Improving career development opportunities through rigorous career pathways research

By Jerry Hedge, Jennifer Rae Rineer

Organizational life has become less predictable in today’s rapidly changing workplace. Workers must make career decisions within an increasingly uncertain organizational, societal, and global environment. Businesses face the same evolving landscape, making it difficult for them to anticipate their employees’ needs, desires, and likely career directions. Career pathways systems can provide the structure that is vital for career progression, helping people develop competencies designed to increase employability while helping organizations develop employees strategically, build engagement, and improve retention. In our focus on the workplace, we underscore the need for more holistic, data-driven individual and organizational perspectives on career growth and success; we describe how a career pathways framework can contribute to these goals. We offer directions for future research to promote career growth and success for individuals, and to help employers create or strengthen career pathways systems that will reduce bias and enhance organizational performance by supporting the advancement of their employees.


Hedge, J., & Rineer, J. R. (2017). Improving career development opportunities through rigorous career pathways research. (RTI Press Publication No. OP-0037-1703). Research Triangle Park, NC: RTI Press.

© 2019 RTI International. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.


Jerry HedgeJerry W. Hedge, PhD, is a program director and senior research scientist in Education and Workforce Development at RTI International. He has been involved in human resource management research and application for over 30 years. He recently directed the evaluation of an Illinois Green Network Career Pathways grant funded by the Department of Labor. He coauthored The Aging Workforce: Realities, Myths, and Implications for Organizations (2006) and coedited the Oxford Handbook of Work and Aging (2012). He is a fellow of the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology and the American Psychological Association.

Jennifer Rae RineerJennifer R. Rineer, PhD, is a research scientist in RTI’s Social Policy, Health, and Economics Research division. In her previous role as the Career Pathways Research Fellow at Catalyst, Inc., and through her research with the Oregon Healthy Workforce Center (a NIOSH Total Worker Health Center of Excellence), Dr. Rineer developed expertise in issues related to both successful aging at work and factors that affect the advancement of women and members of other underrepresented groups. She coauthored Job Design for an Aging Workforce (2012) and The Aging Workforce: Implications for Human Resource Management Research and Practice (2014).

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