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Chapter 6

THE BIG FIVE CAREER THEORIES
S. Alvin Leung

Career guidance and counselling in the western world, most notably in the United States (USA), has developed a comprehensive system of theories and intervention strategies in its more than 100 years of history. It began in the years of Frank Parson as a trait-factor approach in the early twentieth century (Betz, Fitzgerald, & Hill,1989; Zunker, 2002), and slowly evolved to become a rather mature discipline today in the twenty-first century with a strong theoretical and empirical base, with the potential to further develop into a more “global” discipline in the years ahead. Indeed, vocational and career related issues are salient across different cultures and nationalities (Hesketh & Rounds, 1995; Leung, 2004). In an age ofeconomic globalisation, all individuals are affected by an array of work related concerns, some of these concerns are unique to certain cultures, but others are common to many cultural groups. The search for life purposes and meanings, the journey to actualise oneself through various life and workrelated roles, and the efforts by nations to deal with problems of employment and unemployment, areexamples of universal issues that seem to affect many individuals from diverse cultures. Under the theme of career development, there are experiences, concerns, and issues that we could share, explore, and discussed at a global stage (Richardson, 1993; Lips-Wiersma & McMorland, 2006). The development of career guidance and development into a global discipline requires a set of theoretical frameworkswith universal validity and applications, as well as culture-specific models that could be used to explain career development issues and phenomenon at a local level. The focus of this chapter is on the five theories of career development that have guided career guidance and counselling practice and research in the past few decades in the USA as well as internationally. These five theories are (a)Theory of Work-Adjustment, (b) Holland’s Theory of Vocational Personalities in Work Environment, (c) the Self-concept Theory of Career Development formulated by Super and more recently by Savickas, (d) Gottfredson’s Theory of Circumscription and Compromise, and (e) Social Cognitive Career Theory. Given that the “big-five” theoretical models were developed by scholars in the USA, most of the existingreviews and summaries covering

The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong SAR, China

J.A. Athanasou, R. Van Esbroeck (eds.) International Handbook of Career Guidance, © Springer Science + Business Media B.V. 2008

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S.A. Leung

these frameworks (e.g., D. Brown & Associates, 2002; S. D. Brown & Lent, 2005; Swanson & Gore, 2000) have drawn from the literature in the USA.To augment the literature, this chapter will adopt an “international” perspective and will seek to selectively review studies conducted in regions around the world. With that as a backdrop, this chapter aims to achieve three objectives. First, to review the core conceptual propositions and the evolvement of the “big five” career development models, and discuss specific components of these modelsthat are attractive to international career guidance professionals. Second, to review recent international empirical work (that is, studies conducted outside of the USA) that has been done in relation to the “big five” career development models. Third, to discuss directions that researchers and practitioners could take to advance and “indigenous” the big five career theories in their own culturalregions.

Theory of Work Adjustment
The Theory of Work Adjustment (TWA) (Dawis, 2002, 2005; Dawis & Lofquist, 1984) is a class of theory in career development that is anchored on the individual difference tradition of vocational behaviour (Dawis, 1992) called personenvironment correspondence theory, viewing career choice and development as continual processes of adjustment and accommodation in...
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