Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Defining career success in the 21st century: A narrative study of intentional work role transitions
by Mahler, Elizabeth Bussman, Ed.D., The George Washington University, 2008, 443; 3296984
Abstract (Summary)

This narrative study answers a call to explore individual responses to the rapidly changing, highly technological, and global work environments of the 21st century. Its purpose was to better understand how individuals make sense of a work role transition, a change that suggests a realignment of social and psychological indicators of career success to support an evolving adult identity structure. A work role transition was "unpacked" and analyzed through the lens of the individual psychosocial needs that both drive and are driven by the transition process. The study focused on 10 men who made the intentional decision to move from a career with all the socially defined external trappings of success to one that was more personally defined as successful. It explored the alignment of the external, a new work role in public education, with the internal, the individual's interpretation of the transition process. Narrative content was examined using thematic analysis methods to obtain personal definitions of career success.

Six conclusions emerge from this study. First, adult development is a lifelong process that consists of both change and stability. Second, work plays a central role in the evolution of identity in adulthood. Third, the contemporary career context is a critical element in understanding the relationship between identity and careers. Fourth, the alignment of personal ideologies with the work role promotes positive self-perception. Fifth, learning promotes adult development, perhaps particularly in times of change. Sixth, both subjective and objective knowledge contribute to a holistic understanding of adult identity development, transitions, and careers.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Hoare, Carol H.
Commitee: Graham, Carolyn W., Schwallie-Giddis, Pat L.
School: The George Washington University
Department: Education and Human Development
School Location: United States -- District of Columbia
Source: DAI-B 69/01, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Social psychology, Occupational psychology
Keywords: Career success, Careers, Identity, Narrative, Role transitions, Twenty-first century, Work, Work role, Work role transitions
Publication Number: 3296984
ISBN: 978-0-549-43593-8
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