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David Guest and Michael Clinton

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David E. Guest and Ricardo Rodrigues

This chapter presents the case for considering career control as an organizing concept in understanding contemporary careers. It draws on control frameworks from management, industrial relations and organizational psychology literature to present an analytic model. This model contains at its inner core individual characteristics including career preferences, career attitudes, personality and human capital that help to shape career decisions. It is argued that at various stages in the career, these decisions will be influenced by external factors, including parents and schooling at the outset of a career, employing organizations during the career, the family when they present competing commitment in mid-career, and legislative factors determining retirement at the end of a career. Additionally, macro-contextual factors lying outside both individual and organizational control can affect career opportunities. It is proposed that at the boundary between the individual and organization there lies the career control frontier where there is the potential for conflict over career control. The role of perceived career control is tested in an empirical study among professional workers. This reveals that higher perceptions of career control are associated with higher job, career and life satisfaction, providing some support for the importance of career control in determining career outcomes.