Author ORCID Identifier

Tenace Setor

Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

Human Relations


Career paths are formed over time from interactions between individuals, organizations, and labor markets within and across geographic locations. What are the prototypical career paths thus formed? Who are the likely incumbents of these career paths? What are the consequences of pursuing these career paths? This study combines micro-level perspectives on personal agency and macro-level institutional factors to explain how careers unfold over time and space. The juxtaposition of micro- and macro-level factors contributes to career research and practice, which have traditionally examined careers as movements across organizations and occupations over time, but almost exclusively within specific geographic locations. We make a significant contribution to theory and practice by analyzing sequences of jobs and residence locations for 2836 individuals drawn from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979. The analyses reveal eight prototypical career paths, some commonly found across geographic locations and others idiosyncratic to specific geographic locations. The profiles of the career path incumbents vary regarding gender, ethnicity, and education attainment. We find that the objective career success associated with prototypical career paths is more a function of human capital accumulation and career choices than geographic locations. We close by discussing our findings’ implications for career research and practice.


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