In recent years the traditional notion of careers has been challenged by fundamental changes in the way work is organised and people employed resulting in revision and re-testing of existing career development theories. Super's theoretical concepts have been instrumental in shifting the focus from traditional career development theory, based on linear progression within a single organisation, to a new generation of career development theory, one that encourages individuals to seek satisfaction in areas that span whole of life roles.
Super acknowledged the need to refine the concept of adult career development and to elaborate the construct of adaptation in order to provide the conceptual foundation for counselling adults in career transition and to enhance perceptions of satisfaction across the full spectrum of life roles.
The five studies included in this thesis were designed to test a number of career development issues including the design and psychometric testing of a behaviourally based career development measure, psychometric testing of the Adult Career Concerns Inventory (ACCI) and an investigation of the effects of a number of moderating variables on job and career satisfaction.
Study one develops a behaviourally based career development instrument, the Adult Career Behaviours Inventory (ACBI), based on the same factor structure as that proposed by Super and on which the ACCI was developed. The information obtained was intended to supplement that provided by the ACCI and be useful to counsellors working with adults undertaking career transition. Study two tests the reliability and validity of the ACBI using a sample of 375 full and part time workers, using exploratory factor analysis followed by confirmatory factor analysis. The factor structure of the ACBI was found to be dissimilar to that of the ACCI. The model identified was re-specified and cross validated against a second independent data set.
Study three examines the factor structure of the ACCI using exploratory and confirmatory factor analysis. The model identified through this procedure was re-specified and cross validated against a second independent data set. No support was found for the four factor model of the ACCI proposed by Super. The results of this analysis revealed that the factor structure of the ACCI was a complex four factor model but not the factor structure proposed by Super. This finding constitutes one of the key outcomes of the research.
Study four focuses on the practical implications of possible mis-categorisation by career stage when counsellors use the ACCI to assess career stage and categorise adults undertaking career transition.
Study five investigates the effects of a number of variables on levels of job and career satisfaction. The study identified significant differences in job and career satisfaction with those in the earlier career stages reporting significantly less satisfaction in career and every job facet variable. The research also identified significant differences in career and job satisfaction between those whose career stage is out of synchronisation with Super's normative age/career stage.
Overall, the five studies included in this research support the feasibility of developing a behaviourally based measure of career development, suggest that construct inadequacies exist in the ACCI, and reveal significant differences in levels of job and career satisfaction within the variable on-off time that require further investigation.