Challenging career models in higher education: the influence of internal career scripts and the rise of the "concertina" career.

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Date: Sept. 2021
From: Higher Education(Vol. 82, Issue 3)
Publisher: Springer
Document Type: Report
Length: 8,407 words
Lexile Measure: 1440L

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Abstract :

The paper develops the metaphorical concept of the "concertina" career to describe ways in which academic staff, across a diversifying workforce, modulate their interactions with institutional career frameworks, which tend to be unilinear and to be characterised by detailed progression criteria and milestones. In doing this, they are guided by Internal career scripts, providing an additional dimension to the dichotomy of boundaried and boundaryless careers found in the literature. Drawing on a longitudinal study between 2017 and 2020, of forty-nine mid-career academic staff across eight UK universities, consideration is given to individuals' spatial movements, for instance, between academic activities, and professional and personal commitments; and the manipulation of timescales to accelerate or decelerate career progress in relation to opportunities and constraints. The study shows ways in which the spatial parameters of a career are being stretched in order to accommodate new forms of academic work supplementing disciplinary activity, such as online learning, employability initiatives and public engagement, as well as work-life considerations. In addition, individuals are adapting timescales to accommodate professional activities such as health practice or community outreach, as well as personal commitments such as caring responsibilities. Thus, in the concertina career, individuals expand and contract activity, as well as extending and compressing timescales. As a result, it is concluded that institutional career models do not entirely reflect the reality of career-making by individuals, which is likely to involve detours (therefore a spatial dimension) and a disruption of assumed timelines (therefore a temporal dimension).

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A675009229