Sub-theme 17: [hybrid] Careers: Failure and Success in Changed Times

Thomas M. Schneidhofer
University Seeburg Castle, Austria
Monika Hamori
IE Business School, Spain
Xiao Chen
University of Prince Edward Island, Canada

Call for Papers

Hybrid sub-theme!
For further information on hybrid sub-themes, please click here.

Careers are “objective patterns of roles or offices” as well as “the subjective experience of the individual […] examined over an extended period of time” (Gunz & Mayrhofer, 2018: 26). Accordingly, people experience career success and failure in both objective and subjective ways: through “observable, measurable, and verifiable accomplishments” such as salary or rank, or through the “psychological experience of success” such as job satisfaction (Hall et al., 2018: 141). Individual and collective career actors – individuals, groups, organizations, or nation states (Gunz & Mayrhofer, 2018) – may jointly influence career outcomes. This multifaceted interplay of structure and agency determines both objective and subjective career success and failure (Schneidhofer et al., 2020).
The dynamics among structure, agency, objective and subjective career success and failure have become even more complex in recent years (Barley et al., 2017). Structural forces such as job impermanence, or workforce changes resulting from globalization and technological advancements have both negative and positive career implications (Callanan et al., 2020). On the one hand, career failure, both objective and subjective, is more probable, in that layoffs (i.e., loss of paychecks) are more likely and technological innovations such as hiring algorithms that determine access to jobs benefit “WEIRD” (Western, educated, industrialized, rich, and democratic) job seekers (Heinrich et al., 2010), but disadvantage the marginalized (e.g., women, ethnic and racial minorities, LGBT+ workers). On the other hand, given the emergence of new organizing forms, novel employment structures and new occupational fields, organizations control careers to a lesser extent than before. People may find more job opportunities and likely experience more subjective success. In changed times, as the dependence from a single career decision declines, career crafting becomes more critical and important (De Vos et al., 2020).
Changed times also affect individuals’ career-related preferences and decisions. Career-related attitudes change with the increasing representation of women and minorities in the labor force. Changing attitudes towards the work-/non-work balance, or parental decisions concerning childcare affect both career failure and success (Mayrhofer et al., 2008). The work-home relation (Greenhaus & Powell, 2014) influences the sustainability of careers, in that occupational choices or job changes depend on issues like spouse supportiveness.
Against this backdrop we invite papers which address, but are not restricted to, the following themes and issues related to career failure and success:

  • The interplay of structure and agency, or micro and macro factors

  • The importance of time for careers

  • Intersectional perspectives on careers

  • The emergence of new careers, alternative career paths or work arrangements, occupations, or occupational fields, and careers in the gig economy

  • The careers of the marginalized

  • The work-home perspective on careers

  • The impact of technological change on careers

  • (Un-)Sustainable careers

  • Career shocks

  • Employment breaks as the “new normal”

  • Organizational and career entry and exit

  • Global careers: careers across geographical and cultural contexts

  • Network perspectives of careers

Papers can be conceptual, empirical, methodological, or combine any of these angles. We welcome submissions from scholars from a variety of areas including career studies, HRM, industrial relations, organizational behaviour, and organization studies.


  • Barley, S.R., Bechky, B.A., & Milliken, F.J. (2017): “The changing nature of work: careers, identities, and work lives in the 21st century.” Academy of Management Discoveries, 3 (2), 1–12.
  • Callanan, G.A., Peiperl, M.A., & Arthur, M.B. (2020): “The past, present and future of 21st-century careers.” In: H. Gunz, M. Lazarova, & W. Mayrhofer (eds.): The Routledge Companion to Career Studies. London: Routledge, 410–420.
  • De Vos, A., Akkermanns, J., & van der Heijden, B. (2020): “From occupational choice to career crafting.” In: H. Gunz, M. Lazarova, & W. Mayrhofer (eds.): The Routledge Companion to Career Studies. London: Routledge, 128-142.
  • Greenhaus, J.H., & Powell, G.N. (2014): “The contemporary career: A work-home perspective.” Annual Review of Organizational Psychology and Organizational Behavior, 1 (1), 361–388.
  • Gunz, H.P., & Mayrhofer, W. (2018): Rethinking Career Studies: Facilitating Conversation Across Boundaries with the Social Chronology Framework. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Hall, D.T., Yip, J., & Doiron, K. (2018): “Protean careers at work: Self-direction and values orientation in psychological success.” Annual Review of Organizational Psychology and Organizational Behavior, 5 (1), 129–156.
  • Heinrich, J., Heine, S.J., & Norenzayan, A. (2010): “Most people are not WEIRD.” Nature, 466 (7302), 29.
  • Mayrhofer, W., Meyer, M., Schiffinger, M., & Schmidt, A. (2008): “The influence of family responsibilities, career fields and gender on career success: An empirical study.” Journal of Managerial Psychology, 23 (3), 292–323.
  • Schneidhofer, T.M., Hofbauer, J., & Tatli, A. (2020): “On the agency/structure debate in careers research: a bridge over troubled water.” In: H.P. Gunz, M. Lazarova, & W. Mayrhofer (eds.): Routledge Companion to Career Studies. New York: Routledge, 59–74.
Thomas M. Schneidhofer is currently professor for HR and Organization at the Seeburg Castle University, Austria. His research interests include the development of Pierre Bourdieu’s practice theory to the study of careers, with special emphasis on power and gender. Thomas has published in journals such as the ‘Journal of Vocational Behavior’, ‘Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology’, or ‘Equality, Diversity and Inclusion: An International Journal’.
Monika Hamori is Professor of HRM at IE Business School in Madrid, Spain. Her research focuses on various aspects of careers: executive search firms and labor market intermediaries, top executive careers, gender and career advancement and employee development. Monika’s work appeared in ‘Organization Science,’ the ‘Journal of Applied Psychology’, the ‘Strategic Management Journal’, and ‘Human Resource Management’, among others, as well as in practitioner outlets such as the ‘Harvard Business Review’ and the ‘Sloan Management Review’.
Xiao Chen is an Assistant Professor of Management at the Faculty of Business, University of Prince Edward Island, Canada. His primary research interests include the effects of goal setting/priming in organizational behavior and human resource management and cross-cultural management. Xiao’s scholarly work has appeared in ‘Organizational Behavior & Human Decision Processes’, ‘Applied Psychology: An International Review’, and at conferences of the Academy of Management, the European Group for Organizational Studies, and others.