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The Role of Social Context and Serendipitous Events in Career Decision Making

  • JIM E. H. BRIGHT
  • ROBERT G. L. PRYOR
  • SHARON WILKENFELD
  • JOANNA EARL
Article

Abstract

The role of contextual and unplanned factors on career decision-making was explored. Six hundred and fifty one university students at all levels were surveyed to collect data on career intentions, current enrolments, perceptions of influence of family, friends, teachers and the media, the role of serendipitous events and the education and current work of their family members. Results indicated that students perceived family and teachers to be significant influences on their career decisions. Furthermore, distal influences such as the media and web-based information were also significant. Students’ current course enrolments and career intentions were significantly more likely to be in interest categories congruent with their father’s job. Unplanned and serendipitous events were very commonly perceived to influence career decisions. The results are interpreted as providing support for an open systems theory of career decision-making. Practical counselling and future research implications are discussed.

Keywords

Social Context Current Work Career Decision Research Implication Career Intention 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Résumé. Le rôle du contexte social et des événements accidentels dans la prise de décision vocationnelle.

On explore le rôle des facteurs contextuels et inattendus dans la prise de décision vocationnelle. On a examiné 651 étudiants universitaires appartenant à tous les niveaux d’études pour rassembler des données sur les intentions professionnelles, les choix d’inscription actuels, les perceptions de l’influence de la famille, des amis, des professeurs et des médias, le rôle des événements accidentels ainsi que le niveau d’études et professionnel des membres de leur famille. Les résultats montrent que les étudiants perçoivent la famille et les professeurs comme des sources d’influence significatives de leurs décisions vocationnelles. En outre, les influences distales comme celles émanant des médias et de l’information recueillie sur la toile sont également significatives. Les inscriptions aux cours et les intentions vocationnelles actuelles tendent à tomber dans des catégories d’intérêt qui correspondent au travail du père. Les étudiants perçoivent divers événements non planifiés et accidentels comme influençant leurs décisions vocationnelles. Les résultats sont interprétés comme venant à l’appui d’une théorie de systèmes ouverts de prise de décision vocationnelle. Les implications de cette étude pour la consultation clinique et la recherche future sont examinées.

Zusammenfassung. Die Bedeutung des sozialen Umfelds und glücklicher Umstände bei Berufsentscheidungen.

Die Bedeutung von Einflüssen aus dem Umfeld und von ungeplanten Faktoren auf Berufsentscheidungen wurde untersucht. 651 Universitätsstudenten aus allen Bereichen wurden befragt, um Daten über berufliche Pläne, derzeitige Immatrikulationen, Wahrnehmungen der Einflüsse von Familie, Freunden, Lehrern und der Medien, aber auch über die Bedeutung von glücklichen Umständen, dem Bildungsstand der der derzeitigen Berufstätigkeit ihrer Familienmitglieder zu erheben. Die Ergebnisse belegen, dass die Studenten in ihren Familien und Lehrern sehr wirksame Einflussfaktoren bei ihren Berufsentscheidungen wahrnehmen. Darüber hinaus waren auch Ferneinflüsse wie durch Medien oder internetbasierte Informationen bedeutsam. Die aktuellen Immatrikulationen und die Berufsziele der Studenten lagen mit signifikant erhöhter Wahrscheinlichkeit in Interessensgebieten, die mit der derzeitigen Arbeitsstelle des Vaters korrespondierten. Es wurde häufig wahrgenommen, dass ungeplante Einflussfaktoren und glückliche Umstände die Berufsentscheidungen beeinflussten. Die Ergebnisse insgesamt werden interpretiert als ein weiterer Beleg zur Unterstützung von offenen System-Theorien zur Berufswahl. Praktische Auswirkungen für die Beratung und für zukünftige Forschungsprojekte werden diskutiert.

Resumen. El papel del contexto social y de los hechos imprevistos en la toma de decisiones profesionales.

En este estudio se ha explorado el papel de los factores contextuales y no planificados en la toma de decisiones de la carrera. Se encuestó a seiscientos cincuenta y un estudiantes universitarios de todos los niveles para recoger información sobre sus intenciones profesionales; asignaturas en las que estaban matriculados; percepciones acerca de la influencia de su familia, amigos, profesores, y los medios de comunicación; el papel de los hechos imprevistos y el nivel educativo y trabajo desempeñado por los miembros de su familia. Los resultados indicaron que los estudiantes percibían como significativa la influencia de su familia y de sus profesores en las decisiones que tomaban en relación con su carrera, además de reconocer la importancia de otras influencias como los medios de comunicación y la información de Internet. Las asignaturas en las que estaban matriculados, y sus intenciones profesionales estaban mayormente relacionadas con las categorías de intereses congruentes con el trabajo de su padre. Asimismo, se percibía muy a menudo que los hechos no planificados e imprevistos influían en sus decisiones profesionales. Pueden interpretarse los resultados como un respaldo a la teoría sistémica sobre la toma de decisiones de la carrera. Se discuten finalmente sus implicaciones prácticas para la orientación y para futuras investigaciones.

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Copyright information

© Springer 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • JIM E. H. BRIGHT
    • 1
  • ROBERT G. L. PRYOR
    • 1
  • SHARON WILKENFELD
    • 1
  • JOANNA EARL
    • 1
  1. 1.School of PsychologyUniversity of New South WalesSydneyAustralia

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