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Exploring Subjective Career Success Among Blue-Collar Workers: Motivators That Matter

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Abstract

The purpose of the present study was to explore the experience of subjective career success among an understudied population such as blue-collar workers (BCWs) in a South African context. Employing a qualitative approach, a nonprobability, purposive voluntary sample of 20 workers were drawn from a manufacturing industry. Semistructured interviews were conducted and examined through a comprehensive thematic analysis. The analysis revealed that BCWs experience career success when certain needs are fulfilled in their careers. According to the findings, participants highlighted specific aspects in their work (e.g., support from the organization, aspiration for progression, working to provide, responsibility toward others, and work-related preferences). For BCWs, these aspects fulfill particular needs that lead to specific feelings of career success (e.g., recognition and value, competence and skills, performance, purpose and meaning, working in a conducive environment, and financial gain).

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... The idea of the ability to influence one's own work, professional growth and development is also included in both concepts. SCS has been linked to opportunities for the development of new knowledge, skills and professional growth (Koekemoer et al., 2019;Park, 2010;Shockley et al., 2016). Accordingly, based on the empirical findings above, we formulated the following expectation: ...
... JS has been found to Job satisfaction and turnover intention influence individuals' job performance in the workplace (Judge et al., 2001;Latham, 2012;Yousef, 2000), and on the other hand, when a person feels that he or she is performing better than usual, it also causes experiences of happiness (Fisher, 2010). In research, SCS has been assigned to be positively related to JS (Koekemoer et al., 2019;Heslin, 2005). Work-family enrichment, (i.e. ...
... Work-family enrichment, (i.e. individuals simultaneously engaging in multiple work and family roles), which is one dimension of SCS, leads to JS through the indirect effect on SCS (Koekemoer et al., 2019). TI is seen as a coping strategy used by employees to escape an unsatisfactory situation (Petriglieri, 2011), and it can often lead to actual turnover behavior (Bothma and Roodt, 2013). ...
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... Apparently, organisational promotion and achievements by maintaining both sides relationship: employee and hotel are based on outcomes (Chen, 2011). Following the literature, this study follows the framework to argue that EOR is higher in individual career perspectives because of interrelationship or mostly individual career success depend on organisational attachment (Koekemoer et al., 2019). Although the JD-R model does not assume the relationship between job demand and EOR, it critically explains work-related outcomes. ...
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... Juxtaposing these positive and negative consequences of gig economy questions our understanding of the traditional employer-employee relationship and models we hold about the career development of employees. From an employee's perspective, the rise of gig work indicates a salient decline in the number of full-time job vacancies and mounting work stress; nonmanagerial factory workers who merely needed to perform simple, repetitive manual tasks in the past are forced to exert effort in learning modern, more multifaceted knowledge for better mastering the state-of-the-art mechatronic software and completing highly complex computerized tasks (Chin & Rowley, 2018;Koekemoer et al., 2018). However, this gig phenomenon also promotes the implementation of agile job arrangements and flexible work hours-which elicit a more self-oriented way of thinking (i.e., a protean career orientation) in developing and sustaining careers. ...
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... The subcategories of Self-fulfillment through Work and Skill Use and Development and Training and Progress at Work are related to work that is meaningful and fosters self-development, and to work that offers opportunities to progress or to develop skills. This last component of work has been emphasized in earlier studies, particularly among bluecollar workers (e.g., Koekemoer, Le Roux Fourie, & Jorgensen, 2018). This component provides self-efficacy and increases the employability for workers, and thus responds consequently to the need for individual self-determination Duffy et al., 2016). ...
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... Qualitative and quantitative types of empirical research have recently been conducted on the PWT on blue-collar workers (Koekemoer, Le Roux Fourie, & Ilyna Jorgensen, 2018), racially and ethnically diverse workers (Duffy et al., 2018), people with chronic health conditions (Tokar & Kaut, 2018), sexual minorities (Allan, Tebbe, Bouchard, & Duffy, 2018;Douglass, Velez, Conlin, Duffy, & England, 2017), unemployed people (Kossen & McIlveen, 2018), and working adults (Allan, Autin, & Duffy, 2016;Kim, Fouad, Maeda, Xie, & Nazan, 2017). Such research generally confirm that marginalization and economic constraints negatively predict the access to decent work and that work volition plays a key role in this process. ...
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Despite being part of a highly visible and important occupational group, blue-collar workers have, to date, been under-represented in careers research. We explore the relevance and applicability of new career concepts to blue-collar employees, specifically, bus drivers. Based on a survey of 112 bus drivers, we test a model specifying the relationship between career attitude, perceived organizational support, psychological contract, and job satisfaction, as well as intention to quit. Employing a two-phase data collection process, we also test relationships between intentions and actual quit behaviour. Our results support the validity of career theories for blue-collar workers but with notable exceptions, such as lack of relationships between protean career and intention to quit. Contrary to intention-behaviour theory we find that actual quit behaviour was not related to intention to quit, which we attribute to a significant external chance event, a devastating earthquake, which took place during the study period. In addition, we identify relationships that appear to be unique to blue-collar workers.
Article
While research on the workplace attitudes, expectations and perceptions of white-collar workers has flourished over the past decades, there has been considerably less progress on establishing the concomitant contemporary perceptions of blue-collar workers. Within the South African context, this is a substantial gap in understanding. This article therefore reports the results of an exploratory qualitative study of the workplace perceptions, expectations and attitudes of some 300 South African blue-collar workers in the Gauteng region, using a critical incidents technique. Pay issues, humanity and support were found to be the foremost themes in workers' stories with regard to organisational obligations. Common themes regarding employee obligations included adequate work performance, care and protection of the employer's property, maintaining good work relationships and keeping to designated work hours. Compensation-specific issues focused on pay rises and bonuses, while equity and benefits issues were unexpectedly absent. Also absent were stories regarding development, family and HIV/AIDS.
Article
This study was designed to assess the level of concern for the happiness of others among a sample of 13- to 15-year-old adolescents in England and Wales (N = 3,095) and to test the theory that concern for the happiness of others occupies a different psychological space (within Eysenck's three-dimensional model of personality) from the space occupied by personal happiness. The data demonstrated a high level of concern for the happiness of others, with 84 per cent of the adolescents saying that, “It is important to me to make other people happy”. While high levels of personal happiness are generally shown to be associated with low neuroticism and high extraversion (stable extraversion), these data demonstrated that high levels of concern for the happiness of others tend to be associated with high neuroticism, high extraversion, high social conformity, and low psychoticism.
Article
This study examined the degree to which blue- versus white-collar workers differentially conceptualize various job facets, namely the work itself, co-workers, supervisors, and pay. To examine these potential differences, we conducted a series of analyses on job satisfaction ratings from two samples of university workers. Consistent with the study hypothesis, results revealed that blue- and white-collar workers held different conceptualizations regarding the nature of co-workers, pay, and the work itself, but not of supervisors. In general, more dimensions for each facet emerged for the white-collar workers, suggesting that these individuals possess more differentiated and multidimensional evaluations of these job facets than do blue-collar workers. Discussion focuses on the meaning and implications of the findings.
Article
Purpose Career success such as it is classically modelled and measured is not necessarily representative of the perceptions of blue‐collar workers. Therefore, the goal of the present study is to understand what it means to succeed in blue‐collar occupations. A definition and a measure are useful starting points in explaining the individual's evaluation of success and in analysing the behaviour which results from it. Design/methodology/approach After a review of literature, in order to develop the theoretical framework for the research, 25 exploratory interviews were conducted with blue‐collar workers in order to obtain their criteria for career success. The results are reported, together with the methodological decisions and a proposed explanatory model. Findings Success is traditionally described as having an objective and a subjective part. In order to understand the perceptions of blue‐collar workers, it is necessary to recognise that their perceptions are influenced by material, psychological and social aspects. Practical implications The definitions developed in this paper could be used to develop employment programmes addressing the expectations of blue‐collar workers, and to attract new employees to this kind of occupation. More generally, with the flattening of organizations, it is necessary to re‐evaluate the concept of success for all workers, and to develop policies that are appropriate to changes in the labour market. Originality/value The majority of career studies focus on “white collar” workers. Traditional career theory has developed models which consider that all the employees are guided by the same systems of values (status, power, wages, etc.). Thus, this paper fulfils a need to develop an understanding of career success from the perspective of blue‐collar workers.
Article
Purpose The purpose of this paper is to review relevant literatures on career success and develop a theoretical framework and testable propositions concerning how human capital, person‐environment fit and organizational support relate to career success. Whilst acknowledging the substantial literature that has accumulated regarding the various antecedents and operationalizations involved in employees' career success, there is little research as how person‐environment fit and career success are related. Design/methodology/approach Literature outlining approaches to career success is summarized and research at the intersection of person‐environment fit and organizational support/career success are reviewed. This is followed by a set of propositions based upon the antecedents of career success. Findings It is suggested that person‐environment fit and organizational support are important antecedents of career success. Knowledge of career changes and these antecedents help individuals and organizations manage career success. Research limitations/implications Future research should examine empirically the linkages suggested by the paper along with other relationships asserted or implied by person‐environment fit and career success literature as mentioned in the paper. Practical implications Both employers and employees may benefit from integrating different types of fit into the psychological contract because each fit will impact aspects of career success. Therefore, organizations need to select and develop employees that can easily adjust and fit into careers that are compatible with their work environments. Originality/value This paper contributes to the literature by being one of the first to examine the effects of different types of person‐environment fit on career success.
Article
Purpose – To examine the existence of career psychological contracts and consequences of perceived violations for traditional, protean and boundaryless career psychological contracts in one sample of aerospace employees. Design/methodology/approach – Structured questionnaires were used to collect data. Regression analysis was used to test hypotheses. Findings – Most employees consider traditional career goals like job security and upward mobility important, but believed the organization failed to meet these perceived obligations. Perceived violations of psychological contract obligations for job security and training reduced organizational commitment, and violations of perceived upward mobility opportunity obligations were related to intentions to leave. Employees' commitment to managers moderated the effect of low levels of organizational career contract violations, but had no effect on intentions to leave if managers violated psychological career contracts or if the organization had a high level of perceived career psychological contract violations. Originality/value – Organizations could benefit from providing more training in career support for managers and scholars should examine organizational and managerial psychological contracts as separate constructs.
Article
"The career is dead - long live the career!" 1 Such is the mixed message regarding careers that we are carrying into the next millennium. The business environment is highly turbulent and complex, resulting in terribly ambiguous and contradictory career signals. Individuals, perhaps in self-defense, are becoming correspondingly ambivalent about their desires and plans for career development. The traditional psychological contract in which an employee entered a firm, worked hard, performed well, was loyal and committed, and thus received ever-greater rewards and job security, has been replaced by a new contract based on continuous learning and identity change, guided by the search for what Herb Shepard called "the path with a heart." In short, the organizational career is dead, while the protean career is alive and flourishing. In this special issue of The Executive we will examine the ways the career environment and the executive of the 21st century will shape the direction of careers in the years to come. In this opening paper, we will provide a brief overview of the emerging career landscape, for both organizations and individuals. Then we will turn to an overview of the papers in this Special Issue and then to the papers themselves.
Book
This cross-disciplinary text is designed to appeal to a diversity of social science scholars. The central focus is on new ways of viewing the career, or how working lives unfold over time. Fresh views from psychology, social psychology, sociology, anthropology, organization theory, economics, and political science are among those represented in the twenty-five chapter anthology. The design of the handbook in three parts - current approaches, new ideas, and future directions - is intended to engage the reader in the debate from which new and better career theories can be developed. NOTE: There is no digital copy of this book.
Article
Subjective career success has recently been discussed widely in the academic field of career development. The purpose of this study was to investigate the predictors of subjective career success. It examined the effects of the calling work orientation, the individual's career-enhancing strategy and the organizational learning climate on the subjective career success of 253 employees in a company in the Korean financial sector. The results identified three significant predictors of subjective career success: creating opportunity, calling work orientation and continuous learning. Among the significant predictors, creating opportunity – part of the individual's career-enhancing strategy – proved to be the best predictor of subjective career success. Conclusions were drawn and implications and limitations discussed.
Article
Using the contest- and sponsored-mobility perspectives as theoretical guides, this meta-analysis reviewed 4 categories of predictors of objective and subjective career success: human capital, organizational sponsorship, sociodemographic status, and stable individual differences. Salary level and promotion served as dependent measures of objective career success, and subjective career success was represented by career satisfaction. Results demonstrated that both objective and subjective career success were related to a wide range of predictors. As a group, human capital and sociodemographic predictors generally displayed stronger relationships with objective career success, and organizational sponsorship and stable individual differences were generally more strongly related to subjective career success. Gender and time (date of the study) moderated several of the relationships examined.
Article
This article, which represents a contribution to the 30th anniversary issue of the Journal of Vocational Behavior, seeks to extend the reach of vocational psychology by charting the course for an integrative and inclusive psychology of working. Building on Richardson's (1993) foundation of work as a location for counseling psychology practice and inquiry, I employ a sociopolitical analysis and a theoretical and methodological framework to further the development of a psychology of working. The goal of a psychology of working is to include the work lives of all citizens in our scholarship, not simply the well educated and affluent. Using both a moral and intellectual rationale, I present several key elements of an inclusive and integrative psychology of working that emerge out of the strengths of current vocational psychology, such as the focus on diversity and the advent of feminist thought. The article concludes with a discussion of how a psychology of working can serve to advance the integration of existing social scientific studies of work as well as to promote greater application of our efforts in practice and public policy.
Article
The present research reports on the impact of occupational self-efficacy and of career-advancement goals on objective (salary, status) and subjective (career satisfaction) career attainments. Seven hundred and thirty four highly educated and full-time employed professionals answered questionnaires immediately after graduation, three years later, and seven years later. Controlling for discipline, GPA at master’s level, and gender, we found that occupational self-efficacy measured at career entry had a positive impact on salary and status three years later and a positive impact on salary change and career satisfaction seven years later. Career-advancement goals at career entry had a positive impact on salary and status after three years and a positive impact on status change after seven years, but a negative impact on career satisfaction after seven years. Women earned less than men, but did not differ from men in hierarchical status and in career satisfaction. Theoretical implications for socio-cognitive theorizing and for career-success research as well as applied implications for vocational behavior are discussed.
Article
While the constructs of protean and boundaryless careers have informed career theory for years, rigorous empirical examinations of these career models have lagged behind. This study seeks to redress this situation by constructing and developing four new scales to measure protean and boundaryless career attitudes. The scales related to protean career attitudes measure self-directed career management and values-driven predispositions. The scales related to boundaryless career attitudes measure boundaryless mindset and organizational mobility preference. The initial validation of these scales, consisting of three studies, demonstrates their reliability and validity.
Article
This study examined the relationship between the “Big Five” personality dimensions (neuroticism, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and openness) and career success by surveying a sample of 496 (318 male and 178 female) employees in a diverse set of occupations and organizations. Hierarchical regression analyses were used to examine the incremental variance contributed by the five personality traits after controlling for several career-related variables. Results showed that, as expected, extraversion was related positively to salary level, promotions, and career satisfaction and that neuroticism was related negatively to career satisfaction. Agreeableness was related negatively only to career satisfaction and openness was related negatively to salary level. Examination of moderators revealed that there was a significant negative relationship between agreeableness and salary among individuals in people-oriented occupations but no relationship for those in occupations not involving a strong “people” component.
Article
Although there has been increased interest in the boundaryless career since the publication of Arthur and Rousseau’s book (1996), there is still some misunderstanding about what the concept means. This article examines the boundaryless career and presents a model that attempts to visually capture Arthur and Rousseau’s suggestion that the concept involves six underlying meanings. Rather than considering whether or not an individual has a boundaryless career, the model focuses on the degree of mobility reflected in a career along two continua: one psychological, one physical. Based on the model, we suggest five propositions and a series of directions for future research.
Article
Despite a growing interest in qualitative research in occupational therapy, little attention has been placed on establishing its rigor. This article presents one model that can be used for the assessment of trustworthiness or merit of qualitative inquiry. Guba's (1981) model describes four general criteria for evaluation of research and then defines each from both a quantitative and a qualitative perspective. Several strategies for the achievement of rigor in qualitative research useful for both researchers and consumers of research are described.
The motivational impact of job security, recognition, monetary incentives and training on the job performance of blue-collar employees
  • C Arnolds
  • C Boshoff
  • N Mazibuko
  • B Klemz
Arnolds, C., Boshoff, C., Mazibuko, N., & Klemz, B. (2010). The motivational impact of job security, recognition, monetary incentives and training on the job performance of blue-collar employees. South African Journal of Labour Relations, 34, 86-102.
Research in practice: Applied methods for the social sciences
  • Terre Blanche
  • M Durrheim
  • K Painter
Terre Blanche, M., Durrheim, K., & Painter, D. (2006). Research in practice: Applied methods for the social sciences. Cape Town: University of Cape Town Press.
Careers in and out of organizations (Foundations for organizational science series)
  • D T Hall
Hall, D. T. (2002). Careers in and out of organizations (Foundations for organizational science series). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Research at grassroots: For the social science and human service professions
  • A S De Vos
  • H Strydom
  • C B Fouché
  • C S L Delport
De Vos, A. S., Strydom, H., Fouché, C. B., & Delport, C. S. L. (2011). Research at grassroots: For the social science and human service professions (4th ed.). Pretoria, South Africa: Van Schaik.
We need to revalue blue collar work
  • F Duncan
Duncan, F. (2013). We need to revalue blue collar work. Moneyweb. Retrieved November 7, 2016, from http:// www.moneyweb.co.za/moneyweb-across-the-atlantic/we-need-to-revalue-blue-collar-work
Work and Labour Force
Statistics South Africa. (2015). Work and Labour Force. Retrieved November 11, 2016, from http://www.statssa. gov.za/?cat¼31
The predictors of subjective career success: An empirical study of employee development in a Korean financial company
  • T W H Ng
  • L T Eby
  • K L Sorensen
  • D C Feldman
Ng, T. W. H., Eby, L. T., Sorensen, K. L., & Feldman, D. C. (2005). Predictors of objective and subjective career success: A meta-analysis. Personnel Psychology, 58, 367-408. doi:10.1111/j.1744-6570.2005.00515.x Park, Y. (2010). The predictors of subjective career success: An empirical study of employee development in a Korean financial company. International Journal of Training and Development, 14, 1-15. doi:10.1111/j. 1468-2419.2009.00337.x