Career Anchors


Fresh from school most of us had a very vague concept of our future professional career. But over the years we had formed a strong self-concept holding our internal career together even as we experience dramatic changes in our external career. Edgar Schien of MIT Sloan School of Management named these self-concepts career anchors and defined them as consisting of self-perceived talents and abilities, basic values, and, most important, the evolved sense of motives and needs as they pertain to the career. Schien had identified the following career anchors (see here for their descriptions):

  • Autonomy/independence
  • Security/stability
  • Technical-functional competence
  • General managerial competence
  • Entrepreneurial Creativity
  • Service or dedication to a cause
  • Pure Challenge
  • Life style.

So, the next time you'll wonder why somebody made a choice you find hard to understand it just might be that the alternative choices would go against values and motives that the person just will not/cannot give up.

If I got you interested in the theory of career anchors, you should read the full paper by Edgar Schien published in NHRD Journal.