Changing careers: the effects of social context


  • Monica C. Higgins

    Corresponding author
    1. Harvard Business School, Boston, Massachusetts, U. S. A.
    • Harvard Business School, Morgan Hall 321, Soldiers Field, Boston, MA 02163.
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This paper investigates the social context in which career decisions are made. Results show that beyond individual-level factors such as demographics and work history, individuals' decisions to change careers are socially embedded. Findings suggest that the greater the diversity of an individual's network of advisors, the greater the likelihood that an individual will change careers. In addition, this paper explores the mechanisms through which different subsets of advice relationships — instrumental versus psychosocial — affect the decision to change careers. Results show that the greater the diversity of an individual's set of instrumental relations, the greater the number of offers he or she receives during the job search process and, further, that the number of offers received is positively related to the likelihood of changing careers. The diversity of an individual's set of psychosocial relations was related to his or her confidence to overcome career obstacles. However, confidence was not, in turn, related to career change, counter to expectations. Copyright © 2001 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.