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Unexpected change: Career transitions following a significant extra-organizational shock
Journal of Vocational Behavior  (IF6.065),  Pub Date : 2021-02-24, DOI: 10.1016/j.jvb.2021.103555
Russell Wordsworth, Venkataraman Nilakant

How do extra-organizational events translate into career shocks? This paper focuses on an environmental event - a major earthquake followed by 18 months of aftershocks in the Canterbury region of New Zealand - and examines the lived experiences of 31 employees who left their jobs following these earthquakes. Employing a qualitative research design, we offer a more emic understanding of how individuals experience and respond to significant career shocks. Our study shows that despite experiencing the same external event participants varied significantly in how this shock led to career decision making. We demonstrate that career shocks can lead to both desired and undesired career transitions by enhancing or curtailing personal agency. One individual factor, pre-shock motivational state, together with two contextual factors, perceived shock magnitude and availability of social and cognitive resources, account for the varied patterns of career decision making we observed. This paper contributes to the emerging career shocks literature by examining the interaction between shock frequency, duration and intensity and explaining the interplay between agency and context in career decision making.