This study was conducted to develop and initially evaluate the psychometric properties of the Planned Happenstance Career Inventory (PHCI), which aims to assess skill in using chance events to develop career opportunities. After item generation and exploratory factor analysis, 130 original items were reduced to 25 items across 5 factors (5 items for each corresponding factor). Multigroup confirmatory factor analysis confirmed the validity of this 5-factor structure, and the goodness of fit showed an adequate fit to the observed data for both women and men. Results showed that PHCI subscales correlated moderately and in expected directions with career preparation, career decision-making self-efficacy, and career stress. These findings suggest that the PHCI, which assesses 5 dimensions of career-related planned happenstance skill, shows promise as a useful tool for facilitating understanding of the influence of chance events on career choice behavior.
Keywords: planned happenstance theory, Planned Happenstance Career Inventory, career counseling, scale development
Chance plays an important role in career development. According to Betsworth and Hansen (1996), most people agree that chance (or luck or happenstance) has played a large part in their career choices. In line with this, there has been increasing academic interest in the effects of unplanned events on career decision making and development. Research in this vein includes accident theory (Crites, 1969), the chance theory of vocational selection (Osipow, 1973), the chaos theory of careers (Pryor 8c Bright, 2003), and happenstance learning theory (Krumboltz, 2009). These theories all fundamentally propose that career decisions and career development are affected by unplanned events. Several empirical studies of chance events and career decision making have also been conducted across various populations, including adults (Betsworth 8c Hansen, 1996; Bright, Pryor, Wilkenfeld, & Earl, 2005), college students (Bright, Pryor, & Harpham, 2005; Bright, Pryor, Wilkenfeld, et al., 2005), high school students (Bright, Pryor, 8c Harpham, 2005), academic women in counseling (Williams et al., 1998), female college graduates (Scott & Hatalla, 1990), and nonprofessional workers (Salomone & Slaney, 1981).
Betsworth and Hansen (1996) found that over half of their sample of older adults perceived chance events as having been influential in their careers and provided a tentative taxonomy of the kinds of serendipitous events involved; their classification still requires further investigation and explanation. Bright, Pryor, Chan, and Rijanto (2009) found that a majority of Australian college students and working adults reported having experienced multiple chance events in the process of making their career choices. Moreover, Hirschi (2010) showed that a majority of Swiss adolescents reported that chance events had a significant influence on their career after middle school.
Although empirical studies on the influence of chance events in career development are increasing, few measurement tools have been developed to assess the characteristics or attitudes of people who recognize and use unexpected events as opportunities for their career development. The purpose of the present study was to develop and initially validate a new measurement of chance-related skills, based on planned happenstance theory (Mitchell, Levin, & Krumboltz, 1999).
Planned Happenstance Theory
The concept of planned happenstance was first introduced to the career counseling field by Mitchell et al. (1999). Chance events can be defined as "unplanned, accidental, or otherwise situational, unpredictable, or unintentional events or encounters that have an impact on career development and behavior" (Rojewski, 1999, p. 269). Events that are unplanned, unexpected, unforeseen, or that otherwise occur by happenstance may have both positive and negative aspects. Planned happenstance theory promotes a process-centered view that emphasizes a person's active behavior to use unexpected events as opportunities rather than simply regarding these events as invariably positive. Mitchell et al. (1999) described unexpected events as chances that had positive consequences, despite these events having been initially unintended or unexpected (Son, 2009).
The present work proposes that because of rapid shifts in the world of work in recent decades, chance events must be strongly considered in the process of career counseling. Both clients and career counselors would do well to regard chance events as inevitable and even desirable. More important, our work highlights the need to help clients capitalize on chance events to broaden their career potential. Planned happenstance theory extends career counseling to include the transformation and creation of unplanned events that become opportunities for learning. The idea of planned happenstance may at first seem like an oxymoron, but the two words have been intentionally combined to highlight the key concept of this theory, which is that individuals can generate events of planned happenstance on their own and maximize their learning through them. When using planned happenstance theory (Mitchell et al., 1999) or happenstance learning theory (Krumboltz, 2009; Mitchell et al., 1999), career counselors focus on the entirety of their clients' working lives. This approach covers a broader range of life aspects than is true of traditional approaches to career counseling. Likewise, the approach emphasizes action, exploration, and the learning process that occurs through diverse experiences, rather than through a single career choice or decision (Krumboltz, 2009). According to Krumboltz, Foley, and Cotter (2013), keeping options open means allowing new opportunities to be created, recognized, and used. This attitude is likely to be particularly helpful in contemporary working lives, which are full of fluctuation and uncertainty inasmuch as career decisions are no longer likely to be a one-time event but rather will occur continually throughout a person's lifecycle.
Planned happenstance theory not only takes into account the chance factor in career development but also provides a series of guidelines for clients to use when taking constructive action and creating opportunities for achieving their personal goals. The theory includes two concepts: (a) exploration, which generates chance opportunities and can increase quality of life, and (b) development of skills that enable people to seize opportunities. In this context, planned happenstance theory proposes that career counselors can assist their clients in developing five skills for recognizing, creating, and using chance as a career opportunity. These skills constructs include Curiosity (exploring new learning opportunities), Persistence (exerting effort despite setbacks), Flexibility (the ability to change attitudes and cope with changing circumstances), Optimism (viewing new opportunities as possible and attainable), and Risk Taking (taking action in the face of uncertain outcomes; Mitchell et al., 1999).
Purpose of the Study
Using planned happenstance theory, we conducted two studies aimed at developing and initially evaluating the psychometric properties of a scale designed to assess people's skills in using chance to promote their career development. In the first study, we used exploratory methods to develop and test items of a Planned Happenstance Career Inventory (PHCI) to measure the five skill dimensions of planned happenstance theory. On the basis of Study l's results, we used confirmatory methods in a second study of the PHCI and further examined the construct validity of the measure.
To examine construct validity, we selected several variables related to the skills involved in planned happenstance, specifically, career preparation behavior, career decision-making self-efficacy, and career-related stress. Someone who is experiencing career stress is less likely to seek opportunities related to his or her future career, given that experiencing this kind of stress may inhibit such an individual from trying something new. That is, career stress is likely to lead to a lack of risk taking and will hinder an individual's ability to persist in difficult situations and maintain an optimistic point of view (Pryor, Amundson, & Bright, 2008). Therefore, we hypothesized that career stress would be negatively correlated with all five factors of the PHCI.
Previous studies have indicated that the...