The crafting of personal careers in times of change

Irina Nalis-Neuner

The purpose of the paper is to provide insights of protean career paths as perceived by individuals who experienced ruptures in their work biography. The aim is to answer the question of resources which are helpful for individuals in dealing with the shaping of personal careers in our times of changing work conditions and crisis. Additionally, the protean career will be examined from a theoretical view point in regard to its motivational predictors as well as possible outcomes. In order to do so, a short introduction of the influential motivational theory by Deci and Ryan “Self-Determination Theory” (SDT) will be provided. Furthermore, in regard to the often neglected dark sides of contemporary careers and contemporary career concepts, the concept of alienation will serve as a backdrop in the exploration of possible negative outcomes of the protean career.

Within this paper the theoretical overview will be deepened by three career narratives, obtained via qualitative research undertaken by the author (Nalis, submitted). These career narratives are displayed and interpreted in regard to the research question of the protean career as a resource in dealing with increasing demands of career development. The interview topics were based on the framework of the protean career. The purpose of my investigations around this career concept are rooted in the search for strategies to deal with the changes in the world of world by shaping careers. When looking at resources for career self-management, I will apply the meanwhile classic definition of careers by Arthur et al. (1989) who defined “career as the evolving sequence of a person’s work experiences over time” (p. 8, Dries, Pepermans & De Kepel, 2008).

Additionally, interpretations according to SDT and alienation will be provided. The overall questions for this paper and for the discussion in Sub-Theme 72 “Re-Thinking Work: Pathways and Practices” are: What hinders or fosters a self-determined career path? What are individual, relational and contextual resources that help individuals to build bridges over career breaches? And what are ways to build careers where the individual is at the driver seat, yet not alone on the road to change?

Institut für Arbeits-, Wirtschafts- und Sozialpsychologie
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ÖFOS 2012
501002 Angewandte Psychologie, 501003 Arbeitspsychologie
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