Whether a rural background impedes the formation of Chinese undergraduates' protean career orientations


Research output: Contribution to conferencePapers


Contribution: In a job market under the influence of knowledge economy, students including undergraduates are expected to face a more unstable job environment in their coming future careers (Arntz, Gregory, & Zierahn, 2016). To prepare for such a career life, researchers including Hall (2002, 2004), Arthur, and Rousseau (1996), had recommended the importance of Protean Career Orientations. Protean Career Orientation refers to the orientations to lead one's own career path by one's own willing rather than the requirements of the environment. The orientations were expected to help one adapt to changing environment successfully by helping to maintain a sense of control and be open to new Protean Career Orientation refers to the preference to lead one's own career path by one's own willing rather than the requirements of the environment (Hall, 2002). The orientation is expected to facilitate one's openness to changes in the job environment, and a sense of control over changes. Thus, an individual can be more easily to adapt to the changing job environment. Protean Career Orientation is expected to be formed through one's interaction with the environment. So, the environment one lives in plays an important role in the formation of protean career orientation. Being brought up in rural life is a factor that may impede the formation of Protean Career Orientations according to several studies done in adolescent groups sampled from western countries. For example, Shepard (2005) has found that rural environment impeded the formation of a holistic view of one's career among a group of rural young women by an interview. Lapan et al. (1999) found that rural adolescents were less self-directed in deciding their career choices compared to their urban peers. Both of them used samples from developed countries and examined traits of protean career orientation in adolescents. A problem raised by these studies that whether such an influence can be found in older generations who have left this original environment of living, such as the Chinese undergraduates. Chinese rural Undergraduates are about to enter a job market that is more and more under the influence of knowledge economy. Therefore, they belong to students who can benefit from the formation of protean career orientations. Compared to their western peers, Chinese rural undergraduates has many chances to witness unidirectional mobilization (Xu, Hou, & Tracey, 2014). In such an environment, they may build up such orientations only by observational learning. In addition, their study experiences are normally accumulated by mobilizing to an urban environment. This can contribute to the formation of protean career orientation as well. Therefore, the difference may not so obvious, especially for junior students. Based on the assumption, the study is proposed. The study has three research questions, they are: whether rural background negatively predicts protean career orientation significantly; whether gender and years-of-study positively predict protean career orientation significantly; and whether there are any interaction effects between place-of-origin, gender, and years-of-study in predicting protean career orientation. The hypotheses are that all of them have significant impacts. Results of the study are expected to benefit both research and practice. For research, it contributes to the literature by providing information about the formation of protean career orientation in a certain context. For practice, educators, counselors and policy makers can use the results in making decisions about related issues. Method: The study used a quantitative approach in research design. In specific, questionnaire method was used. A strategic sampling method was used to access the participants. 440 subjects from two universities participated and finished the questionnaires validly. The rate of female versus male is 1:4. The instrument used in the study including a revised version of the scale of Protean career orientation originally produced by Briscoe et al. (2006). The collected data was analyzed by Structural Equation Modelling method with the aid of Mplus-7 for CFA to ensure the validity of these instruments and then analyzed by regression model analysis with the aid of SPSS. Expected Outcomes: The results showed that place-of-origin did not predicts Protean career orientation significantly; however, the variable gender and grade predict protean career orientation significantly, and both of them interact with place-of-origin in predicting protean career orientation significantly, By the results, it recommends that the influence of place-of-origin on protean career orientation is complex among Chinese undergraduates. Copyright © 2017 ECER.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2017


Kang, R. (2017, August). Whether a rural background impedes the formation of Chinese undergraduates' protean career orientations. Paper presented at the ECER 2017: Reforming Education and the Imperative of Constant Change: Ambivalent roles of policy and educational research, Copenhagen, Denmark.


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