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Managerial identity development across the age-spectrum from an ideal self and values perspective

Udayan Dhar (Organizational Behavior, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio, USA)

Journal of Management Development

ISSN: 0262-1711

Article publication date: 31 August 2021

Issue publication date: 12 October 2021




The purpose of this study is to investigate professional identity development among management professionals through the lens of the ideal self and personal values.


Detailed career vision essays based on the ideal self and personal values of 48 participants ranging in age from 22 to 54 were analyzed using an inductive thematic analysis. A theory-based classification of their personal values, collected through a survey, was also conducted as a supplemental analysis.


The visions of older management professionals were less career-oriented, more holistic, involved in a greater multiplicity of career roles, had more clarity and placed higher emphasis on work–life balance and on developing others. The older participants also reported having fewer self-enhancement values.


The findings demonstrate the relevance of the ideal self as a lens to study identity development and advance our understanding of professional identity development in the context of modern careers.



The author wish to acknowledge the helpful comments of Richard Boyatzis, Melvin Smith, and Ellen Van Oosten, on the study design and earlier drafts of this paper.


Dhar, U. (2021), "Managerial identity development across the age-spectrum from an ideal self and values perspective", Journal of Management Development, Vol. 40 No. 6, pp. 574-583.



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