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Career as a vehicle for the realization of self

Stephen J. Adamson (The Human Resources Research Centre, School of Management, Cranfield University, Cranfield, Bedford, UK)

Career Development International

ISSN: 1362-0436

Article publication date: 1 September 1997



Acknowledges that, for at least the last 30 years, both theoretical and practical definitions of career have emphasized structure, succession and status. Career has therefore been viewed as the sequence of attempts to move onward and upward through organizational hierarchies. Considers the development of career theory over a longer period, however, identifies a much wider range of interpretations of the concept. Taking these broader conceptions as a starting point, considers the career as a “vehicle” for the (continuous) realization of self. Drawing on examples of graduates’ own talk about their careers, argues that we can define the typical career as a sequence of developmental phases, each of which is delineated by a reported shift in the individual’s sense of self. Presents data which lend support to a theory of early career development in which this developing sense of self emerges. Discusses three meta‐level phases: adjustment/reality shock; career success/self affirmation; and re‐evaluation/congruence. Concludes with a consideration of both the theoretical and practical implications of this kind of approach to our understanding of organizational careers.



Adamson, S.J. (1997), "Career as a vehicle for the realization of self", Career Development International, Vol. 2 No. 5, pp. 245-253.




Copyright © 1997, MCB UP Limited

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