Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name





Karen S. Lyness

Committee Members

Harold Goldstein

Charles Scherbaum

Yochi Cohen-Charash

Lise Saari

Subject Categories

Industrial and Organizational Psychology


career, contemporary career mindset, adaptive coping behaviors, age, career success, employment gap


The goal of the current research was to enhance understanding of the career adaption process by developing and testing a new psychological framework by integrating three contemporary career theories (i.e., Protean, Boundaryless, and Social Cognitive Career (SCCT) theories). All of these career theories emphasize adaptability and agency as central constructs and stress career self-management as part of having a contemporary mindset because taking control of your career is important. To understand the adaptation process, antecedents and consequences of job-related coping behaviors, which are defined as cognitive and behavioral efforts to manage specific external and/or internal demands, were investigated. The model developed in this research depicts a complex process showing how personal resources (i.e., social and psychological capital) and contextual factors (i.e., organizational support for career management and labor market conditions) relate to career outcomes (e.g., perceived career success) and employment quality (i.e., job satisfaction and commitment). Also, the frequencies of job-related coping behaviors (e.g., information seeking) were predicted to mediate the relationships of resources and contextual factors with employment quality, and employees’ age and prior employment gaps were predicted to moderate use of coping behaviors. The proposed relationships were tested using a repeated measures design by collecting data three times, two months apart. The results showed that perceived organizational support for career development predicted employees’ perceived and objective career success. Moreover, organizational career support and protean mindset were the strongest predictors of frequencies of coping behaviors. Although age did not function as a moderating variable in most of the tested relationships, the number of employment gaps that individuals experienced in the past was an important moderator in the relationships between personal resources and coping behaviors. One of the main contributions of the study was developing and testing a new, more comprehensive model which integrated contemporary career theories. The results contribute to both theory and practice by testing alternative constructs and clarifying relationships. Specifically, among the variables investigated, protean mindset was related to coping behaviors, perceived career success, and employment quality, suggesting that those willing to proactively navigate their careers are likely to use active coping behaviors and achieve perceived career success. Another important contribution is the finding that the process of adaptation was not different for older workers compared to younger ones which contradicts prior research and theories. However, the number of employment gaps was an important moderator of several relationships, which is consistent with boundaryless career theory’s proposal that career advancement requires experiencing more than a single employer and organization. Moreover, the study provided insights about which resources were better predictors of career outcomes and clarified relationships to career success. Taken together, the findings provide important empirical support and also extend theoretical ideas from SCCT’s unified view on effects of cognitive, behavioral, and environmental factors. Specifically, the study suggests that employees' path to career success involves a complex function of many factors, including their career mindset, personal characteristics, social network, contextual factors, and frequencies of coping behaviors.