A Living Systems Theory of Vocational Behavior and Development

The Living Systems Theory of Vocational Behavior and Development (LSVD) explains and illustrates the processes by which individuals construct their work experiences, vocational pathways and career patterns through episodes of interaction with affordances they recognize within their contexts, and how counseling can facilitate those processes.
The LSVD was created by combining the scientifically based systems theory that explicates the dynamics of all aspects of human functioning and development, called Humans as Self-Constructing Living Systems, with important ideas about vocational behavior and development. The resulting integrative theory represents the individual person as a dynamic, self-directing and self-constructing entity, i.e., a living system. Behavior Episodes (BEs) are the fundamental, person-in-context, dynamic units of analysis that serve as the “building blocks” by which individuals construct and retain their experiences in patterns that can be reactivated to facilitate future BEs.
The book describes how individuals’ history of satisfying BEs and their current activities provide the means by which vocational and career counselors can assist them to create satisfying vocational pathways. It also describes for researchers how new, non-linear, person-centered, quantitative and qualitative research methods can be used to analyze BE patterns to advance understanding of person-level processes that play key roles in individuals’ vocational behavior and development.
The LSVD was designed to be not just an integrative framework for the field of career development, but also to reconnect the field to related areas such as human resources and industrial-organizational psychology and to the range of human sciences that have already embraced a living systems theoretical model.
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This landmark volume is required reading for vocational psychologists and career counselors because it presents the definitive statement of social science’s most comprehensive and coherent theory of vocational behavior and career development. The authors have succeeded in the daunting task of explaining the simple structure that frames a highly complex theory. They engage the reader by presenting living systems theory in clear language and by offering numerous examples, metaphors, and case studies. If one views living systems as a meta-theory, it offers a framework for evaluating what is missing in other career theories as well as for suggesting how they might be revised or elaborated. In itself, living systems theory will prompt future researchers and practitioners to view vocational behavior from a new perspective, one that evokes understanding careers in the context of human behavior and development across life roles.” Mark L. Savickas, Professor of Family and Community Medicine, Northeast Ohio Medical University.
Educational Researchers and their students
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