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My career development journey to an authentic work identity

Ruwayne Garth Kock (Industrial Psychology and People Management, University of Johannesburg, Doornfontein, South Africa)

Career Development International

ISSN: 1362-0436

Article publication date: 20 July 2020

Issue publication date: 4 December 2020




This paper describes the author's lived experiences as a marginalised professional. It offers a nuanced understanding of the author's career development journey to an authentic work identity.


This analytic autoethnography, situated in multicultural, democratic South Africa, describes how historic moments in the country's political evolution influenced the author personally: the author’s sense of belonging and the author’s various roles socially, as well as at work.


The paper tracks selected stories in the author's professional career journey to an authentic work identity, as indexed by the themes: I am a Black South African; I am a gay professional and so, who am I at work? On reflection, the author realised how the bounded nature of authenticity allowed psychological safety while exploring congruency between the author’s multiple work identities.


The autoethnography demonstrates how multiple accounts by the same author may be a valuable way of contributing to the literature on authentic work identity. This autoethnographic work extends the authentic identity literature of marginalised professionals beyond the narrow authenticity–inauthenticity binary of most organisational studies. The paper introduces limited authentic work identity as an ameliorative self-concept in organisations.



The author thanks Professors Willem Schurink, Freddie Crous, Theo Veldsman (University of Johannesburg) and Fiona Donald (University of the Witwatersrand) for their helpful guidance and feedback.


Kock, R.G. (2020), "My career development journey to an authentic work identity", Career Development International, Vol. 25 No. 6, pp. 581-596.



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