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Sofija Pajic

To employability and beyond: Sustainable careers within contextual boundaries


The sustainable career is a career characterized by continuity over time and varying circumstances in a way that enables individuals to live productively, happily, and healthily. The current dissertation focuses on answering the question of how individuals sustain their careers against the backdrop of changing demands in their jobs, occupations, and labor markets. First, we investigate which personal resources individuals use to sustain their careers and how they use them. Second, we focus on disentangling the role of individuals and broader institutional opportunities and barriers by answering the question of when personal resources are instrumental for sustaining careers, and when they are not.

The first empirical chapter offers a meta-analysis of the relationships between perceived employability (i.e., perceived chance of obtaining, maintaining, or changing employment) and sustainable careers. The results demonstrate that a number of personal and organizational resources contribute to employability perceptions, and that perceived employability contributes to employee productivity and health. However, the strength of the studied relationships varies as a function of the broader institutional context (i.e., unemployment, employment protection legislation, and national culture). Furthermore, the second and the third chapter offer further insight into the role of context in bounding career sustainability by examining the use of personal resources in sustaining careers among nurses and recently resettled refugees.

Overall, this dissertation underscores the importance of personal self-regulatory resources for career sustainability. Additionally, it demonstrates that broader institutional context has an impact on individual careers, by representing a barrier or an opportunity to mobilizing specific personal resources.