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For better, or for worse? Making a career pivot to pursue a calling

Weisman, Hannah Pauline (2021) For better, or for worse? Making a career pivot to pursue a calling. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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Identification Number: 10.21953/lse.00004269


Management scholarship is rife with accounts of people pivoting from steady jobs and “good” careers into occupations that align with their callings. In my dissertation, I investigate callings, and the career pivots that people make to pursue them, through a two-study, mixed-methods investigation. In the first study, a quantitative meta-analysis, my co-authors and I clarify the beneficial and detrimental outcomes associated with viewing work as a calling across 201 studies in the literature. We find that callings, on the whole, are highly beneficial, and suggest that a “calling mindset”—the extent to which people believe work should be a calling—can further strengthen these benefits. Given the highly positive view of callings that emerged within the meta-analysis, my second dissertation study, a solo-authored qualitative study, explores how people can leave unfulfilling occupations to pursue their callings—in a role transition that I refer to as a “career pivot.” Drawing on 201 interviews, conducted in three waves over 18-months, as well as archival and observational data gathered over 3.5 years, I find that career pivots are radical, unconventional career transitions—often requiring some degree of “starting over,” and an accompanying loss of status and/or security. Due to these characteristics of career pivots, successful completion of the underlying psychological role movement hinges upon whether an individual can construct a compelling “career pivot self-narrative.” Thus, I use the longitudinal data to examine how self-narratives evolve across the stages of a career pivot, and eventually become enduring, thereby facilitating the pivot’s completion. My examination reveals several elements of the self-narrative, including its exposition, inciting incident, and rising action, evolve between the early and middle stages of a career pivot. Subsequently, in the late stage of a career pivot—when people are working in their new occupations—if their new occupational identity is validated and work is experienced as a calling, the self-narrative becomes enduring, and the career pivot is complete. My dissertation advances research and theory on callings and role transitions.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2021 Hannah Pauline Weisman
Uncontrolled Keywords: callings, career pivots, calling mindset, meta-analysis, qualitative research, longitudinal research, role transitions, self-narratives
Library of Congress subject classification: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > HD28 Management. Industrial Management
Sets: Departments > Management
Supervisor: Dobrow, Shoshana R. and Sosa, M. Lourdes and Lee, Thomas W.

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