Reis, S., Bunker, J. M., & Dawes, L. A. (2023). Predicting Career Optimism of Civil Engineers. Journal of Management in Engineering, 39(3), 04023006.

Delivery of infrastructure in Australia is increasingly challenged byshortages of professional civil engineers. It is therefore imperative toinvestigate their career optimism. Through the lens of the theory of workadjustment, we expand upon previous research on this topic. We identify thesignificance of occupational and organizational values and needs, adjustment,and commitment, emphasizing both individual and organizational factors. Froma nationwide survey of Australian professional civil engineers, our logisticregression models identify the mechanisms that predict a civil engineer’sincreasing or decreasing career optimism, which are distinguished through theconstructs of Person, Environment, and the Adjustment between them. Ourfindings show that a civil engineer’s career optimism depends upon theiryears of professional experience and gender. Optimistic male civil engineersreport affective organizational commitment, but career optimism declines withyears of experience. Optimistic nonmale civil engineers report continuingorganizational commitment and increasing optimism with experience. Predictorsof an early-career civil engineer’s increasing career optimism include theoccupational status value of responsibility and the ability to adjust withina work environment. Therefore, organizations must continue to build uponcurrent practices in supporting a civil engineer’s occupational needs,provide flexibility, and understand their organizational commitment.Practical management implications that build career optimism of early-careercivil engineers include provision of roles offering autonomy, responsibility,and flexibility, support returning from career breaks, and providing changemanagement training.