The Big Five Career Theories

We look at the five Career Theories which are prominent and have application across cultures. 

  • Theory of Work Adjustment (TWA) belongs to a class of theories known as P-E theories which are about the person (P) in an environment (E) and the fit and interaction of, P and E. The person environment fit and interaction (together called P-E correspondence) views career choice and development as a continual processes of adjustment and accommodation in which the person (P) looks for work organizations and environments (E) that would match his/her “requirements” in terms of needs, and E in turn looks for individuals who have the capabilities to meeting the “requirements” of the organization.

 

  • Holland’s theory is well known for its simple and easy-to-understand typology framework of six different career interest types: Realistic, Investigative, Artistic, Social, Enterprising and Conventional (called RIASEC in short). Holland’s theory believes that vocations (Environment) can also be categorized as per the RIASEC types and the congruence with the Person’s type can predict vocational interests for an individual.

 

  • Self-concept Theory of Career Development is based on ideas that self-concept is a product of complex interactions among a number of factors, including physical and mental growth, personal experiences, and environmental characteristics and stimulation. The theory has been extended and postulates that the process of career construction is essentially that of developing and implementing vocational self-concepts in work roles. Thus life and work satisfaction is a continual process of implementing the evolving self-concept through work and other life roles.

 

  • Gottfredson’s Theory of Circumscription and Compromise is based on the dynamic interplay between genetic makeup and the environment. Genetic characteristics play a crucial role in shaping the basic characteristics of a person, such as interests, skills, and values, yet their expression is moderated by the environment that one is exposed to. Even though genetic makeup and environment play a crucial role in shaping the person, Gottfredson maintained that the person is still an active agent who could influence or mould their own environment. Hence, career development is viewed as a self-creation process in which individuals looked for avenues or niches to express their genetic proclivities within the boundaries of their own cultural environment.

 

  • Social Cognitive Career Theory (SCCT) postulates that the career choice is an unfolding process driven by the interaction among interest, self-efficacy, and outcome expectations leading to the formation of goals and intentions that serve to sustain behavior over time. In addition, SCCT posited that compromises in personal interests might be required in the career choice process due to contexts immediate to the person (e.g., cultural beliefs, social barriers, lack of support). Ability serves as feedback from reality to inform one’s self-efficacy and outcome expectation, which in turn would influence performance goals and levels. Incongruence between efficacy and objective ability (e.g., overconfidence, under-confidence) would likely lead to undesirable performance (e.g., ill-prepared for task, performance anxiety). An optimal point is a slightly overshot self-efficacy which would promote further skills utilization and development.

Reference

  • Leung, S. A. (2008). The big five career theories. In International handbook of career guidance (pp. 115-132). Springer Netherlands