Self efficacy & career self management: moderating role of proactive personality.

AuthorP.B., Srikanth


Scholars have emphasized the need for a better understanding of career self management (King, 2004; Kossek et. al, 1998) due to the changing nature of career moving from a traditional, "bounded" and driven by employment relations to being boundaryless and increasingly self directed by the employee (Arthur & Rousseau, 1996). Despite extensive studies in vocational behavior about the role of self efficacy, there has been little consideration of the role of self efficacy for career self management (King, 2004). King (2001) pointed to the little consideration given while examining the relationship of self efficacy and career self-management though Crant (2000) has argued that self efficacy is associated with proactive behavior. The objective of the present study is to bridge the gap by examining the influence of self efficacy and career self management with the moderating role of proactive personality.

Career Self Management

Career self-management has been defined as the degree to which one regularly gathers information and plans for career problem solving and decision making (Kossek et al., 1998). Studies reveal that individuals seek and collect information related to their careers to assess personal competence and job opportunities to take informed decisions about their careers. Greenhaus's (1987) has defined career management as a problem solving method by which individuals gather relevant information through career exploration to develop a greater awareness of themselves and their environment, in order to develop career strategies. Individuals need to understand their own strengths and weakness before making decisions regarding their careers. Seeking information related to one's career is central to the effectiveness of the entire career management process. Orpen (1994) argued that career management is the "joint responsibility" of both individuals and the organizations employing them. Organization career management consists of policies and practices deployed to increase the career effectiveness of its employees while individual career management (career self-management) consists of personal efforts made by employees to advance in their own careers (Open, 1994).

In order to manage one's own career well, individuals take on new roles and responsibilities, engage in constant self monitoring and review their perceptions associated with their careers Kossek et al. (1998). The concept of career self management is grounded on the concept of career resilience where individuals strive be aware of one's strengths and weakness, keep oneself updated about market trends, proactively working towards skill sets that the organization needs in the near future and accordingly updating one's skill set (Waterman, Waterman & Collard, 1994). Such individuals are more likely to seek feedback on their strengths and weakness. Career self management also overlaps with career exploration and management (Greenhaus, 1987; Hall, 1986).

Career literature has focused on individuals collecting career related information to explore job opportunities in order to aid career decision making. "Career exploration" has been defined as an individual's collection and analysis of career-related information (Kossek et al., 1998) and is central to the effectiveness of the entire career management process. The information gathering process concerns not only the existing role or current employer but also other prospective employers or other career opportunities. For this purpose individuals also network either formally or informally to know about other job opportunities. In other words, career self management aims at gathering information that would help individuals prepare oneself for movement internal or external based on career opportunities (Kossek et al., 1998).

However, career self management need not essentially focus on mobility outside the existing organization. For example, King (2004) noted that a comprehensive view of career management needs to consider inter-organizational mobility and motivational factors like personal development and knowledge gathered. However, careers possibly can have a personal as well as a vocational meaning for many people. Most career theorists acknowledge that "career" includes non work sphere also, therefore it is important to consider relationship between work and non work areas (King, 2004). A holistic picture of career self management needs to consider individual aspirations for their lives beyond work boundaries and explore adjustment mechanisms while they are with their families or while they are fulfilling their commitments to leisure (King, 2004). Career self management gets demonstrated through developmental feedback seeking and job mobility preparedness (Kossek et al.,1998).

Proactive Personality

Crant (2000) defined proactive behavior as "taking initiative in improving current circumstance or creating new ones; it involves challenging status quo rather than passively adapting to present conditions". He proposed an integrated model relating antecedents of proactivity to proactive behavior in organizations leading to career outcomes in which one set of individual difference variables that were used to capture proactive behavior across situations was proactive personality and personal initiative (Seibert et al., 2001). Bateman and Crant, (1993) define proactive personality as "one who is relatively unconstrained by situational forces, and who effects environmental change". They viewed proactive personality as a favorable disposition to proactive behaviors. Proactive people scan the environment, demonstrate initiative through specific actions and persist until they bring about change (Bateman and Crant, 1993). On the contrary people who are not proactive fail to identify opportunities to bring about change. Such individuals lack initiative and rely on others for change (Bateman and Crant, 1993).

Proactive individuals treat their jobs and careers differently compared to less proactive people (Seibert et al., 1999). They are more likely to engage in opportunities for self improvement through high education or acquiring skills for future promotions. This personal initiative is an active self starting approach going beyond the boundaries for formal job mandates (Frese et al., 1996, 1997). By taking initiative and being proactive allows the individual to develop long term focus outside the requirements of role (Frese et. al, 1996). Both initiative and being proactive are likely to be mutually inclusive. For example, Frese et al., (1997) noted that personal initiative and proactive personality are theoretically similar. Proactive individuals tend to take initiative to do things without being prompted to do so. Both the concepts of proactive personality and personal initiative describe propensities towards proactive behavior (Crant, 2000).

Self Efficacy

Self efficacy, a key element in Bandura's (1977a, 1977b) social learning theory refers to an individual's belief in the capability to perform a specific task. Self efficacy is defined as "people's judgment of their capabilities to organize and execute courses of action required to attain designated types of performances" (Bandura, 1986: 391). Bandura's (2001) social cognitive theory proposes that humans are evaluative, proactive regulators of their actions and that self efficacy influences human agency. Self efficacy arises through acquisition of cognitive, social, and/or physical skills through experience and it affects one's choice of settings and activities, effort spent and the initiation and persistence of coping efforts in the face of adverse situations (Bandura, 1982). Stronger is an individual's self efficacy beliefs, more likely that the individual persist to perform successfully in a job. Research has also proven that self efficacy is associated with increased effort, persistence and goal directed behavior (Bandura, 1986). Hackett and Betz (1981) and Betz and Hackett, (1981) reported the applicability of self efficacy to theory of vocational behavior.

Self Efficacy & Career Self Management

Self efficacy affects the extent to which an individual engages in career self management (King, 2004). Self efficacy arises out of a realistic appraisal of one's own capabilities. Self efficacy has been positively linked to developmental orientation such as the ability to continue career growth (Bell & Staw, 1989). Kossek et. al, (1998) found the career self efficacy influenced career self management. People who are high on self efficacy are more likely to engage in career self management behaviors. It is highly unlikely to expect career management behaviors from individuals who do not believe that they would be able to perform those activities. King (2001) argued that attainment of career outcomes are likely to be associated with a...

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