Dynamics of calling: A longitudinal study of musicians


Dobrow, S. R. 2013. “Dynamics of calling: A longitudinal study of musicians.” Journal of Organizational Behavior, 34(4), 431-452.


The dominant view of calling among management scholars is that it is a stable construct that does not change. This view has resulted in a research void about calling’s early development and subsequent evolution. Insight into the dynamic process through which callings develop is fundamental to understanding its role in people’s careers and lives. In this study, I focus on the antecedents of calling, a consuming, meaningful passion people can experience toward a domain. I propose a dynamic model in which calling can change over time and can be shaped by antecedent factors, specifically, through people’s ability, behavioral involvement, and social comfort in the area toward which they feel a calling. I tested these ideas in a seven-year, four-wave prospective longitudinal survey study of 450 amateur musicians. Multilevel analyses indicate individuals who were more behaviorally involved and felt higher social comfort in the calling domain (e.g., music) experienced higher levels of calling early on but experienced a decline in calling over time. Individuals’ ability in the calling domain was not related to initial calling or change in calling. I discuss the implications for theory and research on calling, meaning of work, and the dynamics of careers.
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