Is the grass greener? Sector shifting and choice of sector by MPA and MBA graduates

Mary Tschirhart, Kira Kristal Reed, Sarah J. Freeman, Alison Louie Anker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

108 Scopus citations


Despite debate about distinctions among employment in the government, nonprofit, and business sectors, little research exists on the likelihood of, or barriers to, movement across sector boundaries. The authors propose and test models explaining individuals' current sector of employment-business, government, or nonprofit-and their sector-shifting behavior. They use survey data from 688 alumni of four schools: two offering MBAs and two offering MPAs. Study results indicate that most respondents have a favored sector when they graduate and remain within that sector for their employment. Results also indicate that this sector preference is influenced by perceived competence in the sectors and individuals' career values. This study shows that sector shifting is tied to sector desires and the strength of protean career orientation. The results are used to address existing claims about careers and to build understanding of influences on perceived sector competence and desires. The discussion informs employers and educators.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)668-688
Number of pages21
JournalNonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2008


  • Business
  • Career
  • Government
  • Job change
  • Nonprofit
  • Self-efficacy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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