Career anchors and preferences for organizational career management: A study of information technology professionals in three European countries

Careers research has moved beyond the notion of traditional careers in a stable, predictable work environment to a more individual perspective. However, individual agency in career management is still likely to involve interactions between organizations and individuals. This is particularly evident in organizational career management (OCM). Career anchor theory has shed light on the work preferences of professionals but little research has examined relationships between career anchors and how people enact their careers, or how these constructs and their relationships might differ between countries. We report a quantitative study of 1,629 IT professionals from 10 organizations in Switzerland, Germany and the UK. After allowing for control variables, career anchor scores explained statistically significant amounts of variance in preferences for five of the six categories of OCM practices. Some of the connections between career anchors and OCM preferences followed naturally from their content, but others were less self-evident, or even seemingly contradictory. There were some significant differences between nationalities, with the UK tending to be the outlier. These differences were partly but not entirely consistent with prior research. This study expands understanding of the interplay of individual values and OCM and draws on previous work to offer a new classification of OCM practices.