The Role of Values in Careers

Book Review By Melanie Reinersman

Pope, M., Flores, L. Y., & Rottinghaus, P. J. (2014). The Role of Values in Careers. Charlotte, North Carolina: Information Age Publishing. 295 pages.


The Role of Values in Careers

The opening paragraph sets the tone of this book as a quality publication, as it is the “culmination of 100 years of study of vocational behavior” (p. ix). The list of organizations, countries, researchers and practitioners in the Introduction clearly indicates that this will be a distinguished resource for students, new professionals, experienced practitioners, counselor educators or anyone who believes in the importance of values. The title itself, “The Role of Values in Careers” is spot-on in its description of the contents, which urges both students and practitioners to pick up the book and begin reading.


Values serve as a basis for establishing life goals and are considered as critical factors in guiding career choice and work life” (p. xi). The “genesis of this (publication)... lies in the papers presented at the Society of Vocational Psychology's ninth biennial conference” (p. ix). Editors Mark Pope, Lisa Y. Flores, and Patrick J. Rottinghaus contribute the Introduction and superb editing, with Rottinghaus also co-writing the final chapter on altruism. The Introduction provides an overview of the book's sections, each of which includes two to seven chapters, and reveals the key points of the book:

Section I: Overview and Historical Foundations

Section II: Theoretical Approaches to Values and Careers

Section III: Cutting Edge Approaches in Researching Values

Section IV: Values and Culture

Section V: Values in the Practice of Career Counseling


At first glance, the section headings may appear basic, but by no means is this book primitive: it is intellectually appropriate for graduate students and professionals of all levels. Chapter titles show the full range of topics related to values, most notably

  • Chapter 9: “Work Values in the Lives of Diverse Individuals: Examining Race and Socioeconomic Status,”

  • Chapter 10: “The Educational and Career Values of Native American Adolescents: Dispelling the Myths,” and my favorite,

  • Chapter 14: “DOVE (Depth-Oriented Values Extraction): Helping Clients Create Career-Life Choices.” In full disclosure: DOVE and author Edward Colozzi's concept of values are the main reason I came to see the value in “values” as a career counselor. The last paragraph in the DOVE chapter explains how to alleviate the career counseling training misunderstanding between “stereotypic views of 'test 'em and tell 'em' approaches in contrast to more process-oriented approaches to career intervention” (p. 195).


High Caliber Work

The inclusion of DOVE is just one of the many strengths of this book. Its thorough exploration of the history of values is a major strength. A historical perspective is essential when talking about values because of the idiosyncratic (and somewhat unconscious) nature of the concept itself. The question, “What is a value” has never been answered in a universally accepted way, albeit past theorists have tried. This book brings together how researchers have progressed in their understanding and application of the concept. Another strength is the inclusion of applicable exercises, such as a Values Clarification Workshop (with session-by-session details), Appendix A: Questions to Explore Altruistic Motives and counseling interventions focused on reconstruction of gender role interpretations.


Readers will also appreciate the tremendous reference lists accumulated at the end of each chapter, which not only confirm the validity of the text but also make it easy for continued learning from original sources. The span of years of these sources is also astonishing:1896 to 2013! There have been few reliable sources regarding values identified and collected until now. It is also worth noting that it does not seem to matter what population the reader is focused on because a myriad are discussed throughout this book: Native Americans, Israeli, South Africans...


Minor Improvements Possible

It is possible to improve this book in a few minor ways. Though the chapters that provide summaries are exceptionally helpful, the chapters without summaries seem lacking and inconclusive. Additionally, while most research discussed in the book is critiqued by the chapter author, sometimes a question remains unanswered when research is only presented positively (i.e., a caveat needs to be added here and there). Sadly, one chapter's length may cause the reader to lose appreciation for the in-depth coverage of everything but the specific value put forth in the chapter title. On the other hand, another falls short in length and needs to offer much deeper content for its title area. Finally, the image quality is poor, which affects the usefulness of some figures and visibility of photographs.


Foundational Tool for a Range of Readers

This book can be a starting point for students who want to continue learning, researching, and practicing career counseling with a values emphasis. It can also be an in-depth exploration for practitioners to re-assess a vital aspect of their work with clients. For others, it will serve as a reference text. It truly is a foundational tool. In Chapter 2, Hartung claims the chapter and book aim to “move values from the margins to the mainstream of careers” (p. 21). The editors truly say it best, at the conclusion of the Introduction: “It uniquely focuses on the critical role that values play in a person's career and addresses these questions from a broad array of perspectives... to illuminate the place of values within vocational and career development” (p. xv).



Melanie ReinersmanMelanie Reinersman, M.A., received her master’s degree in Educational Psychology from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign and her bachelor's degree in Psychology from Thomas More College in Crestview Hills KY. After ten years in career services in higher education, she is now a self-employed consultant, offering career counseling to individuals and website editing to organizations. Since 2002, she has been the Website Editor for the National Career Development Association (NCDA) and the Editor of NCDA’s web magazine, Career Convergence, and more recently Publications Development Director for NCDA. From 2007-2010, Melanie was the Editor of Career Developments, NCDA's members' print magazine. She has been awarded the JoAnn Harris-Bowlsbey Award for Excellence in the Field of Technology in Career Development, and the NCDA Presidential Recognition Award. She has been published in the ACA Encyclopedia of Counseling, the Career and Adult Development Journal, and the World Book Encyclopedia. She can be reached at webeditor@ncda.org and is on Twitter @NCDAwebeditor.

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1 Comment

Edward Colozzi   on Tuesday 02/03/2015 at 12:01 PM

Thank you Melanie for your thoughtful review of this new book concerning, what I personally believe, is the most important aspect of self-knowledge, values, the very core of ALL our past, present, and future career-life choices. When we presented our papers at that Society of Vocational Psychology's ninth biennial conference, we had no idea there was a possible opportunity to continue the dialogue in a book. Thanks to the efforts of Mark Pope, Lisa Flores, and Patrick Rottinghaus, this important dialogue about the role of values can now continue.

Thank you also for your kind reference about my life's work with DOVE. On behalf of Angela Byars-Winston, my co-author, we appreciate your comments about our chapter.

Warm regards, EdC

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