laws to avoid excessive adolescent work.

Value of chapter

The findings in this chapter shed light on the role of early life work experiences in future professional outcomes. We show that certain types of adolescent employment can enhance future career prospects, counter to much of the established literature on the detrimental impact of youth labor.

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Purpose

This chapter proposes and tests a novel relationship between early participation in competitive activities, “competition socialization,” and the attainment of a managerial position in adulthood. Building on extensive qualitative research, I argue that an early emphasis on “winning” becomes internalized as a desire for the extrinsic rewards that in some ways characterize managerial positions.

Methodology

I test this hypothesis on survey data collected from professionals (N = 334) employed in a probability sample of U.S. advertising agencies, using binomial logistic regression.

Finding

For individuals under forty, competition socialization increases the likelihood of working in a managerial position. However, this effect does not hold for older professionals, for whom graduate education is a better predictor of managerial attainment.

Value of the chapter

To my knowledge, this is the first chapter to test of the effect of youth participation in organized activities on adulthood outcomes. By drawing attention to the influence of competitive socialization on managerial attainment, I highlight the need to incorporate informal socialization into our models of occupational attainment.

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About the authors

Pages 243-245
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DOI
10.1108/S0277-2833201425
Publication date
2014-04-12
Book series
Research in the Sociology of Work
Editors
Series copyright holder
Emerald Publishing Limited
ISBN
978-1-78350-572-2
eISBN
978-1-78350-572-2
Book series ISSN
0277-2833