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This study explores the influences on career choices of the MBA students from three countries at micro-individual, meso-institutional and relational and macro-structural levels, questioning the apparent dominance of ‘free choice’ in the context of persistent forms of structural constraints in career markets. The paper takes a critical perspective on career ‘choice’, acknowledging the contested nature of ‘choice’ and identifying career as a product of socially and historically situated choices which are negotiated through structural constraints The central hypothesis of the study is that ‘it is more likely for the MBA students to report micro-agentic or meso-instutional and relational rather than macro-structural conditions as key influences on their career choices’. The study draws on the findings of a cross-national survey involving Britain, Israel, and Turkey, using the career choice dimensions designed by Özbilgin and Healy (2003). Findings show that MBA students consider the impact of structural conditions as less significant on their career choices than their own human capital and capacity to make free choices. The study provides an understanding of the main cross-national diversities and similarities in reporting of influences on career ‘choice’, and brings to bare interesting theoretical and methodological insights.


Mustafa Özbilgin is a Senior Lecturer in Business Management at Queen Mary, University of London. His research is in the field of comparative and cross-national employment studies, with a specific focus on issues of diversity, equality and fairness. He spent Fall 2004 as a Cornell-ILR Visiting Fellow. Lisa Nishii served as faculty sponsor.

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