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An exploration of career changers’ perceptions of the transformation process and how they recaptured career success

Gisby, Alison (2020) An exploration of career changers’ perceptions of the transformation process and how they recaptured career success. PhD thesis, University of Worcester.

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Research suggests that reasons for selecting, remaining in or changing career have undergone radical change over the last fifty years (Baruch, 2004). These patterns are said to be the result of changes in the ways individuals think about their career (Hall, 1996; DeFillippi & Arthur, 1994; Maineiro & Sullivan, 2005) which have led them to feel more at ease with boundary crossing (Arthur, 2014).

To date, however, complex career change i.e. switching from one occupation to another (Parnes, 1954) has received relatively little attention (Jiang et al, 2019). There have been continued calls (e.g. Sullivan & Ariss, 2019) for more research in this area in order to understand the challenges associated with the transition process, particularly in relation to status loss i.e. becoming a novice having previously being an expert (Hoeksel et al, 2019). In
addition, whilst career success literature is abundant (e.g. Heslin, 2005; Shultz et al, 2019) studies offering insights into ‘how’ it is achieved are sparse (Carless & Arnup, 2010). Calls for research in this area focus on the need to consider the role of learning (e.g. Hunter, 2019) especially during the so-called ‘honeymoon’ period and upto five years post-change (Zhou et al, 2017). This pattern continues in the learning literature too where, despite criticisms of formal learning (e.g. Boud, 1999; Wang et al, 2013), research looking at the use and value of informal learning continues to be scarce (e.g. Hoeksel et al, 2019). Furthermore, rather than looking at what learning needs complex career changers have (Anderson et al, 2014), ‘what
works’ and why it is valued (e.g. Brown, 2015; Logan et al, 2016) or links between learning activities and longer-term outcomes (Tack et al, 2018; MacPhail et al, 2019), existing learning research is narrowly focused on ‘silos’ or specific types/methods of learning (Cerasoli et al, 2018).

To address these gaps in current knowledge and to respond to calls for research which reflects the individual’s voice (Dries & Verbruggen, 2011; Arthur et al, 2005) this study adopted a qualitative approach. In addition, given the challenge of collecting tacit data, especially in relation to complex and/or emotional experiences such as career change, multiple methods were judged to be beneficial (King, 2004); in this case 18 complex career changers (teachers turned teacher-educators, healthcare practitioners turned academics, and practitioners turned teachers) took part in semi-structured interviews and completed Rich Pictures (Bell & Morse, 2013b)

Thematic analysis of the data revealed themes across three main domains: ‘occupational re�orientation’, ‘recapturing success’, and ‘incremental learning’. Findings show that, whilst a risky and destabilising experience, for individuals in this study complex change was a restorative experience i.e. enabled them to get closer to what had become important to them. Recapturing career success, however, was subject to a complex interplay between transition stage (early or later), related psychological factors (e.g. risk, trust), and choice of learning method(s).

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information:

A thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the University’s
requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy, University of Worcester, 2020.

A Pdf file of this PhD thesis can be downloaded from this WRaP record.

Uncontrolled Discrete Keywords: career change, career success, learning, occupational re-orientation
Divisions: College of Business, Psychology and Sport > Worcester Business School
Related URLs:
Depositing User: Janet Davidson
Date Deposited: 21 Apr 2021 10:53
Last Modified: 10 May 2021 15:18

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