Making sense of careers through the lens of a path metaphor

Making sense of careers through the lens of a path metaphor Purpose – The purpose of this article is to understand how participants make sense of career through the lens of a path metaphor. Inkson's three types of career paths are used as a framework to determine whether the participants followed either a traditional and/or boundaryless career. Design/methodology/approach – The research is based on interviews with 59 men and women employed in the accounting profession in Australia. The participants were asked to describe their career development to date. Findings – During the interview the participants often used metaphoric language to describe their career development, especially “path”, “journey”, or “road” metaphors. Analysis of these career metaphors revealed that the participants experienced aspects of both a traditional and a boundaryless career. On the one hand, the professional structure of an accounting career required some participants to follow a more traditional career path, whilst, on the other hand, the increasing desire for a better work‐life balance and for stimulating work meant that other participants followed a boundaryless career. Research limitations/implications – The study has implications for organizations trying to recruit, retain, and develop accounting professionals. The dilemma for individuals appeared to be focused on whether to follow a traditional career path, or pursue their own individual goals and carve out their own unique or boundaryless career. Originality/value – The benefit of using the journey or path metaphor is that it helps to explain and illustrate the various career options open to individuals. The journey metaphor was derived from the participants' own explanation of their career trajectories, and thus was not a metaphor imposed by the researcher. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Career Development International Emerald Publishing

Making sense of careers through the lens of a path metaphor

Career Development International, Volume 13 (1): 13 – Feb 8, 2008

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Publisher
Emerald Publishing
Copyright
Copyright © 2008 Emerald Group Publishing Limited. All rights reserved.
ISSN
1362-0436
D.O.I.
10.1108/13620430810849515
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Purpose – The purpose of this article is to understand how participants make sense of career through the lens of a path metaphor. Inkson's three types of career paths are used as a framework to determine whether the participants followed either a traditional and/or boundaryless career. Design/methodology/approach – The research is based on interviews with 59 men and women employed in the accounting profession in Australia. The participants were asked to describe their career development to date. Findings – During the interview the participants often used metaphoric language to describe their career development, especially “path”, “journey”, or “road” metaphors. Analysis of these career metaphors revealed that the participants experienced aspects of both a traditional and a boundaryless career. On the one hand, the professional structure of an accounting career required some participants to follow a more traditional career path, whilst, on the other hand, the increasing desire for a better work‐life balance and for stimulating work meant that other participants followed a boundaryless career. Research limitations/implications – The study has implications for organizations trying to recruit, retain, and develop accounting professionals. The dilemma for individuals appeared to be focused on whether to follow a traditional career path, or pursue their own individual goals and carve out their own unique or boundaryless career. Originality/value – The benefit of using the journey or path metaphor is that it helps to explain and illustrate the various career options open to individuals. The journey metaphor was derived from the participants' own explanation of their career trajectories, and thus was not a metaphor imposed by the researcher.

Journal

Career Development InternationalEmerald Publishing

Published: Feb 8, 2008

Keywords: Organizational theory; Metaphors; Career development; Self development; Australia

References

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