Career Decisions and Career Paths


Our research on occupational development focuses on how employees actively and successfully shape their careers. We use longitudinal and diary data designs to answer these questions, and particularly focus on the following topics:

Understanding Careers as an Interplay of Individual and Context Factors

We focus on how individual (i.e., occupational motivation, personality, competencies) and occupational factors (i.e., job demands, opportunity for need satisfaction) interact to result in successful and satisfying work lives. We facilitate individual career planning based on the development of new tools, such as for the assessment of differences in work-related need strengths. While doing so, we consider gender-specific influences in career planning because how occupational behaviors and work results are perceived, interpreted, and evaluated can be biased by gender. Moreover, we understand that personal factors are not static. As such, we consider the dynamic nature of self-efficacy, self-management skills as well as how career goals are set and pursued over time.

Career Goals

Individuals pursue different goals in different areas throughout their life. One of these areas is the work domain. Especially highly qualified young employees can choose between different career paths. We research which career goals employees have, which goal constellations can be identified, and how these goals change over time.

The Need for Self-Management Competencies in Career Development

Today, careers are less pre-planned, and employees are less attached to a single organization. As a result, a high level of personal responsibility is needed when outlining a career path. We focus on how self-management competencies help in selecting and pursuing career goals. To do this, we explore two research questions. First, how self-management competencies influence the confidence to achieve career goals. Second, how successful goal achievement strengthens career motivation and the confidence to achieve goals.

Interplay of Work and Nonwork

We use a systemic perspective to obtain a better understanding of career decisions and career trajectories. On the one hand, we explore how personal work- and nonwork-related goals complement and oppose each other. On the other hand, our research uses couples to understand how occupational goals and the career commitment of each partner influence the other partner (e.g., in everyday experiences, in biographical decisions).


Christian L. Burk und Bettina S. Wiese

Selected Publications:

Lerche, A. D. S., Burk, C. L., & Wiese B. S. (in press). Leaving the ivory tower: Vocational application orientation of early career academics. Research in Higher Education.

Noppeney, R., Stertz, A. M., & Wiese B. S. (in press). Career goal profiles of early career scientists: A person-centered approach. Journal of Career Development.

Lerche, A. D. S., Burk, C. L. & Wiese B. S. (in press). Dynamics between applied work demands and related competence beliefs: A 4 year study with scientists. Journal of Career Development.

Alisic, A. & Wiese, B. S. (2020). Keeping an insecure career under control: The longitudinal interplay of career insecurity, self-management, and self-efficacy. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 120, 103431.

Burk, C. L. & Wiese, B. S. (2018). Professor or manager? A model of motivational orientations applied to preferred career paths. Journal of Research in Personality, 75, 113-132.