12 Theoretical Approaches to the Study of Job Transitions

Industrial and Organizational Psychology


  1. Daniel C. Feldman PhD1,
  2. Thomas W. H. Ng PhD2

Published Online: 26 SEP 2012

DOI: 10.1002/9781118133880.hop212012

Handbook of Psychology, Second Edition

Handbook of Psychology, Second Edition

How to Cite

Feldman, D. C. and Ng, T. W. H. 2012. Theoretical Approaches to the Study of Job Transitions. Handbook of Psychology, Second Edition. 12:II:12.

Author Information

  1. 1

    University of Georgia, Terry College of Business, Athens, Georgia, USA

  2. 2

    University of Hong Kong, School of Business and Economics, Hong Kong

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 26 SEP 2012


This paper integrates the research on the job transitions individuals experience over the course of their careers, including: transfers and promotions; domestic and international geographical relocation; transitions out of unemployment, underemployment, and contingent employment; changes in occupations; and transitions into bridge employment or retirement. We especially consider the contributions which embeddedness theory, person–environment fit theory, conservation of resources theory, and personality theory make to our understanding of job transitions. These theoretical perspectives help us better understand: (a) why people decide to accept/reject job change options; (b) how individuals' networks influence their job change decisions and their levels of adjustment to new positions; and (c) why individuals' reactions to changing jobs and their strategies for coping with them show consistency across transitions. The chapter concludes with directions for future research on job transitions.


  • job transitions;
  • job changes;
  • embeddedness;
  • person–environment fit;
  • personality;
  • conservation of resources theory