Handbook of Research on Sustainable Careers
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Handbook of Research on Sustainable Careers

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.
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Chapter 4: Relational career capital: towards a sustainable perspective

Markus Latzke, Thomas M. Schneidhofer, Katharina Pernkopf, Carina Rohr and Wolfgang Mayrhofer


Our chapter advocates a relational understanding of career capital and proposes that playing with it may only be considered as sustainable if: (a) the investments are viable; (b) the strategy is long-term; and (c) both are based on a holistic foundation. We discuss a Bourdieuian-inspired concept of career capital that puts more emphasis on the complex relationship between the social structure and individual agency than traditional views of career capital. Taking empirical examples from transitions of business school graduates within and across several career fields, it shows that the value of various forms of capital is contingent on the rules of the respective field. Sustainability in the acquisition, accumulation and conversion of career capital is ensured if: (a) investments fit to a field and enable agency that realizes the inherent potential but does not overstretch individual, organizational or societal resources; (b) the career strategy focuses on a broader time horizon than the present one; and (c) other relevant fields (as, for example, the domestic) are included, which combines perceptual, cognitive and emotional facets.

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