Anchors aweigh!

No, it’s not International Talk Like a Pirate Day (that’s Sept 19th for any of you that are interested) but recently I’ve been asked to be a participant in a study based around career anchors.  A PhD student from New Zealand is looking into how Schein’s Career Anchor model (1975), may now be expanded and updated.

Edgar Schein‘s model proposed that everyone has a different set of values and qualities which they employ with regards to their work life.  These values make up their career anchors. A better understanding of one’s motivations (or limits) will lead to a clearer self concept and this will facilitate better career choices.

Schein proposed eight key categories of anchors:

  • Technical/functional competence — desire to be the best, like challenges and enjoy using their skills
  • Managerial competence — like managing and dealing with people including problem solving and high responsibility
  • Autonomy/independence — like to do work by themselves, to their own timetable and without rules
  • Security/stability — risk and change adverse, often see a job as something for life
  • Entrepreneurial creativity — like to invent creative solutions, or products and run their own work schedule, generally like dealing with people and see wealth as a sign of success
  • Service/dedication to a cause — driven by helping other people and giving back to society
  • Pure challenge — constantly seeking a challenge and easily bored
  • Lifestyle — focus on their life as a whole and often try to integrate their work and life, as opposed to balancing them.

Schein’s original model has come under a lot of scrutiny. It evolved out of a longitudinal study of about 44 Sloan Graduates over a period of more than a decade.  This is a pretty narrow subject group, but the key anchors he proposed seem to have caught on, with many companies creating (and charging a lot of money for) ‘tests’ for clients to help them in the search for their perfect career.

The PhD study I referred to is exploring whether anchors focusing on globalisation might now be added to Schein’s original eight.  Which is where I’ve come in, providing my experience as a global ‘boomeranger’ (jumping between NZ and the UK).  By looking into my and other’s motivations for their moves, the researcher hopes to develop a better understanding  of  whether globalisation within a career is a unique anchor and what attributes people with this value display.  I will let you know how the research turns out!

  • How valid to you think Schein’s anchors are today in relation to the clients you work with?
  • How do you go about linking a client’s understanding of their career anchors to an actual career?
  • On Sept 19th, who is going to show their true pirattitude and attempt a careers discussion in piratese?

Further reading

  • Schein, E.H. (1990 & 1996). Career Anchors (Discovering Your Real Values), Jossey-Bass Pfeiffer.
  • Schein, E.H. (1996) Career anchors revisited: Implications for career development in the 21st Century. The Academy of Management Executive, 10(4) 80-88.

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  1. #1 by Toby Melver on 30 August 2010 - 22:15

    Could you forward my info to this doctoral student in New Zealand please- I am also pursuing my docotorate and am using schein’s theory as the framework for my study and would be interested in what this other student is doing- thanks

    • #2 by Katie Dallison on 11 October 2010 - 15:13

      The research was being conducted through Massey Universities Department of Management and International Business based in New Zealand. I’ve not seen any results yet so am guessing she’s still working on it. I’ve been waiting to hear back from my contact there to see if it would be okay to pass on her details but she hasn’t been in touch so I’m reluctant to pop her name up on this blog, however I have passed your email onto her Toby and I’ll post any results I hear about on this blog for you Agnes.

  2. #3 by agnes on 4 October 2010 - 13:44

    I am doing a doctoral assignment using schein’s career achor theory. I am curious to find out what the results have been. Thanks

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