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The formation of professional identity in French apprenti managers

Jacques Angot (IESEG School of Management, Catholic University of Lille, Lille, France)
Hedley Malloch (IESEG School of Management, Catholic University of Lille, Lille, France)
Birgit Kleymann (IESEG School of Management, Catholic University of Lille, Lille, France)

Education + Training

ISSN: 0040-0912

Article publication date: 27 June 2008




The paper aims to show how professional identity is constructed at a very early stage of initial management education. In so doing, it questions the notion of le métier in management.


The paper is based on a study of the experiences of six French management apprentices (or apprentis) who participated in a management apprentice programme in 2005. The research methodology is qualitative and illuminates the process of professional identity building. The central question of the study concerns the manager as an individual, an actor, and the link between the individual and his or her métier.


The findings suggest that from their very first immersion into the real world of corporate employment at junior management level, students construct different types of professional identity which can be shown as a 2×2 matrix whose independent axes are the type of acting displayed by the apprentis; and the degree to which the apprentis enacted their roles. This can be interpreted using the coupling system metaphor. Some of these types of professional identity are born of cynicism and disillusion engendered by their experiences.

Research limitations/implications

The research is based on a small number of students drawn from one business school and concentrated in one job function – marketing.

Practical implications

The paper draws attention to the implications of the findings for those in business schools and organisations concerned with the formation of professional identity in young graduates.


The article proposes a new model for the formation of professional identity; and is the first study that deals with the French Apprenti manager programme.



Angot, J., Malloch, H. and Kleymann, B. (2008), "The formation of professional identity in French apprenti managers", Education + Training, Vol. 50 No. 5, pp. 406-422.



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Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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