The purpose of this paper is to draw on the employment situation of postdoctoral researchers (postdocs) in the Netherlands, concerning their career prospects and embeddedness within their organisation, in order to discuss theoretical perspectives on academic careers.
This multi-method study consists of three parts: a survey, in-depth interviews, and three focus group meetings with postdocs as well as representatives of the human resource staff and the Dutch Research Council (NWO). This paper reports on the findings from the focus group meetings, which concentrated on how postdoctoral researchers consider their employment situation and career prospects.
The three focus group discussions revealed that postdocs are caught within a dual controversy, the first involves their lack of clarity concerning their career prospects and developments despite their highly valued work, the second regards the fact that they are specialized staff, contributing to the primary process of their employing organisation but faintly connected. Although the postdocs’ formal position seems weak, their situation in terms of academic socialising is much stronger and active than appears at first sight, particularly due to their personal agency.
The postdocs require and appreciate guidance and support, particularly when they must leave academia.
The paper provides new and additional insights into the position of postdocs and their career prospects. Their personal agency in pursuing further career steps is more active than expected in previous studies.
Teelken, C. and Van der Weijden, I. (2018), "The employment situations and career prospects of postdoctoral researchers", Employee Relations, Vol. 40 No. 2, pp. 396-411. https://doi.org/10.1108/ER-12-2016-0241Download as .RIS
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