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The careers of university professional staff: a systematic literature review

Michelle Gander (Murdoch Business School, Murdoch University, Perth, Australia)
Antonia Girardi (Murdoch Business School, Murdoch University, Perth, Australia)
Megan Paull (Centre for Responsible Citizenship and Sustainability, Murdoch Business School, Murdoch University, Perth, Australia)

Career Development International

ISSN: 1362-0436

Article publication date: 3 September 2019

Issue publication date: 25 October 2019




Human capital is a key component of the success of organisations, and career development of staff is a vital component to both increasing and retaining human capital. Universities are no different, their people are key to their mission. There has been limited rigorous study of the careers of professional staff in the academy. The paper aims to discuss these issues.


A systematic literature review methodology resulted in a review of 23 articles dedicated to research on careers of professional staff in higher education (HE). Thematic analysis identified a series of enablers and barriers that influence career development and progression.


Career enablers and barriers have been found to exist at both the institutional and individual levels. Within the HE context, professional staff have a hybrid career mindset, desiring traditional and more contemporary career factors, leading to a reciprocal relationship between the organisation and the individual.

Research limitations/implications

There is a need for future research to investigate the hybrid career mindset, and the reciprocal relationship, both to add depth to understanding of careers for professional staff in universities, and to examine this in other settings.

Practical implications

Universities may need to consider ways to integrate institutional support for high performance work systems (HPWS) with opportunities for professional staff, while individuals may need to consider adopting career self-management behaviours (CSMB) to fit their hybrid mindset.


This review has highlighted organisations and individuals will benefit if the relationship between HPWS and CSMB is better understood for the hybrid career mindset.



Gander, M., Girardi, A. and Paull, M. (2019), "The careers of university professional staff: a systematic literature review", Career Development International, Vol. 24 No. 7, pp. 597-618.



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