A meta-analytic investigation of demographic differences in protean, boundaryless, and proactive career orientations

Kostal, J. W., & Wiernik, B. M.
Career Development International, in press

The protean and boundaryless career concepts have dominated career research over the past two decades. Demographic characteristics are often posited to related to protean and boundaryless career orientations, but systematic investigation of these relations has been lacking. In this study, we provide the first meta-analytic summary of these relationships. Cumulating data from 74 samples and 29,605 individuals, we find that relations between new career orientations and demographic characteristics are generally negligible to small, with organizational mobility preferences showing the largest relations across demographic characteristics. Age showed curvilinear relations with new career orientations (e.g., overall protean orientation correlated ρ = .14 with age in samples aged 20-29, ρ = .02 in samples aged 30-39, and ρ = -.09 in samples age 40 and older), and relations with educational level were moderated by national economic development (e.g., self-directed protean orientation correlated ρ =-.02 with education in highly-developed economies and ρ = .13 in less-developed economies). Results support the construct validity of “proactive career orientation” as a unifying construct encompassing protean and psychological mobility boundaryless career orientations, as proposed by Wiernik and Kostal (2016). We discuss implications for equitable career development for demographic groups, as well as for continued integration of career development research with the broader field of personality and individual differences.

Special issue: “Meta-analytic findings: Updating research and supporting practice on work place issues,” guest editors: Chockalingam Viswesvaran, Deniz S. Ones, & Jessica Mesmer-Magnus