The threat of professional obsolescence: How do professionals at different career stages experience it and cope with it?

Asya Pazy*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations

Abstract

The accelerated rate of scientific and technological progress puts heavy demands on professionals. To be able to function effectively in the world of modern technology, professionals must continuously update their knowledge and skills so that they do not stay behind and are not threatened by obsolescence. Managers and human resource practitioners need to understand how the threat of obsolescence is perceived, and what professionals actually do to alleviate this threat. An exploratory study, based on in‐depth interviews with 50 professionals in the Israeli high‐tech industry, identified a variety of meanings that professionals assign to the threat of obsolescence, and a variety of updating activities in which they engage in order to cope with these threats. First, three meaning categories were identified: threat in the context of the self, threat in the immediate social context, and threat in the context of the job market. The essence and prevalence of these meanings were different at different career stages. Second, three types of updating resources were identified: structured opportunities, information material, and interpersonal exchange. Both the availability and the utilization of these resources varied with career stage. Implications of the multifaceted view of obsolescence to the management of professional human resources are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)251-269
Number of pages19
JournalHuman Resource Management
Volume29
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - 1990

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