Career anchors of filipino academic executives

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Lily P. Custodio*

Catanduanes State Colleges

College of Business and Accountancy

Virac, Catanduanes, Philippines 4800

Telephone: +63 052 811 2196

Telefax: +63 052 811 1485


Flinders University of South Australia
School of Commerce Research Paper: 00-13
ISSN 1441-3906

Careers research has principally been an area of research by Western researchers, and few studies have been reported of research on non-Western subjects. Career researchers have primarily focused on external motivators associated with organizational factors and material incentives. Research investigating internalized career orientations is necessary to match individual expectations with institutional human resource planning. This study investigates the career anchors held by Filipino academic executives, using results from administering Schein’s Career Orientations Inventory to academic executives. These career anchors influence how academic executives and human resources management should (1) plan institutional career paths, (2) nurture academic executives during their careers, and (3) encourage appropriate communication about career advancement.

In the past decade there has been an explosion of research and writing about career perceptions and career development. Most of this research has been undertaken by Western researchers on Western subjects, and there have been few reports of research in non-Western societies. The theories of career which guide research mostly have been developed by Western theorists. There is an assumption in Western career theory that individuals pursue one career at a time, and that any career change results in a serial pattern of careers. There is also an assumption that the Western concept of career as a series of events is universally applicable, but career patterns such as the lifetime employment of Japanese executives in major corporations are not covered by Western career theory.

In the Philippines, it is observed that it is common for executives to pursue simultaneous careers. That is, during the day they work as, say bank vice-presidents, during the evenings they work as faculty in graduate schools of business at private universities, and at other times they work as independent consultants or manage the family business. In such a context, researchers investigating career perceptions or career development are met with a stare and a question “Which career are you asking about?”
Unable to identify previous investigations of careers in the Philippines, this researcher identified academic executives in state universities and colleges in Bicol Region, Philippines as a group on which to carry out initial studies of career anchors. Public servants, including academics in these state universities and colleges, are required by law not to have a second, simultaneous, career.
Career Anchors

The aspect of career investigated was career anchors. The career anchor model developed by Edgar Schein, of Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has received considerable attention. Schein (1978) coined the term career anchor to describe a constellation of self-perceived attitudes, values, needs and talents that develops over time, and which when developed, shapes and guides career choices and directions. It can be thought of as a central component of the self-concept that executives are unwilling to relinquish, even when forced to make a difficult choice. The career anchor is significant because it influences career choices, affects decisions to move from one job to another, shapes what individuals are looking for in life, determines their views of the future, influences the selection of specific occupations and work settings, and affects their reactions to work experiences (Schein, 1988). He postulated that individuals’ career anchors gradually come to be their own definition of career success (Schein, 1974, 1978).

Schein (1993) pointed out that all people develop some kind of picture of their work life and their own role in it. Derr (1986a) and Igbaria & Baroudi (1993) asserted that this work role focuses on the individuals’ self-concept and career values - the internal career. Career anchors are important element of individuals’ internal careers. This is the result of their conscious educational, work and career decisions (Schein, 1990). In this context, the career anchor theory signifies nonmonetary or psychological factors (Barth, 1993).
Schein (1978) identified five career anchors during research conducted in the early 1960s, viz:

  • managerial competence represents the need to be competent in the activities associated with management such as problem analysis skills, emotional stability, and interpersonal competence;

  • technical competence is associated with motivation for the challenge of a technical field, functional area, or content of the work (not the managerial process);

  • security/stability anchor symbolizes the desire for an organization that provides long-run stability, good benefits, and basic job security;

  • entrepreneurial creativity embodies the need to create something, that is, to try new projects; and

  • autonomy encompasses people’s need to be free of constraint to pursue professional or technical competence.

While it is recognized that work experience in early years is particularly influential in forming individual career anchors, these dispositions also are applicable in later career stages (Crepeau, Crook, Goslar, & McMurtrey, 1992; Schein, 1978).

DeLong (1982a, 1982b) attempted to validate the career anchor model empirically. Beyond the five anchors identified by Schein, he investigated three additional career anchors. These are:

  1. identity - the desire for status and prestige from belonging to certain companies or organizations;

  2. sense of service - concern with helping others and seeing changes that result from efforts; and

  1. variety - the desire for several different challenges.

Operationalizing Schein’s model through research questionnaires, DeLong’s (1982a, 1982b, 1982c) studies validated Schein’s conclusions by clearly identifying the five anchors and, moreover, distinguishing these additional three career anchors. He also found that the security/stability anchor emerged as two independent anchors. One, stability, represents individuals who will accept an organizational definition of their careers. The other, security, is demonstrated by individuals who will move from company to company to ensure permanence in a geographical area (DeLong, 1982a, 1982b, 1982c).

Schein’s (1985, 1987a, 1993) subsequent career history interviews of several hundred people in various career stages found that the identity anchor can be viewed as an extension of the security/stability anchor. Recent studies (Applin, 1982; Igbaria & Baroudi, 1993; Igbaria, Greenhaus & Parasuraman, 1991), however, have identified a type of career anchor defined by the belief that it should somehow be possible to integrate work, family, and self-concerns into a coherent lifestyle - the lifestyle integration anchor. Similarly, recent studies (Applin, 1982; Igbaria & Barroudi, 193; Igbaria et al, 1991; Schein, 1985, 1987a, 1993) have reported that the variety anchor is favored by individuals who defined all work situations as self-tests that are won or lost against either an absolute standard or an actual competitor. Thus the label pure challenge was adopted as the essence of the variety anchor.
The lifestyle integration anchor supports the recent trend in human resource management (HRM) that recognizes the way people value the importance of balancing work and family responsibilities (Adler & Ghadar, 1990; Smith, 1992; Welch, 1994a, 1994b; Zedeck, 1992). The pure challenge anchor, on the other hand, illustrates the general contention about the ‘winning’ attitude of executives; that is, they value competition and challenge as essential ingredients of success (Campbell, 1987). These characteristics are especially true among executives whose career success orientations are getting ahead, getting free, and getting high (Derr, 1986a, 1986b). Simply put, they are success-oriented executives (Rogers, 1987). Responding to the present trends in human resource management and in executives orientations toward their careers, it would be more appropriate to utilize the anchors pure challenge and lifestyle integration instead of identity and variety anchors.

This study was designed to investigate career anchors of Filipino academic executives. Review of similar research studies conducted in different fields provided insights in undertaking this study. Research studies (e.g., Applin, 1982; Burke, 1983; Burke & Deszca, 1987, 1988; Crepeau et al, 1992; DeLong, 1983; Igbaria & Baroudi, 1993; Igbaria et al, 1991; Slabbert, 1987) have looked at occupational groups such as dentists, engineers, law enforcement officers, managers, management consultants, and management information system personnel in Western countries. These studies found that their subjects were oriented to most of these career anchors, although some of these were identified as more dominant than others. Among management consultants, Applin (1982) found that these people had three dominant career anchors, (i.e., autonomy, pure challenge and managerial competence). Burke’s (1983) and Slabbert’s (1987) studies of managers showed that these individuals had managerial competence, technical/functional competence, pure challenge and autonomy as their most dominant career anchors. While law enforcement officers were found to be more oriented to autonomy, pure challenge and sense of service (Burke & Deszca, 1987, 1988). Management information system personnel were found to have managerial competence, technical/functional competence, autonomy and lifestyle integration as their more prevalent career orientations (Crepeau et al, 1992; Igbaria & Baroudi, 1993; Igbaria et al, 1991). DeLong (1983) concluded that the central career drives in his study of dentists’ career orientations were pure challenge and entrepreneurial creativity.

Although the security and stability anchors did not surface as more dominant than the career anchors in any of the studies reviewed, such anchors were part of the wide variety of career orientation of the subjects. There is a dearth of research studies on career anchors of academic executives, though DeLong (1982c) and Zerdavis (1982) examined the career anchors of educators. These studies identified educators as service-oriented in their careers. The other anchors exhibited by educators are managerial competence, autonomy, variety and creativity. Most educators seemed interested in a multifaceted approach to teaching. Others, however, had technical/functional competence and geographical security as their central career anchors. In the Philippines, however, no comparable study of career anchors could be identified.
Given the dearth of previous research in the Philippines, this study examined whether these career anchors are operative for those in the academic field. Two research propositions were investigated.
Proposition 1: Academic executives possess a wide variety of career anchors.
While there have been a number of studies investigating career perspectives in other career fields (e.g., engineering, medicine, law, education, religion), little empirical research has been published that specifically looked at the career anchors of academic executives. Research noted above involving different occupations established that subjects in these groups are oriented in all or most of the career anchors described earlier, with some being more dominant than others (Burke & Deszca, 1987; DeLong, 1982; 1983). Support for this proposition would establish that academic executives are similar to personnel in other fields. However, an analysis is necessary to confirm or refute this traditional perspective; also, investigation of this proposition enlarges the academic executives career research foundation for more productive insights into career planning of this group of people. Thus the following proposition was also examined:
Proposition 2: The dominant career anchors exhibited by academic executives will be sense of service and managerial competence.
Among academics, it is speculated in the literature on career anchors that these individuals are service-oriented. This is because the education profession is dedicated for the welfare of others (Schein, 1987a). Recent research (Delong, 1982c) has reported that educators are indeed service-oriented although they also possess some of the other career anchors. Given the academic administrative involvement of the subjects in this study, they can also be viewed as managerially oriented in their careers. Support for this proposition is crucial considering the prevailing views of academic executives.

The Career Orientation Inventory (COI) (see Appendix A) survey developed by Schein in collaboration with DeLong was used for data collection. The COI has been refined and validated in several studies including Burke (1983), DeLong (1982a, 1982b, 1982c) and Wood, Winston & Polkosnik (1985). The COI provides a pretested instrument with demonstrated high internal validity ad reliability. The instrument contains 41 items that measure eight career anchors described earlier. Six-point Likert response scales for subject responses were designed to avoid neutral answers: previous researchers have administered four-, five- and six-point scales.

Subjects in this research were 116 academic executives in four state universities and colleges in Bicol Region of the Philippines. Data were gathered in the months of March and April in 1995. Usable responses were received from 114 persons, corresponding to a response rate of 98.28 per cent. Of the respondents, 49 were males and 65 were females. Six respondents were presidents or vice-presidents, 46 were academic or non-academic deans, and 62 were department chairpersons. No distinction was made in this study between persons holding acting and substantive positions.

Factor analysis tests were run on the data to determine whether respondents’ ratings on 41 Career Orientations Inventory (COI) items will respond to the nine career anchors. Bartlett’s Test of Sphericity (Hair, Anderson & Tatham, 1987) and the Kaiser-Meyer-Olkin (KMO) Measure of Sampling Adequacy (Kaiser, 1974) were employed. Both tests were conducted due to the sensitivity associated with the large sample size. These results suggest the presence of homogenous groups of variables and appropriate application of factor analysis.

Principal components analysis confirmed the existence of career anchors among academic executives. Factor analysis applying varimax rotation identified eight factors using the latent root and scree criterion. Appendix A lists survey questions used for each construct with notation for those items that did not satisfy a minimum factor loading of 0.50 (consistent with Delong, 1982a). The analysis identified the following factors: (1) lifestyle integration, (2) sense of service, (3) managerial competence, (4) autonomy, (5) geographical security, (6) entrepreneurship creativity, (7) technical competence, and (8) organizational stability. Since responses associated with the pure challenge construct did not load on any factor, they were excluded from further analysis. Subject responses clearly distinguished two dimensions of Schein’s security/stability anchor: organizational stability (i.e., long-term employment) and geographic location (i.e., remaining in one geographical location). These results are consistent with prior research (see DeLong, 1982a; 1982b).
Cronbach’s alpha was calculated for each factor to establish reliability and determine internal consistency (Churchill, 1979). As reported in Table 1, ranges of 0.5–0.8 surpass acceptable reliability coefficient levels (Nunally, 1967).
Table 1. Cronbach’s Alpha Reliability Coefficients

Career variables


Lifestyle integration


Sense of service


Managerial competence




Geographical security


Entrepreneurship creativity


Technical competence


Organizational stability


A two-order factor analysis (Anderson, 1985; Kumar & Dillon, 1990; Loehlin, 1987) was employed to summarize subject responses. DeLong (1982a, 1982b) used this approach to determine which factors would cluster together and found that his samples clustered into two distinct groups based on similarities of career anchors. A similar clustering occurred with the samples of this study. The results of this second factor analysis are found in Table 2.

Table 2. Breakdown of the Nine Career Anchors into Two Major Factors

Career Anchors

Factor 1

Factor 2

Lifestyle integration



Sense of service



Managerial competence






Geographical security



Entrepreneurship creativity



Technical competence



Organizational stability



* Coefficients under each column which clustered together.

Results of this research demonstrate that study respondents possess several, largely independent, career anchors. Eight career anchors are evident: (1) lifestyle integration, (2) sense of service, (3) managerial competence, (4) autonomy, (5) geographical security, (6) entrepreneurship creativity, (7) technical competence, and (8) organizational stability. Thus, proposition 1 is supported. In contrast to previous studies entailing other occupational groups, respondents in this sample do not exhibit a pure challenge career anchor. This result is quite surprising considering the nature of work of the respondents. Being in university administration one would expect that these respondents face a lot of challenges in their careers. However, this result may be explained by some other factors considering the nature of the respondents. Academic administration may not be challenging on their part. As Schein (1972) noted that individual career anchors are developed over a period of time and one’s experience would have some effects over their development. In this case, therefore, it could be assumed that the majority study respondents are at ease with their administrative work and that they have already passed the test of time. Challenges to them may be viewed as a natural thing in their academic administrative work.

Individuals who are oriented to lifestyle integration desire to develop a lifestyle that integrates family concerns, career concerns, and concerns for self-development. Previous related research on career orientations (i.e., Applin, 1982; Igbaria & Baroudi, 1993; Igbaria et al, 1991) reported that executives were concerned of the possibility of integrating work, family and self-concerns into a coherent lifestyle. This was an indication that individuals are aware of choosing careers that balance their professional and private lives. Among Filipinos, they give much attention to their families, and they work in order to earn the logistics necessary to support themselves and their families. Cordero-Fernando (1992) pointed out that members of Filipino families are each others’ lending bank, health and accident insurance, social welfare and death benefit. That is, every member of the family has to share each other’s fortune. Hence, lifestyle integration could be a common career orientation among Filipinos.
Employees who are oriented to sense of service are dedicated to serve people and to make the world a better place to live and work. Slabbert (1987) and Slabbert-Van Aardt (1990) reported that employees in the public sector are oriented to sense of service. In this study, the subjects are employed by the public sector. Philippine state universities and colleges (SUCs) are established to cater to the educational needs of the masses. These institutions of higher education are owned, controlled, and subsidized by the national government of the Republic of the Philippines. Additionally, DeLong (1987) Zerdavis (1982) concluded that people in the teaching profession were dedicated to serving people.
Managerially-oriented employees wish to supervise, influence, and lead others. They seek promotion to general management. Given the orientation of the respondents in this study, it could be argued that these academic executives have prepared and planned for their promotions. Likewise, most studies on career orientations (i.e., Burke, 1983; Crepeau et al, 1992; Slabbert, 1987; Slabbert-Van Aardt, 1990) have reported that individuals in managerial positions are oriented to managerial competence.
Autonomy-oriented individuals seek work situations in which they will be maximally free of organizational constraints and restrictions to pursue their professional competence. Philippine SUCs operate as independent systems although they are directly supervised by the Commission on Higher Education (CHED). This means that individuals responsible in running the affairs of these institutions independently plan and implement their programs, projects, and activities. These programs, however, can be implemented after approval by the Board of Trustees. Given this scenario, it would be logical for the academic executives in this study to be oriented to autonomy.
Entrepreneurship creativity is the orientation of individuals who need to create something on their own by developing a new product or service, by building a new business enterprise through financial manipulation, or by starting and building a business of their own (Schein, 1993). It is within the Filipino system to be entrepreneurially creative. Many of them are entrepreneurs in their own ways. Many Filipinos would prefer to find a second job or to set up a business of their own especially when their material necessities are not met by their first jobs. To others, however, having a business of their own while at the same time being gainfully employed is not only a source of wealth but social prestige as well.
Individuals who focus on functional area represented by their work are technically oriented in their careers. The academic executives involved in this study represented a cross-section of professionals. They are accountants, biologists, chemists, educators, engineers, journalists, lawyers, management consultants, management information systems experts, nurses, scientists, and the like. As college or university professors, they impart to the students their knowledge and skills as professionals in their chosen field of study. Hence, it would not be surprising if the subjects were oriented to technical competence.
These results clearly distinguish two separate security/stability factors that have been labeled geographic security and organizational stability. Although DeLong (1982a) recognized this difference, security/stability has primarily been referred to as a single anchor in previous research. In this sample, a clear distinction exists. In this study, organizational stability is defined as the willingness to accept an organizational (compared with a personally developed) career definition. Geographic security is contingent with individuals who will move from organization to organization to insure permanence in one geographic area.
Geographically secured employees put down roots in a particular place. These are those people who wish to be in one particular place for the rest of their working lives especially if the other members of their families also dwell in such a place. Filipinos are family-centered individuals. These people are not affected by any sufferings as long as the members of the family live together (Jocano, 1992). The family is an environment where a Filipino can be oneself (Andres, 1981). “Home is where the Filipino is” (Camagay, 1992:41). Filipinos could dwell anywhere provided they are with their families or kin group.
Employees who secure ties with the organization are oriented to organizational stability. The respondents in this study were committed to their organizations and were married to their professions given the view that academic executives follow linear careers. That is, they planned and prepared for their careers. Hence, the academic executives in this study could be inferred to have chosen and decided for their careers in academic administration. Schein (1990) pointed out that individuals’ career orientations are the results of their conscious reasons for educational, work, and career decisions.
The second-order factor analysis tested proposition 2. This statistical technique facilitates identification of respondent groups that cluster together based on similarities in career orientations. Two groups of academic executives were determined. As shown in Table 2, the first group of academic executives value autonomy, geographical security, entrepreneurial creativity, technical competence, and organizational stability. The second group values lifestyle integration, sense of service, and managerial competence.
The first group values several career anchors. Autonomy is one of the anchors that these respondents value in their careers. This means that this group of academic executives value freedom in managing their respective institutions. Every state college or university in the Philippines is autonomous in terms of administration. While the respondents value autonomy in their careers, they are also oriented to geographical security, organizational stability, entrepreneurial creativity and technical competence. Typical Filipino academic executives are married to their professions and would choose to remain in the place where they have already established a status or a name as academic administrators. Just like any other executive, they are expected and should possess the expertise, skills and technical knowledge in managing an academic institution. In any managerial endeavor one is expected to be creative in dealing with numerous responsibilities and challenges including a number of dilemmas and built-in problems.
Three career anchors were determined as being valuable to the second group of academic executives in this study. These academic executives value lifestyle integration, sense of service, and managerial competence. This shows that these people can balance their family and career concerns. It suggests that while they are married to their profession their family is not neglected. It can be inferred that these academic executives are concerned of a balanced professional and private life. As emphasized by Amante (1993), Filipinos consider a day’s work as an eight-hour job, and the rest of their time is for social and family life. On the other hand, being in academic administration or being with people with teaching as their profession, it is expected that these academic executives are oriented to serving the welfare of others. Moreover, as executives they must possess the competence of leading and managing people.

Results clearly support the proposition that the academic executives involved in this study possess a wide variety of career anchors. As expected among executives, they should be managerially and technically oriented in their careers. It was noted, however, that these anchors are not their only focus for career decisions. They were found to possess other anchors such as lifestyle integration, sense of service, autonomy, entrepreneurial creativity, organizational stability, and geographic security.

Human resource planning, utilization and evaluation in the educational systems arena must involve both organizational and individual interests to avoid unproductive career decision making. The scarcity of job opportunities in the Philippines is one aspect to consider in making career decisions (Arcelo & Sanyal, 1987; Putti, Shapiro & Kang, 1984). It was reported by Garcia (1986) that many Filipinos became academics because that was the only job available at that time. Considering the career anchors of the respondents, therefore, career management is not a simple task. They are lucky enough to be in a position where their career needs and expectations are met. The research results indicated, however, that managerial or technical competence is not the major anchor of any of the respondents. Although as academic executives, they are expected to be either managerially or technically oriented. In this case, there must be some aspects to reconcile. As Morin (1992) asserted, individuals’ success in their careers is dependent on the way organizations allow people to succeed in their own terms within the context of organizational needs.

Therefore, both organizations and individuals concerned are responsible in shaping the kind of career that they want. This responsibility, per se, is inevitable since they know exactly what they want from their careers that will satisfy their needs and expectations. They know the kind of career that will suit their competence. This means that individuals should identify their needs, motives, and goals, so they can work out how to align them with the needs of the organization.

Organizations or employers, on the other hand, must find a way to inspire, motivate, and appropriately reward employees. These organizational concerns about the careers of employees could be realized through the cooperation of those concerned. This means that employees must relate their career needs and motives to their organizations. Hence for organizations to achieve an effective human resource planning and development, they should match their needs for human resources with individuals’ needs for personal growth and development (Morin, 1992; Schein, 1982, 1987b).

Future studies are required to determine the extent to which the internal career orientations (career anchors) of Filipino academic executives found in this study matches the external career options provided by organizations. This research constitutes an initial step toward exploring this important area.

While the career anchors identified by this study are representative of academic executives as an occupational group, difference among career anchors across job functions (i.e., presidents and vice-presidents, deans, department chairpersons) may yield perspectives enabling academic institutions to establish more effective personnel management. The teaching and non-teaching staff in these institutions also require analytical career perspective of this kind. Finally, replication with a larger and more geographically dispersed sample of academics is certainly warranted. It is hoped that this study will serve as a catalyst for such future research.


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Appendix A

The 41 COI Items Organized by Career Anchors

(Response Scale, Completely True to Not at All True, Omitted)

Importance of:
Managerial Competence

  1. The process of supervising, influencing, leading and controlling people at all levels.*

  2. To be in a position of leadership and influence.*

3. To rise to a position of leadership and influence

4. I would like to reach a level of responsibility in an organization where my decisions really make a difference.

5. I want to achieve a position which gives me the opportunity to combine analytical competence with supervision of people.
Technical and Functional Competence

1. To build my career around some specific functional or technical area.

2. Remaining in my specialized area as opposed to being promoted out of my area of expertise.

  1. Remaining in my area of expertise rather than being promoted into general management.

4. I will accept a management position only if it is in my area of expertise.

5. I would leave my organization rather than be promoted out of my area of expertise.*


1. The chance to pursue my own lifestyle and not be constrained by the rule of an organization.

2. A career which is free from organization restrictions.

3. A career which permits a maximum of freedom and autonomy to choose my own work hours.*

4. During my career I have been mainly concerned with my own sense of freedom and autonomy.

5. I do not want to be constrained by either an organization or the business world.

Organizational Stability

1. An organization which will provide security through guaranteed work, benefits, and good retirement program.

2. An organization which will give me long run stability.

3. I prefer to work for an organization which provides lifetime employment.

Geographic Security

1. Remaining in one geographic area rather than being prompted into moving because of a promotion.

2. It is important for me to remain in my present geographical location rather than to move because of promotion or new job assignment.

3. I prefer to work for an organization that will permit me to remain in one geographical area.

Sense of Service

1. The use of my interpersonal and helping skills in the service of others.

2. The process of seeing others change because of my effort.*

3. Being able to use my skills and talents in the service of an important cause.

4. I have always sought a career in which I could be of service to others.

5. I want a career in which I can be committed and devoted to an important cause.

Lifestyle Integration

1. Developing a life cycle that balances my career and family needs.

2. Developing a career that permits me to continue to pursue my own lifestyle.

3. I have always tried to give equal weight to my family and to my career.

4. A career is worthwhile only if it enables me to lead my life in my own way.

5. Choosing and maintaining a certain lifestyle is more important than is career success.

Entrepreneurial Creativity

1. To be able to create or build something that is entirely my own product or idea.

2. The use of my skills in building a new business enterprise.

3. I have been motivated throughout my career by the number of ideas or products which I have been directly involved in creating.

4. Entrepreneurial activities are an important part of my career.

5. I have always wanted to start and build up a business of my own.

Pure Challenge

1. Working on problems that are almost insoluble.*

2. Competing with and winning out over others.*

3. The real challenge in my career has been confronting and solving tough problems, no matter what area they were in.*

4. Competing and winning are the most important exciting parts of my career.*

5. I feel successful only if I am constantly challenged by a tough problems or a competitive situation.*


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