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Hall Career Paper Jan. 1996

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Career Anchors Revisited: Implications for Career Development in the 21st Century
Edgar H. Schein MIT Sloan School of Management February, 1996, Revised March, 1996

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Table of Contents
Abstract Career Anchors:Some Speculations on their Evolution Shifts in the Content and Structure of Career Anchors Security/stability Autonomy/independence Life Style Technical-functional competence General Managerial Competence Entrepreneurial Creativity Service or Dedication to a Cause Pure Challenge The MIT 21st Century Scenarios and Career Anchors Job/role Planning as the Key to Future Career Matching ReferencesOrganizations are today undergoing a metamorphosis. Whether one thinks of it as "downsizing," "rightsizing," "flattening," becoming a "learning organization," or simply as "transformations" into something as yet unknown, no one would challenge the fact that profound changes are occurring worldwide. These changes in the occupational environment have implications for career development in the future. Willthere even be such a concept as an "organizational career" or will careers become a more fragmented set of jobs held together far more by what I have labeled the "internal career." By the concept of internal career I mean the subjective sense of where one is going in one's work life, as contrasted with the "external career," the formal stages and roles that are defined by organizational policiesand societal concepts of what an individual can expect in the occupational structure (Schein, 1978, 1990a)? In studying careers longitudinally it became evident that most people form a strong self-concept which holds their internal career together even as they experience dramatic changes in their external career. I called this self-concept a "career anchor" and found that an understanding of ithelped to illuminate how people made career choices. But will the concept of "career anchor" still be applicable in this rapidly changing world and what are the implications for career development as we look at several future scenarios of how the world might evolve further in the 21st Century (Malone & Scott-Morton, 1995)? [Back to Table of Contents] Career Anchors: Some Speculations on theirEvolution

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Hall Career Paper Jan. 1996

A person's career anchor is his or her self-concept consisting of 1) self-perceived talents and abilities, 2) basic values, and, most important, 3) the evolved sense of motives and needs as they pertain to the career. Career anchors only evolve as onegains occupational and life experience. However, once the self-concept has been formed, it functions as a stabilizing force, hence the metaphor of "anchor," and can be thought of as the values and motives that the person will not give up if forced to make a choice. Most of us are not aware of our career anchors until we are forced to make choices pertaining to self-development, family, or career.Yet it is important to become aware of our anchors so that we can choose wisely when choices have to be made. My original research in the mid-1970's showed that most people's self-concepts revolved around five categories reflecting basic values, motives and needs: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Autonomy/independence Security/stability Technical-functional competence General Managerial Competence Entrepreneurial...
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