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Shared identity and strategic choice in dual‐career couples

Marie‐Hélène Budworth (York University, Toronto, Canada)
Janelle R. Enns (University of Lethbridge, Lethbridge, Canada)
Kate Rowbotham (University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada)

Gender in Management

ISSN: 1754-2413

Article publication date: 14 March 2008




The purpose of this paper is to introduce the concept of a couple‐level shared identity as forming the basis for the development of dual‐career couples' strategies regarding involvement in work and family roles. A model is developed that is intended to help researchers in this area conceptualize the relationship between career choices and career progression between members of a dual career couple. Examining career development at the couple‐level extends one's understanding of how the decisions made by one member of the dyad influence the career of the other.


In order to develop this model, the theories of cognitive interdependence and gender role ideology are examined and applied to the formation of a shared identity.


Development of the model, as well as a review of the extant literature, revealed that career decisions in dual career couples are made at the level of the dyad.

Practical implications

The findings demonstrate that organizations cannot view their employees in isolation, but that important transitions such as relocation, and taking on more responsibility are decisions that increasingly are made at the couple level. Employers may need to consider the dyad when offering career advancement opportunities and when implementing work‐life balance programs.


The career progression of one member has implications for the other. Therefore, it is insufficient for an individual to have a career in isolation when the individual is part of a dual career couple. Examination of career at the dyad level will advance one's knowledge of how careers unfold.



Budworth, M., Enns, J.R. and Rowbotham, K. (2008), "Shared identity and strategic choice in dual‐career couples", Gender in Management, Vol. 23 No. 2, pp. 103-119.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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