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Date of this Version



Gilbert, G. Ronald, Ravipreet S. Sohi, and Adriana G. McEachern. "Measuring work preferences: A multidimensional tool to enhance career self-management." Career Development International 13.1 (2008): 56-78; doi: 10.1108/13620430810849542


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Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to introduce a multidimensional work preference research instrument, and to relate scores on these dimensions with subjects' real world work choices.

Design/methodology/approach: Repeated samples of 1,002 and 975 adult subjects were used to identify 17 empirically derived constructs, using both EFA and CFA statistical applications. The CFA revealed measurement invariance among the predicted and measured constructs. The 17 validated constructs were culled from career development-related psychology that has variously been identified with learning styles, work interests, work values, and temperament. Using a third sample of 590 subjects, MANOVA analyses of work preference scores were conducted with working adults, representing ten different types of work. When the scores on the 17 measures were compared with occupational choices made by the subjects, significant differences in outcomes were identified, indicating commonality within specific work types.

Research limitations/implications: Because the work preference construct is relatively new and fluid, continuous research is needed to gain greater understanding of the construct and its characteristics. Additional sampling and tests for measurement invariance are indicated using cross-national samples, as well as non-English-speaking languages. Samples from younger, pre-career subjects in secondary schools and representing a wide array of demographic characteristics are also needed as the research progresses. In addition, more studies are needed to test for predictive validity, using other unobtrusive performance measures taken at different points in time.

Practical implications: Multiple measures embedded in one tool may prove useful aids to people when making career choice decisions that are associated with the selection of short-term work placement, long-term career occupations, and academic fields of study. The development of this tool will enable career development researchers to examine the relationships of psychological constructs identified with different fields of psychological measurement, and examine these constructs as they relate to classroom, organizational and cross-national contexts.

Originality/value: The creation of a tool consisting of measures from multiple psychological fields for use in short-term career planning, job placement, and enrichment is novel. When combined, the multiple constructs used in this instrument have been found to provide a constellation of useful indicators that are related to career choice and work placement decisions. The measures are also likely to be useful in cross-national research contexts.