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Organisational career management in a protean and boundaryless world: a mixed-methods study

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posted on 2022-03-28, 00:58 authored by Narelle Laura Deborah Hess
Employee development is an integral component of strategic human resources management to engage and retain employees. Protean and boundaryless career theories suggest that that organisational responsibility for employee career development has decreased. This theoretical shift was based on the assumption that with increased organisational change, downsizing, and re-structuring, employees would no longer be in a position to rely on organisations to support their career development, and instead employees would need to take responsibility for their own employability. More than two decades after these initial assertions, a small body of empirical research has highlighted that this shift from organisation to individual responsibility has not been as dramatic as first hypothesised. Rather than diminishing, the role of organisations in career development is as important as ever. This paradox between theory and practice highlights a gap in theoretical understanding of the role of the organisation in career development. In this PhD thesis, we place organisational career management (OCM) under the research microscope. First, data on the types and frequencies of individual OCM practices reported in the 1996, 1999, 2004, 2009, and 2015 Australian Cranet surveys was examined. Counterintuitive findings indicate that the use of more than half the OCM practices increased over time. Second, we interviewed 51 employees to investigate their perception of OCM. Employees identified both formal and informal OCM, and findings highlight that rather than operating in opposition, individually-driven career development and OCM are working in partnership. Next, in an effort to understand how organisations can support employees navigating voluntary career change, a systematic and theoretical review of voluntary career change was conducted. This review highlights lack of empirical research on the utility of important and well-developed career transition models and the importance of organisational factors in buffering the negative impact on employees during the pre-career change period. Finally, further investigating two of the factors that support employee engagement in OCM, we adapted the social cognitive model of career self-management to examine the factors that enable career adaptive behaviours for employees navigating career change. Our findings demonstrate that the social cognitive model of career self-management model is a useful framework for design of strategic organisational career management systems. Our overall findings indicate OCM remains an important component of a human resources strategy.


Table of Contents

Chapter 1. General introduction -- Chapter 2. How has organisational career management changed in 20 years? -- Chapter 3. Understanding the factors that support employee engagement in OCM -- Chapter 4. Voluntary career change : a systematic review and research agenda -- Chapter 5. Importance of leadership in supporting employee career self-management -- Chapter 6. General discussions -- Complete list of references.


Thesis by publication. Bibliography: pages 229-267

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis PhD


PhD, Macquarie University, Macquarie Business School, Department of Management

Department, Centre or School

Department of Management

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Denise Jepsen

Additional Supervisor 1

Grant Michelson


Copyright Narelle Laura Deborah Hess 2019. Copyright disclaimer:




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