جستجوی کار و نظریه شناختی اجتماعی: نقش فعالیت های حرفه ای مرتبط
|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی||تعداد کلمات|
|26777||2009||11 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید||محاسبه نشده|
Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Journal of Vocational Behavior, Volume 74, Issue 1, February 2009, Pages 117–127
Social cognitive theory was used to explain the relationships between career-relevant activities (environmental and self career exploration, career resources, and training), self-regulatory variables (job search self-efficacy and job search clarity), variables from the Theory of Planned Behavior (job search attitude, subjective norm, job search intention), and job search intensity. Based on a sample of employed and unemployed job seekers, we found that job seekers who spent more time in career exploration, attended more training programs, and used more career resources reported higher job search clarity and job search self-efficacy. Job search self-efficacy, job search attitude, and subjective norm predicted job search intention, and job search clarity and job search intention predicted job search intensity eight months later. The results of this study provide practical information on what job seekers can do to improve their job search clarity and job search self-efficacy and demonstrate the application of social cognitive theory for understanding and predicting job search behavior.
Job search has received a considerable amount of research attention in the last decade. Much of this research has investigated job search models in which individual differences and situational variables predict job search behaviors and outcomes (Kanfer et al., 2001 and Wanberg et al., 1996). Two theories that have been the focus of job search research are self-regulation theory (SR) (Kanfer et al., 2001) and the theory of planned behavior (TPB) (Van Hooft et al., 2004a and Van Hooft et al., 2004b). Although variables from both theories have been found to predict job search behavior, there has been little attempt to combine them in one model. One of the purposes of this study was to integrate variables from both theories using social cognitive theory as a framework. A second and related purpose of this study is to investigate career-relevant activities that can influence two key mechanisms of job search self-regulation. Although job search research has the potential to inform job seekers and career counselors on how to improve search success, few studies have focused on the practical aspect of what job seekers can do to improve their job search. For example, we know that job search self-efficacy is an important predictor of job search behavior, however, research has not examined how job seekers can strengthen their job search self-efficacy other than through job search training or instruction (Van Hooft et al., 2004b). Furthermore, many models of job search begin with individual difference variables such as self-efficacy and tend not to consider the factors that precede and influence them. The present study focuses on career-relevant activities that job seekers can employ to improve their job search self-efficacy and job search clarity. Job search self-efficacy and job search clarity are important because of their role in the self-regulation process and because they predict job search intensity (Côté et al., 2006 and Kanfer et al., 2001). The present study also includes variables from the theory of planned behavior (TPB) because they have also been found to be important predictors of job search intensity. As described in the next section, we use social cognitive theory as a framework to integrate and explain the relationships between the variables in the present study. 1.1. Social cognitive theory and job search Social cognitive theory explains human psychosocial functioning in terms of the interaction between behavior, cognitive and other personal factors, and environmental events. These three factors interact as determinants of each other in a process known as triadic reciprocal causation (Bandura, 1986). In addition, social cognitive theory encompasses a number of self-regulatory and self-reflective processes such as self-efficacy and goals. In recent years, social cognitive career theory (SCCT) has been used to understand career development processes (Lent, Brown, & Hackett, 1994). According to Lent et al. (1994), SCCT describes how people’s environments expose them to career-relevant activities that influence the development of self-efficacy, outcome expectations, interests, and goals which influence career choices and behaviors. Social cognitive theory provides a useful theoretical basis to understand the relationships between the variables in the present study as both self-efficacy and goals can be influenced by career-relevant activities. In the present study, we maintain that career-relevant activities function as environmental factors that can influence job seekers’ job search self-efficacy and job search clarity. In addition, the variables from the TPB can also be understood within a social cognitive theory framework as they represent environmental (subjective norm), cognitive and personal (job search attitude, job search self-efficacy), goal-related (job search intention), and behavioral variables (job search intensity) that are all related to each other. Fig. 1 provides an overview of our social cognitive theory model of job search behavior. Career-relevant activities are shown to be positively related to job search self-efficacy and job search clarity; job search self-efficacy, job search attitude, and subjective norm are positively related to job search intention; and job search clarity and job search intention are positively related to job search intensity. Although our model suggests that these relationships are of a causal nature, it is important to recognize that our methodology does not allow us to make causal conclusions about the relationships shown in the model. 1.2. Job search self-efficacy and job search clarity Kanfer et al. (2001) conceptualized job search behavior as the product of a self-regulatory process “that begins with the identification and commitment to pursuing an employment goal” that “activates search behavior designed to bring about the goal” (pp. 838). They identified trait and contextual variables that affect self-regulatory mechanisms and the direction and intensity of job search behavior. As described earlier, two mechanisms that are central to the self-regulatory process are self-efficacy and goals (Bandura, 1991). In the job search literature, these variables have been conceptualized as job search self-efficacy and job search clarity. 1.2.1. Job search self-efficacy Self-efficacy is a major mechanism of the self-regulatory process of social cognitive theory and plays a central role in the exercise of personal agency. Within social cognitive theory, self-efficacy is the most proximal regulator of human behavior and a strong predictor of thought, affect, motivation, and action (Bandura, 1991). Self-efficacy beliefs influence the courses of action people choose to pursue, the amount of effort one exerts in the pursuit of goals, and how long one will persevere in the face of difficulties and setbacks (Bandura, 1991). Job search self-efficacy is the belief that one can successfully perform specific job search behaviors and obtain employment (Saks & Ashforth, 1999). In their meta-analysis, Kanfer et al. (2001) obtained an effect size of .27 between self-efficacy and job search behavior. Job search self-efficacy has also been found to be related to job search outcomes such as search status, duration, and the number offers received (Kanfer et al., 2001). 1.2.2. Job search clarity Goals are also a major component of social cognitive theory as they guide and motivate behavior (Bandura, 1991). Although employment goals are central to the self-regulation process and believed to activate job search behavior (Kanfer et al., 2001), few studies have actually measured employment goals. However, a recent development in the job search literature is the concept of job search clarity which represents a goal mechanism. Wanberg, Hough, and Song (2002) defined job search clarity as the extent to which job seekers have clear job search objectives and a clear idea of the type of career, work, or job desired. Job seekers who lack job search clarity may spend more time exploring different options and contemplating the future, thus reducing the intensity of their job search (Wanberg et al., 2002). On the other hand, high job search clarity might better direct job seekers’ attention and effort towards more targeted activities pertaining to job search resulting in greater job search intensity. Côté et al. (2006) found that job search clarity was positively related to job search intensity. 1.2.3. Summary Although both job search self-efficacy and job search clarity are important mechanisms of the self-regulatory process and have been found to predict job search intensity, there has been little attempt to identify and examine how job seekers can improve their job search self-efficacy and job search clarity. Previous studies have tested models in which individual differences predict job search self-efficacy and job search clarity. For example, Brown, Cober, Kane, Levy, and Shalhoop (2006) tested a model in which dispositional variables predict job search self-efficacy which in turn predicts job search behaviors. Similarly, Côté et al. (2006) tested a model in which individual difference variables predict job search clarity which then predicts job search intensity. Neither study nor any other previous study has investigated what job seekers can do to improve their job search self-efficacy and job search clarity. However, within a social cognitive theory framework, environmental events can also influence people’s cognitive and personal states. In particular, by participating in environmental events and activities, job seekers can obtain information, resources, instruction, and feedback that can lead to improvements in their job search self-efficacy and job search clarity. As described in the next section, the present study focuses on career-relevant activities that have implications for job search self-efficacy and job search clarity. 1.3. Career-relevant activities In searching for employment, individuals are active agents who can use a wide repertoire of behaviors for adapting to and handling their current situation. This adaptation is characterized by reflection, the exploration of various career options, and by actively engaging in developmental activities. By increasing emphasis on boundaryless careers and career self-management, job seekers are expected to act as free agents who must actively seek out training and developmental activities that will increase their employability and help them to more successfully compete in the labor market (Arthur and Rousseau, 1996 and King, 2004). Given that the world of work rapidly changes and that employment contracts are unstable (Arthur & Rousseau, 1996), the need to reflect upon one’s career options and oneself and act accordingly is ongoing. Based on career and job search theories, we propose four types of career-relevant activities that job seekers can engage in prior to their job search that can lead to improvements in their job search self-efficacy and job search clarity: environmental and self career exploration, career resources, and training. These four activities are often suggested as strategies for job seekers to use to improve their job opportunities and prospects (Saks, 2005, Wanberg et al., 2002, Werbel, 2000 and Zikic and Klehe, 2006). Career exploration. Career exploration is defined as the gathering of information relevant to the progress of one’s career ( Blustein, 1997, Jordaan, 1963 and Stumpf et al., 1983). It is considered to be a lifelong process that is triggered particularly during transitions as it allows individuals to cope ( Blustein, 1997 and Savickas, 1997). It has also been suggested that career exploration is an important initial step that prepares job seekers for a successful job search and should be included in theories of job search ( Werbel, 2000). Environmental exploration is an individual’s investigation of various career options by proactively collecting information on jobs, organizations, occupations or industries that allow more informed career decisions. Self exploration focuses on exploring one’s own interests, values, and experiences in order to reflect on one’s career and to gain a deeper understanding of oneself. Engaging in these forms of exploration may facilitate a clearer understanding of individual career ambitions as well as opportunities including hoped for work contexts as well as specific work activities ( Zikic & Klehe, 2006). According to Wanberg et al. (2002), individuals who do not have clear job search objectives might need to spend more time in career exploration due to a lack of self-understanding and a lack of information about the work world and job opportunities. Thus, career exploration should help individuals obtain greater clarity of the type of work, job, or career they desire. In addition, by exploring various work options and better understanding one’s own capabilities, job seekers may also obtain increased confidence in their ability to search for and find the right job for them. For example, in a study on career exploration and interview performance and outcomes, Stumpf, Austin, and Hartman (1984) found that both environmental and self career exploration were positively related to interview self-efficacy. More recently, Zikic and Klehe (2006) found a positive relationship between self-efficacy and career exploration dimensions of unemployed workers. We therefore tested the following hypotheses: Hypothesis 1. Environmental career exploration is positively related to (a) job search clarity and (b) job search self-efficacy. Hypothesis 2. Self career exploration is positively related to (a) job search clarity and (b) job search self-efficacy. Career resources. As active agents, job seekers can choose to use various resources at their disposal prior to their job search which can help them to learn more about how to look for a job as well as the type of job opportunities available across occupations. These are resources that a job seeker might consult before they actually begin to look for a specific job and contact employers. Some common resources include career centers, career fairs, job search clubs, guidance counselors, as well as government and industry websites. The use of career resources can provide job seekers with a broader pool of information about occupations and jobs which should help them develop clearer objectives and goals and hence greater job search clarity. In addition, some career resources such as job clubs and guidance counselors typically instruct job seekers on how to search for employment and in the process improve job search self-efficacy. Therefore, we tested the following hypothesis: Hypothesis 3. Career resources are positively related to (a) job search clarity and (b) job search self-efficacy. Training. Training programs can also improve job seekers’ job search clarity and job search self-efficacy. Individuals can obtain training on their own or from their employer and it can be formal or on-the-job. By attending various types of training programs, job seekers can upgrade existing skills and acquire new ones. As a result, they not only improve their skills and qualifications for various jobs, but they also increase their employability ( Fugate, Kinicki, & Ashforth, 2004). The acquisition of new skills should enable job seekers to better understand the type of career and work they are qualified for and the jobs they might pursue. Thus, we expect job seekers who attend more training programs to have higher job search clarity. Moreover, training increases a job seeker’s human capital through the acquisition of new skills and it also enhances an individual’s likelihood of gaining employment and eventual job search success (Fugate et al., 2004 and Wanberg et al., 2002). As a result, job seekers should be more confident in their ability to find a job given their newly acquired skills, greater human capital, and enhanced marketability. In addition, research has found that training programs directly increase self-efficacy (Mathieu, Martineau, & Tannenbaum, 1993). Thus, job seekers’ with more training should be more confident of their ability to find a job given their new skills and confidence in using them. Therefore, we tested the following hypothesis: Hypothesis 4. Training is positively related to (a) job search clarity and (b) job search self-efficacy. 1.4. The theory of planned behavior and job search As indicated earlier, job search self-efficacy and job search clarity are key mechanisms of self-regulation theory that predict job search intensity. In addition, a number of studies have recently applied the theory of planned behavior to job search and found it to be a useful theory to explain the job search behavior of employed and unemployed job seekers (Van Hooft et al., 2004b). According to the TPB, an individual’s intention to engage in a behavior is the main predictor of the behavior in question, and one’s intention to engage in a specific behavior is a function of one’s attitude toward the behavior (belief that the behavior leads to certain outcomes), subjective norm (perceived social pressure to perform or not to perform the behavior), and perceived behavioral control which is similar to perceived self-efficacy (Ajzen, 1991). When applied to job search, job search intention is believed to be the most immediate predictor of job search behavior, and job search intentions are predicted by job search attitude, subjective norm, and job search self-efficacy (Song et al., 2006, Van Hooft et al., 2005, Van Hooft et al., 2004b, Van Hooft et al., 2004a and Wanberg et al., 2005). In the context of social cognitive theory, the variables from the TPB that predict job search intention can be considered cognitive and personal factors (job search self-efficacy, job search attitude) and environmental factors (subjective norm). Thus, the TPB can be integrated into a social cognitive theory model of job search in which environmental (subjective norm) and personal and cognitive factors (job search self-efficacy and job search attitude) predict job search intention as follows: Hypothesis 5a. Job search self-efficacy is positively related to job search intention. Hypothesis 5b. Job search attitude is positively related to job search intention. Hypothesis 5c. Subjective norm is positively related to job search intention. The TPB argues that the best predictor of behavior is the intention to perform the behavior. Similarly, SCCT suggests that goals and intentions predict activity involvement and behaviors (Lent et al., 1994). According to Bandura (1986), “intention plays a prominent role in the self-regulation of behavior. An intention is defined as the determination to perform certain activities or to bring about a certain future state of affairs” (pp. 467). SCCT conceptualizes career/academic choice goals as the intention to engage in a particular action or series of actions (Lent et al., 1994). In a similar vein, job search intention can be conceptualized as job search goals to engage in specific job search behaviors. As indicated earlier, Kanfer et al. (2001) argued that employment goals activate job search behavior to bring about the goal. Thus, when applied to job search, job search intention should predict job search intensity and mediate the relationship between job search attitude, subjective norm, and job search self-efficacy on job search intensity (Van Hooft et al., 2004b and Van Hooft et al., 2004a). Research on job search and the TPB has generally found that job search intention is a significant predictor of job search intensity, and in some cases mediates the relationship between the other variables in the model (i.e., job search attitude, subjective norm, and job search self-efficacy) and job search intensity (Song et al., 2006, Van Hooft et al., 2004b, Van Hooft et al., 2004a, Van Hooft et al., 2005, Vinokur and Caplan, 1987 and Wanberg et al., 2005). Therefore, we tested the following hypotheses: Hypothesis 6. Job search intention is positively related to job search intensity. Hypothesis 7. Job search intention will mediate the relationships between job search self-efficacy, job search attitude, and subjective norm with job search intensity. Finally, Wanberg et al. (2002) argued that job search clarity can influence job search intensity by directing a person’s attention and effort towards activities pertaining to their job search. To date, one study has found that job search clarity was positively related to job search intensity (Côté et al., 2006). Therefore, our final hypothesis is the following: Hypothesis 8. Job search clarity is positively related to job search intensity.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
Despite the above limitations, this study is unique in its applied focus and for its use of social cognitive theory to integrate career-relevant variables with variables from self-regulation theory and the theory of planned behavior. The results of this study suggest that there are career-relevant activities that job seekers can engage in prior to their job search that are positively related to job search self-efficacy and job search clarity, and that variables associated with self-regulation theory (job search clarity) and the theory of planned behavior (job search intention) are important predictors of job search intensity.