Disentangling professional careers: an auto/biographic investigation into the occupational histories and aspirations of professional business workers in the third-age of their employment

King, I. (2012) Disentangling professional careers: an auto/biographic investigation into the occupational histories and aspirations of professional business workers in the third-age of their employment. Ph.D. thesis, Canterbury Christ Church University.

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Abstract

In an evolving professional services market, the structure of career is changing; this research
asks older professional practitioners in business consulting about their occupational histories
and career aspirations for the period leading towards their occupational disengagement. In their
‘third-age’ of employment – the life transition between career maturity and withdrawal (ages 50
to 65) – professional workers often consider their employment options as they move toward
occupational withdrawal. With demographics showing an ageing population, employers can
expect to find that ‘third-age’ workers represent a greater proportion of their workforce. As they
reflect on their circumstances, these older professional workers often decide to adjust working
practice to complement their lifestyle choices, taking account of family responsibilities,
financial obligations, occupational values and possibly personal health. Through the lens of
narrative inquiry, I reflexively review my occupational experiences and those of 12 research
collaborators over a working trajectory of up to 45 years, as each person progresses through the
concluding episode/s of their occupational transition. This auto/biographic bricolage represents
occupational lives spent working within financial, legal and management consulting roles in
professional firms within the United Kingdom.

By embracing their occupational histories, this research investigates whether older professional
practitioners can better determine their occupational futurity and benefit from the opportunity to
accommodate other considerations – career preferences, life obligations, family relationships –
as they conclude their occupational trajectory. In ‘Working Identity: Unconventional Strategies
for Reinventing Your Career’, Herminia Ibarra (2004) presents a model for career change and
argues that people determine their occupational directions by experimenting with different
possibilities rather than deciding on a clearly defined career identity. This research investigation
extends the inquiry into a later stage of the life course, the ‘third-age’, and helps older
professional workers develop a coherent understanding of their occupational history as they
approach workplace departure, contemporarily known as ‘retirement’.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Depositing User: Mr Andrew Hudson
Date Deposited: 09 Apr 2013 15:10
Last Modified: 22 Sep 2016 04:51
URI: https://create.canterbury.ac.uk/id/eprint/11668

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Last edited: 29/06/2016 12:23:00