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Resilient Career Narratives: An analysis of mid-career managers' long-term unemployment narratives Open Access

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This study is a qualitative inquiry into mid-career managers' perceptions of the impact of long-term (six months or more) unemployment on their career and career management practices. The study examined what career models, if any, reflected the career management practices of the managers prior to becoming unemployed, during unemployment and post unemployment. In addition to the traditional bureaucratic or linear model, the study assessed the managers' narratives for characteristics associated with alternative career models including Weick's Eccentric Predicate, Hall's Protean, Arthur and Rousseau's Boundaryless, Handy's Portfolio, Collin's Post-Modern, Bloch's Chaos Theory and Mainiero and Sullivan's Kaleidoscope Career models. The study also analyzed the managers' narratives to determine, if they engaged in any practices that could be considered resilient career management behaviors during their employment search. The study's source data were transcripts of a series of three 90 minute interviews conducted with six mid-career managers (four men and two women) who were between forty and forty-eight years old at the time of their layoffs and who held positions such as Senior Manager, Senior Architect and Senior Vice President in such industries as Advertising, Financial Services, Investments and Retail Manufacturing. The loosely structured interviews were designed to evoke stories about the managers' experiences prior and up to layoff, during their long-term unemployment in pursuit of re-employment, and re-employment, in addition to current perceptions of their careers. The interviews were evaluated using two forms of reasoning according to Bruner (1986), narrative reasoning and paradigmatic reasoning. Narrative reasoning was used to evaluate the managers' stories of their experiences both thematically and structurally. The data were subjected to paradigmatic reasoning to develop a catalog of resilient career management behaviors as the basis for future quantitative research regarding the application of resilient career management characteristics during long-term unemployment. Research outcomes included individual mid-career managers' experiential data regarding long-term unemployment and perceptions of the phenomenon's impact on career management behaviors and models, and preliminary data to support the development of a quantitative inquiry into resilient carer management behaviors during long-term unemployment.

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