Sub-theme 01: (SWG) Beyond the Mainstream: Careers of Special Groups

Polly Parker
University of Queensland Business School, Australia
Wolfgang Mayrhofer
WU (Vienna University of Economics and Business), Austria
Martin Gubler
Schwyz University of Teacher Education, Switzerland

Call for Papers


Careers are multi-level phenomena. They take place at the 'intersection of societal history and individual biography' (Grandjean, 1981: 1057) linking micro- and macro-frames of references (Schein, 1978) and are central to understanding how individuals, institutions and society interact (Hughes, 1937; Mills, 2000 (Orig. 1959); Barley, 1989). Yet, skepticism is widespread about the field of career studies’ achievements in this respect (e.g. Arthur, 2008; Jones & Dunn, 2007). The reasons for this are manifold and include insufficient interdisciplinary work (e.g. Khapova & Arthur, 2011; Lawrence, 2011), the partial neglect of context (Mayrhofer et al., 2007), or a lack of a joint theoretical language allowing communication between various discourses (Gunz & Mayrhofer, 2011). However, one common denominator derives from the theoretical, methodological, and empirical demands resulting from the multi-level quality of careers.

Theoretically, a comprehensive understanding of careers requires theoretical frameworks spanning different levels of social complexity. From its early stages on, the field of career studies has been rooted in a broad view embedding individuals in a dynamic interaction with their environment. Early descriptive works from the Chicago school looking at hobos (Anderson, 1923), taxi hall dancers (Cressey, 1932) or jack rollers (Shaw, 1930) are just harbingers for later conceptual and empirical work capturing various levels of social complexity (e.g. Hughes, 1958). Methodologically, multi-level analyses (Sniders, 2011; Klein & Kozlowski, 2000) provide formidable challenges. They not only require an in-depth knowledge of the available methods, but also depend on the availability of adequate data. Empirically, multi-level designs pose problems, too. At the least they entail the use of different sources of data, e.g. individual survey data tailored to the study and nation-wide data such as unemployment rates or culture variables collected for different purposes. In any case, they require substantial efforts and use of resources to gather a data set which covers various levels (e.g. van Veldhoven & Dorenbosch, 2008, Sveningsson & Alvesson, 2003).

Against this backdrop, the SWG/sub-theme 01 invites papers which address one or several multi-level issues. They can have a theoretical, methodological or empirical focus or combine them. Examples include, but certainly are not limited to conceptual papers presenting multi-level frameworks; methodological papers showing how multi-level analysis can be made fruitful in career studies; and empirical papers using a multi-level design to answer a career-related question. In terms of content, papers from all areas of career studies are welcome.


Anderson, N. (1923): The Hobo. The Sociology of the Homeless Man. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.
Arthur, M.B. (2008): "Examining contemporary careers: A call for interdisciplinary enquiry." Human Relations, 61 (2), pp. 163–186.
Barley, S.R. (1989): "Careers, identities, and institutions: the legacy of the Chicago School of Sociology." In: M.B. Arthur, D.T. Hall & B.S. Lawrence (eds.): Handbook of Career Theory. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 41–65.
Cressey, P.G. (1932): The Taxi-Dance Hall. A Sociological Study in Commercialized Recreation and City Life. Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press.
Grandjean, B.D. (1981): "History and career in a bureaucratic labor market." American Journal of Sociology, 86 (5), pp. 1057–1092.
Gunz, H. & Mayrhofer, W. (2011): "Re-conceptualizing career success: a contextual approach." Journal for Labour Market Research, 43 (3), pp. 251–260.
Hughes, E.C. (1937): "Institutional Office and the Person." American Journal of Sociology, 43, pp. 404–413.
Hughes, E.C. (1958): Men and Their Work. Glencoe, IL: Free.
Jones, C. & Dunn, M.B. (2007): "Careers and institutions: The centrality of careers to organizational studies." In: H. Gunz & M.A. Peiperl (eds.): Handbook of Career Studies: Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, pp. 437-450.
Khapova, S.N. & Arthur, M.B. (2011): "Interdisciplinary approaches to contemporary career studies." Human Relations, 64 (1), pp. 3–17.
Klein, K.J. & Kozlowski, S.W.J. (eds.) (2000): Multilevel Theory, Research, and Methods in Organizations: Foundations, Extensions, and New Directions. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Lawrence, B.S. (2011): "Careers, social context and interdisciplinary thinking." Human Relations, 64 (1), pp. 59–84.
Mayrhofer, W., Meyer, M., & Steyrer, J. (2007): "Contextual issues in the study of careers." In: H.P. Gunz & M.A. Peiperl (eds.): Handbook of Career Studies: Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, pp. 215–240.
Mills, C.W. (2000) [Orig. 1959]: The Sociological Imagination. Fortieth anniversary edition. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Schein, E.H. (1978): Career Dynamics: Matching Individual and Organizational Needs. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley Publishing Company.
Shaw, C.R. (1930): The Jack-Roller. A Delinquent Boy's Own Story. Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press.
Sniders, T.A.B. (2011): "Multilevel analysis." In: M. Lovric (ed.): International Encyclopedia of Statistical Science. Berlin: Springer, pp. 879–882.
Sveningsson, S. & Alvesson, M. (2003): "Managing managerial identities: organizational fragmentation, discourse and identity struggle." Human Relations, 56 (10), pp. 1163–1193.
van Veldhoven, M. & Dorenbosch, L. (2008): "Age, proactivity and career development." Career Development International, 13 (2), pp. 112–131.
Polly Parker is the Management Cluster leader in the University of Queensland Business School, Australia, where she is an associate professor in leadership and HRM. Her PhD, from the University of Auckland, was on career communities. Her current research on careers, leadership, peer coaching and human resource development has been published in a wide variety of journals including 'Journal of Organization Behavior', 'Academy of Management Learning and Education', 'Leadership' and 'Journal of Vocational Behavior'.
Wolfgang Mayrhofer is a Full Professor at the Interdisciplinary Institute of Management and Organisational Behaviour, Department of Management, WU Vienna, Austria. He conducts research in the area of comparative international human resource management and leadership, work careers, and systems theory and management. Wolfgang has published in a number of high-ranking international journals, authored, co-authored and co-edited 27 books and is a member of several editorial/advisory boards of journals.
Martin Gubler heads the Career Research Center at the Schwyz University of Teacher Education, Switzerland, and is an HRM lecturer at three Swiss universities and business schools. He completed his PhD on protean and boundaryless career orientations of IT professionals at Loughborough University, UK. Before joining academia, Martin worked as a senior IT HR professional. He has presented his research at various conferences, including Annual Meetings of the Academy of Management and EGOS Colloquia.