Table of Contents

Handbook of Research on Sustainable Careers

Handbook of Research on Sustainable Careers

Research Handbooks in Business and Management series

Edited by Ans De Vos and Beatrice I.J.M. van der Heijden

What is a sustainable career and how can individuals and organizations develop pathways that lead to them? With current levels of global unemployment and the need for life-long learning and employability enhancement these questions assume a pressing significance. With twenty-eight chapters from leading scholars, the Handbook of Research on Sustainable Careers makes an important contribution to our understanding of sustainable careers and lays the foundation for the direction of future research.

Chapter 3: Merits and challenges of career adaptability as a tool towards sustainable careers

Maximilian B.W. Buyken, Ute-Christine Klehe, Jelena Zikic and Annelies E.M. Van Vianen

Subjects: business and management, human resource management, organisational behaviour, strategic management


The chapter discusses how career adaptability can be valuable in constructing sustainable careers. Still, the concept faces a number of challenges and unresolved issues. First, we address the conceptualization of career adaptability as a composite construct and argue in particular that the component of career exploration may be less beneficial but more problematic in terms of functioning and outcomes than previously assumed. Secondly, we propose additional dimensions and other influences on career development that could either explain previous inconclusive findings for career adaptability or that could be helpful beyond the agentic perspective dominantly applied in the literature on career adaptability. We argue that career adaptability functions differently for adults than for adolescents because of different career phases, investments and entrenchment, and because of the differing goals that people have in different life transitions. We also discuss uncontrollable influences such as social context, chance and chaos. After turning to the value that awareness can add to deliberate exploration, we try to strengthen the notion that some stressful career events and transitions may act as a blessing in disguise. To conclude, we give implications for practice and research.

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