Is the boundaryless career an organisational benefit, liability or irrelevance? : an investigation into boundaryless career competencies, career success and intention to leave : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in Psychology at Massey University
This thesis asked whether contemporary organisations are faced with a paradox: are boundaryless career competencies linked to career success but also organisational turnover? Employees of a large New Zealand organisation (n= 568) were surveyed using an intranet based questionnaire. Through analysis using structural equation modelling, the best fit model showed that people who demonstrate a high level of investment in career competencies were also likely to show a high level of career success but, contrary to expectations, people who are successful in their careers are less likely to think about leaving the organisation. Therefore, contrary to boundaryless career theory, inter-organisational movement is not necessarily the goal for contemporary career actors. It may be that people stay in an organisation despite, or even because, they are investing in boundaryless career competencies. Furthermore, people who see internal opportunities for mobility are less likely to consider leaving, while people who see external opportunities for mobility will have a higher intention to leave. Hence whether people with high career success stay or go may depend on whether the organisation allows for expression of career competencies. It may be that internal opportunities trump external opportunities, or vice versa. This research is valuable in three key ways, providing: (1) the operationalisation of career competencies, tentatively shown to link to career success, for use in career management and further research (2) findings which question the key boundaryless career assumptions of mobility and the end of the organisational career (3) an interpretation of results suggesting non-significant effects of age and gender may be due to allowance for shifting priorities and context in the model. In light of these findings the Chameleon Career is suggested as an alternative metaphor to the boundaryless career, to reflect the need for the individual and the organisation to adapt to the changing environment.