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Title: Is the boundaryless career applicable to all? An investigation of black knowledge intensive workers in the UK
Authors: Mansah-Owusu, Grace
Advisors: Simpson, R
Kumra, S
Keywords: Knowledge workers;Boundary less career;Black;Career theory
Issue Date: 2013
Publisher: Brunel University Brunel Business School PhD Theses
Abstract: This study explores protean and boundaryless career attitudes in a sample of black British knowledge intensive workers. Changes in the organisational climate to more flexible project based working have affected the way in which careers develop. It has been reported that employees need to possess certain skills to help them succeed in the modern employment climate (Arthur and Rousseau 1996). The main research theory that has attempted to explain such career changes and the acquisition of specialist skills include the boundaryless career which includes both intelligent and protean career competencies (Greenhaus et al 2004). The purpose of the current study is to investigate the extent to which black African and black Caribbean workers careers are boundaryless and to investigate the nature and type of career boundaries and barriers faced. The current research addresses some of the criticisms of boundaryless career research highlighted by Sullivan et al (1998, 1999, 2009). These criticisms include an apparent exaggeration of the pervasiveness of boundaryless and protean careers and a lack of research investigating the applicability of these career theories to professional, minority group members. Thirty two knowledge workers were interviewed to understand the nature and type of career boundaries faced. A quantitative questionnaire developed by Briscoe et al (2006) was also used to investigate the extent to which black knowledge workers are protean and boundaryless in their career outlook. The findings from the interviews highlight education and family as career enablers as they help participants navigate potential career barriers. The lack of career mentors, racial discrimination and inadequate career advice at an early age were perceived as career boundaries. Results also point to a perceptual difference between career boundaries and barriers which researchers such as Sullivan et al (2004) saught to clarify. The findings suggest that career boundaries are more flexible and less permeable and career barriers are more rigid and difficult to overcome. Briscoe et al (2006) boundaryless and protean scales and were completed by 187 participants. It was found that management consultants, those aged 41-50 and those with higher levels of education were found to be the most boundaryless. The main theoretical contribution is that “attached boundaryless” is displayed. Attached boundarylessness occurred as participants preferred the security of remaining in an organisation, but enjoyed being self directed and boundaryless within their organisations by working collaboratively.
Description: This thesis is submitted for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy and awarded by Brunel University.
Appears in Collections:Business and Management
Brunel Business School Theses

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