Original Research

The influence of career orientations on subjective work experiences

Melinde Coetzee, Ziel Bergh, Dries Schreuder
SA Journal of Human Resource Management | Vol 8, No 1 | a279 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajhrm.v8i1.279 | © 2010 Melinde Coetzee, Ziel Bergh, Dries Schreuder | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 08 February 2010 | Published: 19 November 2010

About the author(s)

Melinde Coetzee, University of South Africa, South Africa
Ziel Bergh, University of South Africa, South Africa
Dries Schreuder, University of South Africa, South Africa


Orientation: In an increasingly turbulent business context in which people are less dependent on organisational career arrangements and have greater agency in career decisions, organisations have come to pay increasing attention to retaining valuable talented managerial potential.

Research purpose: The study empirically assessed the causal influence of individuals’ career orientations on their perceived life satisfaction, job or career satisfaction, sense of happiness and their perceptions of work as a valuable activity as aspects of their subjective work experiences.

Motivation for study: From an organisational perspective, research on individuals’ inner definitions of career success and satisfaction is needed to guide current selection, placement, development, reward and retention practices.

Research design, approach and method: A quantitative survey was conducted on a random sample of 2997 participants at predominantly managerial and supervisory level in the service industry. The measuring instruments consisted of an adapted five-factor career orientations model of the Career Orientations Inventory and a 4-item global subjective work experiences scale. Structural equation modelling (SEM) was conducted to achieve the aim of the study.

Main findings/results: Statistically significant causal relationships were observed between the career orientations and subjective work experiences variables.

Practical implications: Individuals’ career orientations influence their general sense of life and job or career satisfaction, happiness and perceptions of work as a valuable activity. Organisations concerned with the retention of staff need to find a way of aligning individuals’ career needs and motives with the goals and aspirations of the organisation.

Contribution/value-add: The research confirms the need for assessing the inner career orientations of employees as these provide valuable information regarding the motives and values driving individuals’ career decision making and subjective experiences of their working lives.


entrepreneurial creativity; general management competence; pure challenge or competitiveness; service or dedication to a cause; technical or functional competence; life satisfaction; job or career satisfaction; happiness; work as a valuable activity


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