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10, 117-133 (1989)

Life stage versus career stage: A comparative test of the theories of Levinson and Super
Suffolk University. 8 Ashburton Piace. Boston, MA 02108. U.S.A. AND


Edwin L. Co.x School of Business. Southern Methodist University, Dallas, TX 75275. U.S.A.


Using survey data collected from 535 salespeople, a study comparing the career development models of Levinson et al. (1978) and Super (1957) was conducted. Support was found for both models. The Levinson et at. model is more closely related to individuals' career decisions, while the Super model is more closely related to individual's job attitudes. Implications and future directions are proposed.

Over the past six years there have been numerous studies exatnining the effects of age and career stage on individuals'job attitudes and performance (Blackburn and Fox, 1983; Cron and Slocum, 1986; Hafer, 1986; Mount, 1984; Rabinowitz and Hall, 1981; Rush, Peacock and Milkovich, 1980; Slocum and Cron, 1985; Stumpf and Rabinowitz, 1981). The driving force behind these studies is the intuitive appeal that if people move through patterns of adjustment to their life in general and careers in particular, then identifying the patterns and issues associated with various ages and stages may help our understanding of individuals' attitudes and behaviors in organizations. From a human resource and managerial perspective, this understanding may allow for more effective organizational career planning programs as well as provide managers with more accurate explanations and predictions about their subordinates and their own feelings and actions both on and off their jobs. Although a large number of studies based on the models of life development or career stage have been completed, little integration among the studies and theories on which the studies have been based has taken place. No research has compared the two theoretical models that have served as the basis for the vast majority of career development studiesthe model of life development (age) proposed by Levinson, Darrow, Klein, Levinson, and McKee (1978; Levinson, 1986) and the career stage development model (stage) proposed by Super (1957). Because these
The authors appreciate the helpful comments of Janina Latack, Sam Rabinowitz. and two anonymous reviewers. Support for this research was made through the sponsoring organizations and the Bureau of Research, Edwin L. Cox School of Business, Southern Methodist University, Dallas, TX. Please address all corre.spondence to the first author.

0894-3796/89/020117-I7$O8.5O 1989 by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Received 12 May 1987 Revised 28 September 1987



models make different predictions about individuals' adjustments and reactions to their careers over time, this study was developed to test the predictions made by each model and to determine if one or the other or a combination of these two models provides a clearer understanding of career development.

Theoretical Models
Levinson's model of life development
Based on in-depth interviews with 40 men conducted over a two-year period, Levinson et al. (1978) proposed a model of life development. The central thesis of this model is that people (men, at least), no matter what occupation or background, will grow through specific life stages during which there are different crucial activities and psychological adjustments that must be completed. According to Levinson et al., these periods are closely associated with one's biological age. They have identified four 'life eras'childhood (0-20) (as this period of time is of little organizational Table 1. Levison's life stage development model Life stage (age) Early adulthood (20-40) Early adult transitions (17-22) Tasks to be accomplished To begin thinking about one's place in the world separate from the institutions of youth (e.g. parents, school) To test one's initial choices about preferences for adult living To develop a sense of personal identity in the world of work and nonwork (e.g. family, community) To evaluate accomplishments of the 2O's and make adjustments to the life structure adopted To strive toward achievement of personal and professional goals To make strong commitments to work, family, and community Middle adulthood (40-60) Mid-life transition (40-45) To review life structure adopted in the 3O's To recognize mortality and limits on achievements and answer the questions raised by these issues Entering middle adulthood (46-50) To develop greater stability as answers to questions posed in earlier stage are incorporated into mindset To raise questions about life structure previously adopted To answer questions previously raised and adjusted to life choices

Entering the adult world (23-28)

Thirties transition (29-33)

Settling down (34-39)

Fifties transition (51-55) Culmination of middle adulthood (56-60)



interest, it will not be further discussed), early adulthood (20-40), middle adulthood (40-60), and late adulthood (over 60). As indicated in Table 1, more specific substages associated with particular career issues are identified. This model has fostered a good deal of research on individuals' career adjustment as influenced and moderated by age. Much of this research, however, does not directly test the model identified by Levinson, et al. For example, Rhodes (1983) reviewed over 185 studies that explored age as a correlate of various job attitudes and behaviors. She found that across the majority of studies age was positively correlated with overall job satisfaction, job involvement, organizational commitment and was negatively correlated with turnover. None of the studies specifically looked at variations across age categories as suggested by Levinson. Similarly, although Gould (1979), Slocum and Cron (1985), and Hafer (1986) divided their samples by age classification, they all have operationalized age categories as under 30, 31-45, and over 46. Given Levinson et al.'s suggestions about the various stages that exist between the ages of 31 and 45, it is no surprise that these researchers only found differences in job attitudes in those under 30 years of age. Different age categories have also been explored by Hall and Mansfield (1975) and Rabinowitz and Hall (1981). In these two studies, people were categorized by ages 21-35, 36-50, and over 51. Interestingly, although they found that age moderated the relationship between job involvement and various job attitudes, no differences in job attitudes were found across age groups. The few studies that have used the Levinson et al. operationalization of age categories have not focused generally on organization commitment, involvement, satisfaction, and performance. For example, Blackburn and Fox (1983) found that the values physicians placed on the teaching of medicine varied across the different life stages. Similarly, Alderfer and Guzzo (1979) found that, as predicted by Levinson et al., people would seek different levels of psychological growth at different stages. In yet a different operationalization of life stages. Rush et al. (1980) gave subjects vignettes describing the tasks and psychological adjustments expected at different life periods (no ages were given) and asked subjects to choose the vignette that best represented their current life stage. Using these classifications. Rush et al. reported no differences across groups in terms of job commitment, satisfaction or performance. This study seeks to more directly examine the Levinson et al. model than has been done in the past. Table 1 lists the important developmental tasks associated with each life stage. Although Levinson proposes that individuals will differ in how they attempt to work on these tasks and how successfully they will be resolved, it is argued below that the nature of the developmental tasks will allow certain career attitudes and perceptions to dominate individual life stages. Thus, the early adult stages involve the tasks of both making commitments and of keeping options open. Individuals will vary in the relative emphasis given to these tasksthey may virtually ignore one, they may vacillate between the two, or they may work on each in different spheres of life. Based on the contention that the entry to the adult world phase is provisional in terms of an individual's commitments to an organization, other people, and activities, it is hypothesized that individuals in this phase of their life will be less committed to their organizations, less involved in their jobs, and less satisfied with their work in general than Individuals in any other age group. Similarly, it is hypothesized that people in this group will express greater intentions to leave their organization and willingness to relocate due to their attempts at continued career and life exploration than people in other age groups. Due to their lack of work experience, it is predicted that the job performance of individuals in this life stage will be lower than that of individuals in any other life stage. The age 30 transition is a time of instability and change. It is expected that commitment, involvement, and satisfaction will remain relatively low during this period of time. Due to instability and change, it is predicted that individuals at this time in their life will express greater



intentions to leave their eompany and to reloeate than at all periods of time other than during the entering adult world phase. It is predicted that the job performanee of people in this stage will be improved over those still in the entering the adult world stage, but lower than for people in other life stages. This increase in performance can be accounted for by the greater work experience of people in the age 30 transition stage. The settling down period of the mid-late thirties in which people are concerned with reestablishment of personal and professional goals and striving for advancement is likely to be the period of greatest organizational commitment, job involvement, satisfaction, and performance. Additionally, it is hypothesized that individuals in this life stage will be less likely than those in the two earlier stages to express an interest in leaving the organization or in geographically relocating due to their concern for stability and settling down in a community. It is expected that individuals between the ages of 34-39 will be more interested in attaining promotionsand will want them sooner rather than laterthan individuals in other life stages. This is based on their striving for professional advancement and accomplishment. The mid-life transition, with its concomitant questioning and redirection, is likely to be a time of decreased organizational commitment, involvement, satisfaction, and performance relative to the settling dowfn stage. It is during this stage that Levinson et al. suggest individuals start questioning the importance ofwork in their lives. Because of refocus on family, it is expected that people at this age will express less intention to leave or relocate than people in the three earlier life stages. This mobility reluctance can be derived from individuals' desire not to disrupt the family (which at this point in time is likely to involve teenagers) to achieve greater organizational attainment(s). Entering middle adulthood is suggested to be a stage of relative tranquility during which adjustments are made to decisions and actions taken during the mid-life transition. It is expected that organizational commitment, involvement, satisfaction, and performance will all improve during this period relative to the previous life stage. It is not expected, however, that these attitudes and behaviors will be as strong (positive) as they were during the settling down period. This is because the entering middle adulthood stage is less filled with pressure to advance and meet personally determined goals than is the settling down stage. Levinson et al. clearly identify that the age 50 transition will be more or less marred by conflict, questioning, and change depending on the resolution of the individual's mid-life transition. Assuming a mild degree of uncertainty about one's career aspirations and accomplishments at this stage, it is expected that job attitudes such as organizational commitment, job involvement, and overall satisfaction will be lower during this period than in the stages immediately preceding and proceeding this one. By this point in the career, however, it is expected that other career attitudes and performances will remain stable. Finally, as individuals reach the culmination of middle adulthood, stability again returns as individuals come to accept their work and family situation. Based on this, it is expected that job attitudes and performance will remain stable.

Super's career development stages

' . . . my conceptual scheme differs radically from Levinson and others' (1978) formulation. Although Levinson's scheme resembles mine when it is put in comparable graphic form, he views the stages as rather firmly determined and as progressing in well-ordered sequence. My formulation has sought to make it clear that not only are the ages of transition very flexible, but each transition involves a recycling through the stages, a "minicycle"' (Super, 1984, p. 200). Super clearly points out the key difference between his formulation of career stages and that of Levinson et al. is that his model is one determined by an individual's current circumstances and

LIFE STAGE VERSUS CAREER STAGE Table 2. Super's career development model Career stages Trial Psychological tasks that characterize each stage To identify interests, capabilities, fit between self and work, and professional self-image Establishment To increase commitments to career, career advancement, and growth To develop a stable work and personal life Maintenance Decline To hold onto accomplishments earlier achieved To maintain self-concept To develop a new self-image that is independent of career success


perceptions, whereas Levinson et al.'s is determined strictly by age. Although similar to Levinson et al. in identifying 'minicycles' or subsystems of each major career- stage. Super and the researchers employing his model have focused primarily on four major career stages. These four stages are known as trial, establishment, maintenance, and decline and are described in Table 2. Although it is generally expected that these stages proceed in chronological order, it is possible for individuals to be at any stage at various points in their lives/careers. People can recycle through these stages when major changes occur (e.g. change in job, company, and occupation) in their career (Stout, Slocum and Cron, 1987). There has been a paucity of research that has directly examined the model proposed by Super. The majority of research on career stage has used his terminology (i.e. trial, establishment, maintenance, decline) but has deviated from the theoretical rationale explicated by Super. Most of the studies on Super's career stages have operationalized these stages by age rather than psychological fit to a specific stage. For example, Gould (1979) and Slocum and Cron (1985) both identified people as being in the trial stage if they are less than 30 years old, in the establishment stage if they are between 31 and 44, and in the maintenance stage if they are over 45. Using these groupings, Gould found that satisfaction was highest in the trial stage (contrary to expectations) and that performance was highest in the establishment stage. Slocum and Cron (1985) found exactly the opposite. They found that the highest performers in their sample were those in the maintenance stage and that individuals in the trial stage were less satisfied with their work than people in any of the other stages. Other researchers have operationalized Super's stages by the amount of time an individual has been in a job (Gould and Hawkins, 1978; Mount, 1984; Stumpf and Rabinowitz, 1981). Specifically, these researchers operationalized the trial stage as less than 2 years on the job, the establishment stage as between 2 and 10 years on the job, and the maintenance stage as over 10 years on the job. In these studies it was found that satisfaction and performance varied across the stages, but not in any consistent order. In one study that directly tested the model of Super (1957) and Super, Zelkowitz and Thompson (1981), Cron and Slocum (1986) found that people in the trial stage were significantly less satisfied, involved, and challenged in their job, and were poorer performers than individuals in any of the other stages. Based on these findings and the conceptual suggestions of Super, 22 hypotheses are proposed. It is expected that individuals in the trial stage of their career will be less committed to their organization, less involved with their jobs, and less satisfied with their work than individuals in the establishment, maintenance, and decline stages. This is based on the exploratory nature of the trial stage, as well as previous findings (e.g. Cron and Slocum, 1986). Based on the process of exploration and lack of experience of people in the trial stage, it is also hypothesized that these individuals will be poorer performers than people in any of the other stages. Finally, as people in the trial stage are uncertain and looking to find their career niche, it is expected that people in this



Stage will express the greatest intentions to leave their jobs and willingness to geographically relocate. Because the establishment stage is a time of growth, advancement, and stabilization, it is expected that individuals in this stage will express the greatest commitment to, involvement in, and satisfaction for their jobs and employing organizations. It is also expected that these people will be significantly better performers than individuals in the trial stage. Based on the increased need for advancement and achievement during this stage, it is hypothesized that individuals in the establishment stage will express the greatest willingness to relocate to further their careers the highest promotion aspirations, and a greater desire for more immediate promotions than will individuals in any other stage. As the maintenance stage is in essence an adaptation to the achievements of the establishment stage, it is expected that job attitudes and performance will remain at essentially the same levels they reached during the establishment stage. The decline stage in which people are withdrawing from their jobs/careers is expected to be a time of less positive job attitudes and poorer job performance than exhibited in the prior two stages. Because they are withdrawing from their job/career, it is expected that individuals at this stage will be least willing to relocate for the company. Super suggests people may be in any career stage at various times in their life, while Levinson et al suggests that career development is linear and progresses according to biological age. Accordingly, these models make different predictions about the attitudes and behaviors that people are likely to experience over the course of their career. Because it is not at all clear which model may best account for differences in job attitudes and behaviors, no specific hypotheses regarding comparisons of the models were developed. Similarly, although it is expected that there will be interactions between these models, these could be of any nature. No hypotheses can be a priori specified.

Subjects and procedure
Five hundred and thirty-five salespeople (96 per cent male) employed at seven different firms participated in this study. The employing organizations all manufacture industrial equipment and supplies and sell these items on a national basis. Although sales is an entry level position in all these firms, it is a position in which many individuals remain for their entire career. This is reflected in the age range (21-69) of the respondents. The mean average for the sample was 39.3 years. Survey booklets containing all the measures to be used in this study were distributed to salespeople in two ways. Two-thirds of salespeople participated in the study at their national sales meetings. The other third participated at meetings held at their home offices.' All surveys were administered by one of the researchers.

Career stage Super e( al (1981) Career Concerns InventoryAdult Form was used to determine individual career stage. Each stage was measured by 15 Likert-type scales. Salespeople responded on a scale
'No differences were found between those people who completed the survey at their national meetings or home office.



of 1 to 5, where 3 indicated the scale item represented a current career concern for the individual, 1 indicated the item had never concerned the individual, and 5 indicated the item was no longer of concern for the individual. People were classified as being in the stage in which their average score was closest to three. Internal consistency reliabilities for each subscale were: trial, a = 0.94; establishment, a = 0.91; maintenance, a = 0.88; decline, a = 0.92. Career attitudes One item was selected from Veiga's (1981) study. Intention to leave was measured by asking salespeople about their plan for working for the same company in five years. This was measured on a 5-point scale where 1 indicated the salesperson would definitely be working for the same company and 5 indicated the salesperson would definitely not be at the same company. Three other items were selected from Slocum and Cron (1985). Willingness to relocate was determined by asking if the individual would be willing to relocate if a promotion required a move. This was rated on a 7-point scale from 1 (very unlikely) to 7 (very likely). Promotional aspiration was determined by asking individuals to rate whether they definitely wanted to get promoted (1) or did not want to get promoted (7). Finally, salespeople were asked about their preferences for the timing of subsequent promotions. They were asked to indicate whether they would like a promotion immediately (1) or never (7). Job attitudes Three measures of job attitudes were adapted from the work of Hall (Hall and Lawler, 1970; Hall, Goodale, Rabinowitz and Morgan, 1978). Job involvement, the extent to which individuals psychologically identify with their jobs, was assessed on a4-item Likert-type scale (a = 0.80). Job challenge, the extent to which individuals feel their jobs are challenging and utilizes their skills, was assessed on a 4-item Likert-type scale (a = 0.79). Psychological success, measuring an individual's feeling of competence, was assessed on a 6-item Likert-type scale (a = 0.75). Job satisfaction Job satisfaction was measured using Smith, Kendall and Hulin's (1969) Job Descriptive Index. This index measures satisfaction on five dimensions: work (a = 0.69), supervision (a = 0.87), pay (a = 0.73), promotion (a = 0.86), and co-workers (a = 0.87). A measure of overall satisfaction was also determined (a = 0.91). Organizational commitment Porter, Steers, Mowday and Boulian's (1974) Organizational Commitment Questionnaire was used to determine individual's dedication and loyalty to their employing organizations. This 15-item Likert-type scale has often been used in organizational research and was found to have a reliability of a = 0.82. Performance Each individual salesperson's performance was assessed by managerial ratings on seven dimensions of sales performance. These dimensions included sales volume, new account development, full-line selling, leadership ability, planning, initiative, and resourcefulness. These dimensions have been found to be representative of criteria generally used to assess salespeople's performance (Stanton and Buskirk, 1983; Slocum, Cron, Hansen and Rawlings, 1985). A final measure of performance was determined by summing together the managers' ratings on each of these dimensions (a = 0.89).



Construct validity for this performance measure was evaluated by comparing the sales manager's ratings with each salesperson's actual sales volume for the operating year in which the data were collected. While the job scope for salespeople in this study includes a variety of non-selling activities, short-term sales volume is the primary responsibility of each company's salespeople and should be positively related to overall performance evaluation. The average correlation between annual sales volume and the field sales manager's ratings was r = 0.59 {p <0.01). The correlations ranged from 0.36 to 0.71.

Data analysis
Preliminary analyses To determine if the various sets of dependent variables actually assessed different constructs, multiple analyses of variance (MANOVA) were conducted. Each of the four career attitude items were included in the first MANOVA. The three job attitude measures were included in the second MANOVA. The five facets of job satisfaction were included in the third MANOVA. The three dimensions corresponding to personal definitions of success were entered in the fourth MANOVA. For each MANOVA, the Wilk's criteria was computed and in each case a highly significant F value was found (all/>'s <0.001). Tests of hypotheses Hypothesis testing proceeded along two lines. Planned contrasts were conducted to assess the specific predictions about the patterns of responses across age categories. In addition, to determine any other systematic variation in responses across ages, analyses of variance (ANOVA)and where appropriate Newman-Keuls/7oj/-/?oc testswere conducted.

Levinson's life stages
Only one-third of the hypotheses regarding Levinson's life stages were supported by the planned contrasts. In general, many of the hypotheses about the earlier stages were supported while few involving the later stages were supported. Entering the adult world As indicated in Table 3, three of the six hypotheses were supported via the planned contrasts. As predicted, job involvement was found to be significantly lower at this age than in all other age categories (F= 4.64,/? <0.05). Intentions to leave the company and willingness to relocate were greater than in any other age group (respectively, F- 4.33,p <0.05; F- 8.73,p<0.005). Contrary to expectations, sales performance ratings were found to be significantly higher than in all other ages {F - 4.5, p <0.05). No support was found for the predictions that job satisfaction and organizational commitment would be less than at any other age. The ANOVAs (presented in Table 4) and post-hoc tests revealed few differences between individuals in the entering the adult world phase and people in the six other life stages. Table 5 indicates the only two differences that were identified. Individuals at this age were more interested in being promoted and wanted these promotions sooner than were people at any other age.



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S. ORNSTEIN, W. L. CRON AND J. W. SLOCUM JR Table 4. Results of 2-factor ANOVA for all dependent variables Age' Dependent variable Intention to leave Relocation Promotion aspiration Promotion timing Job involvement Job challenge Psychological success Performance Overall satisfaction Work satisfaction Supervisor satisfaction Pay satisfaction Promotion satisfaction Co-worker satisfaction Organizational commitment Stage"

4.59t 7.30t 12.40J 4.101 3.97t 2.52 1.35 1.21 1.58 1.01 0.81 1.22 5.4lt I.IO 1.58 0.05 0.07 0.12 0.01 0.04 0.03 0.01 0.01 0.02 0.01 0.01 0.01 0.06 0.01 0.02

l4.20t 7.65t 9.3lt 5.5Ot 10.34J 4.56t 13.48t 8.05J 5.70t 2.79* 3.88* 1.04 2.87* 2.08 15.04t 0.07 0.04 0.05 0.03 0.05 0.02 0.07 0.05 0.03 0.02 0.02 0.01 0.01 0.01 0.08

Agex stage' n' F .23 0.04 0.98 0.03 0.01 0.48 0.42 0.01 .81* 0.05 '' J.82t 0.09 ().77 0.02 .38 0.05 .80* 0.06 .82* 0.06 ().69 0.02 .32 0.04 .31 0.04 .22 0.04 .92* 0.06

'df- 18. *p<0.05. tp<0.01. tP<O.OOI.

Age 30 transition Of the 7 hypotheses involving individuals at this life stage, two were supported by the planned contrasts. Job involvement was found to be significantly lower during this period than in all periods other than entering the adult world (F= 13.61, p <0.00I). Similarly, as hypothesized, intention to leave was greater in this stage than in all subsequent periods (F= 12.84, p <0.0005). Contrary to expectations, individuals at this age groups were much less willing to relocate if their jobs required it than were people in the previous phase (F= 4.34,/) <0.05). Similarly, contrary to the hypothesis, they were equally willing to relocate as individuals in all the other age groups. The predictions that commitment and satisfaction would be lower during the thirties transition due to instability were not supported. Finally, sales performance was not determined to be significantly better during the thirties transition than it was in the previous stage nor was it found to be significantly worse than in all subsequent stages. As indicated in Table 5, the post-hoc analyses revealed no additional differences between the responses of people in this phase and those in the others. Settling down Surprisingly, none of the hypotheses regarding this life stage were supported by the planned contrasts. Individuals at this period of time were expected to be more committed, involved, and satisified with their work, desire promotions and desire them more immediately than people at other ages. It was also expected that due to the desire for advancement and achievement people at this time would be the best performers. Because of the stability component of this stage, it was expected individuals at this age would be less willing to either leave the company or relocate with the company than people at younger ages. The post-hoc test (see Table 5) also revealed little differentiation between this phase and the others. In no cases were the responses of individuals at this phase significantly different from all, or even the majority, of other groups.



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Mid-life transition

Only two of six of these hypotheses were supported by the planned contrasts. It was found that people at this stage were less likely to leave their company and less willing to relocate than people in the three earlier stages (respectively, F - 4.86, p <0.05; F = 4.41, p <0.05). Neither commitment, involvement, satisfaction, nor sales performance were lower than in the previous stages as expected. Although the contrasts yielded few statistically significant results, i\\t post-hoc tests revealed an interesting pattern. An examination of the pattern of means shows a gradual shift in career attitudes at this life stage. The means in this stage are similar to those in both the preceding and proceeding stages although the means in those stages generally differ. Thus, although there is weak support for the contentions of Levinson et al for a significant decrease in individual's job and career attitudes at this point, it may be that a gradual transition does begin to take place at this life stage.
Other life stages

None of the planned contrasts supported any of the hypotheses. Similarly, the post-hoc tests revealed virtually no differences among these groups on any dimension. The only significant finding is that individuals in the culminating middle adulthood phase (56-60) were much less satisfied with their promotional opportunities than were people at any other stage.

Super's career stages

As indicated in Table 6, half of the hypotheses regarding Super's career stages were supported by the planned contrasts. Support was spread equally across the four stages.

Table 6. Results of hypothesis testing about career stages Trial Dependent variables Organizational commitment Job involvement Overall satisfaction Intention to leave Willingness to relocate Performance Promotion aspiration Promotion timing p <0.05.
tp<0.001. NH indicates no specific hypothesis was generated. Contrast revealed these means were not significantly different as predicted.


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Planned contrasts provided support for two of the hypotheses about individuals in the trial stage of their career development. Individuals at this stage were found to be less committed to their company than individuals in the establishment, maintenance, and decline stages of their careers (F = 7.10, p <0.01). The planned contrasts supported the hypothesis that people at this stage would be poorer performers than those in the other three stages (F = 24.46, p <0.0001). No support was found for the predictions that people in the trial stage would be less involved in their work and less satisfied than others. Similarly, no support was found for individuals in this stage expressing greater intention of leaving or being more willing to relocate than others. The ANOVAs (see Table 4) and post-hoc tests revealed many differences between the attitudes of people in the trial stage and the other three stages. The post-hoc analysis is a more liberal test than the planned contrasts and revealed that individuals in the trial stage were much more likely to express intentions to leave than individuals in the other three stages (see Table 7). Additionally, ihe post-hoc tests revealed that these people were much less satisfiedon an overall basis as well as with work and their supervisorsthan were the others. The analyses also indicated that trial stage individuals were less challenged in their jobs and perceived themselves as less successful than did people in the other stages.

The planned contrasts supported the hypotheses regarding desire for promotion ( F = 3.91,/? <0.05), immediacy of desired promotion (F= 2.29,p <0.05), and willingness to relocate {F= 3.39, p <0.05). In all cases, people in this stage wanted promotions, wanted them sooner than people in the other stages, and would consider a relocation to gain a promotion. Commitment was also found to be greater than in the trial and decline stages {F= 5.25,p <0.05). Performance was found to be significantly greater in this stage than in the previous trial stage (F= 24.78, p <0.0001).

Table 7. Means for all dependent variables according to stage Trial Establishment (n= 189)
X = 37.9 8= 11.1 1.8691b 4.4031a 2.7696c 3.5027b 15.3613a 19.7749a 31.7460a 23.9769o IO.682la 2.3167a 2.5114a 1.6066 1.9071a 19.1368a

in = 74)
X* = 33.5

Stage Maintenance (n = 2IO)

X = 40.0 6=11.4 1.8226b 3.9858a 3.4450b

Dependent variable Intention to leave Relocation Promotion aspiration Promotion timing Job involvement Job challenge Psychological success Performance Overall satisfaction Work satisfaction Supervisor satisfaction Pay satisfaction Promotion satisfaction Co-worker satisfaction Organizational commitment

8* = 8.2
2.57333 4.3514a 3.0667b.c 3.6986a,b 13.0676b 18.3919b 28.4324b 20.3714b 9.5294b 2.1127b 2.2029b

Decline (n = 62) ^ = 48.1 6=10.6

1.731 lb 3.0323b

1.5278 1.5833. 18.4533, 7l.52IOb


4.0874a 15.7299a 19.6698, 32.5498a 23.0615a 10.7264, 2.3301, 2.4851, 1.6942 1.8350, 19.2028a 81.943a

3.9516, 4.0164, 15.7099, 19.2581, 33.0161, 24.1167a 10.3818, 2.2881, 2.5818, 1.7000 1.6102, I8.758la 80.355,

*Means and standard deviations are reported for the ages of people within each stage. Across rows, means not sharing a common subscript differ at the 0.05 level or beyond according to the Newman-Keuls procedure.



Neither of the hypotheses regarding job involvement and overall satisfaction were supported by the planned contrasts. However, as shown in Table 7, the post-hoc tests indicated that individuals in this stage were more involved, challenged, psychologically successful, and satisfied (on all dimensions) than people in the trial stage. Thus, there does seem to be some support for there being a change in attitudes between the first and second career stages. Maintenance It was hypothesized that attitudes and performance would remain stable in this stage relative to their levels in the establishment stage. In all cases, this was found to be true. The post-hoc tests reveal only two differences between maintenance and establishment stage responses. Individuals in the maintenance stage are less interested in promotions and would like these promotions further in the future than would those in the establishment stage. In interpreting these results, however, one must keep in mind that these maintenance stage people have selfselected to remain in sales and with their organizations. Decline As hypothesized, individuals in the decline stage indicated less willingness than all others to relocate for their jobs (F- 5.61, p <0.05). No other hypotheses were supported. Contrary to our hypotheses, people at this stage did not express poorer attitudes and were not poorer performers than people in other stages. Perhaps the criteria sales managers use to evaluate performance changes according to a person's seniority.

Supplementary analyses
Interactions As indicated in Table 4, interactions between age and stage were found for five variables^j involvement, job challenge, organizational commitment, overall job satisfaction, and satisfaction with work. In all cases, the cause of the interaction is the differences in responses of people in the entering adult world and trial stages. Among people in the trial stage, those between the ages of 22-28 (i.e. in the entering adult world stage) had significantly more positive attitudes than those who were older than 29 (i.e. in latter life stages). Comparisons of age and stage model Although no explicit hypotheses were stated concerning the predictive power of either career model, one of the stated reasons for this study was to determine which, if either, model explained more of the variation in individuals' attitudes and behavior across their careers. To determine this, eta squares (rj^), indicating the amount of variance accounted for by each effect were computed for each main effect and interaction. As shown in Table 4, none of these main effects accounted for a great deal of variance. Neither model appeared to do a significantly better job than the other across all dependent variables. Levinson's model seems to account for more variance than Super's model when the dependent variables are external to the work itself (e.g. relocation, promotion aspiration, pay satisfaction, and promotions satisfaction). Super's model, on the other hand, accounted for more variance when individual perceptions about the work itself were the focal issues (e.g. intentions to leave, job involvement, psychological success, organizational commitment, and overall satisfaction). Super's model accounted for significantly more variance in sales performance than did Levinson's model.



The results of this study suggest that both Levinson et a/.'s adult development model and Super's career stage model contribute to an understanding of career development. As expected given the different foci of each model, the Levinson et al. model better explains individuals' attitudes and behavioral intentions about events external to the work itself (e.g. promotional aspirations, willingness to leave the company), while the Super model focuses on attitudes relative to the work itself (e.g. job involvement, satisfaction). The results of this study support Levinson et a/.'s contentions about the early phase of a career. They suggest that early on in a career, people only make provisional commitments to their jobs. This was supported by the findings that people in the entering adult world stage and the thirties transition phase were less involved in their jobs and were more willing to relocate and leave their company than were people at any other age. Our findings did not, however, confirm the prediction that people in their mid-late thirties would settle down in to their jobs and become more involved, committed, and satisfied. Nor did our findings confirm the contentions by Levinson that individuals at the mid-life transition would suddenly be less interested in their work. One possible explanation for this lack of support can be attributed to the specific measures selected for this study. We found the Levinson model better explained variables that were external to the work itself, while the vast majority of measures selected for use in this study assessed individuals attitudes toward their jobs. Another possible explanation is cohort effects. These effects 'are the result of successive cohorts bearing the stamp of their childhood environments' (Rhodes, 1983, p. 330). Our results may reflect variations in values and norms accepted by people of different ages. Even though there is not strong statistical support for the Levinson model, the overall pattern of means was generally in the predicted direction. The trend of support for the Super model was similar to that for the Levinson et al. model. The findings support the prediction that individuals in the trial stages of their careers were less committed, satisfied, involved, and challenged by their jobs and were evaluated by their immediate superior as being poorer performers than people in other career stages. The findings also support the predictions that individuals in the establishment and maintenance stages will have similar attitudes toward work. The surprise findings were that people at the decline stage did not report lesser degrees of job satisfaction, commitment and involvement with their work although they were less interested in promotions and relocations. Looking across both models, two findings stand out as particularly interesting. First, although the average age of individuals increases from the trial through decline stages (as may be expected), people in the middle two stagesestablishment and maintenanceare much closer to each other in age than they are to people in either other stage. This may help account for their sharing similar attitudes toward work. Looking at the average ages of people in these stages {X = 37.9, X = 40.0 respectively) it also comes as little surprise that their work attitudes are similar to those expressed by people in Levinson's settling down and mid-life transition stages (where the ages are 33-39, 40-44, respectively). Second, it is particularly interesting to note that most often the differences across age and stage categories were between individuals in the first category (entering adult work, trial) and individuals in all other categories. A similar pattern of results has been reported by Gould and Hawkins (1978), Stumpf and Rabinowitz (1981), and Hafer (1986). These researchers found that the first stage (defined in terms of age or time on the job) was most different from the others. The beginning phase of a careerdefined by age or psychological adjustmentis the one that is most distinctly different from the others. One reason for this may be because at the beginning of a career most people have a similar lack of work experience that results in less variance in perceptions about work compared to people in other stages. Another explanation is



that the early stages of adjusting to work are qualitatively different from the mid and late stages due to the unfamiliarity of the adjustment process involved at work and outside of work. Based on Levinson et al.'s contention that there are life periods of stability followed by periods of questioning and change and Super's contention that people maintain relatively stable attitudes toward their job and company across their career stages, it was expected that there would be many significant interactions. Our data indicated numerous main effects, thus indicating that these models appear to be related to different attitudes and behavioral intentions. This pattern of results mitigates against interactions. In the five cases where there were interactions, they could all be accounted for by significant variation within the preliminary career stages. For each variable, attitudes were more positive for employees in the entering adult world stage than they were in the trial stage. This created a statistical interaction when all the rest of the scores across all the rest of the stages were essentially equal. An explanation for this may lie in the distribution of ages within the trial stage. Only 22 (of the 74) people in the trial stage were between the ages of 22 and 28 and the mean age in the trial stage was 33.5 compared to the mean age in the entering adult world stage of 25. It may be that as people get older and have not yet psychologically advanced out of the initial career stage, they develop less positive attitudes toward work and their employing organization (note that the five interactions all occurred for job and organization specific attitudes). The results of this study suggest that managers and human resource professionals may want to target their career programs toward those employees in their early career stages. Because there is greater similarity in responses of these people, programs directed at their needs may be more efficient than programs developed for people more advanced in their careers. Specifically, these programs might focus on increased organizational socialization and better job training to improve performance. In addition, programs to increase managerial awareness of early career issues may be helpful. Finally, this study suggests numerous directions for future research. For instance, although the amount of variance explained by life and career stages is generally in line with that of similar field studies (Peterson, Albaum and Beltramini, 1985), there is considerable unexplained variance in all the dependent measures examined. This suggests that future research on both career and life stages should investigate the possibility of intervening and moderating variables infiuencing attitudes and behaviors during specific career stages. A particularly fruitful direction for future research would be the influence of organization structures on individual behavior and attitudes during different career and life stages. For example, Cron and Slocum (1986) observed that territories with different sales growth and competitive dominance characteristics influenced sales force performance differently across the various career stages. Another line of research is suggested based on the process of maturity or experience that accounts for reasons why some people move through all four of Super's stages in sequential order over a career and others remain in the trial stage throughout their career. Additionally, future studies may examine individual difference variables relative to career development across ages or stages. In order for there to be a meaningful accumulation of research results, future researchers should operationalize their constructs in a manner faithful to the authors' original intent. Additionally, longitudinal studies would greatly add to knowledge about career development. These studies would also help to more clearly identify whether the Levinson et al. or Super model, or some combination of the two, best explains various career attitudes and behaviors. Finally, as the career development literature to date has focused almost exclusively on males, it is imperative that future study of career development include much greater numbers of females in an attempt to understand their career development patterns.



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