Toward a theory of discontinuous career transition: Investigating career transitions necessitated by traumatic life events

J. Michael Haynie, Dean Shepherd

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

88 Scopus citations

Abstract

Career researchers have focused on the mechanisms related to career progression. Although less studied, situations in which traumatic life events necessitate a discontinuous career transition are becoming increasingly prevalent. Employing a multiple case study method, we offer a deeper understanding of such transitions by studying an extreme case: soldiers and Marines disabled by wartime combat. Our study highlights obstacles to future employment that are counterintuitive and stem from the discontinuous and traumatic nature of job loss. Effective management of this type of transitioning appears to stem from efforts positioned to formulate a coherent narrative of the traumatic experience and thus to reconstruct foundational assumptions about the world, humanity, and self. These foundational assumptions form the basis for enacting future-orientated career strategies, such that progress toward establishing a new career path is greatest for those who can orientate themselves away from the past (trauma), away from the present (obstacles to a new career), and toward an envisioned future career positioned to confer meaning and purpose through work.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)501-524
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Applied Psychology
Volume96
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2011

Keywords

  • Careers
  • Coping
  • Disability
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Identity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology

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