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Career Anchors Assessment

Career Anchors - HRDQ

4th Edition

by Edgar H. Schein and John Van Maanen

The varied stories (and Career Anchors) of the 44 MIT graduates [Dr. Schein] studied really made the material come to life, and demonstrated how differences and preferences strongly dictate a career choice. Interesting and well done - I recommend this for anyone, from a novice, to a well-seasoned career development professional. -Blake H.

Are your employees or clients feeling stuck in their choice of careers or dissatisfied with their current job and not sure which direction to go? For almost 50 years, people have turned to Career Anchors to discover their “career anchor,” a combination of perceived areas of competence, motives, and values related to occupational work choices. Developed by Edgar Schein at MIT’s Sloan School of Management and based on years of research, Career Anchors helps participants identify areas of competence, motives, and values related to their work choices, based on the eight "Career Anchors":

  • Technical/Functional Competence
  • General Managerial Competence
  • Autonomy/Independence
  • Security/Stability
  • Entrepreneurial Creativity
  • Service/Dedication to a Cause
  • Pure Challenge
  • Lifestyle

Every person is concerned to some degree with each of these issues. The label "career anchor" indicates an area of such paramount importance to a person that he or she would not give it up. The person comes to define his or her basic self-image in terms of that concern, and it becomes an overriding issue at every stage of their career.

In this new edition, preeminent author and researcher, Ed Schein has applied new research and the latest thinking in career development to his classic instrument. Synching his original career anchors with today's workplace, the updated self-assessment instrument takes a closer look at family life and how it influences work life, the demands and rewards of entrepreneurship, and how "challenge" relates to the modern career ladder.

Designed as a systematic way to explore past activities and future aspirations, the self-assessment will help clients get a clearer picture of who they are personally and professionally, and reflect on the qualities they haven't considered or simply take for granted. The self-assessment can be accompanied by the participant workbook and facilitator's guide to dig deeper into the results.

What's New in the Fourth Edition?

This new edition of includes new and updated information, includes a more detailed description and elaboration of the eight anchors, and addresses the rapidly changing world of business and includes more information on globalization, heightened competition, new technologies, greater organizational instability and uncertainty and shifting societal values, all of which influence career trajectories and career anchors.

  • Offers a Role Mapping Process which helps to consider the various external demands and pressures and suggests action steps if these external demands are marked by ambiguity, overload and/or conflict.
  • Contains Work Career and Family/life that includes suggestions for how the work, family, and personal patterns identified can interact (for better or worse) with each of the eight career anchors.
  • Presents a new “looking ahead” section of the companion Workbook that begins with a comprehensive look at how the world of work is changing and what these changes may mean for each of the career anchors.
  • Includes developmental activities that participants can use as next steps in their career development.

The Facilitator’s Guide has been ramped up and crafted as a tool to accompany the Participant Workbook and self-assessment, with special emphasis on addressing facilitator and training needs for exploring these anchors.

About the Authors

Edgar H. Schein is Sloan Fellows Professor of Management Emeritus at the MIT Sloan School of Management. His consulting work focuses on organizational culture, organization development, process consultation, and career dynamics, and among his past and current clients are major corporations both in the U.S. and overseas such as Digital Equipment Corporation, Ciba-Geigy, Apple, Citibank, General Foods, Procter & Gamble, ICI, Saab Combitech, Steinbergs, Alcoa, Motorola, Hewlett-Packard, Exxon, Shell, AMOCO, Con Edison, and the Economic Development Board of Singapore.

Ed Schein has been a prolific researcher, writer, teacher and consultant. Besides his numerous articles in professional journals he has authored fourteen books. He has received many honors and awards for his writing and is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association and the Academy of Management.

John Van Maanen works within the fields of organization behavior and theory, and is an ethnographer of organizations ranging from police departments to educational institutions to a variety of business firms. In addition, he has worked with numerous public and private organizations in North America, Europe, and Asia, including BP, IBM, BMW, Siemens, the U.S. Internal Revenue Service, Lafarge, Warburg Dillon Read, and the National University of Technology (Singapore).

Van Maanen has published a number of books and articles in the general area of occupational and organizational sociology. He is the author, co-author, and editor of numerous books, including Organizational Careers (Wiley, 1977), Policing: A View from the Street (with Peter Manning, Random House, l978), and Tales of the Field (University of Chicago Press, l988). His most recent books are Qualitative Studies of Organizations (Sage, 1999) and Organizational Transformations and Information Technology (with Joanne Yates, Sage, 2001).