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Exploring careers in austerity through the lens of the kaleidoscope career model: the case of the Hellenic public sector

Mouratidou, Maria (2016) Exploring careers in austerity through the lens of the kaleidoscope career model: the case of the Hellenic public sector. Doctoral thesis (PhD), Manchester Metropolitan University.

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Abstract

The purpose of this study is to understand the idiosyncratic notion of career and career needs in austerity by examining the Hellenic public sector via the lens of the kaleidoscope career model (KCM), which was used as the theoretical framework, in order to explore the relevancy of its proposed career needs. Semi-structured interviews were carried out with a sample of 33 public sector employees, and thematic analysis was used to analyse the collected data. The findings of the interviews revealed that the participants perceived their careers as jobs, pointing to an instrumental career orientation while at the same time suggesting that careers in austerity had plateaued and were frozen and unfair. The relevant career needs identified from the data were safety, fairness and training. The analysis of the interviews suggested that the KCM was not entirely appropriate for accommodating a career in austerity, and consequently the thesis aimed to develop the model further. The main theoretical contribution of the thesis is found in the redevelopment of the KCM, since in its initial conceptualisation the model accommodates the notion of career by arguing about three specific needs, namely authenticity, balance and challenge – prerequisites that are located at the top of the human needs hierarchy. This thesis expands the KCM by adding the need for safety, a lower-order need, in which case the KCM becomes more inclusive by incorporating the notion of job, including a variety of workers. In addition, the thesis aims at expanding the traditional organisational career notion of advancement and status to include an instrumental orientation to work which better reflects the specific contexts of dismissals, high unemployment, insecurity and cuts in public spending. The study concludes with the realisation that careers and understanding thereof are context-dependent – constantly evolving depending on social, political and financial structures – and thus in need of being researched in situ, in order to be understood fully.

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