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Chapter 6 THE BIG FIVE CAREER THEORIES S Alvin Leung Career guidance and counselling in the western world most notably in the United States USA has developed a comprehensive system of theories and intervention

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	6 Big Five Career Theories 123
is constructed, and the salience and importance of different life and work roles as 
Even though international research on Supers theory is still very much needed, 
Supers theory will continue to play an important role in career development prac-
tice internationally (e.g., Leong & Serafica, 2001; Patton & Lokan, 2001). Supers 
influence is best illustrated by an article by Watanabe-Muraoka, Senzaki, and Herr 
(2001) who commented that Supers theory has received wide attention by 
6 Big Five Career Theories 131
Hampton, N. Z. (2005). Testing the structure of the Career Decision Self-efficacy Scale … Short 
Form among Chinese college students. 
Journal of Career Assessment, 13
Herr, E. L. (1997). Supers life-span, life-space approach and its outlook for refinement. 
Career Development Quarterly, 45
Career guidance and counselling in the western world, most notably in the United 
States (USA), has developed a comprehensive system of theories and intervention 
strategies in its more than 100 years of history. It began in the years of Frank Parson 
Patton, Creed, and Muller (2002) administered to Grade 12 students the Australian 
version of the Career Development Inventory (CDI-A) (Lokan, 1984) and a meas-
ure of psychological well-being. These students were surveyed on their educational 
and occupational status 9 months after they graduated. Findings supported the 
hypotheses that students who proceeded to full-time study would have higher levels 
of career maturity (operationally defined as having high CDI-A scores), school 
achievement and psychological well-being while still at school, in compared to 
students who did not make a smooth transition to work or education after high 
school. The authors suggested that there was a strong need for school-based inter-
vention to assist students who might not be transitioning to full-time studies after 
high school. In a different study by Creed and Patton (2003), CDI-A was adminis-
tered to high school students from Grade 8 to Grade 12, along with several other 
career-related measures including career decision-making self-efficacy, career 
decidedness, work value, self-esteem and work commitment. Regression analyses 
were conducted and it was found that self-efficacy, age, career decidedness and 
work commitment were the main predictors of career maturity attitudes (CDI-A 
attitude scales), whereas age, gender, career certainty, work commitment, and 
career indecision were the main predictors of career maturity knowledge (CDI-A 
knowledge scales). Differences in career maturity scores were also found among 
students in different grade levels. These findings were consistent with the develop-
mental assumptions of career maturity.
S.A. Leung
6 Big Five Career Theories 121
career choices), and implementation (taking steps to actualise career choices through 
engaging in training and job positions). Examples of vocational developmental tasks 
in each of the developmental life stages are described in Super (1990). Accordingly, 
the concept of career maturityŽ was used to denote the degree that a person was able 
to fulfil the vocational developmental tasks required in each developmental stage. 
Partially due to the mixed results obtained in empirical research studies on career 
maturity, there have been suggestions to replace career maturity with the concept of 
adaptability (e.g., Herr, 1997; Savickas, 1997, 2002, 2005).
Whereas the above vocational developmental stages are likely to progress as maxi-
cycles in a persons life journey, Super (1990) postulated that a mini-cycle consisting 
of the same stages from growth to disengagement would likely take place within each 
of the stages, particularly when a person makes transition from one stage to the next. 
In addition, individuals would go through a mini-cycle of the stages whenever they 
have to make expected and unexpected career transitions such as loss of employment 
or due to personal or socioeconomic circumstances (Savickas, 2002).
The contextual emphasis of Supers (1980, 1990) theory is most clearly 
depicted through his postulation of life roles and life space. Life at any moment 
is an aggregate of roles that one is assuming, such as child, student, leisurite, citi-
zen, worker, parent, and homemaker. The salience of different life roles changes 
6 Big Five Career Theories 129
evaluation of the modified measure. The development of culturally valid measures 
is an important pre-requisite toward cross-cultural testing of career development 
The third step to indigenise career theories from within is the development of 
S.A. Leung
occupational and educational exploration. In the USA, occupations and educational 
opportunities (e.g., college majors) have been translated into Holland codes (e.g., 
Holland, 1996), and test takers can conveniently locate these codes from readily 
theories that are relevant/irrelevant and valid/invalid for specific cultures, and to 
Three steps can be identified that should be taken to indigenise career develop-
examine how culture might intervene, moderate, or mediate the hypothesised career 
development and choice process. This would involve critically evaluating these 
6 Big Five Career Theories 119
6 Big Five Career Theories 127
the TWA variables were developed in the USA and should be validated in other 
Hollands Theory of Vocational 
Personalities in Work Environment
In the past few decades, the theory by Holland (1985, 1997) has guided career inter-
est assessment both in the USA and internationally. The theory by Holland offers a 
simple and easy-to-understand typology framework on career interest and environ-
ments that could be used in career counselling and guidance. Holland postulated that 
vocational interest is an expression of ones personality, and that vocational interests 
could be conceptualised into six typologies, which are Realistic (R), Investigative (I), 
Artistic (A), Social (S), Enterprising (E), and Conventional (C). If a persons degree 
of resemblance to the six vocational personality and interest types could be assessed, 
S.A. Leung
6 Big Five Career Theories 117
Career choice and development is thus conceptualised as a continual process or 
cycles of work adjustment initiated by dis-satisfaction and dis-satisfactoriness.
A major strength of TWA is that a battery of measures has been developed to 
measure the various variables associated with the theory, including measures on 
satisfaction, needs and values, skills and abilities, satisfactoriness, and indexes of 
correspondence (Dawis, 2005). A large number of research studies have been con-
ducted in the last few decades to examine the propositions derived from TWA, 
was found that extroverted personality style and congruence were related to a 
higher level of performance ratings, which was consistent with TWA predictions. 
Contrary to expectation, general ability was not found to be a significant predictor 
of performance ratings. In another study by Feij, van der Velde, Taris, and Taris 
6 Big Five Career Theories 125
(2005) outlined a model of career guidance interventions aiming to reduce risk and 
enhance development, encouraging positive adaptation in relation to cognitive 
growth, self-creation, circumscription, and compromise. The model consisted of 
counsellor strategies and tools that could be used to optimize (a) learning and the use 
of complex occupational information, (b) experience and activities that allow children 
and adolescents to understand their career-related personal traits, (c) self-insight to 
construct and conceptualise a future career path that is realistic and feasible, and (d) 
wisdom in self-investment to elevate the odds of successfully implementing preferred 
these frameworks (e.g., D. Brown & Associates, 2002; S. D. Brown & Lent, 2005; 
Swanson & Gore, 2000) have drawn from the literature in the USA. To augment 
the literature, this chapter will adopt an internationalŽ perspective and will seek 
to selectively review studies conducted in regions around the world. With that as a 
backdrop, this chapter aims to achieve three objectives. First, to review the core 
conceptual propositions and the evolvement of the big fiveŽ career development 
models, and discuss specific components of these models that are attractive to 
international career guidance professionals. Second, to review recent international 
empirical work (that is, studies conducted outside of the USA) that has been done 
in relation to the big fiveŽ career development models. Third, to discuss directions 
that researchers and practitioners could take to advance and indigenousŽ the big 
five career theories in their own cultural regions.
Theory of Work Adjustment
The Theory of Work Adjustment (TWA) (Dawis, 2002, 2005; Dawis & Lofquist, 
1984) is a class of theory in career development that is anchored on the  
individual 
difference tradition of vocational behaviour (Dawis, 1992) called person-
 environment correspondence theory, viewing career choice and development as 
continual processes of adjustment and accommodation in which: (a) the person 
(P) looks for work organisations and environments (E) that would match his/her 
requirementsŽ in terms of needs, and (b) E in turn looks for individuals who 
(ages 6…8), and in this stage sex-role norms and attitudes emerge as defining aspect 
Patton, W., & Lokan, J. (2001). Perspectives on Donald Supers construct of career maturity. 
International Journal for Educational and Vocational Guidance, 1