Career customization: Putting an organizational practice to facilitate sustainable careers to the test

Caroline Straub*, Claartje J. Vinkenburg, Marco van Kleef

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Career customization has been suggested as a sustainable solution to the mismatch between traditional career models and the needs of today's workforce. We examine career consequences of Mass Career Customization (MCC) in a Professional Service Firm (PSF). This customization allows employees to tailor their career development up or down on four dimensions (pace, workload, location/schedule, responsibility). Using a multiple wave research design in a firm setting, we explore the impact of customizing up or down on objective and subjective career outcomes by gender and parental status over time. While MCC has some positive outcomes (e.g. increased career satisfaction for fathers customizing down; increased performance evaluations for mothers customizing down), MCC also has negative career consequences that can be explained by flexibility stigma, especially for fathers who deviate from the ideal worker norm inherent in PSFs. Our findings inform the debate around the impact of organizational practices generally considered to facilitate sustainable careers. We give practical recommendations for the conditions under which career customization can flourish in a PSF context as well as lessons for promoting sustainable careers in other organizational settings.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103320
JournalJournal of Vocational Behavior
Early online date1 Sep 2019
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2020


  • Flexibility stigma
  • Mass Career Customization
  • Objective and subjective career success
  • Sustainable careers


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