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Career Plateauing

Career Plateauing

Book Title

Essays in Developmental Psychology

Document Type


Publication Date



Randall Summers, Charles Golden, Lisa Lashley, & Erica Ailes


baby boomers, career plateauing, content plateauing, organizations, structural plateauing



A career plateau can be defined as a phenomenon in which an individual’s career becomes stagnant. It is imperative to distinguish the two types of career plateaus: (1) content (job content) plateauing and (2) structural (hierarchical) plateauing. Content plateauing refers to a situation in which an individual’s job content (i.e., knowledge, skills, duties, responsibilities, etc.) stops changing. While structural plateauing assumes content plateauing, it also refers to a situation in which an individual can no longer progress, advance, or be promoted within the hierarchical framework of an organization. Career plateauing is not a novel phenomenon; however, it has progressively become a more prominent societal and organizational area of concern. The Baby Boomers in the US have been highly linked to career plateauing as this generation of individuals is living with the repercussions of the economic, technological, and societal developments made by prior generations.

Additional Information

This is one in a collection of essays as part of a project that began as an encyclopedia of developmental psychology coordinated by Dr. Randall Summers. However, for unforeseen reasons, the publisher was no longer in a position to publish the encyclopedia. This project was undertaken so that thousands of hours of work by psychologists would not go wasted. Enjoy these essays and feel free to cite them using the proper format.

Submit suggestions for corrections and topics to goldench@nova.edu.




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Career Plateauing