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"Rethinking Career Boundaries: Boundary Preferences, Employee Attitudes and Career Behavior"
The paper argues that the debate between organizationally bounded and boundaryless careers has exhausted its ability to progress career theory. Drawing on contributions from boundary theory it highlights the usefulness of centring the debate on the nature and types of boundaries shaping careers and the link between preference for specific boundary characteristics and individual outcomes. The paper proposes a measure of preference for career boundary strength and operationalises boundarylessness as a preference for weak rather than strong boundaries surrounding core domains of the organization, the occupation, geography and the divide between work and non-work. Using a sample of 416 professional workers, the link between career boundary preference and employee attitudes and career behaviour is explored. Findings show that workers with a more boundaryless mindset, operationalised as displaying a preference for weak boundaries, report higher levels of career mobility but lower levels of satisfaction with their careers, with their jobs and with life in general. The findings challenge core assumptions underpinning the new career literature and suggest that people value and seek structure in their careers.