Original Research

Exploring subjective career success using the Kaleidoscope Career Model

Eileen Koekemoer, Anne Crafford
SA Journal of Industrial Psychology | Vol 45 | a1638 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajip.v45i0.1638 | © 2019 Eileen Koekemoer, Anne Crafford | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 25 January 2019 | Published: 10 June 2019

About the author(s)

Eileen Koekemoer, Department of Human Resource Management, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa
Anne Crafford, Department of Human Resource Management, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa


Orientation: Currently, the workplace consists of four different generations of employees, of which the youngest, Generation Y (Gen Y), will become more prevalent in the next few years. Therefore, attracting and retaining employees of this generation are essential for organisations.

Research purpose: The aim of the present study was to investigate how Gen Y IT employees experience career success by using the Kaleidoscope Career Model (KCM) as an interpretive lens.

Motivation for the study: Generation Y remains an understudied cohort with regard to perceptions of career success. Motivated by the potential value of constructing contexts, which promote career success among Gen Y, the KCM was used as a framework for exploring meanings associated with career success among this cohort.

Research approach/design and method: Semi-structured interviews were conducted with a purposive voluntary sample of 24 Gen Y IT employees. Data were analysed in a two-step process by, firstly, identifying elements associated with the central parameters of the KCM and, secondly, collating these to identify various sub-dimensions of each parameter, to identify associated meanings for subjective career success.

Main findings: The findings describe more richly the needs for authenticity (i.e. making a difference or work as an enabler of lifestyle), balance (within time and over time) and challenge (i.e. career success implies growth/turning problems into opportunities or goal attainment as signifier of success) as means to experience career success, specifically expanding the description of balance, where employees try to maintain a work–life balance not only within but also over time (synchronic vs. diachronic balance).

Practical/managerial implications: The findings have value for management and human resource practitioners with regard to the implementation of employment practices that will enhance perceptions of career success among Gen Y IT employees and the development of a supportive culture which underpin the latter.

Contribution/value-add: This study adds to our knowledge of Gen Y’s perceptions of career success with particular emphasis on authenticity, balance and challenge. It furthermore contributes to career success literature by adding a career development lens to the latter.


Generation Y; kaleidoscope career model; subjective career success; qualitative approach; work–life balance.


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Crossref Citations

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